Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 158 / NOVEMBER 1993 / PAGE S9

How to do desktop publishing on a budget. (Compute's Getting Started With: Desktop Publishing) (Buyers Guide)
by Bill Harrel

If you're like many computer users, desktop publishing probably isn't the most important thing you do with your computer. Therefore, you can't or don't want to commit a lot of your time and resources--especially money--to the endeavor.

If you publish only an occasional newsletter, you can't afford to spend $800 for a DTP program, $1,000 or more for a laser printer, another $800 for a paint program, $500 for a draw program, and so on. You'll be happy to know there are a number of ways to lay out your pages without going broke.

Consider one or more of the following methods:

* Use a low-end, inexpensive DTP program.

* Use the laser printer at the corner print shop or service bureau.

* Reproduce documents on the office laser printer or copier.

* Use your word processor or draw program.

Budget DTP Programs

While low-cost DTP programs don't do everything, some are quite adept at page layout (and they're easy to use as well). Even though they're limited, you can find ways to make them handle most tasks. For those programs that don't support spot color, for example, you can delete all the elements of one color, print the remaining color, reopen the program, and repeat the procedure for the other color. There are many work-arounds like this. Just be innovative.

Use Someone Else's Laser

One of the biggest impediments to DTP for some people is the prohibitive cost of laser printers. You don't have to buy a laser printer to get laser output. Several print shops and desktop publishing service bureaus have lasers for rent. This is an inexpensive option--about a dollar or two per page. Simply call the service bureau, and they'll be happy to tell you how to prepare your files.

Some service bureaus also have high resolution printers, such as 600, 800, or 1,200 dpi. You can use their 300-dpi printing for proofing drafts and then use the high resolution device for camera-ready printing. High-resolution laser output is about half the price of imagesetter output. The service bureau is a valuable resource for advice, as well as for getting the various output types you can't get at home or at the office.

Getting Copies Inexpensively

Another expensive part of desktop publishing is reproducing documents at the print shop. If you don't have too many copies to distribute, try running them off on your laser printer or the office copy machine. You also can get color documents by using the color copier at the neighborhood print or copy shop. Color copiers are an inexpensive way to get a small number of copies without incurring printing press setup costs.

Use Other Software for Page Layout

Desktop publishing software can be expensive, and it takes time to learn. After all, time is money. But if you own a Windows word processor--Ami Pro, Word, or WordPerfect--you can use it to lay out your documents. You also can use draw programs, such as CorelDRAW! or Micrografx Graphics Works.

Granted, these programs don't handle layout as adroitly as DTP programs. On the other hand, using a program you already own, can save you both money and time.