Desktop Publishing

Desktop publishing also known as DTP, is a term coined in the 1980's in reference to the creation of documents with computer programs. In the past DTP was done manually by a variety of people both in graphic design and prepress tasks and often required a variety of large complex phototypesetting machines. However, current software is used by Desktop Publishers to combine and rearrange text and images in digital files to create displays of ideas and information. DTP software allows the user to design said documents using different typefaces, specify various margins and justifications, and embed illustrations and graphs directly into the text.

DTP currently enables a publisher to actively see how the document will print using a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) layout which displays the unprinted, finished project on the display screen.

The original Macintosh running MacPublisher.


The first program of this style was MacPublisher released in 1985 which ran on the original 128k Macintosh computer.

Software has advanced drastically since 1985 with the introduction of much more complex and high quality programs such as Microsoft Office Publisher, Adobe Home Publisher, Corel Venturaand many more. Adobe currently plays a large role in the field of desktop publishing with the CS packages that are released regularly, which allow end users to create every portion of their document from scratch. CS5, which can be seen in greater detail here, puts the power in the users hand from image editing with Photoshop and Illustrator, creation of dynamic visual presentations in In Design to basic form construction and advanced layout formation in Acrobat.

Aside from the famed corporate software, there exist a number of free/open source DTP applications.


Creative Uses


Slide Shows

Email Newletters

Web Layout




Employment of Desktop Publishers

There were about 26,000 people employed as desktop publishers in 2008. Most worked in the printing and publishing industries. One can find desktop publishing jobs throughout the country, generally in large metropolitan cities.

On a typical day a desktop publisher might perform some of the following duties:

  • write and edit text;

  • create graphics to accompany text;

  • convert photographs and drawings into digital images and then manipulate those images;

  • design page layouts;

  • create proposals;

  • develop presentations and advertising campaigns;

  • typeset and do colour separation;

  • translate electronic information onto film or other traditional forms

Helpful Links

Labour Stats

Tips & Tutorials

Tutorials for Publishing Programs