It wasn't too many years ago that the only way to get high quality printed
documents was to call a printing company, place an order, and wait. Many printing
companies began to use desktop publishing equipment for their smallest orders
because it was much cheaper than using large mechanical presses for such small
quantities and their delivery time to the customer was improved. A typical desktop
publishing system consisted of a personal computer, a printer, and the appropriate
software. The price of these items have fallen so much that it is now common
for people to have their own desktop publishing systems to produce most of their
small quantity printed materials. If you have a large quantity to produce, you
can store your files on a disk and email them to a service bureau for film output
or to a print shop for printing. It is still much more efficient and less expensive
to have a printing company produce large quantity items because of the speed
of their presses. However, the use of personal desktop publishing systems for
a small quantity job (generally under 1,000), has several advantages over the
same job run at a printing company.
- Design - You have control over the layout and appearance of your document.
If you don't like a typeface or the design of a graphic you have created,
you can easily change it, instead of having to wait for a proof from a printer.
- Convenience - You can design and print documents when you need them. Once
your document has been designed and saved, it takes only minutes to reopen
it and print the quantity that you need, rather than waiting for a printer
to deliver your order.
- Price - Generally, it is much cheaper to print a limited quantity of documents
from your desktop publishing system than ordering them from a printer. Most
printers have a minimum quantity that you must order and the minimum quantity
may be more than you need, particularly if changes need to be made to your
document at regular intervals.
QuarkXpress is the page layout program most commonly used
for prepress work. Adobe InDesign is the newcomer to the page
layout area and may be a good alternative. Check with your service
bureau or print shop to make sure they have the software you are using
before submitting your files for a print project. Adobe Illustrator®
and Macromedia Freehand are two excellent choices for professional
vector-based art, and Adobe Photoshop® offers predictable, high-end
raster capabilities for image development. For more information on
prepress software programs, visit the software
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