It wasn’t too many years ago that the only way to get high quality printed documents was to call a printing company, place an order, and wait. Many printing companies began to use desktop publishing equipment for their smallest orders because it was much cheaper than using large mechanical presses for such small quantities and their delivery time to the customer was improved. A typical desktop publishing system consisted of a personal computer, a printer, and the appropriate software. The price of these items have fallen so much that it is now common for people to have their own desktop publishing systems to produce most of their small quantity printed materials. If you have a large quantity to produce, you can store your files on a disk and email them to a service bureau for film output or to a print shop for printing. It is still much more efficient and less expensive to have a printing company produce large quantity items because of the speed of their presses. However, the use of personal desktop publishing systems for a small quantity job (generally under 1,000), has several advantages over the same job run at a printing company.
- Design – You have control over the layout and appearance of your document. If you don’t like a typeface or the design of a graphic you have created, you can easily change it, instead of having to wait for a proof from a printer.
- Convenience – You can design and print documents when you need them. Once your document has been designed and saved, it takes only minutes to reopen it and print the quantity that you need, rather than waiting for a printer to deliver your order.
- Price – Generally, it is much cheaper to print a limited quantity of documents from your desktop publishing system than ordering them from a printer. Most printers have a minimum quantity that you must order and the minimum quantity may be more than you need, particularly if changes need to be made to your document at regular intervals.
QuarkXpress™ is the page layout program most commonly used for prepress work. Adobe InDesign™ is the newcomer to the page layout area and may be a good alternative. Check with your service bureau or print shop to make sure they have the software you are using before submitting your files for a print project. Adobe Illustrator® and Macromedia Freehand™ are two excellent choices for professional vector-based art, and Adobe Photoshop® offers predictable, high-end raster capabilities for image development. For more information on prepress software programs, visit the software section.
- Document Design
- Hanging Indents
- Proofreaders’ Marks