Desktop Publishing Tips

DTP

WHAT IS DESKTOP PUBLISHING?

Desktop publishing is the use of the computer and software to create visual displays of ideas and information. Desktop publishing documents may be for desktop or commercial printing or electronic distribution, including PDF slideshows, email newsletters, electronic books, and the Web.

Desktop publishing is a term coined after the development of a specific type of software. It’s about using that  software to combine and rearrange text and images and creating digital files for print, online viewing, or websites. Before the invention of desktop publishing software, the tasks involved in desktop publishing were done manually by people who specialized in graphic design, typesetting, and prepress tasks.

Desktop publishing (DTP) is the use of computers to design books that are intended to be printed by printers The softwares that supports desktop publishing has a WYSIWYG graphical user interface (GUI) to make the set-up for publishing as easy as possible.  Desktop publishing is especially helpful as an independent publishing option and can be used to produce information on a variety of topics.

For many small businesses and organizations, desktop publishing makes it possible to publish quality, professional looking informational documents and books for content that a traditional publisher might be uninterested in, perhaps for political or financial reasons. As such, desktop publishing caters to small NICHE MARKETS and can be viewed as a way to enable free speech and independent voice.

PROCEDURES IN DESKTOP PUBLISHING

Have a Plan, Make a Sketch

Before even opening the software it is wise to have an idea where you are going with your design. What do you want to create? Even the roughest of sketches can be useful. You could skip this step but it is recommended to try to do a few thumbnail sketches first.

Choose a Template

If your chosen software has templates for the type of project you plan to do, take a look at those templates to see if they will work as-is or with a little tweaking for your project. Using a template can be faster than starting from scratch and a great way for those new to desktop publishing to get started. Or, as an alternative, find a tutorial for your software that takes you through the steps of learning the software while doing a specific project such as a greeting card, business card, or brochure. With  microsoft publisher you can craft a brth announcement, business card, or greeting card. You can also set up a business card.

Set up Your Document

If using a template, you may need to tweak some of the template settings. If starting from scratch, set the size and orientation of your document — set the margins. If you’ll be doing text in columns, set up text columns. The specific steps you take in the document setup will vary from one type of project to the next.​

Place Text in Your Document

If your document is mostly text, place it in your layout by importing it from a file, copying it from another program, or typing it directly in your program (not the best choice if it is a substantial amount of text).

Format Your Text

Align your text. Apply the desired typeface, style, size, and spacing to your text. You may end up making some changes later, but go ahead and select the fonts you believe you want to use. Apply embellishments such as plain or fancy drop caps. The specific steps of composing texts that you choose will depend on the amount of text and the type of document you are preparing.

Place Graphics in Your Document

If your document is mostly graphics-based, you may want to place the images before adding bits of text. Import your graphics from a file, copy them from another program, or create them directly in your page layout software (simple boxes, rules, etc.). You can even do some drawing and graphics creation right in your page layout program. draw with shapes in indesign shows you how to create all kinds of vector drawings without leaving InDesign.

Tweak Your Graphics Placement

Move your graphics around so that they line up the way you want them. Set up your graphics so that text wraps around them. Crop or resize graphics if necessary (best done in your graphics software, but for desktop printing, it can be acceptable to crop and resize in the desktop publishing software).

Apply the Rules of Desktop Publishing

Once you have your initial layout, improve and fine-tune. Simply applying these tried and true rules of arranging a page and doing desktop publishing will result in more attractive pages even without formal graphic design training. In brief: drop typewritten conventions such as two spaces after periods and double hard returns between paragraphs; use fewer fonts less clip art; leave white space in the layout; avoid most centered and justified text.

Print a Draft and Proofread It

You can proofread on-screen but it’s always a good idea to print out your project. Proof your printout not only for colors (colors on screen don’t always print as expected), typographical errors, and placement of elements. If it is to be folded or trimmed, make sure it folds properly and that trim marks print correctly. Think you’ve caught all the errors? Proofread it again.

Print Your Project

Once you’re happy with your layout and your proofs are printing properly, print your creation on your desktop printer. Ideally, even before you finalize your design you’ve gone through all the preparatory steps for desktop printing including calibration, print options, previews, and troubleshooting.

Top Desktop Publishing Tips and Tricks!

Desktop Publishing is a tricky skill set, done mostly in Microsoft Word and completed often in the middle of the night. Here are 10 tips to use on your next proposal to make your production-life (and your team’s!) a little easier.

1. Be Compliant
The first and most important tip is to be compliant! Check your solicitation or bid specifications and make sure to capture all that information. If the RFP says all text must be single-spaced, Times New Roman then you must use that! In Federal Bids this information is typically in Section L while commercial bids may have some information directly from a customer.

In lieu of any solicitation specifications, check with your sales, business development, and capture teams or managers to find out what the real project needs or wants are and what the real aesthetic likes and dislikes are. If you do not have a lot of that information try two things. First, the “Sherlock Holmes Approach” – see if you can visit your potential client’s office and take cues from the visuals and the style in his or her office. Do they have pictures of their travels, a lot of clutter, or are they very neat? If that is not possible then check out their website for colors and key words.

Finally, make sure to check if you must follow any corporate styles or guidelines – some organizations have very specific templates you must adhere to – as well as any individual preferences. It is often hard to distinguish our personal preferences from those that are more client-appropriate. Always confirm you are providing materials in the way the client prefers. If you hate yellow but that is their corporate color, then your proposal should have yellow in it!

2. Be Consistent
Second only to compliance is consistency in importance for how we portray our documents and our organizations.

Consistency breeds trust – you always know what to expect. Imagine traveling in a foreign country, particularly one where you do not speak the language, and you see a familiar sign. You run to it because you are worried that if you try something else you may wind up eating cow brains when all you wanted was an omelet.
McDonalds and its “golden arches” are some of the most recognizable marketing and branding anywhere in the world. While the menus and the prices change slightly for regional tastes and preferences, you are assured entering any

McDonalds and its “golden arches” are some of the most recognizable marketing and branding anywhere in the world. While the menus and the prices change slightly for regional tastes and preferences, you are assured entering any McDonalds, whether it be London, Thailand, or Pakistan, that you will have similar food, for similar prices with a similar level of service that you have come to expect back home.

So what does this mean for proposals? This means templates. Create a standard, for at least this effort if not for all your proposals, that specifies everything from font type and size to color to header and footer information and really more things than you could possibly think to put in a template. This ensures that anyone working on the project will create all the text and the images in the same way.

Anytime you randomly change the style or the color of something, the audience perceives this as a change in meaning. In reality you were just “tired of blue” or “too tired to update all the old tables.” What your client sees is unprofessionalism or gets so wrapped up in wondering why the table on this page is pink and all the others are blue that they completely miss your message.

Don’t let this happen! Make a template and stick to it.

3. Do Not Use Auto-numbering
Auto-numbering is the devil. End of Tip 3. =)

Automation is wonderful. Using all your available tools or investing in new tools to make your life easier and make proposals go faster is also wonderful. BUT this should be done cautiously.

Microsoft has many active versions of Word and of their operating systems (Vista, XP, 7, Windows 98, etc.) all over the world or even in one company’s office. There are slightly different MS Office versions for Macs and PCs. MS Word in the Office Suite on a PC running Windows is industry standard but it is far from perfect or really standard.

If you work by yourself or if you are the last formatter before the document is published then use auto-numbering. If, however, you are working with a large or dispersed team, particularly if they are on different machines with possibly different operating systems and versions of Word, then manually number your document.

4. Do Not Modify Graphics in Word
Your graphics professional has created graphics to the RFP specifications so that the image can be dropped in at 100% scale and fit perfectly.

Resist the urge to squish any graphics in Word! Even a little bit! That little bit will change your font size and could potentially make you non-compliant and you could lose on a silly technicality. Which would be very, very, bad.

Reviewers may (and have!) actually measure the type in your proposal to winnow down the stack of proposals to review and immediately disqualify you.

Always develop for exactly the physical size you need as well as the resolution. Most office or quick turn type printers generate a sufficient quality when the graphics are exported at 150-200 dpi. Any lower and you may have fuzziness around your text. Any higher and your file can become bloated and difficult to manage, print, or upload/email to a client.

A written graphic (one going into a Word document) is sized to fit perfectly within the margins. If the RFP specifies 1 inch margins then that is the page size, minus 1 inch for the right margin and another 1 inch for the left making it 6.5 inches maximum width for an 8.5×11 page. The height is the same – 11 inches minus 1 inch for the top and 1 for the bottom and a little bit of space for the action caption or other exhibition listing or ~8.75 inches for maximum height.

An orals slide (one going into a PowerPoint Presentation) is sized to fit a slide, which around the world is 10 inches by 7.5 inches. We recommend developing those graphics either entirely in PowerPoint, whenever possible, or to build the slide in another graphics software package on the exact image slide background so you can correctly anticipate spacing.

5. Be Speedy
Perhaps the most important thing in proposals, even more important than getting it perfect, is getting it done on time. You are often under an extreme amount of pressure to finish the proposal quickly so you want to use the features in Word (or other parts of the MS Office Suite) to create beautiful documents, fast.

Use shortcut keys – all those built-in standards such as copy, paste, and undo. Then define your own “Quick Keys.” These are like short cut keys but user-defined, can be tied to styles, and can be found under your “Modify” in your Styles dialog box. Quick keys for commands or actions that are not styles (such as inserting a table or a text box) can also be assigned and are located near the toolbar set up (different on different versions of Word).

Create your own toolbar! If you do not like using quick keys then create your own toolbar and just click on the icons on that toolbar rather than having to navigate drop down menus.

The benefit of these techniques is an increase in consistency and efficiency. If everyone on your team knows that the quick key to insert a picture is CTRL+8 and it is saved on every machine in your office then you are actually saving time and creating repeatable processes.

Macros are another great way to speed up standard actions. But beware – hackers often hide malicious code in macros and macros can stop working or be difficult to debug or recreate. If you are an expert or know any experts, use them. If you are a novice user, stick to the other options.

6. Use Uniquely Named Styles
Do not use the styles that Word provides as standard – make your own standards. Use your client, project, company, or some other identifier when creating styles in Word. Make a new style (that can be based on the standard “Normal”) and name that style something unique such as “BI Heading 1,” “BI Normal.” This will ensure that your styles will not be overwritten. They will travel to another person’s machine just fine because they are different. Regular “Normal” may be very different (in font, line spacing, etc.) from one machine to another and could impact your document formatting.
Once you have your uniquely named styles set up, assign them quick keys and be extra speedy AND consistent when formatting your documents.

7. Save and Save Often
Save multiple versions of a document. Save them by hour if you are getting concerned about the stability of the file. Veteran desktop publishers know that .doc files sense when its almost delivery time and “blow up” at inopportune moments.

Make sure you maintain version control. There are many great software and document management programs that do this for you, but most importantly remember to use common sense. Be aware of who has access to the file and be clear about when that access is no longer available. Be firm about “pens down” and other deadlines.

*Trick: If your file claims its corrupted in MS Word 2003 try opening it in 2007. The new features in 2007 recognize that a file is corrupt and then attempt to fix it. 

8. Double Check Your Work
Work with “non-printing characters” turned on. This option is hiding in a couple of different places depending on your version of Word but is most likely under “Preferences.” This allows you to see Section breaks, paragraph returns, spaces, etc. and can be invaluable in troubleshooting why something is not doing what you want or expect it to do.

Have someone else check your work. While it is important to confirm the document looks right, make sure that it is set up correctly as well. It is very easy to cheat in Word and not create something that is technically correct or easy for someone else to edit or update. Use uniquely named styles and set things up correctly, such as using tabs and not hitting space bar a hundred times to get the line to break the way you want.

9. Over Estimate
“Oh, I’ll just take it to Kinkos.”

“Oh, our production folks don’t mind coming in at 1am on the 4th of July.”

These and hundreds of other similarly naïve phrases are because people do not schedule or that they simply do not know how to schedule.

Fact: things always take longer than you expect.

Assume at least 1 page per minute for full color printing and then double that time (if you can) for the unexpected. Assume that it will take ~4 hours per graphic which includes time to set up a template, do iterations, communicate with the graphics resource, etc. Assume even with all the great tools and new efficiencies your desktop publishers can format ~8 pages per hour. Does that seem low? Maybe. But like graphics it gives a little breathing room for the unexpected.

Make sure everyone knows your timeline – especially if you are not co-located. Key vendors or other team members may not be working with the same level of urgency simply because they do not realize how close the deadline is. If you receive an extension, similarly let everyone involved know. Some vendors may need to reschedule other clients or have a conflict – the more time you have to plan for the unexpected the easier physical production becomes.

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