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The Amazon Explorers

“You're doing what?”

“We've got one QuarkXPress document here to print the borders for each page, and then in this other document we have all the text in galleys. We tried to put them together, but because we don't know the program well enough, it's faster just to use our production people for pasteup.”

“If you're just going to paste it up, why are you using QuarkXPress at all?”

“A consultant suggested we buy a computer and QuarkXPress. But we haven't had a chance to really learn it. Besides, QuarkXPress lets us make really good borders.”

It was a story I had heard before. Designers, ad agencies, small and large businesses continue to buy computers and copies of QuarkXPress with the idea that everything was going to be easier, faster, and cooler. All that can be true, but let's face it: QuarkXPress is not a magical solution. Desktop publishing requires knowledge, experience, and expertise.

It seems there is a need for a consultant who not only knows the computer and graphic design, but also one who can sit there, patiently, and—at 11 PM—walk with you through building a better registration mark, making a drop cap, or explaining how master pages work. All for a low-cost flat fee. That consultant is this book.

The Early Days

But how did this book come to be? What possessed me to write over 250,000 words on a piece of computer software? Let's start at the beginning of my QuarkXPress story.

The early days of desktop publishing were much simpler than they are now. When a new program came out, we publishers asked some basic, hard-hitting questions.

  • Can you put text on a page?

  • Can you put graphics on a page?

  • Does the page print?

Once we had a satisfactory answer to those three questions, we could get down to brass tacks, ripping it to pieces to make it do all the things it wasn't designed to do. It was a wild time, much like trudging through the Amazon forests with only a machete and a match.

To be blunt, I'm not ordinarily the quiet type. So it is telling that, when I saw the first copy of QuarkXPress 1.0, all I could say was, “Wow.” Here was, at last, a program to use instead of PageMaker. No more eyeballing the measurements, or relying on built-in algorithms. Those were the PageMaker 1.2 days, and XPress was a glimmer of hope in the dark ages.

After many years of suffering system crashes, blank pages coming out of the printer, PostScript errors, and dealing with clients and designers who wanted the impossible (yesterday, please), I learned just about everything there was to know about this complex piece of software.

Making Pages

I was not (and am not) a designer. My strength has always been the ability to use all my QuarkXPress tips and tricks to make good-looking pages quickly and efficiently. And back in 1990, I knew it was finally time to put finger to keyboard and get this information out to you, the real-world users of QuarkXPress.

Over the last 12 years, I've squirreled away every trick and tip I could find, storing them up for the next edition, or the one after that. Everything I've collected, right up to the time I made PDF files of this edition, I have managed to squeeze into this book and The Real World QuarkXPress Book Web Site (more on the Web site soon).

But books full of tips and tricks tell just half the story. And I think the simple menu-by-menu approach that most computer books use deserves the phrase “tastes filling, less great!” I knew there should be much more.

My idea was to roll together tips and tricks, a full overview of the program, and in-depth discussions of core concepts behind using QuarkXPress in the real world. So, I've included discussions on fonts, PostScript printing, color models, and much more, alongside examples of how I've been using QuarkXPress for the past 15 years. I also describe the way QuarkXPress operates and how to take advantage of its sometimes strange methods.

Of course, this is a lot of information for a single book. But what did you shell out $44.99 for? Chopped liver? No, this book is meant not only to be read, but to be used. I wanted to include a Post-It pad so you could mark the pages you'll use the most, but it didn't work out. Don't let that stop you, though.

About this Book

Although I expect you to know the basics of using a Macintosh or Microsoft Windows (moving the mouse, pulling down menus, and so on), I have purposely taken a wide spectrum of potential readers into account, from off-the-shelf beginners to seasoned professionals. I did this because I've found that those seasoned professionals are delighted to learn new tricks, techniques, and concepts, and people who have used computers very little sometimes surprise me with their intuitive grasp of the Big Picture.

Remember, this book was written for you. It's designed to work for you—as your personal consultant—whoever you are. It's also designed to help you get a sure footing on a sometimes uneven path and to help you make pages like the pros.


I have organized this book to reflect what I think QuarkXPress is all about: producing final camera-ready output from your computer. So I start with an overview of the program, move on to building a structure for the document, then discuss the basics—such as putting text and pictures on a page. Next I move into some fine-tuning aspects of QuarkXPress, and finally to printing. And, because so many people now must output their files both to paper and to the Internet, I have also included a chapter on Web publishing. That's the speed-reading rundown; now here's a play-by-play of the chapters.

  • Introduction. In the Introduction, I lay out QuarkXPress on the table, telling you what it is and what it does. I also run down each of the new features in version 5.

  • Chapter 1: Learn QuarkXPress in 30 Minutes. One of the most frequently-asked-for additions to this book has been a step-by-step beginner's guide to learning QuarkXPress. If you're brand new to QuarkXPress, this chapter, which takes a visual approach to learning the program, should be perfect for you.

  • Chapter 2: QuarkXPress Basics. The first step in understanding QuarkXPress is learning about its structure from the ground up. This involves an investigation of QuarkXPress's menus, palettes, and dialog boxes. Advanced users tell me they find features and techniques in this chapter that they never knew.

  • Chapter 3: Tools of the Trade. Every vocation has its tools, and we desktop publishers are no different. This chapter offers an in-depth study of each tool in QuarkXPress's Tool palette, how to use it, and why.

  • Chapter 4: Building a Document. Without a sturdy foundation, your document won't be reliable or flexible when you need it to be. This chapter discusses the basics of making earthquake-proof infrastructures for your pages: opening a new document, creating master pages, and setting up column guides and linking for text flow.

  • Chapter 5: Word Processing. If you wanted a drawing program, you would have bought one. Words are what most people use QuarkXPress for, and this chapter is where words start. I talk here about simple text input, working with word processors, the Find/Change feature, and checking spelling.

  • Chapter 6: Type and Typography. Once you've got those words in the computer, what do you do with them? Chapter 6 discusses the details of formatting text into type—fonts, sizes, styles, indents, drop caps—all the things that turn text into type.

  • Chapter 7: Copy Flow. You bought the computer, so why not let it do the work for you? This chapter explains how to use style sheets and XPress Tags to automate aspects of copy processing, and how to use importing and exporting effectively.

  • Chapter 8: Long Documents. QuarkXPress 5 introduces three major features that help you when working with long documents: lists, indexes, and the Book palette. Here, I discuss each of these in detail and offer suggestions for how to use them effectively.

  • Chapter 9: Pictures. Who reads text anymore? I like to look at the pictures. And pictures are what Chapter 9 is all about. I discuss every relevant graphics file format and how to work with each in your documents. I also cover rotating, skewing, and other manipulations of images.

  • Chapter 10: Fine-Tuning Images. In this chapter, I look at brightness, contrast, and halftoning for bitmapped images such as scans. I also explore XPress 5's clipping feature and how it works with TIFF images.

  • Chapter 11: Where Text Meets Graphics. This is the frontier-land: the border between the two well-discussed worlds of type and pictures. Life gets different on the edge, and in this chapter I discuss how to handle it with grace—using inline boxes, paragraph rules, and the text runaround features.

  • Chapter 12: Color. QuarkXPress is well-known for its powerful color capabilities. Chapter 12 covers color models, building a custom color palette, applying colors, and the first steps in understanding color separation.

  • Chapter 13: Printing. This chapter is where everything I've talked about is leading: getting your document out of the machine and onto film or paper. Here, I cover every step of printing, including the details of the Print dialog box, the finer points of service bureaus, and troubleshooting your print job.

  • Chapter 14: Going Online with QuarkXPress. Most of the new features in version 5 involve building Web pages. Here I explain how to use these tools, as well as an exploration of making Acrobat PDF files from QuarkXPress.

  • Appendix A: Color Management. Color management is all about improving the correspondence between colors on screen, on color printer output, and on printed results from offset printing. The QuarkCMS XTension is covered in detail in this appendix.

  • Appendix B: Macintosh vs. Windows. More and more people are using QuarkXPress in a cross-platform environment. In Appendix B, I explore the ins and outs of moving files between the two programs and operating systems.

  • Appendix C: XTensions and Resources. Where do you go when QuarkXPress isn't doing what you want? This appendix offers suggestions for many popular XTensions, as well as both print and Web-based resources you should know about.

  • Appendix D: Scripting. In Appendix D,I cover the wild world of scripting QuarkXPress using AppleScript on the Macintosh. Don't worry, I'm not really a programmer myself; if I can understand this stuff, so can you.

  • Appendix E: XMLTools. If you make books, magazines, or newspapers, you need to know about XML. It's the hot new thing in the industry, but it's certainly the hardest thing you can do in QuarkXPress today.

  • Appendix F: XPress Tags. If you use XPress Tags (which I discuss in Chapter 7, Copy Flow), you will no doubt need a reference to the many obscure and arcane codes. I've laid them all out here.

  • Appendix G: ANSI Codes. In order to type certain special characters in QuarkXPress for Windows, you need to know each character's ANSI code. I'm forever forgetting them, so I built a list of them, which I've included here.

Finding What You Need

There are many ways to read this book. First, there's the cover-to-cover approach. This is the best way to get every morsel I have included. On the other hand, that method doesn't seem to work for some people. As I said, this book is meant to be used, right off the shelf, no batteries required.

I've done everything in my power to make it easy to find topics throughout this book. However, there's so much information that sometimes you might not know where to look. The table of contents breaks each chapter down into first- and second-level headings, so you can jump to a particular topic fast.

If you are primarily looking for the new version-5 features, you should take a look at the description of new features in the Introduction. That will also tell you where in the book I describe the feature fully.

Finally, if you can't find what you're looking for, or are trying to find an explanation for a single concept, try the index.


Just to be honest with you, there's almost no way to explain one feature in QuarkXPress without explaining all the rest at the same time. But that would make for a pretty confusing book. Instead, I'm asking you to take minor leaps of faith along the path of reading these chapters. If I mention a term or function you don't understand, trust me that I'll explain it all in due time. If you are able to do that, you will find that what I am discussing all makes sense. For example, I'm not going to talk about the details of creating a new document until the fourth chapter, Building a Document, even though I need to talk about working with documents in Chapter 2, QuarkXPress Basics.

The Real World QuarkXPress Web Site

No book is big enough to cover the many facets of QuarkXPress anymore, and even if it could, the technology changes much more quickly than writers like me can update our books. Similarly, some publishers have taken to adding CD-ROMs in the back of their books in order to provide additional material. Unfortunately, the discs become obsolete almost immediately. To counter both of these problems, I've built The Real World QuarkXPress Web Site, which should simply be considered an extension of this printed book: www.peachpit.com/blatner/

The Web site has all sorts of stuff that I think you'll find interesting.

  • Frequently asked questions. I've spent a great deal of time analyzing the questions XPress users have posted on the Internet, in magazines, to Quark's technical support, and in e-mail to me. The surprising thing is that while everyone uses XPress differently, and for different purposes, almost everyone asks the same kinds of questions. I've compiled answers to these questions and posted them on the site.

  • Book updates. Probably the only thing more frustrating than being a computer book writer, like me, is being a computer book reader, like you. The reason: each month the software keeps changing, new XTensions are released, bugs are fixed (sometimes even bugs that I thought were features)….Fortunately, you can now read about these sorts of updates quickly in the Updates section of the Web site.

  • Tips and tricks. Ask any of my friends and you'll find out that I love tips and tricks. I've got so many little workarounds, special techniques, and undocumented “features” that there was no way to fit them all in the book. Check out the many tips and tricks (or contribute one of your own) in the Tips & Tricks section of the Web site.

  • Resources. Finally, I would be lying if I told you that The Real World QuarkXPress Web Site was the end-all and be-all for information on QuarkXPress. No way. Therefore, I offer lists of the many other resources on the Internet and in print that you should be aware of.

Note that you must own this book in order to get access to The Real World QuarkXPress Web Site. (It's password-protected, and the password is hidden inside these pages, so make sure you have your book on hand when accessing the site.)


No book is an island. So many people have directly and indirectly contributed to this book's production that I would have to publish a second volume to thank them all. However, I want to thank some folks directly.

Behind the scenes

Several other writers have worked on pieces of this book. Specifically, Patti Schulze wrote a large chunk of the material involving XPress's Web features, and Kass Johns helped me with the sections on Tables and Layers. Sandee Cohen and Phil Gaskill were instrumental in piecing together the sections on the Bézier drawing tools, word processing, XPress Tags, and the beginning step-by-step lessons in Chapter 1. Keith Stimely, Bob Weibel, and Eric Taub contributed significantly to earlier editions. Bruce Fraser, my coauthor on Real World Photoshop, also provided technical editing and reality checks.

The infrastructure makes it great

A great thanks to the people at Quark who not only put out a great product, but also worked with me to get this book out to you with as much information in it as I've got. In particular, Fred Ebrahimi, Juergen Kurz, Brett Mueller, Darin Overstreet, Glen Turpin, Heather Durham, Don Lohse, Susie Friedman, and David Allen. A special thanks to Quark's technical support staff, who have been a great support in so many ways.

Other folks: Cyndie Shaffstall of The Power XChange; Jay Nelson at Design Tools Monthly; Scotty Carreiro at Point of Presence Company; William Buckingham, formerly at the XChange; Steve Werner; Diane Burns; John Cruise; Doug Peltonen; Leonard Mazerov; and Sal Soghoian of Apple Computer.

And many thanks go to all the people who wrote, called, and e-mailed me their comments and suggestions. I've tried to incorporate their ideas into this sixth edition.

The People Who Made This Book

Throughout the process of developing this edition, I have been surrounded and supported by quality people, including Steve Roth, who edited the first few editions of this book. Cindy Bell of Design Language, Kris Fulsaas, and Agen Schmitz were excellent in making sure my t's were dotted and i's crossed, and—most of all—making sure that I didn't sound like a fool. Also important have been Glenn “industry pundit” Fleishman, Jeff Carlson of Never Enough Coffee Creations, and Jeff “it's an illustration, not a cartoon” Tolbert.

I want to thank my publisher, Nancy Ruenzel, and my editor at Peachpit, Nancy Davis. In fact, everyone at Peachpit has been great, including Lisa Brazieal, Mimi Heft, Keasley Jones, Gary-Paul Prince, Hannah Latham, and Trish Booth. Special appreciation also goes to Ted Nace, the original publisher at Peachpit—I gave it the wings, but he made it fly.

And, finally, there are those people even further behind the scenes who helped along the road. Vincent Dorn at LaserWrite in Palo Alto, who said, “Hey, let's go to Burger King.” Steve Herold at LaserGraphics in Seattle, who said, “Meet Steve Roth.” All my parents; my wife, Debbie Carlson; Alisa, Paul, and Camille Piette; Suzanne and Damian Carlson-Prandini; and other friends who were such a support over the past few decades. It wouldn't have happened without you.


David Blatner

Seattle, Washington

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