How Has Desktop Publishing Evolved Over the Time?

Desktop Publishing evolved over the time

The design of page layouts has evolved tremendously from its roots in the Middle Ages. What was predominant in monasteries passed on to offices and finally to personal computers. However, the publishers\’ main aim remains the same – to communicate a vital message to a particular audience.

But the basics of desktop publishing services are going through a revolution. For staying on top of the curve, you must have a definite strategy for planning the design of the business publishing layout.

Early History:

One can find early examples of beautiful page layouts in medieval illustrated manuscripts. The process of work resembled modern publishing – first, the overall layout of the page would be planned, such as decorative border and intricately decorated drop capital followed by drawing straight lines on the parchment which would accommodate the text.

Professional publishers would split duties between illuminators (illustrators or modern graphic designers), rubricators (for filling text), and other artists and scribes in the medieval era. By the late Middle Ages, commercial scripters began competing with monasteries for page design.

Advancement to Fine Type Setting:

During the 1450s, Gutenberg\’s movable type press was the start of \’high volume publishing\’. The Holy Bible was the first of major books printed by process of the movable type. Though the initial publishing of the Holy Bible was limited to 175 copies, Gutenberg\’s press is considered the biggest revolution in early history or ever since. Much before Neil Armstrong made a giant leap for mankind stepping foot on the moon, Gutenberg made a revolution in the history of mankind.

The Typewriter Era:

Even as recently as the 1960s and the 1970\’s, the era of \’copy and paste\’ had not begun. Printers, publishers, and writers were still engaged in the manual process of the physical design of pages, one at a time. Typists and writers relied on carbon paper to make copies. Change from manual typewriters to electric ones made little progress from the techniques used by Gutenberg.

The Era of Desktop Publishing:

The revolutionary step in the history of desktop publishing began in the 1980s. The day of the Personal Computer dawned with the launch of IBM\’s PC.

Breakthroughs in DTP (Desk Top Publishing) began with the arrival of the Apple Lisa, Laser writer, and the Aldus PageMaker.

Excellent documents could now be designed and published by individuals using a standard computer and off the shelf software. The software for desktop publishing was accompanied by Illustrator and other drawing programs. Faster networking and larger screens contributed much momentum required to render the internet as a fresh aspect of daily publishing and communication.

The Rise of DTP:

The early days of DTP revolved around the process of printing. The revolution in DTP led to a gradual transformation that involved many types of publishing apart from paper printing- e-books, tablets, smartphones, PDF files, blogs, websites etc., which are all products impacted by DTP. 

Thirty years ago, the emergence of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) began to display layout design that had changed radically. This initially led to a decline in quality because of the lack of features like tools to change font size, letter spacing, etc.

But with every improvement in processing memory, style sheets, and screen display, DTP became a potent threat to traditional designs of layouts.

In 2000, the big names in DTP like Scribus, Publisher, and OpenOffice launched their products. They still remain as important players in the market.

Quality of output rose dramatically in this period. With internet connections becoming faster, memory capacity increasing, and browsers becoming more reliable, customers and designers are able to do more, faster and better.

Currently, there are many time and labour-saving software for the objective of functions of desktop publishing. In the new millennium, there has been a seismic shift in DTP. Software for layout design has made a transition to the cloud. Many print-based publications closed shop and opened up in online avatars. At present, more designers make use of cloud products, tablets, and laptops than before.

The current feature is the co-existence of competing mediums of design. Though the modern era has witnessed innovations in design tools, human intervention in terms of printers and artists is still a huge component of the media landscape. After all, in the field of creative design, machines cannot ever take humans\’ place. 


DTP Labs is one of the leading desktop publishing companies in the industry known to offer multilingual dtp services. We cater exclusively to global publishers and localization companies, and our clients are some of the biggest localization and translation agencies globally. We use all major design tools like QuarkXPress, FrameMaker, Photoshop, CorelDraw, Macromedia Flash, Adobe Captivate, etc.

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