Desktop publishers create publications by utilizing specialized software to put together images, photos, text, charts, numerical data, graphics and other elements. They design page layouts, develop presentations and advertising campaigns. Those in desktop publishing produce newsletters, books, magazines, newspapers, calendars, business cards and other items. Some desktop publishers may write and edit as well as design and develop pages.
Some sample job titles are electronic publishers, publications specialist, desktop publishing editor, DTP operator, web publications designer, electronic publishing specialist and electronic pre-press technician.
A desktop publisher utilizes a keyboard to select and enter formatting specifics such as column width and size, and style of type and stores them in a computer. The computer will then arrange and display columns of type on a computer monitor or video display terminal. An entire publication can be produced on the screen exactly as it will appear in print.
Personal computers allow desktop publishers to perform publishing procedures that in the past required a lot of effort and complex equipment. Those in desktop publishing utilize electronic page layout systems, digital color page makeup systems and off-press color proofing systems. In addition, they create special effects and other visual images using video, film, computers and other types of electronic media.
Since a lot of materials are published on the Internet, a desktop publisher may need a strong foundation in electronic publishing technologies such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). They may be required to convert graphics and text to an Internet-ready format.
- Translate electronic information onto film and other forms
- Create graphics that accompany text
- Determine work to be performed and sequence of operations
- Covert drawings and photographs into digital images
- Typeset and perform color separation
- Utilize scanners to capture art, photographs and images as digital data
- Work with graphic artists, writers and editors to produce master copies according to design specifications
- Write and edit text
- Use digital files to produce printing plates
- Check preliminary and final proofs for errors and make appropriate changes
Desktop publishers typically work 8 hours a day, five days a week. They often have short deadlines. They should be skilled with computers and be good at typing. A desktop publisher should be detailed oriented, have good communication skills and be creative. Useful assets include good depth perception, visual acuity, and the ability to focus quickly.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 1 percent job growth for desktop publishers from 2006 to 2016. Sophisticated desktop publishing software and increased computer processing capacity allows non-printing professionals to perform desktop publishing tasks which should slow the growth of desktop publishing jobs. However, companies that create large reports and need high quality publications may continue to use desktop publishers to layout publications for offset printing.
In 2006 the median annual earnings for desktop publishers was $34,130. The highest 10 percent earned more than $55,040.
Desktop publishers can advance in their careers by demonstrating a mastery of skills. Some desktop publishers move up to supervisor and management positions. Some desktop publishers start their own businesses or become independent consultants. Those with a high level of artistic talent and further education may find jobs in graphic design or commercial art.
Education, Certification, and Licensing
Most desktop publishers acquire their knowledge and skills by taking courses or taking a certificate program provided online or at learning centers. Some in desktop publishing learn their skills on-the-job.
Typically, there are no educational requirements for desktop publishers. However, an associate or bachelor's degree in graphic arts, graphic design or graphic communications is beneficial. Graphic arts programs provide a thorough review of desktop publishing software. Regarding job candidates with little or no experience, those that have a degree or certificates in desktop publishing, and have a computer background, should have the best employment opportunities.
- Small Publishers Association of North America
- Graphics Arts Education and Research Foundation
- Graphic Arts Information Network
The top employment sectors are newspapers, books, periodicals, directory publishers, printing and related support; and professional, scientific and technical services.
Schools for Desktop Publishers are listed in the Browse Schools Section.