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Chapter 4. Building a Document > Master Pages: Elementary

Master Pages: Elementary

Master pages are the means of establishing repeating elements common to multiple pages within a document. For example, if you have one master page in a single-sided document, then what's on that master page shows up on every new page you create. In facing-page documents there are two master pages, one for the left page and one for the right. In this case, whatever you put on the “left” master page shows up on all the left document pages, and what is on the “right” master page shows up on all the right document pages.

What Master Pages Are Good For

Although your creativity in formatting master pages may be unlimited, master pages' most common uses are for running heads, repeating graphics, and automatic page numbers (see Figure 4-6). These items are perfect for master pages, because creating them for every page in your document would be a chore that Hercules would shudder at and Job would give up on.

Figure 4-6. Running heads and footers

Automatic Page Numbering

I have a confession to make: Before I knew better, I would put “1” on the first page, “2” on the second page, and so on. When I deleted or added pages, I just took the time to renumber every page. That seemed reasonable enough. What else could I do?

QuarkXPress lets you set up automatic page numbering for an entire document (and as I discuss in Chapter 8, Long Documents, for multiple documents as well). You don't actually type any number on the master page. What you do is press the keystroke for the Current Box Page Number character (Command-3). This inserts a placeholder character which is replaced by the page number when you're looking at a document page. In master pages, the page-number placeholder looks like this: <#>.

The number appears in whatever font, size, and style you choose on the master page. For example, if you set the <#> character to 9-point Futura, all the page numbers come out in that style. This can actually cause some confusion: If you choose a font like an Expert Set or a collection of dingbats, the numbers or the <#> characters might appear differently than you expect. But with normal typefaces, you'll see the numbers just like you'd think.

Remember, the Current Box Page Number character (Command-3) is simply a character that you type, manipulate, or delete using keyboard commands. You also can type it alongside other text, to form text blocks that read “Page <#>”, or “If you wanted to find pg. <#>, you found it.”

These page numbers flow with your pages. For example, if you change page 23 to be your new page 10, every page in the document changes its position and numbering accordingly. Also, if you change the page-numbering scheme to Roman numerals or whatever (see “Sections and Page Numbering,” later in this chapter), QuarkXPress automatically changes that style on every page.


Big Page Numbers. The problem with checking thumbnails on screen is that you can hardly ever read the page numbers. One reader tells me that she sometimes adds big automatic page numbers (Command-3) that hang off the edge of the pages onto the pasteboard for the left and right master pages (see Figure 4-7). You can set these text boxes to have no runaround and turn Suppress Printout on, and QuarkXPress acts as if they aren't even there (they won't print or affect other items on the page). However, even at tiny sizes, you can see them attached to each page.

Figure 4-7. Thumbnail page numbers

Graphics and master pages

You can do anything with a graphic on a master page that you can do on a regular document page, including define it for text runarounds. You can be subtle and put a small graphic in your header or footer, or you can put a great big graphic in the background of every page (see Figure 4-8).

Figure 4-8. Placing a graphic on your master page

The thing to remember when you format master pages with graphics—whether as backgrounds or for runaround effects—is that what you place on the master page appears on every page of the document. If you only want a graphic on a few pages, you're best off either handling such things on a page-by-page basis in the regular document view, or creating different master pages to hold different graphics.

QuarkXPress offers you more flexibility in master-page creation than any other publishing program. But if you use other page-layout software, you should note that QuarkXPress's master pages differ significantly from their competition's versions—in concept and function.

How PageMaker Does It

In PageMaker, master pages interact “transparently” with actual document pages. It is common to describe them using the metaphor of transparent overlays on all pages, but really they are more like “underlays” beneath each page. PageMaker lets you create and edit the guts of the document on your document page, while its master-page underlay displays and prints underneath it. Speaking metaphorically, you can “slide out” this master page underlay at any time, change the page formatting, and then slide it back in.

However, you cannot locally change any master-page elements on actual document pages, because although they display and print there, they really exist only on the underlay—untouchable unless you slide them out. Nor can you choose to base pages on only some of the elements on a master page; everything on the master page is either turned on or turned off.

How QuarkXPress Does It

Master pages in QuarkXPress are totally different. You get all the retroactive formatting power found in the other programs, plus more. Elements on QuarkXPress's master pages show up on regular document pages not as view-only elements existing on an underlay, but as real elements which you can edit just like any other page element. You can still go back and edit your master page, but whatever you change on a document page (“local changes”) stays changed.

You can base document pages on a formatted or a blank master page (the latter is the QuarkXPress equivalent of turning a master page “off”). And you can have multiple master pages—up to 127—in any document, so you can base different document pages on different master pages. This is very useful if your document comprises multiple sections that require different looks.

I'm going to stick to the basics in this elementary section on QuarkXPress's master pages, because to throw the options and variables down on the table all at once might make things seem more complicated than they really are. Working with master pages isn't complicated if you take it step by step.

Your First Master Page

Two things happen simultaneously when you click OK in the New Document dialog box: QuarkXPress builds a master page called “A-Master A” and creates the first page of your document for you to work on. The master page and the document page are almost identical. If you turned on Facing Pages in the New dialog box, “A-Master A” has a left page and a right page; otherwise, it's just a single page.

There are three methods for switching between viewing the master pages of a document and the document itself.

  • Document Layout palette. The icons for the master pages are located at the top of the Document Layout palette. To jump to the master page you want, double-click on its icon (see Figure 4-9).

    Figure 4-9. Viewing a master page

  • Display submenu. You can choose to work on either your document pages or your master pages by selecting one or the other from the Display submenu located under the Page menu (see Figure 4-10).

    Figure 4-10. Selecting a page to look at

  • Popup page. Clicking and dragging the page number popup menu in the lower-left corner of the document's window gives you a list of icons from which you can select any document page or master page (see Figure 4-11).

    Figure 4-11. Popup pages

You can tell whether you're looking at a document page or a master page by three telltale signs.

  • The page-number indicator in the lower-left corner of the document window tells you if you are looking at a document page or a master page.

  • An automatic text-link icon is always in the upper-left corner of a master page. (Later in the chapter, I discuss what this is and how you use it.)

  • While viewing a master page, you aren't able to perform certain functions that are usually available. For example, the Go To feature (Command-J) is disabled, as is Insert.


Printing Master Pages. Printing master pages is simple enough, but people often can't figure out how to do it. The trick: you have to have the master page that you want printed showing when you select Print from the File menu. Note that this prints both the left and right pages if the document has facing pages (you can't print only the left or the right page alone). Unfortunately, this means that if you have 12 different master pages and you want them all to be printed, you have to print them one spread at a time.

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