Level 3 - Unit 12 - Desktop Publishing Software (5 credits)

Relevant LINKS


Handbook home page


The candidate can plan and create professional quality publications using industry standard tools and software packages. 
A work activity will typically be ‘non-routine or unfamiliar’ because the task or context is likely to require some preparation, clarification or research to separate the components and to identify what factors need to be considered. For example, time available, audience needs, accessibility of source, types of content, message and meaning, before an approach can be planned; and the techniques required will involve a number of steps and at times be non-routine or unfamiliar. 
Example of context – an example might be to create a small publication such as a handbook for the school on TLM's qualifications or a booklet for an interest or hobby they have.  It will need to be professional quality using recognised commercial or open source packages.  They should create a range of pieces including advertising flyers and a small booklet.  A quick video here on Scribus.

Assessor's guide to interpreting the criteria

General Information

QCF general description for Level 3 qualifications

  • Achievement at QCF level 3 (EQF Level 4) reflects the ability to identify and use relevant understanding, methods and skills to complete tasks and address problems that, while well defined, have a measure of complexity. It includes taking responsibility for initiating and completing tasks and procedures as well as exercising autonomy and judgment within limited parameters. It also reflects awareness of different perspectives or approaches within an area of study or work.
  • Use factual, procedural and theoretical understanding to complete tasks and address problems that, while well defined, may be complex and non-routine.

  • Address problems that, while well defined, may be complex and non-routine.  Identify, select and use appropriate skills, methods and procedures.  Use appropriate investigation to inform actions.  Review how effective methods and actions have been.

  • Take responsibility for initiating and completing tasks and procedures, including, where relevant, responsibility for supervising or guiding others.  Exercise autonomy and judgement within limited parameters information and ideas


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

  • Assessors must at a minimum record assessment judgements as entries in the on-line mark book on the INGOTs.org 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 and files 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 3 learner 50 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. Candidates will select and use appropriate designs and page layouts for publications

1.1 I can explain what types of information are needed

Candidates should be explain in detail the main features required for their work.
Evidence: will be provided by portfolio evidence and analysis work
Additional information and guidance
Candidates will need to collect and analyse various types of published materials in order to determine what is required for their own work.  They will need to explain key features of the information, such as style, layout, impact and presentation.  They will need to begin to understand some of the elements of publishing that help with the presentation of materials and how text and images are blended together to improve the impact.  They will also need to think about the structure of presentations such as columns, index pages and menus in short booklets.

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

Candidates should be able to modify sample documents in order to improve them.
Evidence: will be provided directly from before and after sample work
Additional information and guidance
Candidates can either show how they modified existing pieces of work, or show detailed development of their own pieces and how and why they made specific modifications to the design and layout.  If they have samples they have collected that they know they can improve, they can try to re-create these and change them to their own style and specification, while explaining the process throughout.  Even something as simple as changing the font can make a huge difference to a published piece.

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

Candidates should be able to show a range of materials and show guidelines where they apply. 

Evidence: Evidence from their portfolio of finished pieces.

Additional information and guidance
In some cases, if they are designing for a company, they will need to use a "House Style" and will need to ensure that all of their final work meets these specific needs.  The House Style will include the allowed colours, fonts and sizes as well as the layout restrictions.  If they are creating their own work and not to these types of requirements, they need to be equally strict in applying consistent styles.  It would also be useful to talk to local printing companies to see what restrictions there might be on colours allowed, though these are less likely.  In some cases, they may use pre-set templates for their work, though these will not be enough on their own to satisfy the requirements of Level 3 work, so they will need a great deal of manipulation and change.  All of this needs to be documented and commented on as much as possible through digital means.  They can achieve this by using screen capture images as they work through the process.  They will need to demonstrate a clear understanding of design and layout.

1.4 I can select and use appropriate media for the publication

Candidates should be able to demonstrate a good understanding of media forms.

Evidence: Evidence from finished work quality and portfolio comments.

Additional information and guidance
In publishing, more is better and the better the quality of material to start with, the better the end product.  If candidates are using their own images in their publications, they must ensure these are high quality images with no compression artifacts or poor light distribution.  The higher the resolution the better and they may need to deliver the publication for printing with the images on a separate storage devices so that the printer can use it as it is and make any required changes for printing.  It may be worth candidates checking with the printer for the appropriate formats and file types for any included media before committing to a print run.

2. Candidates 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 organise their work effectively and efficiently

Evidence: Portfolio evidence and commentary
Additional information and guidance
Some text based information may be typed directly into the publication, so it needs to be thoroughly checked before and after.  If cutting and pasting from other sources, they need to check for formatting issues and also make sure that the material is OK to be used.  In most software packages, such as Scribus, the candidates will need to do quite a bit of extra manipulation after the text has been entered.  It would also be useful to have an indication of the process for finding the information they need and the amount of research required to get exactly what they require.
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 show an awareness of copyright legislation and its impact on their work

Evidence: Evidence from portfolio reflections and comments on work
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should be able use information that is copyright free or in instances where they have to use it, get permission from the owner to use it.  If they are developing materials for a local company or charity, it is likely they will be able to get this written permission, but they need to be clear of the provenance of any materials they use.  It is very easy in the digital age to get any sort of information, but that does not make it right.  If they are given information from a third party on something like a presentation software or word processed document, they still need to check where it came from and the legality of the material.

2.3 I can provide guidance on how copyright constraints affect use of own and others' information

Candidates should provide a written guide to copyright to accompany their work
Evidence: Evidence from written material
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should produce a short booklet to accompany their work which shows the aspects of copyright and explains their impact. They can use this to explain how they managed this with their own work and look for examples in other work that have complied or breached this important law.  It might be useful at this level to offer some reflections on how this restricts their creativity if that is suitable.

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

Candidates should be able to justify their final work's format
Evidence: Evidence from final piece and reflections on their portfolio
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should be aware of what format is required for the next stage of their publication's journey.  Printers will usually specify a preferred format and they need to be able to produce that format as required or a range of formats where they are not sure.  As mentioned earlier, some printers may require separate image files so that they can modify these to their own needs, so several file formats and types may be required to be delivered.  It may be useful for candidates to produce a short letter accompanying their publications which explains what formats they used and why they used them.  This is also important for the examination where file formats and purpose is central to some of the questions asked.
2.5 I can store and retrieve publication files effectively, in line with local guidelines and conventions where available

Candidates should show that they can organise their work for efficiency

Evidence: Evidence from their file submissions
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should show evidence that they have organised their files effectively and in line with any guidelines, such as naming conventions.

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

3.1 I can determine and discuss what styles, colours, font schemes, editing and formatting to use for publication

The candidate should be able to discuss in detail a range of different publications
Evidence: Commentary on publications and their styles, colours, fonts etc.
Additional information and guidance
Candidates need to put together a detailed portfolio of examples of publications which will inform their own designs.  This portfolio should include their thoughts and reflections on the range in this criterion.  Is there a particular style that is always used for certain publications and does it work?  If so why does it work.  What are some of the best fonts they have seen and do these vary according to audience.  What consideration should be made in terms of colours.  Do some colours not work well together?  How much formatting do they need to do and what amount of editing is required.  Is it good enough just to edit the publications yourself, or should you get a 3rd party to oversee the finished material or work in progress.  Why is a font scheme important?

3.2 I can create styles, colours and font schemes to meet needs

The candidate should show a clear example of matching their work to specific needs

Evidence: Evidence of addressing feedback or specification requirements from a customer
Additional information and guidance
If candidates can secure a customer or client for their work, it will be far easier to show the process of meeting needs.  They should have a number of draft versions with feedback and commentary from their client which lead to the final publication.  A client will likely have a house style so it should be relatively easy to show that their work has matched that required style.  Candidates should also explore developing their own styles as part of their own portfolio, especially if they are considering a career that will involve DTP, so they can showcase their work and development.

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

The candidate should have examples of before and after work with comments
Evidence: Evidence through portfolio of work
Additional information and guidance
They should have some range of techniques to show and comment on why they have chosen these techniques and what purpose they serve.  It may not seem important, but the way text is edited and formatted can make a big difference to the overall look and feel of a publication, especially in terms of impact and readability.  Other more obvious techniques will include the use of bold and italic elements on fonts, or drop caps and enlarged first letters.  Some DTP packages will also include features such as gradients to add effect.  These examples are for Scribus, but other packages should have examples of more advanced features to try.  Candidates at this level should be quite adventurous in their designs and publications.

3.4 I can manipulate images and graphic elements accurately

The candidate should have a range of professional level effects for display and commentary
Evidence: Evidence through portfolio of evidence
Additional information and guidance
There should be image effects and graphic manipulations throughout the candidate's work, though only where appropriate.  as with many things, often less is more.  While packages suh as Scribus will allow manipulation of images in situ, candidates might also explore using external packages which may have more flexibility.  This could be combined with another unit of graphic designs if required.  Most DTP packages and graphic packages will include accurate measurements of the images themselves, but also of the colour levels for printing.  All of this needs to be well evidenced.  This, coupled with the following criterion, will also include the ability to use images within text accurately.
3.5 I can control text flow within single and multiple columns and pages
The candidate should be able to create multiple column publications and deal with text flow effectively
Evidence: Evidence through finished work
Additional information and guidance
Candidates at this level should be comfortable making multiple column publications and these will need to be handled so as not to have too many orphaned text elements.  Some understanding of text bounding and flow, as well as pagination should be evident in the work or in portfolios and reflective journals if used.
3.6 I can check publications meet needs, using IT tools and making corrections as necessary
The candidate should be able to produce accurate work with no obvious mistakes
Evidence: Evidence through finished work
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should check their work with the basic tools such as spell-checkers, but also work on grammar and punctuation as these are important.  They don't need to do this themselves as editorial teams would usually help in companies, but they can't submit finished work at this level with any mistakes.  They also need to have some level of feedback from their clients that the work is as expected and any modifications made to meet these needs.
3.7 I can identify and respond appropriately to quality problems with publications to ensure that outcomes are fit for purpose and meet needs
The candidate should submit work to a high standard that is signed off
Evidence: Evidence through finished work and client sign off
Additional information and guidance
Candidates should work with a client so that they have a comprehensive development process with feedback throughout.  They need to document and address any quality issues as they go and show how they met these and fixed them.  The outcomes will need to be signed off by the client to show they met or exceeded all of their expectations.

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.