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Jan's Computer Basics:

Applications: Desktop Publishing

Desktop PublishingDesktop publishing does on the computer what used to be done with scissors and glue and other non-computer methods  - put together text and graphics for printing.

High-end word processors can do much of what a desktop publishing program does, at least for fairly simple documents. The difference between them has become a bit blurred.

Look at a national magazine and try to duplicate the layout and graphics quality in a word processor! You will see that there IS a difference.

For professional publications, a desktop publishing program gives the precise control needed and also advanced capacities such as preparing four-color separations for commercial printing.

Levels of Software

"Desktop publishing" covers a wide range of activities and difficulty levels:


Create for commercial printing - magazine, company annual report, newspaper, book, full-color advertising.

Small business/home office

Use a wizard or template to create a brochure, business card, or ad and print on your own printer.

Specialty programs

Make your own greeting cards, calendars, or labels.
Print T-shirts.

Major players in the desktop publishing game include Microsoft Publisher, Corel Ventura, QuarkXpress, and several Adobe products - PageMaker, FrameMaker, InDesign.

  • To prepare documents with graphics with precise control of the layout  
Major Advantages:
  • Ability to place text and graphics precisely on page
  • Ability to chain sections together like newspaper columns
  • Advanced tools for professional work


Layout -

Layout 1Layout 2Arrangement of text and graphics

Examples show two layouts for the same page.

Clip art - Clip art: Beach photoClip art: Computer Pre-drawn pictures or photos to add to page

What You See Is What You Get
pronounced "wiz-e-wig"
How page displays on screen is the same as how it prints. Sometimes the view you are working in, like Draft or Web Layout, is not how the document will print.

In the olden days programs did not have a print preview at all. A bit later they had one but the printed document might look quite different from what you saw on the screen. Printers had their own fonts. These were not quite the same as the screen fonts, even for fonts with the same name!


For full color in high quality printing, the paper goes through the printing press 4 times, once for each of the colors cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK color system). The print shop must create separate versions of your document, called separations, for each color.

Original image: Original image

Color separations: 4 color separations

Image Credit: mmprint.com