Desktop Publishing Brings Benefits and Costs: Businesses Need Print Materials but Have to Decide How to Do Them

Desktop publishing was a major issue in 1985 when the first issue of US magazine ‘Desktop Publishing’ forecast the setting up of “typesetting centers” where “…anyone could walk in with a floppy disk and get quality typesetting done”.

A quarter of a century later, floppy disks are gone and desktop publishing of a pretty high standard can be done by anyone using the Microsoft Office suite and a reasonably modern PC or Mac.

Using these, an operator with a modicum of talent can produce documents that would have required the skills of a graphic designer, typesetter, assembly artist and pre-print operator before DTP became widespread.

Improved Document Production

Formerly dull and uninteresting documents can now become exciting presentations with graphics that support the data and make the contents of thick reports more understandable. Promotional literature has that ‘professional’ look, while proposals and tenders become attractive with greater appeal to prospects.

This isn’t to say that desktop publishing is simple or easy. It requires someone with artistic talent, a keen eye for copy and proofreading, good use of graphic elements and content that will be of interest to readers. It also requires a good knowledge of the software being used.

Graphic Design Skills Needed

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has this to say about desktop publishing: “Employment of desktop publishers is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2014, as more page layout and design work is performed in-house using computers and sophisticated publishing software.”

The BLS also noted: “Printing and publishing costs represent a significant portion of a corporation’s expenses, and firms are finding it more profitable to print their own newsletters and other reports than to send them out to trade shops.”

To be done well DTP requires an operator who understands both computers and graphic design. Knowledge of at least basic typography and the principles of good layout are also essential. The operator must be a good organizer. Putting together a 120-page policy and procedures manual or a client report with several graphics and charts requires organization and a good attention to detail.

If the company is large enough to employ and support a full-time DTP operator it may be worth the expense of taking on a new employee for this purpose, or to retrain an existing employee with a desire and talent for the position.

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Capital Investment Required

For a business to do its own desktop publishing in-house, this is a list of the recommended equipment that will be needed:

  • High-quality PC or Mac with large screen monitor
  • Extra memory for storage & backup
  • Publishing software (MS Office minimum)
  • Scanner
  • Color printer
  • Sources of appropriate illustrations
  • Digital camera
  • DVD writer

Bear in mind that the investment made in capital equipment for DTP will need to be made again in two or three years.

In-house or Outsourced DTP?

If a business intends to do its DTP in-house it needs to make a fairly serious capital investment to set up the facility. Since all computer equipment quickly becomes outdated, it’s best to plan on buying equipment at the lower end of the price scale and replace/upgrade it every three years.

It’s worth paying for good quality software from a reliable supplier – Microsoft, Adobe and Broderbund are just three manufacturers whose DTP products have been on the market (and therefore undergoing development) for several years. indah cargo logistik

In-house DTP also means covering the costs of an operator, including initial and recurrent training expenses. For smaller businesses there’s little doubt that the most economical source of DTP expertise lies with the multitude of specialist service providers.

They have the resources to fulfil most companies’ requirements and can liaise directly with printers if required. And because the market in most capital cities is well-supplied with providers of graphic design, prices are competitive and very negotiable.