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Chapter 4. Building a Document > Automatic Text Boxes

Automatic Text Boxes

Although master pages look very similar to normal document pages, there are some basic differences you need to be aware of. These are the master guides, the automatic text-link icon, and the automatic text-link box. Each of these features is integral to the construction of a well-built document in QuarkXPress.

Note that automatic text-link icon is my term for what Quark's documentation refers to as both the “Intact Chain Icon” and the “Broken Chain Icon.” Similarly, my term automatic text-link box is referred to as the “automatic text box” in the Quark manuals. I think my terminology is more descriptive, so that's what I use. If you like theirs, then you can do a mental substitution.

Master Guides

I said earlier that you could change the margins and column guides after you set their values in the New Document dialog box. The Master Guides dialog box is the place to do this. You can get the Master Guides dialog box by selecting Master Guides from the Page menu when you're working on a master page (see Figure 4-12).

Figure 4-12. Master Guides dialog box

When you use the Master Guides dialog box to change the margin guides or the column guides, only the currently open master page changes. Later in this chapter, you'll learn about having multiple master pages; in that case, you can have different margins and columns for each master page in your document.

Note that when you change the margin guides or column guides using Master Guides, you affect the automatic text box on that page (if there is one). If the boundaries of the automatic text box reach to the margin guides (they always do, unless you've changed them), the boundaries are changed to match the new margins. Similarly, if you change the Columns field in the Master Guides dialog box, the automatic text box also gets altered (as long as you haven't changed its boundaries or column settings).

Automatic Text-Link Icon

The automatic text-link icon is the little picture of a chain in the upper-left corner of every master page. It is the gateway to QuarkXPress's automatic text-linking feature. This feature allows XPress to automatically link together text boxes that occur on each page. Of course, you can always link boxes together manually, but automatic text boxes are much faster. The automatic text-link icon works in conjunction with the automatic text-link box, which I discuss next.

The automatic text-link icon is always either broken (disabled) or linked (enabled). You can use the Linking and Unlinking tools while you're viewing your master pages to switch automatic linking on and off (see below).

Automatic Text-Link Box

Another item of importance to master pages is the automatic text-link box. This is a text box that is linked through QuarkXPress's automatic linking mechanism. Automatic linking is the way that QuarkXPress links pages together. I know this sounds confusing. Let's look at an example.

Picture a one-page document with only one master page, called “A-Master A.” If your text fills and overflows the text box on the first page, and your “A-Master A” has an automatic text-link box on it, then the program can automatically add a new page and link the overflow text onto the newly added page. If there is no automatic text-link box on the master page, then XPress does not link your first-page text box to anything, and you have to link things manually (see Chapter 2, QuarkXPress Basics).

There are two ways to get automatic text-link boxes on your master page.

  • Automatic Text Box. If you check Automatic Text Box in the New Document dialog box when you're creating a document (it is on by default), QuarkXPress places a text box on your first document page and also on “A-Master A.” The text box on the master page is an automatic text-link box.

  • Linking to the chain. You can create your own automatic text-link box by drawing a text box on your master page and then linking it to the automatic text-link icon. Select the Linking tool from the Tool palette, click on the automatic text-link icon in the upper-left corner of the page, then click on the text box you want automatically linked (see Figure 4-13). If you want both the left and right pages to contain automatic text-link boxes, you need to link each page's icon to a text box.

    Figure 4-13. Manually linked automatic text boxes

An automatic text-link box is a special-case text box. It is reserved solely for text that is typed on (or flowed into) document pages, so you cannot type any text in it while you're on the master page. This is different from other boxes that are on the master page, which can contain text or graphics (like running heads or automatic page numbers).

Modifying Automatic Text-Link Boxes

While you cannot type in automatic text-link boxes, you can make many formatting specifications for them. For example, you can specify the number of columns, width, height, background color, and frame. While QuarkXPress originally places automatic text-link boxes so that they fill the area outlined by the margin guides (with the number of columns specified for column guides), you can always move and resize them to suit your needs.


Assigning a Startup Font. Although you cannot actually type in an automatic text-link box while in master-page viewing mode, you can assign character and paragraph formatting to the box. Just select the text box with the Content tool and specify the font, size, style, leading, and so on. You can even set the default style sheet for the box (see Chapter 7, Copy Flow). Then when you return to the document page, the text you type in that box appears in the font, style, and leading that you chose. Text that is imported into that box does not necessarily appear in that font, however.

Creating Multiple Automatic Text-Link Boxes

You can actually have any number of automatic text-link boxes on a master page. That is, text could flow into one, then another, and then another before flowing onto the next page. What you have to do is link them all in the order in which you want text to flow into them. You define the first box as “automatic” using the procedures described above. Then you click in succession with the Linking tool on the boxes you want to define as automatic text-link boxes. This defines them as part of the automatic text chain. You'll see the linking arrows shoot out with each new link that you create. To continue the link from a left master page to a right master page, click on the right master's automatic text-link icon before joining any boxes found on the right master.

Don't get any fancy ideas about having two separate automatic text-link boxes on a page, each holding a different story (for instance, having two stories that flow side-by-side through a document). Nope. Can't do that with automatic text boxes (you can set that up by linking the boxes manually, of course).

Unlinking Automatic Text-Link Boxes

The easiest way to discard an automatic text-link box is to delete it (Command-K). But if you want to keep the box and simply negate its definition as an automatic text-link box, you can do that using the Unlinking tool. First, click on the automatic text-link icon with the Unlinking tool, thereby showing the linking arrow. Next, click on the tail of the linking arrow to break the chain and turn the box into a “normal” master-page text box. In the case of multiple successively linked boxes, the automatic linking is broken wherever you've broken the chain from the icon, though any other links remain.

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