Desktop Publishing

Category: Production & Objective Test
Type: Individual or Team


Two (2) parts: a project will be submitted based on the topic prior to the National Leadership Conference (NLC) and a 60-minute objective test administered onsite at NLC. Competitors must complete both parts for award eligibility.

Production Test Competencies: Students have all year to produce a solution to the problem and upload documents in PDF format for prejudging by the third Friday in May.

Objective Test Competencies: Basic Desktop Terminology and Concepts; Related Desktop Application Knowledge; Digital Imaging and Graphics; Desktop Layout Rules and Standards; Safety, Ethics, and Legal Issues; Print Process; Message Presentation, Accuracy, and Proofreading

Topic: You are responsible for creating an informational campaign about social responsibility issues facing today’s companies. You will create an informational presentation. DO NOT USE Microsoft PowerPoint. Create two additional original artifacts selected from the potential list of artifacts below:

  • Brochure
  • Poster
  • Newsletter

Skills: This event provides recognition to PBL members who can most effectively demonstrate skills in the areas of desktop publishing, creativity, and decision making. This event consists of two (2) parts: an objective test and a production problem.


Event Specific

  • Production test will constitute 80% of final event score.
  • Objective test will constitute 20% of final event score.
Production & Objective Test

Production Test Guidelines

  • Documents produced for this event must be prepared by the competitor without help from the adviser or any other person.
  • Administration of the production test is determined by the state chair/adviser.
  • No calculators are allowed to be used on the production test.
  • The production test score will be used to break a tie.
  • Tests must be uploaded online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.

Objective Test Guidelines

  • No materials may be brought to the testing site.
  • Financial calculators may be used for accounting, finance, and analysis & decision making events; for all other events, calculators will be provided.
  • Electronic devices must be turned off and out of sight.

The general event guidelines below are applicable to all national competitive events. Please review and follow these guidelines when competing at the national level. When competing at the state level, check the state guidelines since they may differ.


  • Dues: Competitors must have paid PBL national and state dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on April 15 of the current school year.
  • NLC Registration: Participants must be registered for the NLC and pay the national conference registration fee in order to participate in competitive events.
  • Deadlines: The state chair, or designee, must register each state competitor on the official online entry forms by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • Each state may submit three (3) individuals in all events requiring only objective tests and two (2) individuals or teams for all events that require a pre-judged or performance component.
  • Each competitor can compete in two (2) events.
  • Each competitor must compete in all parts of an event for award eligibility.
  • A team shall consist of two or three members. Exceptions are Parliamentary Procedure which must be a team of four or five members, and LifeSmarts which must be a team of two members.

Repeat Competitors

Competitors are not permitted to compete in an event more than once at the national level unless one of the following circumstances applies:

  • Modified Events: A competitor may compete in the same event when the event is modified. Note, if the only modification is a name change, competitors may not compete in the renamed event.
  • Team Events: One (1) competitor of the team may have competed in the same event at one (1) previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice in the event at the national level.
  • Chapter Events: Competitors may compete in a chapter event more than once (Community Service Project).
  • Individual Entry: A competitor who competed as an individual entry in a team event at the national level may compete in the same event a second time as part of a team, but not a second time as an individual.
  • Parliamentary Procedure: Two (2) competitors of the team may have competed in this event at a previous NLC; however, they may not compete more than twice at the national level.
  • Pilot Event: Competition in a pilot event does not disqualify a competitor from competing in the same event if it becomes an official competitive event. The participant may compete in another event as well as a pilot event.

Breaking Ties

  • Objective Tests: Ties are broken by comparing the correct number of answers to the last 10 questions on the exam. If a tie remains, the competitor who completed the test in a shorter amount of time will place higher. If this does not break the tie, answers to the last 20 questions will be reviewed and determine the winner.
  • Objective and Production Tests: The production test scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Objective Tests and Performances: The objective test score will be used to break a tie based on the tie-breaking criteria of objective tests.
  • Reports/Projects and Performances: The report/project scores will be used to break a tie.
  • Performances: Judges must break ties and all judges’ decisions are final.

National Deadlines

  • State chair/adviser must register all competitors for NLC competitive events online by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All prejudged components (report PDFs, resume/letter of application PDFs, and project URLs) must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the second Friday in May.
  • All URLs and PDFs for prejudged projects and reports will be submitted by the state adviser via the competitive events registration form.
  • All production tests must be received at FBLA-PBL by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May.
  • Desktop Publishing—the finished product must be uploaded in PDF format by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the third Friday in May. Label all documents with the event title, competitor’s name, state, and school.
  • All production tests must be uploaded online.
  • State chair/adviser may make name changes only (no additional entries) by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on the first Friday in June. Competitor drops are the only changes allowed after this date and onsite.

National Awards

The number of competitors will determine the number of winners. The maximum number of winners for each competitive event is 10. Only one (1) award is given to the schools competing in chapter events (Community Service Project and Local Chapter Annual Business Report).

Additional Materials

  • Financial calculators may be brought to objective testing and used for any accounting, finance, or analysis & decision making events.
  • Certain events may allow the use of additional materials. Please refer to event guidelines.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

FBLA‑PBL meets the criteria specified in the Americans with Disabilities Act for all participants who submit a special needs form.

Recording of Presentations

No unauthorized audio or video recording devices will be allowed in any competitive event. Participants in the performance events should be aware the national association reserves the right to record any performance for use in study or training materials.

Graduate Students

Graduate students may compete in all PBL events.


General Competitive Events Tips
Sample Practice Materials

Rating Sheet

Format Guide

Website Resources
Basic Desktop Terminology and Concepts
1. Define desktop publishing and describe various types of publications.
2. Describe the basic hardware components needed for desktop publishing (e.g., CPU, memory, external drives, etc.) and input/output devices (e.g., scanners, digital cameras, monitors, graphic tablets).
3. Identify basic software needed for desktop publishing (e.g., operating system, data/word processing, and graphics software).
4. Describe basic pre-planning activities: target audience, purpose, time frame, layout, and delivery.
5. Describe basic pre-planning activities: target audience, purpose, time frame, layout, and delivery.
6. Discuss color theory, guidelines for selecting color, and the impact different colors have on an audience (e.g., meaning, setting, and mood).
7. Select color scheme and appropriate ink colors and adjust color.
8. Demonstrate typography concepts such as creating a text frame, accessing fonts, applying font size, measuring type in points, picas, inches, and centimeters,
9. Define terms related to typography: screen/printer fonts, downloadable (soft) fonts, typesetting, galleys, postscript printers, serifs, points, picas, alignment of text, drop shadows, leading, tracking, and kerning.
10. Adjust typography attributes (e.g., bold, italic, underline, and reverse).
11. Manipulate text features and formats (e.g., word wrap, hyphenations, drop cap, color, gradient, and text path).
12. Manage a font library.
13. Identify the basic characteristics, classifications, and guidelines for selecting fonts.
14. Compose text (e.g., headings, captions, and body text).
15. Apply tabs and indents in text frames.
16. Discuss basic styles and special formats.
17. Apply use of color, color libraries, and color separation.
18. Use the rotation tool, drop caps, page numbering, and insertion of special symbols.
19. Apply templates and style palettes.
20. Describe basic desktop publishing process.
Related Desktop Application Knowledge
1. Determine appropriate desktop publishing products based upon the purpose of the publication, intended audience, output format, and time and cost constraints.
2. Select and apply software appropriate for specific tasks.
3. Gather/compose (in exportable format) documents and graphics for use in designing various desktop publishing applications such as fliers, brochures, and newsletters.
4. Produce a variety of documents such as fliers, bulletins, proposals, reports, business cards, greeting cards, transparencies, brochures, handouts, information forms, etc. using text and graphics.
5. Perform publication set-up to include margins, double-sided facing pages, create and modify templates, and create columns.
6. Demonstrate design concepts to include the proper use of white space, proper use of color, creating an effective focal point, balance, flow line, and creating appropriate headlines and captions.
7. Import text and tables from a word processing program into a desktop published document.
8. import charts and/or tables from a spreadsheet software program into a desktop published document.
9. Design and create complex tables and a variety of multi-page and multi-column documents.
10. Enhance appearance of document using desktop features (e.g., graphic boxes, lines, illustrations, and images).
11. Apply a master page to a document
12. Define terms related to artwork such as line art, continuous tone, halftone, halftone screen, cropping, scaling, vector and raster graphics, and resolution.
13. Identify the software available for creating and editing graphics
14. List factors that affect quality imaging.
15. Import digital image from sources such as scanner, digital cameras, Internet, etc.
16. Use a digital camera to acquire resolution images (e.g., portrait, landscape, and moving objects).
17. Use a scanner to digitalize images with appropriate resolution for intended use.
18. Import images from various sources (e.g., software-specific library, clip art, files, other applications, and Internet.)
19. Edit images (e.g., color, filter, tint, contrast, watermark, and brightness).
20. Determine and convert documents to appropriate image file formats (e.g., bmp, tiff, jpeg, gif, and eps).
21. Develop a desktop publication including original graphics created using drawing and paint tools.
22. Describe photo editing features.
23. Place and embed images.
24. Demonstrate ability to create and modify text and graphics.
25. Create bookmarks in a PDF document.
26. Use data merge function
27. Export PDF and HTML files for Web use.
Digital Imaging and Graphics
Desktop Layout Rules and Standards
1. Explain the term “effective white space.”
2. Design a layout for readability and attractiveness by use of effective white space, column position and spacing, page margins, and graphics placement (e.g., boxes, lines, illustrations, and images).
3. Create and edit page layouts.
4. Design style sheets which emphasize continuity and form in publications.
5. Demonstrate design and layout techniques to be used in display, newsletters, brochures, publications, storyboards, various packages, posters, and advertising.
6. Create a layout that successfully applies elements of line, shape, texture, and value to create form and space.
7. Discuss publications that utilize special size paper.
8. Illustrate line, design, and artistic details in layouts.
9. Apply layout and design principles using original and/or imported graphics.
10. Place graphics, resize graphics, and do text wraps.
11. Format type including styles, sizes, leading, tracking, and kerning.
12. Use rulers, guides, and snap-to guides.
13. Group and align objects, multiple pasting with “step and repeat” functions.
14. Prepare bi-fold brochures and other custom layouts.
15. Illustrate steps in proper layout and design of business publications and presentations (e.g., consideration of audience, outcome, delivery method, and organization).
16. Interpret good design principles and practices such as theme, font selection, addition of graphics, etc.
17. Illustrate the proper use of business communications such as: printed media, Web pages, oral presentations, and distributed presentations.
18. Manipulate images (e.g., mask, resize, crop, scale, rotate, and group/ungroup).
Safety, Ethics, and Legal Issues
Print Process
Message Presentation, Accuracy, and Proofreading
1. Proofread, edit, and revise text using standard proofreading symbols.
2. Use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling.
3. Demonstrate correct spacing and sizing.
4. Format paragraphs move/resize text blocks, lead adjustment.
5. Illustrate proper business tone, punctuation, and grammar.


PBL Program of Study
Computer Software


States may submit up to 2 entries.
Submission by: 3rd Friday in May
Submission type: PDF
Competitors must be registered for NLC and pay registration fee.
Competitors must pay dues by 11:59 p.m. Eastern on April 15.


Test: 1 hour