Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


Desktop Publishing: Page Layout and Myths & Misconceptions

Filed under: desktop publishing,graphic design,page layout,publishing — gator1965 @ 9:17 am

Continuing with Desktop Publishing:

Page Layout

By Jacci Howard Bear,

Definition: Page layout (verb) is the process of placing and arranging and rearranging text and graphics on the page to produce documents such as newsletters, brochures, books, etc. Page layout (noun) refers to the actual document page and its composition. The primary software programs for desktop publishing are called page layout applications.

Also Known As: page design
page composition
document design
desktop publishing


“Before designers had desktop publishing software, page layout was often done by pasting blocks of typed or typeset text and images cut from special ‘clip art’ books onto sheets of paper.” AND “Adobe PageMaker was the first desktop publishing or page layout program that made it easy to arrange and rearrange text and graphics on screen — no more scissors or messy glue.”
Myths and Misconceptions About Desktop Publishing:
Aldus Corporation founder Paul Brainerd, is generally credited for coining the phrase, “desktop publishing” after the development of Aldus PageMaker (now Adobe PageMaker). Before the invention of desktop publishing software the tasks involved in desktop publishing were done manually, by a variety of people and involved both graphic design and prepress tasks which sometimes leads to confusion about what desktop publishing is and how it is done.

Perhaps this list will help you combat your own desktop publishing and graphic design misconceptions or those of others.

1. Desktop publishing is just another name for graphic design.

Graphic design has been around far longer than desktop publishing. Desktop publishing is simply a software tool that graphic designers can use to help translate their concepts and ideas into the proper format for printing. But desktop publishing software is also a tool that anyone can use to create and print their own designs as well.

2. Desktop publishing is amateur design.

Desktop publishing by itself isn’t design. It is the use of specific software tools to create projects such as business cards, invitations, books, newsletters, bookmarks, posters, and just about anything else that can be printed. Projects can be good or bad. It’s the vision and skill of the person using desktop publishing software that determines the quality of the output. Desktop publishing software can be used for creating good or bad, professional or amateur design – it doesn’t discriminate.

3. Real graphic designers don’t do desktop publishing.

Most of today’s graphic designers use desktop publishing software so in that sense, yes, they do desktop publishing. See the two previous myths for clarification.

4. You can do desktop publishing with Microsoft Word.

Yes and no. Desktop publishing software works in a different manner than word processing software. However, word processing software continues to evolve to include more of the features that used to only be available in desktop publishing software. For printing simple projects to a desktop printer, a word processor may be sufficient for your needs. For commerical printing or for complex page layout tasks, desktop publishing software designed specifically for page layout is more desirable.

5. You can do desktop publishing with Microsoft PowerPoint.

No, but people try. PowerPoint and other such presentation programs are not desktop publishing software. Graphic designers might do some work in PowerPoint but so do office managers, executives, accountants, Web designers, secretaries, and the kid across the street. It’s simply a different tool used by many type of people, just as desktop publishing is a tool used by many.

6. You can do desktop publishing with Adobe Photoshop.

No. Adobe Photoshop and programs like it are graphics software. Photoshop is simply one type of software tool used by designers and non-designers. True, graphics software is used by graphic designers and others who use desktop publishing software but it is not a page layout application — the type of software that defines desktop publishing.

7. Anyone using desktop publishing software can create professional designs.

No. Sure, the advertising hype for “easy-to-use” desktop publishing software claims otherwise but it’s not true. It is true that desktop publishing software allows the non-professional designer to do page layout more easily and with a plethora of templates, fonts, and clip art at their fingertips they have the potential to create projects that look really good. But the software itself doesn’t guarantee professional-quality design no matter who uses it.

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