What is desktop publishing? We have probably all heard of it, but what is it exactly? Desktop publishing is the production of page designs with your computer using a special DTP software that integrates text and images.

The first DTP software was released in the mid-80s and desktop-publishing skyrocket from there. In the early 90s desktop publishing had almost completely replaced previous technologies used for that purpose.

While in the 80s and 90s desktop-publishing was almost exclusively used by professionals and for print, now it is also used for digital products, such as e-books, websites and much more.

Today, thanks to better devices, faster internet connections and cloud solutions basically everyone can use desktop publishing technology. Some DTP programs are even available for free online, no installation needed.

In this article we tell you everything about desktop publishing software functions, free and paid desktop publishing software and what DTP- software is used for.

Use of desktop publishing

Desktop-publishing software can be used to create the layout for a wide range of different publications, such as:

  • newspapers and magazines
  • brochures, posters, flyer, leaflets and catalogues
  • books and e-books
  • PDF
  • web pages
  • banner
  • newsletter
  • design of resume

Desktop publishing programs:

InDesign, Word and others

The number of desktop publishing programs is growing and growing. The good news, a lot of them are for free or available for subscription.

The leading desktop publishing software these days comes from Adobe. Products from the Adobe Creative Cloud are available for subscription. The costs vary, depending on the product and plan selected. For example, you can subscribe to all the apps starting from US$52.99 per month. This package includes programs, such as Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. But you can also opt for a single app.

Adobe InDesign CC is a top-rated desktop publishing software, one of the market leaders and used by most professionals.

Functions of desktop publishing software these days seem endless and InDesign CC is no exception. It offers a wide range of tools, to just name a few:

  • layout and typesetting tools
  • setting character and paragraph attributes
  • tools to create multicolumn pages
  • transparency and vector editing

Looking for translation with professional DTP services for both print and digital files?

Our DTP team uses the full Adobe Creative Suite to produce print-ready documents for Mac and PC.

Looking for translation with professional DTP services for both print and digital files?

Our DTP team uses the full Adobe Creative Suite to produce print-ready documents for Mac and PC.
Get a quote

In InDesign you create a page layout by placing frames onto your page. Those frames can be filled with content, such as text, photos, videos or graphics.


More DTP programs:

Adobe Creative SuiteDownload from Creative Cloud and install on Windows or macOSAvailable for subscription. Prizes vary depending on the packageMultimedia Suite + Video editing
Microsoft Word Either for installation on Windows and macOS or web based Microsoft 365 You can buy the program or subscribe online  Word processor that can also be used as a DTP program
Scribus Open Source Solution for
OS/2 Warp 4
and more
Free download DTP software
Free version with less features or paid full version DTP software
Free version or paid subscription for Canva-ProGraphic and DTP program

Desktop publishing and translation

Desktop publishers often work at publishing houses, advertising agencies or software providers, but they can also work for language service providers.

For example, EHLION language consultancy provides desktop-publishing and foreign typesetting services designed to optimize the look and feel of your products and adapt them to the target market.

Using a service like this can save time, money and unnecessary intermediate steps.

For example, you have a brochure that needs to be translated from English to Chinese? When you send us the InDesign file, we export the text, translate it and insert it again in InDesign. You will get the final product ready to print.

Problems of desktop publishing are that when you translate a text, it is unlikely that it will have exactly the same length as the original, as some languages need more words, while other need less, to say the same thing. Therefore, the layout must be adjusted accordingly to the new text volume.

If you hire a language service provider to do this, one of the most important advantage is, they know the language and the culture and can adjust the layout accordingly. While when you do it yourself, you probably find yourself wondering, if you can divide the text in paragraphs or not, because you have no idea what this Chinese character means.


DTP-programs are more affordable than ever

Desktop-publishing is not new, but what is new is the ever-growing number of free DTP-programs.

In addition to that, cloud solutions are also a game changer. Now that you can “rent” programs like InDesign or Photoshop instead of buying them, they are even affordable for non-professionals.

EHLION offers language services in more than 100 languages and over 800 language combinations. We offer a wide range of language services across all industries, such as professional translation, website localization or desktop publishing services.

Contact us for a free initial consultation, we are happy to help you with your next translation project. 

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