Desktop Publisher

Desktop publishers, or electronic originators, produce professionally designed and presented documents, according to specified design and presentation requirements, using desktop publishing software.

Due to technological advances, especially in the area of computers, almost all the preparatory tasks previously done by hand and on printing machines are now done on high-powered computer systems. The desktop publisher performs a range of functions, both creative and technical, in meeting the needs of a client.

In the concept phase, they may talk to clients to obtain a clear understanding of their requirements. Clients’ requirements may include preparing booklets, brochures, advertisements, in-house magazines, newsletters, training and technical manuals, stationery, and books ready for printing or publishing. They will then prepare quotations for contract work and negotiate with the client for the approval thereof. A desktop publisher may also prepare a concept document that includes the preparation of sketches and design concepts.

Once the client has approved the concept the desktop publisher can then get on with the work of designing and arranging layouts to meet clients’ requirements. In some cases the documents and drawings are provided by the client. In such cases this means the manipulation of available drawings, photographs, texts and artwork to produce a final product.

Detailed work may include type-setting, the preparation of lines or half-tone pictures in single or multi-colour separations (colour printing), making positives and negatives and preparing the printing plates for the presses.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate for a diploma course

What to Study

Diploma: N.Dip: Graphic Design - most universities of technology, e.g. CUT, CPUT, TUT, VUT.

Certificate courses are also offered at various TVET colleges around the country.

Alternatively, to qualify as a photo-lithographer / electronic originator, registration with an employer providing suitable training is required. Training consists of theoretical and practical work:
  • Theoretical training: At the Southern African Printing College (full-time for 10 months) or through their Distance Learning Department (part- time)
  • Practical training: In-service training under supervision of a qualified tradesman (Competency-Based Modular Method)


  • commercial printing plants
  • book and magazine publishers
  • newspaper plants
  • stationery and envelope manufacturers
  • government departments
  • government printing works
  • manufacturers and other firms that do their own printing

Further Information

SA Printing and Allied Industries Federation P O Box 1396
Gallo Manor, 2052
The Braids
113 - 115 Bowling Avenue
Gallo Manor, 2191
Tel: (011) 287-1160 Fax: (011) 287-1178

Media Skills for Africa

Southern African Printing College
Private Bag X7
Honeydew, 2040
Tel.: (011) 794-3810

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work with a graphic designer
  • make an appointment to speak to a graphic designer about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations