Desktop publishing is the process of using a computer to lay out text and graphics on a page. Desktop publishing software helps to create page layouts and designs for large-scale commercial print jobs, as well as small projects made on a home printer. It can also mean creating page designs for electronic distribution instead of printing.
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 creating advanced page layouts that use multiple text boxes, graphics, and advanced typesetting features (like creating font sets or inserting specific glyphs). For example, desktop publishing software allows you to easily create a newsletter layout with a title, headlines, multiple columns of text, images with captions, and other graphical elements.
Adobe InDesign and Quark XPress are the two most common professional desktop publishing suites. These applications include powerful tools for importing text files and graphics, creating asset libraries, and designing sets of master pages. However, many word processors like Microsoft Word and Apple Pages also include page layout tools that you can use for basic desktop publishing tasks.