Desktop Publishing

Using a personal computer or workstation to produce high-quality printed documents. A desktop publishing system allows you to use different typefaces, specify various margins and justifications, and embed illustrations and graphs directly into the text. The most powerful desktop publishing systems enable you to create illustrations, while less powerful systems let you insert illustrations created by other programs.

As word-processing programs become more and more powerful, the line separating such programs from desktop publishing systems is becoming blurred. In general, though, desktop publishing applications give you more control over typographical characteristics, such as kerning, and provide more support for full-color output.

A particularly important feature of desktop publishing systems is that they enable you to see on the display screen exactly how the document will appear when printed. Systems that support this feature are called WYSIWYGs (what you see is what you get).

Until recently, hardware costs made desktop publishing systems impractical for most uses. But as the prices of personal computers and printershave fallen, desktop publishing systems have become increasingly popular for producing newsletters, brochures, books, and other documents that formerly required a typesetter.

Once you have produced a document with a desktop publishing system, you can output it directly to a printer or you can produce a PostScript file which you can then take to a service bureau. The service bureau has special machines that convert the PostScript file to film, which can then be used to make plates for offset printing. Offset printing produces higher-quality documents, especially if color is used, but is generally more expensive than laserprinting.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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