DTP – or the taming of the content
Imagine an excellently written article, engrossing, exciting, one that you can’t take your eyes off from the very first sentence. It is written with passion, imaginativeness, and contains practical and unique information useful for your personal development or business purposes. Imagine content that will allow you to be ahead of your competition and gain the upper hand on the market … And now… imagine it is presented in the form of several densely written pages of condensed text without paragraphs, illustrations, graphs, or pictures. Would you still want to read it?
Luckily, we have DTP (desktop publishing), which enables us to take hold of the printing chaos and prepare content that is easy and aesthetic in a reader’s perception. DTP is defined as the entire process of preparing a publication for printing or electronic use by means of specific software. Such activities relate to books, brochures, magazines, marketing & advertising content, or even packages. Without DTP, documents would be just dry and boring text. In the era of picture civilization we live in now, such documents would have no chance of being noticed.
From project to publication
The typesetting process can be divided into several stages, and omitting any of them may result in gaps in the graphics, inferior quality of photos or errors in the verbal layer. Let’s have a closer look.
- Developing a publication project
It all starts with graphic work. You need to select coloring, content layout, graphic design, and the type of font that best matches given information. A good project means much easier absorption of the material by the reader and less risk that something may go wrong in the further process of preparing the publication.
- Content upload
After creating a publication project, a DTP specialist moves the received graphics, photos, and text directly to the computer system where the actual work starts.
- Content processing
Next in line is retouch, color conversion, and the file is saved in the appropriate format.
- Creating other graphic elements
With the help of the right software and computer techniques, the typesetting and breaking of the document can be carried out. It consists in combining graphic elements with the text.
When the material has its target graphic appearance, it is time for the people specializing in words to get the ball rolling. Errors in spelling, punctuation and ‘printing gremlins’ (or ‘digital gremlins’ in this case) are picked out and corrected.
- Content publication
Once the right files are generated, they are passed on to be replicated by means of polygraph techniques or published in an electronic form. The user receives the target publication.
Which software is useful?
Specialists conversant with software for combining texts and images and preparing publications for print watch over the cohesiveness of the whole DTP process.
Combining graphic elements with the properly typeset (i.e. divided into clear paragraphs) text is called typesetting. For many years this process has been carried out using two programs: Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress.
Although the notions of ‘typesetting’ and ‘breaking’ have slightly changed since computer techniques were introduced and replaced traditional fonts placed on a matrix, the basic rules of that process remain unchanged. Clarity and aesthetic appearance are the chief features of good DTP.
Processing photos and visual files
In terms of raster file processing (consisting of pixels), there is one leading program – Adobe Photoshop. And in vector graphics (consisting of solid figures) the chief software is Adobe Illustrator.
PDF – Portable Document Format
For the document to look the same after DTP processing and publishing it on all digital carriers irrespective of the system or device, a file format called PDF (Portable Document Format) was invented. It is universal and supported by all programs, printing systems, and display or printing devices. PDF is a simplified successor of once popular PostScript, which was a specialized programming language.
The basic programs for editing and creating PDF files are PDF Adobe Acrobat and Distiller. PDF files editing is extended by PitStop plugin for Acrobat.
All-purpose character of DTP
Due to the change in the way we absorb information and the emergence of numerous new carriers like websites, smartphones, or tablets, there is an increasing need for adapting to the new conditions. Preparing content for print is just a small part of what DTP currently involves. A huge percentage of this process relates to digital content, which contemporary consumers absorb daily in dozens of versions and hundreds of channels. Little do they know that there are various DTP specialists who prepare that content.