Desktop publishing, commonly abbreviated as DTP, consists of preparing documents for printing using a computer instead of the historical processes of typography and phototypesetting.
Desktop publishing is done using specialized software, called layout software or DTP software, similar to ordinary word processing software, but where special emphasis has been placed on the layout of text and images on a page. The document to be printed is displayed on the computer screen exactly as it will be on paper (WYSIWYG), with the possibility of changing the typography and immediately seeing the result. Such software has been around since 1985.
Desktop publishing consists of creating printed materials, such as books and newspapers, by working on the typesetting and typography of documents that may have been written by third parties. The work is done using a computer, and software that allows word processing, layout, illustration and image editing. The compound documents can then be printed with a printer or in a printing press.
Technical Part of Desktop Publishing (DTP)
Desktop publishing consists of creating printed materials using a computer, printer and possibly a scanner instead of the mechanical techniques of printing. Documents can contain photos, scanned images, clip art, and logos. The documents are then printed using a printer or in a printing house. The operation is done using specialized software, similar to ordinary word processors, but where particular emphasis has been placed on the arrangement of texts and images on a page. Advanced word processing software can also be used for desktop publishing.
People who work in DTP, their job is to prepare files for print media, web publishing or CD/memory card. They work on composing the content of books that can be in the form of reports, brochures or books. The qualities appreciated to work in this field are attention to detail, aesthetic and artistic sense, a good command of grammar and spelling and patience.
Desktop publishing involves the manipulation of the typographical characteristics of texts: pica font size (approximately 1⁄6 of an inch), styles (antique or serifs), kerning and spacing between letters. Completed works usually have a layout — a set of characteristics common to all pages: paper size, orientation, margin size, numbering, number of columns of text, and header and footer characteristics.
Tools Used in Desktop Publishing (DTP)
Software used in desktop publishing generally allows word processing, layout, illustration, digital image editing and font manipulation.
There is no clear separation between word processing and desktop publishing. Essentially, word processing consists of writing and editing texts, and is one of the activities performed in desktop publishing. Sophisticated software, originally intended for word processing, can be used for desktop publishing. Essentially DTP consists of creating multi-page documents to be printed in the form of a book or brochure. DTP also consists of creating catalogues, greeting cards, or labels.
Typical functions of publishing software are the ability to automatically number pages, generate headers, footers, table of contents, and a table of contents. It is also appreciated that the software treats even and odd pages differently, as well as the first page, that it facilitates the manipulation of large amounts of texts and images.
Screenshot of Sigil from developer’s website
Software often used in this field are Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Apple Pages, Corel Draw, Corel Photo-Paint, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word. While they are proprietary, Scribus and Sigil are GPL licensed software.
Example works done with Scribus, from developer’s website
Desktop publishing often involves the use of PostScript technology (by Adobe Systems). A free software version, with several other applications, is Ghostscript. It is a computer language that describes how a document looks on paper. It is used to communicate between the computer and the printer. The use of this technology makes it possible to obtain a more accurate result, especially when the presentation of the document is complicated. In addition, the presentation of the document on paper will be identical, regardless of the printer model used.