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close this bookBridge Builders: African Experiences with Information & Communication (BOSTID, 1996, 304 p.)
close this folderCase studies on desktop publishing
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View the documentDesktop Publishing at the University of Zimbabwe
View the documentDesktop Publishing at the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology
View the documentEnvironmental Publishing Network - ENVIRONET at ICIPE Science Press
View the documentInnovations in Desktop Publishing at the African Academy of Sciences, 1989-1992


The concept of desktop publishing (DTP) synthesizes the capabilities of typesetting, graphic design, book production, and plate-making in one integrated, cost effective hardware and software configuration. It allows the computer user to combine text and image files into a single document and then design a page that looks like a page in a book or journal. The operator can select different typefaces and type sizes, can format the text in several columns, or can run text around graphic images. The page can then be sent to a laser printer for inexpensive page proofs or to a typesetting device for final printing.

DTP can help to invigorate Africa's struggling publishing houses. Editors and publishers can use DTP to convert manuscripts into final form and to locally produce textbooks and journals. Scientific communities can use DTP to publish and disseminate the results of their research.

As these authors show, the skills required to operate this software at a professional level are not always easy to learn. The difficulties of obtaining good design, typography, and layout are not at all diminished by desktop publishing software. Further, the authors found they needed more than a basic personal computer: they also needed high-resolution monitors; scanners for the input of text and images, a mouse (which makes manipulation of the text and graphics much easier); and laser printers. They also required special software for printing chemical formulae and scientific figures.

Most importantly, they demonstrate that a DTP press needs to operate on the same professional basis as a regular, commercial publisher. These authors describe how they have instituted the peer review process, good accounting practices, and high standards for timeliness and quality.

The authors have used DTP to publish newsletters and journals, scholarly books and proceedings, and such materials as flyers, invitations, and announcements. Thus have they increased publishing opportunities for African scientists and created new and innovative means of disseminating scientific and technological information to a broader audience.