Online Desktop Publishing and Design | Penn Foster Career School

Online Desktop Publishing and Design

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Penn Foster Career School's Online Desktop Publishing and Design Career Diploma will cover everything from the basics of formatting text to creating Internet-ready web pages. Desktop Publishers and Designers create documents and web pages using software such as Adobe® InDesign® for advertising agencies, publishing houses, and corporations. And you can complete this program in as little as four months, while studying at your own pace.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Desktop Publishing career diploma program prepares students for a career as an entry-level desktop publisher, teaching such skills as page design and layout, as well as electronic publishing with InDesign software.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify the documents developed with desktop publishing systems and explain the skills necessary to become a desktop publisher
  • Follow the steps involved in the development of a document; explain the electronic publishing process
  • List key elements of a well-designed Web page; Identify the various components of a typical document
  • Identify the types and formats of illustrations used by graphic artists; know what it means to import and export art, as well as crop and scale an illustration
  • Plan and design business cards, letterheads, envelopes, promotional letters, résumés, brochures, flyers, and newsletters
  • Plan and design multipage documents such as books, magazines, and annual reports
  • Proofread and edit documents to produce well-written copy and use proper editor/proofreader marks
  • Identify the different types of computer input and output devices and know their purpose; locate the major internal components of a system unit and define their functions
  • List the most commonly used Windows commands and know their functions; customize the Windows OS
  • Customize a computer display; locate files; use the Clipboard and taskbar; view and organize files and folders
  • Create documents for print, digital, and Web publication
  • Apply InDesign desktop publishing skills in designing a full-color, two-sided poster
  • Prepare and convert electronically created documents to print

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.
Desktop Publishing: An Introduction


  • Review the history of publishing.
  • Understand the future of desktop publishing.
  • Learn about job opportunities in the field.

Unit 2

The Electronic Publishing Process


  • Use the document creation process.
  • Understand the compatibility of hardware, software, and users.
Elements of Design


  • Plan your designs taking into consideration the subject, audience, illustrations, charts, graphs, type, page elements, spacing, style, and publishing the page.


  • Know the types of illustrations used by desktop publishers.
  • Understand how to transfer document design skills to web page design.
Additional Unit Material

Supplement: Desktop Publishing Career Opportunities

Unit 3

Planning and Designing Short Documents


  • Effectively plan and design business cards, letterheads, envelopes, resumes, brochures, flyers, and newsletters.
Planning and Designing Multipage Documents


  • Use your design skills to produce books, magazines, annual reports, and other longer documents.
Additional Unit Material

Supplement: Starting Your Own DTP Business

Unit 4

Essential Publishing Skills


  • Understand elements of a well-written document.
  • Edit and proofread copy.
  • Apply different editorial style and editing guidelines and procedures.
  • Learn tips to improve your keyboarding skills.
Computer Components and Add-ons


  • Identify the components of a personal computer and define their functions.
  • Understand the uses of input devices, removable media, and telecommunication devices.
  • Care for and maintain a personal computer.

Unit 5

Adobe® InDesign®


  • Design professional layouts with sophisticated graphics and typography.
  • Create publications for printed and cross-media publishing.
  • Learn the graphic design process from planning to design to final output.
Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: Adobe® InDesign® CC: Classroom in a Book

Software: Adobe® InDesign® Standard

Unit 6

Graded Project

In this final design project, you’ll apply the skills you learned with InDesign® by creating a full-color two-sided poster advertising a local theater production.

The Printing Process


  • Bring a print publishing project to a successful conclusion.
  • Understand hardware and software options.
  • Prepare documents for delivery to a commercial printer.

You will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. You will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows® 7 or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to complete your program with Penn Foster. You must also have a computer capable of running Adobe software. Click here to view Adobe's computer requirements.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Adobe and InDesign are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries.

Sample Lesson

To view a Desktop Publishing and Design sample lesson, click here.

Desktop Publishing and Design Program Details

In the Penn Foster Career School Desktop Publishing and Design online program you'll cover topics such as:

State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Online Desktop Publishing Design

Desktop Publishers and Designers create documents and web pages using software such as Adobe® InDesign® for advertising agencies, publishing houses, and corporations. Here are a few qualities that successful desktop publishers and designers have in common:

  • Creative: When it comes to design, you often have to think outside of the box.
  • Flexible: Projects may require compromise and different approaches for different clients.
  • Innovative: Design issues will require creativity and unique problem solving.
  • Dependable: Clients and employers rely on you to get the job done.

I am so happy that I made a career change with the help of Penn Foster. Penn Foster makes it easy, and they are always supportive and encouraging to you. Whenever I had a question, I just gave my instructors a call, and they were very helpful and easy to talk with. The online testing made it convenient, and my shipments always arrived right on time.

-Christina R., Penn Foster Graduate

My overall experience with Penn Foster was great. You are allowed to go at your own speed, and the school gives encouragement to keep you going. I would recommend Penn Foster.

- James R., Penn Foster Graduate

I just recently graduated. I would definitely recommend Penn Foster to others. Their support was tremendous. Thank you all for the encouragement.... Penn Foster rocks!!!

- Dahlia R., Penn Foster Graduate

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Learning aids, including Adobe® InDesign® software
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Desktop Publishing and Design academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising

What is the difference among the Computer Graphic Artist Career Diploma, Desktop Publishing and Design Career Diploma, and the Web Page Designer Career Diploma programs?

The Computer Graphic Artist Career Diploma Program focuses on creating computer graphics, electronic images, and desktop designs. The Desktop Publishing and Design Career Diploma Program focuses on creating documents and web pages using software such as Adobe® InDesign.® The Web Page Design Career Diploma Program focuses on creating web sites using software such as Dreamweaver, computer graphics, and HTML coding.

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