Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Word Processing vs. Desktop Publishing

Continuing with desktop publishing:

Crossing the Line

By Jacci Howard Bear,

Are you a Word Processor or a Desktop Publisher?

Do you use word processing software, desktop publishing software, or some combination of the two? In some circles proclaiming that you use Microsoft Publisher or — worse still — your word processing software for desktop publishing will, at best, elicit mild amusement or silence. At worst, you’ll find yourself the target of bitingly hostile verbal (or electronic) abuse.

Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those places. My aim is to provide a place where practitioners of “desktop publishing” in all its forms can peacefully co-exist. Originally word processing involved text only. Letters, memos, student papers, book manuscripts, and simple résumés were the world of the word processor (the person and the software).

When typesetting and page layout capabilities moved to the desktop computer, “desktop publishing” was the realm of the big boys like PageMaker and QuarkXPress. The users of these desktop publishing packages were most often traditionally trained graphic designers. Desktop publishers had more than a passing knowledge of grids, typography, halftones, and the entire design, production, and printing process. Their desktop tools gave them precise control over all these elements.

Today, what originally made desktop publishing packages so attractive to graphic designers — the ability to quickly and easily manipulate text and graphics on screen and try out new ideas — is readily available in less expensive, easy to use programs. At the same time that trimmed down desktop publishing programs are appearing, word processing software is adding more page layout features — and so the line is blurring between desktop publishing and word processing, in part, because of the software.

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