What is DTP?

Desktop Publishing characterizes the fabrication of camera-ready page layouts with the help of a personal computer as well as specific software and periphery (scanners to import templates, printers/ phototypesetters for high quality editions from page layouts).

* DTP is word processing as well as graphics and layout.

  • DTP enables the creation of high quality technical printed matter such as artwork from the comfort of each computer users desk
  • DTP or more precisely the essential (content) components typography and layout, this serves for an improved legibility for the reader as well as a higher acceptance of texts.
  • The initial scepticism from the pioneer years, dating back to the first 5-10 years since the introduction on the market of the first DTP systems in 1984, reached its current professionalism of software and hardware through a broad acceptance, it also yielded the highly professional printing and type setting industry

* A good composition by now is an important factor for all types of texts and is of great important for all professions that produce texts based on the effective technical possibilities.


  • Simplification of work flows

One person at one workstation can complete the single steps from text production up to its fabrication of printable standard texts. This leads to drastic cost reductions because the complete number of people taking part is reduced.

  • Speed and Flexibility

gives one the possibility to make last minute changes. This advantage is currently being strengthened by the current trend of “Printing on Demand”; here printing high quality final versions are also transferred to electronically supported “End-User” systems.

  • Controllability of the Printing Process:

when it comes to foreign-languages goods, which translators have a lot to do with, typing errors and other errors can be avoided that could arise due to language and cultural barriers.


  • DTP provides for intensive training

this affects typographic basic knowledge and a higher necessity for regulation for a professional and uniform configuration “corporate identity.”

  • An individual person needs to combine special knowledge

from earlier specialised occupations and carryout the orthography, punctuation, and hyphenation having sole responsibility. The available aids, especially for German, for professional use are in most cases insufficiently suited.

DTP Components

DTP- System: Scanner
Computer and Laser printer



  • A high-capacity PC with at least 32 MB RAM, 1 GB Hard drive (or even removable disks/CD-ROM-Drive as a mass storage of templates), 17 ” Screen (Display of 2 A4 pages, high resolution graphics)


  • Word processing: in addition to the new entry in the layout programme, as well as the completion of texts and exports from effective word-processing programmes. The most important products are: Microsoft Word, Word Perfect, Lotus AmiPro, for Apple Macintosh: Claris MacWrite Pro.
  • Graphic
    • Creation of vector drawings from objects e.g. CorelDraw, Micrografx Designer, Visio, MacDraw and numerous others
    • Diverse: Pixel photos (Bitmaps) from individual points, generated from MS Word Graphic Editor, MS Paintbrush, Aldus Freehand… Some programmes (Canvas) have the ability to process both vector graphics and Bitmaps.
    • Special form: Clipart, that is to say a collection of iconised graphics that are for example treated as specific file types (catalogued with keywords) in Microsoft. All types of graphics can be administered with CorelMosaic
  • Layout
    • Combination of text (parts) and graphics whereas the presentation does not comply with individual pages but modelled on mounting surfaces of a graphic artist, independent of a specific page or paper format a larger working surface is presented.
    • Most well known programmes are:
      • Adobe (previously known as Aldus) PageMaker (Mac, Windows), mainly applicable for the composition of time consuming printing matters, e.g. notifications, brochures, magazines
      • Ventura Publisher (Windows), mainly for larger quantities (books)
      • Quarkexpress (specifically for Mac)

Conclusion: increasing approximation and integration of all three programme categories to all-round-talents – MS Word currently consists of a graphic editor and to some extent a layout functionality (WordArt) – as well as CorelDraw that just like PageMaker has orthography and hyphenation functions.

However: all three-programme categories act as professional specialists in their traditional area

  • Other Software (besides competition): presentation programmes (Ms PowerPoint, HarvardGraphics) as specialists for both electronic and printed final products: presentation materials (transparencies, slides)


Printing technique

“A laser printer is a machine that projects dirt onto paper.”

  • Laser printer functions like a photocopier or even a fax machine; the print image is put together with the electrostatic charging of individual dots.
  • The decisive factor is the resolution, the fineness of individual points. Today’s standard is 300 dpi (dots per inch, approx 120 dpi per cm), which equals to almost 8 million dots per A4 page. Today the doubled number of an affordable resolution of 600 dpi corresponds to a fourfold figure of dots – 64 million.

The procedure in detail:

  • The electrostatic charging is generated through an electronically controlled laser beam (that’s the difference from a photocopier, where the laser or rather a quartz light ray scans the template.)
  • Before exposure the page needs to be calculated by a Raster Image Processor (RIP) or rather it needs to be built up in its dots 300 dpi and leading to 8 million per A4 page provided that the main memory requirement is at least 1 megabyte in the laser printer.
  • During the actual printing process a laser beam is aimed on the dots of a selenium drum that eventually are to bare colours. This ruins the positive charge of the drum so that the toner with the negative charges can attach itself to the drum. Subsequently the toner is transfused on the positively charged paper and fixated with the help of momentary heating of 200 C.

Other printing procedures:

  • Ink jet printers from a cost perspective can be classed among matrix printers, a smaller printing volume. This improves the resolution because while spraying the ink it blends with the paper so that no individual dots appear. The high-end-products however, especially in the colour printing area for the compilation of fewer print runs, are also interesting for “professional” purposes. Postcript and the network compatible HP DeskJet 1200C/PS that also has a resolution of 300dpi belong to this category.
  • Phototypesetters reach an even higher resolution and are used in professional areas. The norm is 1270dpi, there are however image setters that have up to 2540 dpi. This however simply creates the page layouts (special coated plates). As an affordable printing technique for average print runs (news papers, job printing) the affordable offset printing is used, it works like the electrostatic laser printing procedure with the difference being fat (=colour) and water.

Printer software: the principal of Postcript

How are pixels calculated?

The pixels of dot matrix printers as well as conventional laser and ink jet printers are calculated with the help of the so-called printer driver that is specifically tailored for the corresponding printer or the series or is geared to the company standard: this is how the OKI and Brother-Drucker in FASK emulate the HP PCL (Printer Command Language) from Hewlett-Packard; they are just like these printers.

However, in the professional DTP area there are more elegant alternatives.

  • Postcript from Adobe is a Page Definition Language (PDL), an adequate procedural programmer language that describes the graphics and texts for each printed side in mathematical formulas and the interface between the application programme and the printer (a general output device).
  • Characters and vector graphics are not transferred to the printer with Postcript as dots (pixel or Bitmap characters) but defined as outlines (outline font). This results in image enlargements without a loss in quality; they can be turned and modified in diverse ways.
    A similar, newer writing technique that is more suitable for the non-professional area are “truetype” fonts that have a huge success in Windows but compared to Postcript they are no longer being further developed.
  • It is possible to not just print a file in the application programme but also to export it to a Postcript file, save it and then (even from another computer) export the Postcript file on to the previously installed printer. With this approach the selected printer does not have to be connected to just one computer, the proper printer driver is enough to generate a Postcript file with a high printing quality from home and export it to the university later on. (In practice difficulties can arise!)

Characteristics of Postcript

  • Integration of text and graphic
  • Device independence: output on each Postcript-capable output device, a simple (laser) printer costs1.500 DM and a high quality image setter can be bought for 150.000 DM.
    A similar, newer writing technique that is more suitable for the non-professional area are “truetype” fonts that have a huge success in Windows but compared to Postcript they are no longer being further developed.
  • Software and hardware independence: The source code of Postcript files only consists of ASCII/ANSI-characters and is therefore in principle
    • exchangeable between all PC/Workstation-operating systems (DOS/Windows, Apple OS, Next, Solaris/Unix),
    • it is also exchangeable or rather can be processed with every text editor when it comes to the compliance of structure conventions concerning the EPS (=Encapsulated Postcript) format.

* Postcript portrays itself through a higher level of flexibility and portability when compared to other printing techniques. Postcript has therefore become a standard in the DTP industry.

On the other hand, Postcript can be viewed as a “one way street with a dead end” (DTP p.81) due to the fact that the already created file cannot be displayed on the screen to make other changes. In the mean time corresponding works on a “Display-Postcript” have led to Adobe PDF formats that is generated from Postcript and is presented with a programme such as Acrobat Reader or as a Plugin for example Netscape Navigator.


= “page reader” (literal translation), a device to load graphics and texts


  • In other respects the scanning process is also similar to that of a photocopier: the template is scanned by a light beam and is digitalised and changed into electronic binary files (dot/no dot).

All the loaded templates are only available as so-called Bitmaps, graphics created from single dots, however they can be reworked in various different techniques (vectorization or character recognition).

Quality Criteria

  • In this case quality depends greatly on the scanners resolution; the templates type, brightness, and contrast also play a role when it comes to quality.
  • Resolution: in the DTP area it ranges from 72 dpi (adequate for screen display), 150dpi (normal fax quality), 300 dpi (normal printing resolution) and can reach up to 1200 dpi (however this requires the use of mathematical interpolation procedures).
  • Types of templates:
    • Line drawings are by nature best suited for scanning because they are made up of only black and white dots.
    • Continuous tone templates (photos) contain shades of grey that are approximated when scanned through an alignment of black dots: close-set and heavy dots create a blacker area, thinner dots that are further apart create a lighter image region. Normally there are 16 shades of grey, that is to say 4 Bit per pixel. The maximum printing resolution of 300 dpi however, lowers the effective output quality to 75 dpi or technically contingent (approximation of curves) it can be even lower. This process is characterised as rasterization (a relatively bad quality) and is for example used for the production of newspapers in offset printing. In contrast high-quality printing (colour pages from Geo) are created in gravure and letterpress printing, where a continuous tuning of colour strengths is possible due to the different levels of template space.
    • Colourful templates are more difficult to scan because the storage capacity is greatly increased: one bit must not be spent per pixel but 4 bits per 16 colours or 1 byte per 256 colours – scanning an A4 page with a 300 dpi resolution in other words 8 million pixels which results to a file size (uncompressed) of 4-8MB.
  • Finishing: Essentially, templates that are more interesting to scan are those that can be vectorised (reviewed) because the quality can be increased and optimised.
    • Photos: with programmes such as Aldus Photostyler or Corel PhotoPaint the contrasts for example can be strengthened and therefore the output quality (camera-readiness) can be improved during offset printing.
    • Graphics can often be vectorised that is to say transformed into objects. CorelTrace is used for this procedure.

Text recognition

  • OCR (optical character recognition) is the (broad) area of transforming scanned Bitmaps to ASCII-characters, an editable text.
  • The stated recall ratio in advertisements of 95%-98% can only be reached with good templates that are free of “flaws” such as incomplete letters or “spatters” (due to photocopying).
    A similar, newer writing technique that is more suitable for the non-professional area are “truetype” fonts that have a huge success in Windows but compared to Postcript they are no longer being further developed.
  • Text recognition is rewarding for equally large text quantities with an optimal (printing) quality, such as old magazine volumes or corpora juris.
  • The recognition of (national) special characters (accents etc) is extremely problematic in the foreign-language department because the programme has to differentiate between these character (combinations) and spatters.
  • There is however, a gleam of hope: the entry of automatic spellcheckers is very profitable because so many reoccurring recognition errors can be automatically corrected: e.g. when the letter l is recognised as a one 1. This affects the spellcheckers that do not work with a fixed dictionary but rather with linguistic or rather statistic procedures to review word forms.

Basics of Typography


  • Font- is a complete character set (capital and lower case letters, figures, sentence characters and special characters) with a standard character.
  • Styles are (characterised as style in Word, look at table for examples)
    • Basic effects of typography, light, plain, oblique or italic, bold and the combination of bold italics.
    • Other effects are generated through a different tracking of letters. As a result a longer text can be shortened or a shorter text can be lengthened in a more elegant fashion.

Small caps such as outlines and shadows are closely linked to fonts when it comes to application; they are also different style effects.

  • Font families
    • All font styles of a font create a font family
  • In principle you can distinguish between serif and sanserif fonts
    • Serif or antiqua-script e.g. Times New Roman, have a classic and literary effect and are suitable for current texts.
    • Sanserif or grotesque lettering e.g. Helvetica, have a modern and factual effect and are used in titles or user manuals.
  • Besides the “real” italic fonts or font families, tilted letters are often used in DTP (so-called “oblique” letters)
  • Font size (type size) is measured in typographical dots, although nowadays the Pica-system from America (1pt = 0.351mm, 12pt =1 pica) has become an international ISO-norm.

Font families and their uses

Paragraph configuration:

  • Leading and feed:
    • Leading is the space between two text lines; it’s a deciding factor for the legibility of texts. It’s the space between the bottom edge and the upper edge of a line.
      A negative leading can be useful when drawing up logos that are intertwined into one another or letter heads.
    • The feed or line spacing one the other hand is the space from one baseline to the next.
  • Line spacing in most cases is set automatically at 120% of the font size and the leading at 20
    Example: if the font size is 10 the feed is set at 12 points and the leading at 2 points, a line spacing of 1.5 lines carries a leading of 0.5 lines.
  • Spacing and kerning
    • Spacing originates from the typewriting era where each letter had a fixed width.
      In the modern proportional fonts (almost all besides Courier or Courier related fonts) the spacing are omitted e.g. the i in contrast to M.
      Kerning removes the drawbacks of proportional fonts so that the space between letter pairs is always the same. Just like ligatures (fused letters) where kerning letters are pushed closer together.

Configuration tips for the typography of technical and business texts

  • Chose font size that matches text type and print space with 9-12 pts, where the text in pictures and captions should be as big as the body text font.
  • The best body text font is Times New Roman; Helvetica (sanserif) is used for headings (like most newspapers and magazines).
  • Line spacing of at least 1.5 lines, and an extra space between paragraphs.
  • Headlines (header or footer) should be clearly separated from the text, precise and short

Basic Knowledge Layout

Print Space

  • One page (dimensions for A4) can either be printed in print space.

Page set up and margins

  • The difference here between one-page printouts and double sided printouts can be observed. Double sided printouts have a necessary addition of a normal margin called binding margin, it’s extra space for binding or even hole punching, on even pages the margin is on the right and on uneven pages the margin is on the left.
  • The following margins are different:.

Configuration tips for the layout of technical texts

  • Pay attention to a balanced and calm overall impression of the pages.
  • Keep the arrangement of texts and pictures coherent and conclusive and take into account the reading flow: the picture as the key medium on the left or on the upper half of the explanatory text (and reversed).
  • Single-column sentences, per line a maximum of 60 characters, multiple-column sentences should be 35-45 characters per gap, whereas the gutter should be bigger than the average word spacing.
  • The binding margins needs to be large enough for the binding so that no letters go missing


Vector graphics

  • Vector graphics are the best computer compatible form of graphics that can be changed without a loss of quality (analogue to Postcript font)
  • Such characters are not saved in their concrete forms but rather as mathematical formulas (vectors) for each output with the given measurements
  • Reoccurring application fields are technical documentations that resort to the illustration of facts of engineering drawings and part drawings. Due to their high reproduction quality from the computer they are also used for all types of high-quality graphic outputs (provided the outlines are determined).

Pixel photos

  • Pixel graphics if anything correlate to the “artistic” colouring with pencils and erasers.
  • Due to the storage as raster, one is greatly appointed to a specific output device (the corresponding size and resolution of the output) if the aim is to reach an optimal quality. For a screen display the images need to be edited on a considerably low resolution than for a (laser) printed version.
  • In many cases the pixel format cannot be avoided, especially when it comes to photos, there is no other choice (especially if you disregard the complex and professional finishing).
  • However, the Bitmap format with a suitable resolution is enough for domestic purposes, where by the file size increases greatly.


  • Clipart images are prefabricated and catalogued commercial art in which a cadre is delivered together with many graphic programmes (e.g. Microsoft Office Packet).
  • It has to do with illustrations, symbols, pictograms or even very simple but useful elements of design such as arrows, dots, margins, waves and shadow lines.
    Often the images are thematically organised; CorelDraw even sends a printed catalogue.
  • The file format is different; it can be linked to vector graphics as well as Bitmap graphics. The clipart files often only use up a few kilobytes because the images have been compressed.

Graphic formats:

Current graphic formats and their file extensions should be noted in this overview, DOS/Windows are only allowed 3 characters.

Programme specific extensions

CDR Corel Draw (importable from a few programmes)
DS4 Designer 4.0, good export functions
PPT PowerPoint 4.0 (presentation programme)

Specific operating system graphic formats

BMP Windows Bitmap-Format, at least 75 dpi, normal 300-600 dpi
PCX Same as BMP formats
WMF Windows Metafile, interchange format with a relatively low quality
PICT Apple Macintosh Standard graphic format (as PICT2 colour possible)


Standardised graphic formats and de-facto standards

EPS Encapsulated Postcript, special PS-form for graphics
GIF Graphic Interchange format, very high compression, lower quality and colour depth esp. screen display
JPEG Joint Picture Experts Group, international ISO-standard, ideal for photos and halftone presentation
TIFF/TIF Tagged Image File Forman, very high printing quality (differs) through standardised description language
WPG Word Perfect Graphics, very ideal for expressions because the graphic is automatically fitted to the page width and size