Career Development

How To Become a Typesetter: Step-by-Step Guide

Learn about the steps important to pursuing a career as a typesetter, including education, skills, salary and more.

A typesetter is a professional who formats and sets type for printed materials. This can include books, magazines, newspapers, advertising and other printed materials. A typesetter must have a strong attention to detail and knowledge of various typefaces and fonts. If you are interested in becoming a typesetter, it is helpful to learn about the steps involved in this process. In this article, we discuss what a typesetter does and how to become one.

What Does a Typesetter Do?

A typesetter is a printing professional who takes text copy and translates it into formatted type that can be used in the printing process. Typesetters use specialized computer software to create pages that include both text and graphics, which are then sent to a printer.

Typesetters typically have the following duties:

  • Reading through text copy to be typeset
  • Selecting an appropriate font size and style for the text
  • Adjusting line spacing and margins as needed
  • Justifying text so that it aligns evenly on both sides of the page
  • Adding hyphens to words where necessary to prevent awkward breaks
  • Inserting page numbers, headers and footers as needed
  • Incorporating graphics, images and other visual elements into the typeset pages
  • Proofreading the typeset pages for errors
  • Sending the final files to the printer

Typesetter Salary and Job Outlook

The average salary for a typesetter is $32,805.50 per year. This figure can vary based on the level of experience, education, industry and geographical location of the typesetter.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects job prospects for typesetters to decrease at a slower than average rate over the next decade. The decreasing demand for print publications is the primary reason for this outlook. With more people consuming content online, there is less need for typesetters in the traditional publishing industry.

How to Become a Typesetter

Here are several steps you should take to become a typesetter.

1. Earn a high school diploma or equivalent

While it is not required to have a high school diploma or equivalent to become a typesetter, many employers prefer candidates who have completed this level of education. High school courses in computer applications and word processing can help you develop the skills needed for typesetting work. If your high school does not offer these classes, consider taking them at a community college before applying for typesetting jobs.

2. Consider completing a postsecondary program in graphic design, printing technology, or a related field

While it is not necessary to complete a postsecondary program to become a typesetter, doing so can help you develop the skills and knowledge needed for this career. Many community colleges and technical schools offer programs in graphic design or printing technology that can provide you with the training you need to work as a typesetter.

These programs often include courses on typography, computer-aided design (CAD) and page layout software. Completing one of these programs can also give you an advantage when applying for entry-level positions.

3. Gain experience with computer typesetting software

Computer typesetting has become the standard in the printing industry, so it’s important for aspiring typesetters to gain experience using computer software. Many postsecondary graphic design or printing technology programs offer courses on computer typesetting that allow students to practice their skills in a classroom setting.

Even if your program does not offer this coursework, you can still learn how to use these programs independently by reading manuals and online tutorials. You may also consider working as an assistant to a professional typesetter who uses computers regularly.

4. Develop strong attention to detail and accuracy

Typesetters must be detail-oriented and accurate in their work. They need to proofread all text for spelling, grammar and other errors before printing it on paper or sending it to a digital printer. Typesetters should also check the layout of each page to ensure that everything is aligned correctly and looks professional.

This attention to detail is important because even minor mistakes can affect how readers perceive your content. For example, if you misspell a word, this could make a reader question the credibility of the entire article. If you don’t align images properly, this could distract readers from the information they’re trying to absorb.

5. Understand the principles of typography

The principles of typography are the rules and guidelines that determine how text is formatted on a page. Typesetters must understand these principles to ensure they’re formatting text in an effective way for readers. For example, typesetters should know when it’s appropriate to use all capitals or italics to emphasize certain words. Understanding the principles of typography can also help you identify errors in text formatting.

6. Stay up to date on changes in technology

Technology is constantly changing, and typesetters need to stay informed about new developments. For example, the introduction of digital printing has changed how some companies print their materials. Typesetters who are familiar with these changes can help their employers take advantage of them.

As new fonts and software programs become available, it’s important for typesetters to evaluate whether they would be useful in their work. They should also keep track of industry trends so they can make sure their work reflects what readers expect.

7. Join professional organizations such as the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA)

The American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA) is a professional organization that offers resources and networking opportunities to typesetters. Membership in AIGA can help you stay up to date on trends in the industry, find jobs and build your network of contacts.

The Printing Industry of America (PIA) is another professional organization that provides training and certification programs as well as career development services. PIA membership may be required by some employers.


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