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What is a Desktop Publisher?

Cassie L. Damewood
Cassie L. Damewood

A desktop publisher is a professional data publication processor. She creates documents formerly only producible by typesetters using offset printing presses and manually produced graphics, such as business cards, advertisement proofs and other promotional material. She typically works alone, although she may enlist the aid of other industry professionals on more challenging projects. A person with this job may be on the staff of a publishing company or contract her services as a freelancer.

Printed materials generally required by businesses for promotion include letters of introduction, brochures, and business and rate cards. For many years, these promotional items required the services of a publisher or printer to design logos and layouts, typeset the text and then print the finished products on offset printers. The process was frequently long, tedious and costly.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Today, most of these jobs are done by a desktop publisher. She normally has a library of desktop publishing software that enables her to create all promotional materials generally required by businesses. A laser or laser jet printer attached to her computer provides quality print production of the materials she creates on the computer.

The software used by a desktop publisher customarily includes a wide range of fonts, layout designs and graphics that can easily be incorporated into any document. Computer-aided drawing programs provide her with the tools to create original drawings and logos for each customer. The printers used by a desktop publisher are normally capable of printing on many different weights and types of paper and can usually print the documents in color or black-and-white.

Success in this job customarily requires a good eye for artistic conceptualization and great attention to detail. A desktop publisher is often required to design and implement a variety of promotional materials for a business, so her knowledge of the products she offers is important. She is also generally the person creating the final copy for her customers, so hers are usually the last eyes given the opportunity to spot any errors in type or layout.

Building a client base as an independent desktop publisher frequently requires community interaction. Offering services to restaurants, such as menu or take-out menu production, is often lucrative for beginning desktop publishers. Contacting schools or civic groups to assess their newsletter, flyer and mailing needs is also generally considered a good way for a desktop publisher to create new business relationships.

No formal education is usually required for this position. Good word processing skills and knowledge of graphics and publishing software are generally required to be a desktop publisher. Keeping current on the latest developments in the desktop publishing industry is commonly advisable for people seeking success in this position.

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