Epiphany Editing & Publishing

Desktop publishing software – the best tool for publication design

How long do you think it takes someone to decide if they’re going to read your marketing brochure or business report? Probably less than a second! In an increasingly media-centric world, we are constantly bombarded with all sorts of visual publications vying for our attention: advertisements, marketing and promotional material infiltrate all aspects of our daily lives.

It’s no longer good enough to present your written content as plain text on the page. Newsletters need to be able to draw the eye with catchy typography and imagery. Technical manuals must contain high-quality graphics and having carefully considered heading hierarchies in order to make information easy to comprehend. Even sales reports need logos and diagrams to impress. But how do we produce eye-catching, professional-looking documents? What is the easiest way to design stunning reports, flyers and other types of publications that will influence your investors or secure a sale for your business?

Two different types of software platforms for creating professional publications are word processing and desktop publishing software. But how do they differ and which method of publishing content is the best option for your business or organisation?

What in the Word?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re probably already familiar with word processing programs. Word processing is software created for producing text-heavy documents. Most people have used Microsoft Word as it’s been the default word processing program in workplaces for many years. But there are other word processing tools available – free or otherwise – such as LibreOffice, Apple Pages and Google Docs that are also useful tools.

Word processing software is designed for writing and editing text documents. They often come with various in-built features such as a selection of fonts, options to add photos, shapes, tables, and more. They usually allow for a certain level of customization/formatting of document pages. This includes control over margins, spaces between lines, size and direction of the page, headers and footers, and more.

So it sounds like if you’re looking to publish anything, all you’d need is a word processing program? Well, that’s not actually the case as we’ll find out below.

The benefits of desktop publishing programs

Greater layout control

Desktop publishing software – commonly called DTP – offers far superior control over the layout and formatting of your publication. DTPs are designed for creating a range of visual documents, including brochures, business cards, flyers and posters, business reports, books. Even large-scale billboards can be designed using desktop publishing software. Microsoft Publisher, Scriba and Adobe InDesign are all examples of desktop publishing packages.

Ease of use

Ease of use and sophisticated customisation abilities make desktop publishing software ideal for creating visual documents and presentations. Though word processing programs like Microsoft are flexible, they’re ultimately intended for working with text documents. Attempting to manipulate images and typography within a word processing package can be a very frustrating process and can often result in a jumbled mess. In contrast, desktop publishing programs such as Adobe InDesign are frame-based software tools. This means that they permit layering, rescaling, and precise positioning of both text and graphic elements. Kerning (the spacing between letters) and leading (the spacing between lines of text) can be controlled, thereby allowing for minute manipulation of typography. Automatic restructuring means that certain graphic elements can be switched around with ease and, likewise, other elements can be adapted to the new space created.

Interactive options

Some desktop publishing programs provide flexibilty inallow for multimedia elements to be incorporated such as video and audio files if the final publication is displayed online. In this way, you can create interactive presentations, as well as handouts to go with them.

Responsivity

Another important feature of digital publications produced by desktop publishing programs is responsivity. This means the template of your publication will adjust to any screen it is viewed on, ranging from a desktop or laptop computer to a mobile phone and everything in between.

Does it really matter which software program you use?

Couldn’t you just use a word processing software such as Word to create your publication? While it’s true that you can use a word processing tool for almost any publishing task, it’s often not a good idea. It would be similar to only using plates to eat all types of food. Sure, you can try eat soup off a plate but it’s going to be far messier!

People respond to visuals. What’s more attractive? A plain text brochure, or one that uses background colours, images and typography? Using word processing tools means compromising on your vision for publications that require many or complex visual elements. Or the process taking a lot more time and associated frustration to manipulate visual elements.
In the corporate world, producing publications using desktop publishing software is a wise investment. It will save you time and greatly enhance the professionalism of your documents and presentations. Plus, the easy interface allows for increased creativity as you’re able to experiment with a huge variety of page layout options.

A professional outcome for your publications

With desktop publishing software, what you see displayed on your screen is exactly how the document will be printed if it is sent as a digital file to a printing company. DTPs are powerful and add a professional quality to your publications that is not usually possible to achieve with documents that have been produced using word processing programs. But even with top-of-the-line desktop publishing software, you need to know how to use it. Design is both an art and a science. It takes a lot of knowledge to produce a product that is visually appealing and effective in capturing your audience’s attention. It’s incredibly easy to end up with an amateur design by mistake.

If you’re looking for assistance with a visual publication – whether it’s a technical manual, workbook, brochure, research report, or more – we can help you. We guide you through the creation process and advise you on everything down to the last detail to ensure you end up with a high-quality outcome that you’ll be proud of.