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Old 02-12-2008, 11:59 AM   #1
Anbeduma
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Default What is desktop publishing?

I would love answers, guidance or direction regarding the following information:

1) What exactly is desktop publishing?

2) What range of services is generally offered?

3) What is a good (maybe for a starter) software program?

4) Photography program?

5) Any recommendations as to reading material?

6) Any recommendations as to websites to peruse

Thanks for sticking with me this far! Can't wait to get going ...

Last edited by ktinkel; 02-12-2008 at 12:18 PM. Reason: Edited from Introduce Yourself
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Old 02-12-2008, 12:47 PM   #2
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I would love answers, guidance or direction regarding the following information:

1) What exactly is desktop publishing?
It began as a collection of software programs designed to make it possible to prepare text and images for printing on desktop computers — rather than the proprietary computerized systems costing tens of thousands of dollars that were being used for typesetting, image-editing, etc. And rather than the hand-work done by graphic designers.

Today DTP software attracts all sorts of users, including typesetters and designers, but also many others, some of them producing their own books, newsletters, ads, packaging, etc. Quite a few writers and self-publishers. Others work for customers. Many end up having to create web sites or ads to supplement the printed material. Anything goes, really.

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2) What range of services is generally offered?
Almost anything you can do that your customers cannot: set type, edit color images, produce brochures or ads. Resell printing services. Design logos. Create illustrations. Of course, first you need to know how to do those things.

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3) What is a good (maybe for a starter) software program?
What platform do you use? There are few low-end DTP programs for the Mac; for Windows, Serif PagePlus is well liked. (Link is to a long thread on this forum.) It seems to have most of the functions of the high-end software, are a much lower price. Most commercial work is done with Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress.

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4) Photography program?
You mean image-editing? Photoshop is most used commercially. For Windows users, there are others from Corel and other companies. Most of the books and articles with tips and tricks do refer to Photoshop, however.

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5) Any recommendations as to reading material?
Many. A basic text on principles of page layout and design. A good book on type and typography. If you want to become a color photo wiz, then a good book and/or class on that.

Sorry if I seem coy — we need to develop a good current list on these topics. When it comes to the basics — design and typography, in particular — older books are better. They do not refer to computers but to principles of the work; then you hit the computer to find out how to accomplish what you need to do.

But for more technical topics — particularly image-editing and prepress topics — the new books have better information. Designers, typesetters, and other mere mortals never had much to do with these topics, and the people who did know kind of passed it along on the job.

This thread should produce some specific recommendations for you.

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6) Any recommendations as to websites to peruse?
Well, this one, for starters. This is essentially what we do best. Not that we have all the information you will need — far from it — but this forum and its members can help you find it and understand it.

You will also get recommendations here to other sites.

   
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Old 02-13-2008, 10:54 AM   #3
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Thanks for sort of putting some of it in perspective Kathleen.

   
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Old 02-14-2008, 06:58 AM   #4
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Sorry if I seem coy — we need to develop a good current list on these topics. When it comes to the basics — design and typography, in particular — older books are better. They do not refer to computers but to principles of the work; then you hit the computer to find out how to accomplish what you need to do.
I can't stress how important it is to have a firm understanding of the basics before moving on to modern principles. Knowing a little history of the industry and how things developed into today's field is important. It's the surest way to understand why things are the way they are. This is particularly true with regard to typography and page design elements.

Things can be done in print that can't be done in Web publishing and vice versa so knowing the limitations of the medium and what your customers will expect will go a long way to your success. That's why older books are better to start with IMHO. They will give you a perspective that newer books that focus on technology won't and that's important to understand from a design perspective.

   
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Old 02-14-2008, 08:17 AM   #5
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I can't stress how important it is to have a firm understanding of the basics before moving on to modern principles. Knowing a little history of the industry and how things developed into today's field is important. It's the surest way to understand why things are the way they are. This is particularly true with regard to typography and page design elements.

Things can be done in print that can't be done in Web publishing and vice versa so knowing the limitations of the medium and what your customers will expect will go a long way to your success. That's why older books are better to start with IMHO. They will give you a perspective that newer books that focus on technology won't and that's important to understand from a design perspective.
You get no argument from me — that advice is what I have given for years. But it is easy for me, as I have all the books I ever acquired in a long graphic design career; most are out of print today.

But I had posted one list when we were hosted on CompuServe, and I will dig it up and post it here. It is past time for that; it’s been on my to-do list ever since we moved. Then maybe we can build on it.

   
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:07 AM   #6
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KT:

One book that might be helpful as an introduction to typography is Oliver Simon's Introduction to Typography, published in London by Faber & Faber; either edition will do: the second edition is dated 1963. Another is Finer Points in the Spacing and Arrangement of Type by Geoffrey Dowding (third edition 1966). The principles are still valid today, and Simon gives a useful discussion of the selection of typefaces.

PagePlus, which you mention, has three advantages (for those using Windows): it's very cheap, but offers nearly all the advantages of exceedingly expensive DTP programs (FrameMaker, InDesign, Quark XPress); it's not so intimidating as many DTP programs; it's manual is very clear and doesn't assume you know all about it already.

   
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Old 02-14-2008, 02:10 PM   #7
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KT:

One book that might be helpful as an introduction to typography is Oliver Simon's Introduction to Typography, published in London by Faber & Faber; either edition will do: the second edition is dated 1963. Another is Finer Points in the Spacing and Arrangement of Type by Geoffrey Dowding (third edition 1966). The principles are still valid today, and Simon gives a useful discussion of the selection of typefaces.
I had both of these on my old list (as they are also favorites of mine). Unfortunately, the list was peppered with time-stamped comments that no longer make sense, so I am trying to clean it up. Should have it soon.

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PagePlus, which you mention, has three advantages (for those using Windows): it's very cheap, but offers nearly all the advantages of exceedingly expensive DTP programs (FrameMaker, InDesign, Quark XPress); it's not so intimidating as many DTP programs; it's manual is very clear and doesn't assume you know all about it already.
Sounds very good. How is it at making PDFs useful to the commercial printer?

   
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Old 02-14-2008, 04:42 PM   #8
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KT:

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I had both of these on my old list (as they are also favorites of mine). Unfortunately, the list was peppered with time-stamped comments that no longer make sense, so I am trying to clean it up. Should have it soon.
We should not forget libraries for acquiring knowledge that's in books that are long out of print. Simon's book makes very clear how the set of a typeface affects how many lines a given text occupies, the 'colour' of different popular (still!) typefaces, and how the actual size can differ considerably from the nominal size; Dowding gives a good idea of how finicky good typesetting is. Probably your list includes specialized books, but I bought both books in ordinary bookshops.

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Sounds very good. How is it at making PDFs useful to the commercial printer?
It [PagePlus] is extraordinarily complete when you consider its low price; a commercial printer might turn up his nose at a PagePlus file, but it makes good PDF/X files that include CMFK colour, so then he wouldn't know what you had used. (The PDF properties might give that away, but Steve will tell you how to fake some of the information.)

I got an earlier version of PagePlus on a magazine CD, then bought the latest version, which didn't cost more than £100 (I think it was actually $100), before I lashed out and got InDesign. PagePlus won't do the fancy things such as choosing ligatures automatically, but then if you're wedded to Type 1 or old TT fonts, what does that matter?

   
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Old 02-14-2008, 09:19 AM   #9
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You get no argument from me — that advice is what I have given for years. But it is easy for me, as I have all the books I ever acquired in a long graphic design career; most are out of print today.

But I had posted one list when we were hosted on CompuServe, and I will dig it up and post it here. It is past time for that; it’s been on my to-do list ever since we moved. Then maybe we can build on it.
Yes, unfortunately, a lot of books are out of print. I read a book in the 1980s on self-publishing that was really good. I want to say it was by Ted Nicholas but I'm not sure. He's gone the route of Internet marketing now and is all pizzazz, but the book I read was a fairly thin yellow hardbound book and it was full of great advice. It was mostly geared toward book publishing, but I found it very helpful. I think I still have it stuck in a box in my basement, or somewhere. But I liked that book.

   
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Old 02-14-2008, 02:51 PM   #10
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...

What platform do you use? There are few low-end DTP programs for the Mac; for Windows, Serif PagePlus is well liked. (Link is to a long thread on this forum.) It seems to have most of the functions of the high-end software, are a much lower price. Most commercial work is done with Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress. ...
PagePlus SE and Version 9 are in a separate thread.
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