Hot topic 'Desktop Publishing Myths and Realities'

Because it's still a relatively new graphic art tool (almost ten years old now!), and because it is such a rapidly evolving technology with precious few real experts, desktop publishing carries with it more than a fair share of myths.  If you have a myth understanding of what desktop publishing is all about, what the benefits really are and what really is and is not possible, then you may be mything out on the real potential of your system.

Myth #1

Desktop publishing saves you time and/or money
This is a myth often held by people who don't actually use a DTP system.  Sorry, it isn't necessarily so.  The cost to produce a document involves (at least!) two factors: the cost of equipment required to create it (hardware, software, etc.) and the operator time taken to generate it.  When cost estimating your projects, don't forget to factor in your equipment, the hours of reading manuals, experiments, job redos (because you really were going to save your documents after "just one more slight change"), and late night frustrations of trying to coax a simple graphic out of the printer while fearing the dread "Sorry, cannot print - unknown error" message.
The real reason that people have embraced DTP and have put up with all its pain is very simple: CONTROL.  DTP allows the person creating the document to have total control over all facets of the project -- its cost, quality, production timing, and content.  The choice of using outside suppliers and subcontractors (with all what "going outside" implies) and to what extent they are used can be decided by the needs of the job at hand and not by some third party.

Myth #2

Desktop publishing is easy - or - it turns people into instant designers
Wouldn't it be great if that was true.  We've seen people push a few buttons, and nudge the odd mouse - but it seems you have to know which buttons to press and where to point your mouse!  After all, just as owning a computer doesn't make you a designer or production artist!
DTP actually embraces a number of very highly skilled trades.  To get the most effective result from their system, DTP artists devote a substantial amount of time and energy (and money!) learning about allied professions such as typesetting, illustration, scanning, graphic design, stripping, and printing.  DTP is not easy - but it can be straightforward.

Myth #3

Desktop publishing can't match the quality of 'high-end' system
Actually it's true.  You can't match the quality of proprietary prepress systems - you can exceed it. Quality if often defined as meeting a client's expectations for technical quality, cost and production control for the document in the creator's hands, desktop systems make it much easier to achieve that goal.  Proprietary (or dedicated) system - often wrongly called high-end system - were developed to meet the quality, pricing and production turn around times set by the prepress and allied industries.
They were designed for maximum productivity and profitability.  Their capabilities are usually determined by the developers - often in conjunction with the tradespeople who would operate them.  The quality/cost relationship in a traditional workflow is normally independent of the project at hand - whether it's a six color annual report printed on premium paper or a short run quickie intended for coarse newsprint and a short shelf life - the technology brought to hear is the same.  DTP software and hardware, on the other hand, was developed as an open, flexible system with the needs of the 'end-user' in mind.  The creators of the document can decide for themselves exactly what level of quality is appropriate for their specific project given the constraints of production time and budget.

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