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Reading Exercise 6

Desktop Publishing

Desktop publishing (DTP) has fundamentally changed the way in which the business world looks at the production of documents, ranging from simple brochures and company reports to books, newspapers and magazines. Using a clever mix of computer technology, graphic skills arid printing techniques it enables all kinds of organizations to provide high quality communication materials more quickly, simply and at a significantly lower cost than had previously been possible.

The first thing to note is that you do not have to be a publisher in order to benefit from DTP. It is used as much for improving the design and presentation of day-to-day documents as for producing publications. In order to understand the impact that DTP has made, it is necessary to understand the way in which INFO and other documents have been created using traditional methods.

The first stage in the old method of preparing INFO was the gathering together of all text, photographs and graphics which would make up the bulk of the magazine. The next step was marking the text for the printer - a rather laborious, and occasionally hit-and-miss affair! In essence, this meant judging the approximate length of the articles and choosing appropriate print sizes and styles (fonts). The appropriately marked pages were then sent to the printer for type-setting. The end-product of this type-setting phase is called a galley and takes the form of continuous columns on long sheets of paper.

At this stage the fun begins! All the columns of text have to be cut out and manually pasted onto sheets of paper marked out in columns, to give the layout for each page of the magazine. If one had misjudged the length of text at the type-setting phase, then screams of agony would mingle with the pervading smell of glue in the editorial offices as a very stressed editor wrangles bits of text and photographs. The flexibility of this old system was very limited, page layout was largely pre-determined and type-setting errors meant long and time-consuming proof-reading, both at the galley stage and at the final page proof stage. An additional problem with the old method is the length of time between the copy date (stage 1) and the publication of the magazine (about six weeks for INFO).

Desktop publishing made our life a lot easier. Now with our new system, we first type the text of the article on an ordinary wordprocessing package (MultiMate Advantage II is used but any other package is usable) or we ask our contributors to send us their article on a disk, typed with almost any word processor on an IBM or compatible PC computer. The second stage is to design the page frame, i.e. size, number of columns and margins. We then place the text in the page with an easy command called ‘Autoflow’.

The third stage is the design of the layout: placing illustrations and choosing the most suitable typeface. At the last stage, we print the articles on the laser printer and pass them on to colleagues to be proof-read. After making all corrections, the files containing our next INFO are copied on to a disk and sent to our printers for publication.

As you probably noticed by the number of lines written to explain the two different methods, we are now able to save a considerable amount of time, effort - and glue!


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