Desktop Publisher

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Desktop Publisher


Desktop publishers are multitalented. Not only are they excellent with computers, but they are writers, artists, editors, graphic designers, photographers and layout wizards. They help companies, individuals and writers publish everything from full color brochures to online novels. They use computer software to combine text, graphics and other visual elements to prepare copy that is ready for printing, photocopying or publishing on the Internet.

Before computer software became so accessible, only highly trained and practiced computer experts could produce quality newsletters and brochures using a computer. And even then, the products sometimes lacked the artistic flair that comes through in the desktop publisher's work.

Desktop publishers can work independently, and only take on work that interests them, or they may find themselves on staff with one agency, organization or company that produces a lot of material for public consumption. Some clients already know what they want when they meet with the publisher in terms of their manuals, logos and posters, while others leave the concepts and products up to the publisher, allowing them freer creative access to the project.

Once the client and the publisher have agreed on a concept, the publisher must work with computer programs (most use Macintosh, as their software is more suited to creative work) to design the layout, font, placement of graphics, photos and text, as well as choose things like color and size. There are times when the desktop publisher will have to draw their own graphics, using drawing software to create original images for the clients.

Desktop publishers allow us access to high quality print materials, at a price most companies and organizations can afford.
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  Interests and Skills  
Desktop publishers need to be independent, self-motivated workers, who are able to think creatively about a wide variety of subject matter. They are talented artists, who understand the fundamentals of art, as well as artistic applications to computer technology. They also need to be an excellent editors, and creative writers. They are able to follow clear rules and guidelines. Desktop publishers must be attentive, and able to pay close attention to details. They need to have good organizational skills, and be able to work with others under the pressure of constant deadlines. They should also be a good communicators who are able to give and take constructive criticism.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Discuss requirements with clients or supervisors
  • Use computer software to prepare sample layouts
  • Conduct any necessary research regarding product or services
  • Write and edit copy
  • Take promotional photographs
  • Use page-layout software to format and place text and pictures on the page,
  • Print and publish designs in various formats, including brochures, annual reports and Web sites
  • Store copies of publications on paper, film or diskette
  • The typical day for a desktop publisher will involve working on proposals and developing products for clients. Most of each day will be spent working with a computer; however, some time will be spent traveling to client offices, taking promotional photographs, and gathering information. Desktop publishers may work closely with graphic artists, editors and writers.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Desktop publishers work for magazines, advertising agencies, retailers, printer and copy shops, publishing companies, or are on staff with graphic design firms. Some are self-employed. They work in offices and studios, sometimes at home. They can work alone, but those employed by bigger firms or with well-established reputations will take on associates and assistants to help with the workload. Their hours are usually regular, unless they are working longer hours to meet a deadline.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Desktop publishers can become supervisors or senior publishers within an organization, or they may find work as graphic designers, editors, journalists, web designers, or start up their own publishing company. They can write manuals on desktop publishing, or instruct publishing in colleges or private training schools.

  Educational Paths  
There are no required courses for desktop publishers, but prospective desktop publishers need to learn the tricks of the trade somewhere. Some people try and teach themselves by using manuals, practicing on programs, and contacting other desktop publishers for guidance and advice.

There are a lot of training programs out there that will help you develop the skills you need. Private companies, college courses, continuing education classes and universities offer training courses in basic computer graphics, editing and writing, computer science, journalism, design, communications, business, economics...Any of these courses or streams of study would be helpful to people wishing to become desktop publishers. It is a good idea to consider taking a desktop publishing course, which will provide a broad overview of all the areas of study required to work in desktop publishing.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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