About Desktop Publishing Software

What is Desktop Publishing Software?

Desktop publishing software allows a designer to create documents and page layouts, anything from a single page flyer to a book or catalogue with hundreds of pages.

Combine text, images and graphics to create a complete document design, ready for print or digital media such as PDF.

Some typical uses of desktop publishing software

  • Laying out newspapers and magazines.
  • Producing catalogues, manuals, and books.
  • Creating advertising literature and marketing documents.

What is the best software for desktop publishing?

Adobe InDesign is the most popular desktop publishing software with professional designers. It is very powerful software which can produce print-ready documents, as well as PDFs or interactive digital documents.

InDesign is as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, and is paid for as a monthly subscription. If you already use Photoshop and Illustrator, adding InDesign may be a very cost-effective option.

There are other desktop publishing applications available, including Quark XPress which does a similar job to InDesign.

Quark XPress is purchased as a perennial license so you only pay once, but the initial cost is quite high.

Affinity Publisher is another option to consider, especially if you have a tight budget. However it has not been around for as long as InDesign and Quark XPress, and so may be less supported by printers and other services.

If you use an Apple computer, you could try Pages from Apple. It is free and it can do word processing and desktop publishing.

An important consideration when choosing software for desktop publishing (as well as whether its features meet your needs) is who you will want to share your files with (printers, work colleagues, etc.) and whether they have the same software as you.

Learning desktop publishing

With intensive training it is possible to learn the essentials of Adobe InDesign in a couple of days, but you will still need plenty of practice after the training to become really proficient with the software. It will take some time to properly learn desktop publishing techniques and software.

As well as learning about desktop publishing, you may also need to learn about Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator as these will be used to prepare photographs (Photoshop) and graphics (Illustrator) for use in your desktop publishing software.

InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud.
Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud for DTP and design.

Comparison of different learning types

(1) Quickest
It may be just 2 days for an intensive beginners and intermediate course, but this option would also be the highest cost.
(6) Slowest
It would probably take many months of learning with books and other materials, but this would be the lowest cost.

  1. One to one training – onsite training – intensive training
  2. Small group – onsite training – intensive training
  3. Group course at a training centre
  4. College course
  5. Self Learning with books, tutorials and other resources

The quickest way to learn the software is to have some training. This can be quite an expensive option in terms of money, but it is the quickest way to learn essential desktop publishing skills and the quickest way for you to start designing your own professional quality documents.

College course
This is a cost-effective option if you have the time. Course quality can be very variable, but some are good.

If you want to teach yourself, there are lots of books, magazines and YouTube videos out there, and you could always try the help file for the software (although some are more useful than others). These are obviously much cheaper than attending a training course. However, you will need to commit a lot of your time to finding resources and teaching yourself.
Many of these resources can be great, but if you are a complete beginner you may find that, with so much to learn and so many possible places to look, it can be overwhelming.

For graphic design and desktop publishing tutorials, have a look at our Design Reference section.

We offer desktop publishing training. We can show you how to use Adobe InDesign, and also how to use Photoshop and Illustrator to create your own images and graphics for your documents.

Desktop publishing training

We offer desktop publishing courses for Adobe InDesign and Adobe Creative Cloud in Birmingham, Solihull, Oxford, Yorkshire, Manchester, and around the UK.

Learn to create your own documents with Adobe InDesign.

  • Short intensive courses for desktop publishing.
  • On-site desktop publishing training.
  • One to one or small groups.
  • Custom courses.
  • Learn the skills you need to create professional documents and designs.

Adobe InDesign training

Learn to design your own documents with Adobe InDesign.
Adobe InDesign Courses

Adobe Creative Cloud training

Learn desktop publishing, graphic design and images editing and create your own documents, images and graphics, with Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe Creative Cloud Courses

We may be able to arrange training for Quark XPress in some locations.

Desktop publishing courses are available in Birmingham, Solihull, Worcester, Coventry, Northampton, Leicester, Oxford, Reading, Leeds, Manchester, Yorkshire, Bristol, Gloucester and around the UK.