Desktop Publishing Software — Understanding your Needs

by Kim G on October 3, 2010

desktop publishing software

Selecting a desktop publishing software package can be a challenging task.  With so many programs out there, it can be hard to know which one to choose.   Before you choose a desktop publishing software, you should have a general understanding of what your desktop publishing and graphics needs are.  There are many factors to consider.  Some factors include knowing what types of projects you will creating, your comfort level with desktop publishing concepts, and of course, your budget.  So if you feel like you’ve outgrown using your word processor for desktop publishing,  these questions will help you begin the process of selecting the publishing software that’s right for you.

1.  What kind of projects will you be creating?
Take some time to think about what kind of projects you will be creating with your desktop publishing software.  You may need to created projects for personal use such as flyers, banners or greeting cards.  You may need business and marketing materials, such as brochures, business cards and letterhead.  You may also be interested in creating projects for hobbies,  crafting and scrapbooking.  Understanding the projects and publications you will be creating will be helpful when you explore the different types of  functionality and templates that are available with publishing software.

2.  How often will you be using this software?
Think about whether you will use the program to create desktop publishing projects occasionally, or if you’ll be using the program regularly.  Think about whether you will need to automate repetitive tasks, or if you will need to create master documents or write your own custom templates.

3.  Will you primarily use templates provided with the program to create documents and projects, or will I be designing from scratch?
Almost all desktop publishing programs have templates, but you will want to ensure that the templates provided are ones that you will actually need and use.  If you will be creating your projects from scratch, you’ll want to make sure that the program has good graphic tools and objects including a variety of fonts, images, photo editing and manipulation and other advance features such as color manipulation and graphic creation tools.

4. Will you just be using ready-made clip art, images and photos in projects, or will you create your own graphics and illustrations?
If you’ll primarily be using clip art and stock photos, you will want to determine how many stock photos and clipart comes with the program.  Also, ensure that additional clipart, photos and images can easily be added to your program. If you are interested in creating your own artwork, you should to take time to investigate the software’s graphics creation and manipulation capabilities.

5. How will you print your desktop publishing projects?
Consider whether you will be using your home printer, or if you will be sending your projects out to a printer, copy shop or service bureau.  You will need to ensure that your desktop publishing software is available at these external locations, or if the software can support and export to multiple file formats.

6.  What is your comfort level with desktop publishing concepts and how much time can you devote learning a desktop publishing application?
This is a very important question.  You will want to investigate how easy the desktop program is to use.  If you struggle with software applications and desktop publishing concepts, you should  consider a program that is easy to use, without a lot of additional jargon and  advanced functionality.  However, if you have a very good comfort level with word processing and desktop publishing concepts you may want to explore a more robust application.

7. How much support will you need?
Consider your learning style and how much auxiliary support you may need.  Find out whether the software  has a variety templates, examples and tutorials.   Find out if the vendor, or other companies have  how-to books or formal training classes for the software. Search the Internet to see if there are a variety forums, videos or written tutorials and general support.

8.  How much money are you willing to spend on Desktop Publishing Software?
Price is always an important issue.  Desktop publishing packages prices range from free packages that have good functionality, to packages that cost thousands of dollars.  Understanding how you will use your software will help you narrow your selection, and only pay for the functionality that you need.  If you require a lot functionality and a lot of support, you may need to purchase more expensive software.  If you are self-taught and don’t need support, you may be able to use a free application.  All of the points previously discussed should help you determine how much you should spend on desktop publishing.

Understanding what your needs are in a desktop publishing software will help you choose the right program.  Once you have a good understanding of your need, you will be well on your way to choosing the software that is right for you.

Also See:  Desktop Publishing Using Microsoft Word

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