I review the effects of dust, both in absorption and in emission, on the spectral energy distributions (SEDs) of Local star-forming galaxies. The energy balance between the stellar light absorbed by dust at UV-optical-nearIR wavelengths and the energy re-emitted by dust in the far infrared (FIR) shows that the amount of dust extinction affecting the galaxy can be predicted with simple prescriptions applied to the UV-optical data. The implications of these results for high redshift galaxies are discussed. Arguments can be given to support the view that Local starbursts are representative of high-redshift (z>2), UV-detected, star-forming galaxies. If this is the case, the high redshift FIR emission will be generally undetected in sub-mm surveys, unless (1) the bolometric luminosity of the high-z galaxies is comparable to or larger than that of Local ultraluminous FIR galaxies and (2) their FIR SED contains a cool dust component.