Why Is Desktop Publishing Important?

It's about visual communication

Person using desktop publishing to make a book of ramen recipies

Desktop publishing and strong graphic design make documents look better, but there's more to desktop publishing than just appearance. Used properly, desktop publishing enhances visual communication and streamlines the process of disseminating information of all kinds. It's also the method of file preparation that ensures files print properly so that communications get out in a timely manner.

Desktop Publishing Is Affordable

Desktop publishing makes it possible to efficiently produce printed and electronic—online or onscreen—documents without the expertise and expensive equipment that was once required. Although skilled graphic designers use desktop publishing, so do small business owners, freelancers, website owners, and club presidents.

Desktop Publishing Is a Desirable Skill Set

Office managers, teachers, administrative assistants, real estate agents, restaurant managers, and just about any office or clerical job require some level of desktop publishing skill. In the office environment, that might mean familiarity with Microsoft Office Suite or Publisher, the Adobe family of creative software, or some other graphic design/desktop publishing app.

Students, individuals on a tight budget, and jobseekers can save money by learning basic desktop publishing skills to improve the look and clarity of their papers and resumes. Adding desktop publishing to your resume just might give you that extra something many employers look for and quite possibly an advantage over an otherwise comparable candidate.

Desktop Publishing Is Available to Everyone

Before the mid-1980s, only trained graphic designers and high-end commercial printers and service bureaus produced the printed products available to the public. That changed with the introduction of Aldus Pagemaker, the Mac computer, and a Postscript printer in 1984 and 1985.

Apple Color LaserWriter
allaboutapple.com /  CC-BY-SA-2.5-it

The combination of affordable software and desktop computers enticed people who had never before been able to create their own publications to jump in. Desktop publishing software allows the user to rearrange text and graphics on screen, change typefaces as easily as changing shoes, and resize graphics on the fly. Just by following a few rules of desktop publishing, users are able to turn out professional-looking documents.

Drawbacks and Training

Just because someone owns page layout software—the staple of desktop publishing—doesn't mean that person is a good designer. It is now easier and less expensive to produce really bad designs. So, although desktop publishing is accessible, education in basic principles of graphic design and desktop publishing techniques remains essential. Online tutorials and certifications are just a couple of the ways in which you can get started.

If you are considering graphic design and desktop publishing as a career, choose a design or journalism program with an emphasis in print or website design to learn the basics of design, which you can then apply to any software you encounter.

If you need a quick introduction to running a specific page layout program, go to the product manufacturer's website and look for online self-paced classes, or ask if on-the-job training is available.

Adobe InDesign tutorials page

Expanding Possibilities

Although desktop publishing started life as a print-only field, the explosion of websites and digital life brought along many of the same design concerns that graphic artists encounter in print. Other non-print products that benefit from desktop publishing expertise are slideshows, email newsletters, ePub books, and PDFs.