Glossary of Desktop Publishing ( DTP )Terms

Introduction to Desktop Publishing

Elements of Design

Principles of Design

Designing a Tri-fold Brochure

Steps in the Design Process




Desktop Publishing is a modern printing process that uses personal computers and design software to create and edit layouts for producing all kinds of materials including reports, books, magazines, brochures, flyers, and newsletters.

Modern day graphic arts communication benefited from the development of paper, block printing and inks for writing of the past. The Gutenberg Press in Germany was a significant invention in the history of printing that preceded inventions and innovations in photography and photo copying as steps that lead to the modern technologies that are utilized today for desktop publishing.

Desktop Publishing allows a computer user to have access to traditional printing processes. Though this electronic medium offers the personal computer users greater access to creating printed materials, there is still a need for a student to understand the importance of applying basic design fundamentals such as space, texture, color, line elements, balance and rhythm to a design layout.

Each technological innovation attempts to improve upon existing technologies and processes. It is important to understand the origin of terminologies and protocols in desktop publishing to better appreciate their significance. Though the modern personal computer allows an individual to produce an printed materials, the quality of that product will depend on an understanding of the elements and principle of design.

Elements and Principles of Design [TOP]

There are some basic rules and guidelines in desktop publishing that provide the graphic designers with options for creating and producing attention-grabbing effective visual products. A well designed layout must do what it is intended to do, be well organized, and effectively communicate a message to its target audience.

Elements of Design

  • Lines: Connects points to form a visual image. Lines may be used to create patterns, convey an emotion, or describe a personality. Lines can also be used to design shapes that can be used as a universal language in communications, for example our alphabet.
  • Shapes: Shapes are connecting lines that have dimension (height and weight). The three basic shapes are the square, circle, and triangle.

Universal Images

  • Mass: The amount of space between or around objects. Mass is really noticed when there is too much white space in a design or when items are cluttered in a design.
  • Texture: An image of feeling visually. The look or feel of a surface.
  • Color: A powerful tool used to grab attention and enhance your design. Color adds dimension to a design. Color may also disguise your intended message when used inappropriately.

Principles of Design:[TOP

The principles of design help the graphic designer appropriately place each of the design elements. ]

  • Balance: A formal or informal distribution of elements in a design.
  • Rhythm: A repetitive pattern of shapes.
  • Emphasis: The element that grabs your attention. The HEADLINE of your design.
  • Unity: Bringing all the elements of a design together so they look like they belong with one another.

Designing a Tri-Fold Brochure [TOP]

Printed materials can be expensive to produce depending on the use of color and images. They are, however, an excellent way to communicate information.

A well developed brochure for advertising a product or communicating a message to a specific audience can be designed to be cost effective as well as practical. Brochures can be mass produced on a printing press, office photocopier, or with a desktop printer. The quantity and quality of brochures needed will determine which printing process best fits your budget.

The size and shape of your brochure may vary depending on desired aesthetics and function. You may be as creative as you like. Your only limitation is the size of the paper you are going to print on and folds for your intended margins. The most common type of brochure is the tri-fold. If you have a tight budget and a small format printer you may be limited to a traditional tri-fold style on 8.5x11 paper. You may change the fold positions to add something unexpected. It is best to experiment on blank paper to determine the folds you use.

Trifold Design Layout for Brochures

These are samples of a traditional tri-fold brochures. Concepts are shown for a cover, the front, and back views of tri-folds before folding along the overdrawn pink lines.

Brochures are used for a variety of promotional needs. Some department stores may create a tri-fold mailer to promote upcoming sales that could include coupons. Brochures are used in the tourism industry to promote resorts, hotels, and area attractions. Organizations, agencies, and clubs may use a brochure style to promote their efforts and educate its readers about important public issues. The main reason for the design and use of a brochure is the convenient size to read, fold and put into a pocket. It is important to understand that the brochure's creative design should reflect good elements and principles of design.

Steps in the Design Process [TOP]

Step #1

Thumbnail sketch (a series of simple and rapidly drawn designs for a layout)
Once you have your challenge and inspiration, the first step is to quickly sketch out possible designs. This process is fast and in black and white or color. Don’t spend too much time here, just jot down what comes to mind.

Step #2

Rough Layout (a redrawn version of the thumbnail layout that closely resembles the final product)
Now that you have an idea of how you want the design to look, begin thinking about folds, margins, type, color, and images. You may use the computer to begin your layout. If necessary, you may do some cutting and pasting to design your project.

Step #3

Comprehensive Layout (a full color layout that gives the customer a more detailed look at the finished product)

This is an important proofing process. You are to do this part on the computer, using color, type, and images in the proper space design. The purpose of a comprehensive dummy is to show the art director (or your teacher) how the finished piece is supposed to look. It also serves as a proof to the customer or to your teacher who will grade your work and allow you to go to the next design step.


Step #4

Final (a completed detailed representation of the final product including all colors, images, and text with proper margins and folds.)

At this stage make sure all your page elements are according to the comprehensive layout. Include any corrections suggested by the art director, your customer or your teacher.

Choosing the Font: Typography [TOP]


Selecting the most appropriate type style is important to the overall message of your design. The type provides the link between the designer and the audience. Type takes the place of the human voice and has many expressive tones. Type expresses many moods. Some type may simply talk to its audience, while others may shout out a message.

Choosing a Typeface

Five factors to consider when choosing a typeface:

(1) Legibility…how easily can the letters and numbers of a typeface be seen and recognized.

(2) Readability…how easily a typeface can be read for meaning.

(3) Appropriateness…How the typeface fits the intended reader. It must also fit the message it is meant to convey.

(4) Reproducibility…How well the type will reproduce using different methods of printing

(5) Practicality…How available is the font?

Choosing your Type

There are some rules that most designers follow when deciding on the style of type to use in a design. It has been traditionally agreed that type has five major classifications.


Historical Text Type Style (represented as Old English type)

Commonly used for formal announcements and invitations to weddings, graduations, and receptions.

Roman Type (Serif) Style

Used for long passages. This type style is easy to read and has serifs on the letters.

Sans-Serif Type Style

This type style is used in books, magazines, and newspapers.

Square-Serif Type Style

This typeface is used for headlines and letterheads where a small amount of reading is required.

Script Type Style

This is used for advertisements, announcements, and invitations. It has a personal handwriting look.

Novelty Type Style

This is the “catch-all” type style. It includes those types that do not fit into the other five classifications.



Depending on your budget and available equipment, it may be easier and cost efficient to have your brochure done at a commercial printing and copying service by either taking a digital file (tiff, or pdf formats) or a finished proof for reproduction. If funds are and issue and you have access to a copier you can use some colored paper and run your brochure two-sided on a black and white copier. If you have access to a color ink jet printer you can also run the sheets through to print on both sides. Remember depending on your design will dictate how to reload the the one-side printed sheets to print on the opposite side at the appropriate configuration. Do some single test sheets before printing quantities for the best quality.