When documents and images are printed, they are "published." Before computers became commonplace, the publishing process required large print presses that copied and duplicated pages. In order to print images and words on the same page, the text and graphics would have to be printed separately, cut out, placed on a single sheet, taped in place, then copied and printed. Fortunately, computers with graphical user interfaces have enabled desktop publishing, which allows this process to be done electronically.
Any time you use a computer to create a printable document, it can be considered desktop publishing. However, the term is most commonly used to refer to professional computer-based publishing. Desktop publishers use programs like Adobe InDesign and QuarkXpress to create page layouts for documents they want to print. These desktop publishing programs can be used to create books, magazines, newspapers, flyers, pamphlets, and many other kinds of printed documents. Publishers may also use programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to create printable images. Even word processing programs like Microsoft Word can be used for basic desktop publishing purposes.
Complete desktop publishing involves the combination of typesetting (choosing fonts and the text layout), graphic design, page layout (how it all fits on the page), and printing the document. However, as mentioned before, desktop publishing can also be as simple as typing and printing a school paper. In order to desktop publish, all you need is a computer, monitor, printer, and software that can create a printable document. While that might cost more than a pen and paper, it certainly is cheaper than a printing press!