Free technical help for digital creators - music, video, art, photography, graphic & web design

Page layout programs by Matt Ottewill (Dec 2007)

Useful images

Including logos (Compact Disc, Dolby,
Mini Discs etc) in EPS format ...

download icon Download EPS images (Zip 54Kb)

(Multi) page layout programs are used by graphic designers to combine typography and images to create artwork ready for printing, or turning into electronic documents such as PDFs. Professional page layout programs are capable of creating the 300dpi (and greater) / CMYK / PostScript files which are required for professional offset litho and digital printing.

NOTE: You may wish to read our article on artwork to print processes also.

Can I use a word processing program to create artwork?

NO. WP programs such as Word CANNOT create hi-quality CMYK / PostScript and PDF files.

What file types can page layout programs create?

Page layout programs are used to create the following file types ...

Producing artwork for CMYK / 300dpi / PostScript professional litho printing reproduction. Typically, an InDesign (or QuarkXpress) file will be delivered to the printer on a CDROM with accompanying images and Fonts.

Producing Acrobat PDFs for CMYK / 300dpi / PostScript professional litho printing reproduction. A PDF can contain typography, fonts and images embedded into a single cross platform file which can be emailed (or transferred by CDROM) to a printer.

Producing RGB / 72ppi Acrobat PDFs for reading on the screen and printing on home inkjet printers . A PDF can contain typography, fonts and images embedded into a single cross platform file which can be transferred over the internet. File sizes are much smaller that CMYK / 300dpi. Therefore this format is ideal for electronic manuals, brochures and articles. Many articles on this site are in pdf format. Here's the identifying logo ...

How are the postscript artworks delivered to the printer?

In the past, complex (multi-page) postscript artwork would be sent to a printer in a folder on a CD-ROM that contained ...

  • The artwork layout file itself (typically QuarkXpress, PageMaker or InDesign)
  • Linked eps images
  • Linked bitmapped images
  • Fonts
  • A file with instructions

Today it is common for a designer to export the artwork from the page layout programs as a high quality print ready postScript PDF file which will contain (embedded) all the images and fonts.

What are page layout programs used for?

Although page layout programs are primarily used for print and electronic document design, they can be used for a variety of applications ...

Print design

  • Flat litho printing Magazines, leaflets, books, CD covers, etc
  • Product packaging Food, technology etc etc
  • Screen printing Fabric/fashion, technology legends
  • Advertising Posters, billboards etc

Web sites

  • Electronic documents (such as PDF manuals)
  • Banners/advertisementsintegrating text/pictures
  • Complex images integrating text/pictures

Exhibition design

  • Display design for large scale one off prints for displays and kiosk


  • Building interior navigation
  • Health and safety
  • Public Roads, amenities etc


  • Captions for menus and titles etc

TV / video broadcast

  • Captions for trailers and titles etc


  • Captions for trailers and titles etc

What page layout programs do professional use?

Traditionally, page layout programs have been used to create design/artwork for print. However, as more and more design work focuses on the web it is worth mentioning multi-page/screen "document"/web site creation tools like Dreamweaver. 2 points to remember however ...

1 Page layout programs CANNOT be used to create website's.

2 Website design tools CANNOT be used to create artwork suitable for print.

At the time of writing there are 2 pre-eminent print/design programs ...


QuarkXpress QuarkXpress has been the most popular for the last 10 years. It is a standard designers tool and has held the position of de facto page layout program in the print world due to its ease of use. However, it is now looking dated and a series of disastrously buggy updates and lack of some basic tools has seen its popularity declining in recent years.

Adobe InDesign InDesign is the pretender to Quarks crown. It is gaining in popularity due to its impressive feature set, cost and integration with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat (PDFs). InDesign is a far superior product in many ways and is set to topple Quark in the future.




NOTE: You may now wish to read our article on artwork to print processes.