Gold - Unit 12 - Desktop Publishing

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This is the ability to select and use a range of desktop publishing (DTP) software tools and techniques to produce documents and publications that are at times non-routine or unfamiliar. Any aspect that is unfamiliar may require support and advice from others.

DTP tools and techniques will have the following characteristics:
  • the software tools and functions will be at times non-routine or unfamiliar;
  • the choice of techniques will need to take account of a number of factors or elements; and
  • the user will take some responsibility for the inputting, manipulating and outputting of the information.
Examples of context: Typical documents and publications may include – business flyers and leaflets, business cards and adverts, more complex leaflets and magazine articles, longer documents where the use of styles becomes more important. 

Assessor's guide to interpreting the criteria

General Information

QCF general description for Level 2 qualifications

  • Achievement at QCF level 2 (EQF Level 3) reflects the ability to select and use relevant knowledge, ideas, skills and procedures to complete well-defined tasks and address straightforward problems. It includes taking responsibility for completing tasks and procedures and exercising autonomy and judgement subject to overall direction or guidance.
  • Use understanding of facts, procedures and ideas to complete well-defined tasks and address straightforward problems. Interpret relevant information and ideas. Be aware of the types of information that are relevant to the area of study or work.

  • Complete well-defined, generally routine tasks and address straightforward problems. Select and use relevant skills and procedures. Identify, gather and use relevant information to inform actions. Identify how effective actions have been.

  • Take responsibility for completing tasks and procedures subject to direction or guidance as needed.


  • Standards must be confirmed by a trained Gold Level Assessor or higher

  • Assessors must at a minimum record assessment judgements as entries in the on-line mark book on the certification site.

  • Routine evidence of work used for judging assessment outcomes in the candidates' records of their day to day work will be available from their e-portfolios and on-line work. Assessors should ensure that relevant web pages are available to their Account Manager on request by supply of the URL.

  • When the candidate provides evidence of matching all the criteria to the specification subject to the guidance below, the assessor can request the award using the link on the certification site. The Account Manager will request a random sample of evidence from candidates' work that verifies the assessor's judgement.

  • When the Account Manager is satisfied that the evidence is sufficient to safely make an award, the candidate's success will be confirmed and the unit certificate will be printable from the web site.

  • This unit should take an average level 2 learner 40 hours of work to complete.

Assessment Method

Assessors can  score each of the criteria N, L, S or H. N indicates no evidence. L indicates some capability but some help still required. S indicates that the candidate can match the criterion to its required specification. H indicates performance that goes beyond the expected in at least some aspects. Candidates are required to achieve at least a S on all the criteria to achieve the full award.

Expansion of the assessment criteria

1. The candidate will select and use appropriate designs and page layouts for publications

1.1 I can describe what types of information are needed

Candidates need to show an awareness of publications and the types of information used in these.  The information needs to convey certain meanings and emotions and is therefore distinct from other documents they might produce.
Evidence: From documents produced by candidates and/or centre devised tasks.
Additional information and guidance
Types of information to describe will include text, numerical data and graphical sources, information that is free to use (relate to licensing and copyright) information that supports a particular view or perspective, information that counters a particular argument or claim.  There should be a good spread and variation across several documents submitted for evidence and candidates should be able to work largely self-sufficiently.

 1.2 I can describe how to change page design and layout to increase effectiveness of a publication

Candidates should be confident to create or modify page designs and layouts and understand how these changes impact the publication's effectiveness..

Evidence: Candidates' documents including those produced from centre set tests and tasks if appropriate.

Additional information and guidance
The candidates need to show that they are confident with modifying pre-set designs or their own designs in order to better suit a requirement.  They need to create a range of documents to show this understanding and comment clearly on their impressions and reflections.  Using a variety of document styles and modifying them, for example for different audiences or impacts, will show they understand how effectiveness is achieved or enhanced.  Some layouts require very little content for maximum effectiveness and in many instances, "less is more".

 1.3 I can select, change and use an appropriate page design and layout for publications in line with local guidelines, where relevant

Candidates should demonstrate they can modify their own work or pre-existing work for publication with self-sufficiency.
Evidence: Candidates document files and/or centre devised test/task outcomes
Additional information and guidance
The primary focus here is on the ability to understand pre-determined guidelines.  Many companies and organisations, such as the learner's school, will have a "house style".  This will include specific colour sets, font families and even image positioning.  Candidates should be able to show a range of materials to highlight they understand this and can adapt their work to meet these expectations.  Publications such as newspapers and magazines will have very specific guidelines to follow and working to these guidelines might be quite challenging as the learner's feel they could "improve" it, but is a requirement.

1.4  I can select and use appropriate media for the publication

Candidates should be aware of data formats and printing requirements in their choices
Evidence: Candidate's document files and/or centre devised test/task outcomes
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should be aware of the restrictions relating to the publication of their work.  In particular, poor quality graphics will be poor quality prints.  The size and resolution of the images will also affect the size of the final product, so an awareness of what can be transmitted to the publisher and in what format is also important.  If they choose a proprietary font for their publication, will this work on another company's printer etc.

2. The candidate will input and combine text and other information within publications

2.1 I can find and input information into a publication so that it is ready for editing and formatting

Candidates should be able to independently search for and find suitable material for their publications.  They need to arrange the information in the appropriate way in their publications so that it can then be refined.
Evidence: From candidates files or centre set tests/tasks
Additional information and guidance
The wealth of information on the Internet now means it is easier than ever before to find and use information in your own publications, however, much information that is web based or retrieved from the web is pre-formatted.  Candidates need to be aware of this issue and make sure that any information they retrieve and use, apart from being free from copyright or correctly referenced, is in a workable format.  With many DTP software, such as Scribus, this means removing any pre-formatting and placing it in boxes to then apply the proper styles to.

2.2 I can organise and combine information for publications in line with any copyright constraints including importing information produced using other software

Candidates should be aware of any copyright constraints and also when importing images or text from other software applications or sources.
Evidence: Candidate files and documents and/or centre devised tests or tasks.
Additional information and guidance
As with the above criterion, great care must be take by candidates when gathering and using information to make sure it is not copyright protected.  This would extend whether or not it was in the original format or if it had gone through some other systems or processes.  Some type of reference system will be useful to be able to track the provenance of the material they source and use.

2.3 I can describe how copyright constraints affect use of own and other's information

Candidates should demonstrate they are aware of and sensitive to copyright as applied to their own work and the work of others

Evidence:  Candidates documents, centre set tests or tasks.
Additional information and guidance
Candidates work should demonstrate that they can use and apply copyright effectively.  They should show that they have details of any copyrighted material they have gathered, but also that their own material should be subject to protection from plagiarism and other information theft.  They should be able to reflect critically on the legal issues and also on how their work will be affected.

2.4 I can describe which file format to use for saving designs and images

Candidates should be aware of the need for transferability and portability when it comes to DTP.  Using closed systems and closed file formats will limit the extent of their work's suitability.
Evidence: From candidate documents and/or centre devised tests of tasks.
Additional advice and guidance
Candidates need to think about the nature of DTP and in particular the necessary flexibility.  Designs will be passed around to different people within a publishing department for additional material to be added or modified and the final publication will then be passed to another department or even a different organisation for printing.  There are many stops on this journey and using an open and standard file format will ensure there are no delays or translation problems.  Candidates should avoid as much as possible proprietary and closed systems.

2.5 I can store and retrieve publication files effectively, in line with local guidelines and conventions where available

Candidates should be able to evidence that they can manage their files and creations appropriately
Evidence: From candidate documents and/or centre devised tests of tasks.
Additional advice and guidance
Candidates need to show an awareness of different conventions in publications and adhere, where necessary, to these.  For example, many publications are output in a standard print ready format and this may specify the required resolution of images and the style of printing colour depth.  Candidate's work need to reference this in some way.

3. The candidate will use desktop publishing software techniques to edit and format publications

3.1 I can Identify what editing and formatting to use for the publication

Candidates should provide at least 3 completed publications that are formatted appropriately to make them ready for presentation or display.
Evidence: from candidate documents and/or centre devised tasks.
Additional information and guidance
Publications do not have to be complex. The most important aspects are to use layout and styles to aid clarity and that is often a matter of keeping things simple. Since this is a matter of identifying how the document should be formatted it implies that candidates can be given a choice of options to choose from. Candidates that are self-sufficient in deciding on appropriate formats including developing aspects themselves are "H" on this criterion.

3.2 I can select and use appropriate techniques to edit publications and format text

Candidates should be able to use the basic layout and formatting tools in a DTP software package, as well as create some of their own shapes and elements for more impact. They should be able to group elements, produce layering effects, a paragraph style and a global style for the whole publication. 
Evidence: from candidate documents and/or centre devised tasks
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should produce publications showing at least some of the above characteristics in meaningful contexts self-sufficiently.  The publications should be semi-professional in appearance and it would be useful if some candidates could produce these for clients.

3.3 I can manipulate images and graphic elements accurately

Candidates should produce publications that show ability to create or manipulate graphical elements for impact and effectiveness. 
Evidence: Their publications and reflections on the material.
Additional information and guidance
Most DTP programs, such as Scribus, give users the ability to greatly modify and enhance images that are imported into the package.  The images can be skewed and stretched and the colours and shapes modified to suit the purposes of the publication.  Candidates need to show that they understand these tool and can use them appropriately and effectively.  Equally, they can be overdone and they need to show awareness of when to use the tools and to what extent.  One possible use is in the blending and overlaying of images.  They should be able to blend images together in a way that preserves both and creates something more than the parts.

3.4 I can control text flow within single and multiple columns and pages

Candidates should produce at least 3 publications to show and explain their use and understanding of this criterion.
Evidence: Evaluation of their own and/or documents provided for them documented on web pages or in files.
Additional Information and Guidance
Controlling the text flow is important for the impact and readability of publications.  Candidate work should show an understanding and application of this and have a range of publications in order to have strength and depth of evidence.

3.5 I can check publications meet needs, using IT tools and making corrections as necessary

Candidates should demonstrate that they can match key needs to a publication and use the tools in their software to make adjustments and corrections.
Evidence: Candidates documents and/or centre devised tasks.
Additional Information and Guidance
Candidates should not be designated secure (S) if their work has obvious spelling errors that could be picked up by a spell-checker, significant formatting errors or if the publication lacks relevance to its intended audience. It is reasonable for the candidate to ask for help but this should be initiated by the candidate after checking rather than the assessor checking the candidate's work and then telling the candidate what to do. The candidate should be becoming self-sufficient in identifying problems and needs and then using sources of information including other people to solve those problems. 

3.6 I can identify and respond to quality problems with publications to make sure they meet needs

Candidates should respond appropriately when deficiencies are highlighted in their work
Evidence: Assessor observation, at least 3 good quality publications free from major quality issues.
Additional Information and Guidance
The key issue here is the response of candidates to quality issues. They should be accepting of advice and willing to make improvements. If they are unwilling or uncooperative they should not be awarded a Secure (S) judgement. They should provide evidence of responding to publication critique such that the outcome is improved in order to meet needs.


The assessor should keep a record of assessment judgements made for each candidate and make notes of any significant issues for any candidate. They must be prepared to enter into dialog with their Account Manager and provide their assessment records to the Account Manager through the on-line mark book. They should be prepared to provide evidence as a basis for their judgements through reference to candidate e-portfolios and through signed witness statements associated with the criteria matching marks in the on-line markbook. Before authorizing certification, the Account Manager must be satisfied that the assessors judgements are sound.