Common Errors Among QuarkXPress Users

If you are a new user of QuarkXPress, then this article may just point out some of the mistakes you may be making. So read through our list of common errors made by a QuarkXPress user and see how many of them you yourself are making!

Whenever you create a new project in QuarkXPress, the New document window appears. Beginners will often create a new project and click OK without paying much attention to the settings in the New Project dialogue. Quark keeps the settings from the last project you created. If these are inappropriate for the document you are about to create, change the page size, orientation, margin and column guides as necessary.

People who are new to QuarkXPress will often shy away from placing content on the margin guides, leaving a little gap instead. They are mistaking the blue margin guides for the edges of the page. In fact, the edge of the page is indicated by the outer black frame.

There are two main ways of aligning elements on a QuarkXPress page: ruler guides and measurements. Most new QuarkXPress users are seduced by the ease with which guides can be created (just drag them onto the page from either the horizontal or vertical ruler) and end up with a page covered in these green guides. Guides are very useful but it is often just as easy to change the X and Y measurements of elements. Making the X measurements the same aligns left edges, Y aligns top edges. The measurements window will also perform basic calculations for you. For example, to double the gap to the left of a text box, just type “*2” (i.e. multiplied by 2) after the current X value and press Enter.

Incorrect use of guides is another basic error frequently encountered among QuarkXPress users. A typical scenario is where you want to create a new element and align it with something that’s already on the page. So you drag a guide onto the page and align it with the existing element. Then you create your second element and snap it to the guide. This means that only the first element is actually aligned with the guide. Remember, the snap is what makes guides useful. So dragging a guide and aligning it to the edge of a box by eye won’t do. You need to go back to the first element and ensure that it too is snapped onto the guide.

The automatic text box feature in QuarkXPress can be activated when creating a new project: you just click on the check-box marked “Automatic Text Box”. It allows us to go into something approaching word processing mode. It should be used when creating multi-page documents consisting mainly of text such as a report or book.

Many new users assume that all this feature does is to automatically create a text box on the page for you, saving you the trouble of doing so yourself, not realizing that the text box created in this way has one other special property. When it becomes filled with text, QuarkXPress automatically creates a new page containing another automatic text box linked to the box on the first page. So if you are creating a single page brochure or advert, an automatic text box is a liability since, if it becomes filled with text for any reason (for example, when you are experimenting with typefaces and font sizes), you end up with an extra page being created.

Another simple error new QuarkXPress users tend to make is clicking on the text box tool then trying to edit text. This one is not so serious since it’s a non-starter: the only thing you can do with the text box tool is create text boxes. The correct tool for editing text is the Content tool, the second tool on the QuarkXPress toolbar.

Another popular type of confusion with the QuarkXPress tools is when to use the Item tool and when to use the Content tool. One often sees beginners trying to edit or import text while the Item tool is selected. Like the text box tool error, it’s not such a biggie since sooner or later you will remember that you have to select the Content tool before you access the text inside the box.

You will often see new QuarkXPress users highlighting the Item tool when resizing text or picture boxes. This is not necessary since resizing a box can be done whether the item or content tool is selected.

QuarkXPress novices also tend to create far more text boxes than they need to. The worst error people will make is to create a separate box for each different style of text. In actual fact, you can put as many different formats as you like in a single Quark text box. You only need separate text boxes for items which have no direct relation to each other within the layout or which require conflicting text box attributes. So if some of your text spans two columns and another bit spans one column, you will clearly need to boxes.

Beginners in QuarkXPress will often spend a lot of time aligning headings within a text box, for example vertically centering, forgetting that, since the box will not print, all that matters is the position of the text itself on the page. A good way of curing this one is to get into the habit of pressing F7 (a shortcut for View – Guides). This keystroke toggles the visibility of the QuarkXPress margin and ruler guides as well as the edges of boxes that have no frames. This means that you are always reminded of which elements will actually be visible when the document prints.

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