Desktop publishing is the production of cutting and pasting text, images and graphic elements together to create a publication ready for press. The document could be a brochure, flyer, newsletter, menu, invitation, greeting card, book or e-book, catalog or even something as small as a business card, with matching letterhead and envelope of course. Whether it is something you are producing for yourself or for a client, you want to make sure that the final product is put together in a way that not only reads well, but is easy to follow and looks terrific!
Before desktop computers, desktop publishing was referred to as layout and design. So, if you were creating a newsletter for instance, an outline would be drawn on a pasteboard showing where the margins, columns or folds would be. Then space for the heading, headlines, text and pictures would be penciled in. Pencil lines were used so that they could be erased when no longer needed. Text would be typeset (or typed) to fit the width of the column and then cut and pasted onto the pasteboard. Letters for the headlines -- if not typeset -- could be rubbed off from transfer sheets one letter at a time. Care, measurements and pencil lines were used to keep the letters straight and neatly placed next to each other. Images would find their place on the layout and graphic elements were included using rulers or shape templates. Shape templates, which are still available today, are usually made of plastic with varying sizes of cut outs for circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, arrows, lines and a host of other shapes. The goal of this process was to produce camera-ready copy that would then be used for copying or printing.
While writing this I remembered what a production it was to not only put together a newsletter or other document, but if you made an error or if revisions were required, not as easy a fix as it is now on the computer with desktop publishing software. As for a spell or grammar checker, that would be either you or an editor!
There are many desktop publishing software packages available today, from simple to more sophisticated programs. Some word processing programs offer a form of desktop publishing and there are templates galore that provide the basic layout and design setup for you. Every good desktop publisher should have access to a word processing program, source(s) for clip art, graphic elements, photographs and/or digital camera, photo editing software, scanner and both a color and black & white printer.