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desktop publishing (DTP)

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Desktop publishing (DTP) is the use of personal computers to design books and booklets that are intended to be printed by ink jet or laser printers. The software that supports desktop publishing has a WYSIWYG graphical user interface (GUI) to make the set-up for publishing as easy as possible.  Desktop publishing is especially helpful as an independent publishing option and can be used to produce information on a variety of topics.

For many small businesses and organizations, desktop publishing makes it possible to publish quality, professional looking informational documents and books for content that a traditional publisher might be uninterested in, perhaps for political or financial reasons. As such, desktop publishing caters to small niche markets and can be viewed as a way to enable free speech and independent voice.

Desktop publishing software makes the capacity for professionally quality literature production to just about anyone, but graphic design skills and aesthetic judgement are still required. While some templates often exist within the desktop publishing software, it is still very possible to create bad designs that hamper the success or even communication of the media’s message.

Popular desktop publishing software includes Adobe InDesign, Adobe FrameMaker, Microsoft Publisher and QuarkXPress.

This was last updated in February 2019

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