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Introduction

Introduction

At last! Por fin. Enfin. .Até que enfim. Endlich…

Bear with me while I do a tiny bit of whining. I usually whine about how fast applications upgrade, especially in this, The Year of the Big Upgrades. Heck, there's even a sequel to Myst. In the case of QuarkXPress, I hated to see a great program lying stagnant, and meanwhile, my wish list was getting longer and longer. With the release of Four-Oh, are there still features left on my wish list? You betcha: A layers palette, a navigation palette, style sheets for items, Web export capability, and more. (Quark headquarters, are you listening?)

Now for a nice round of applause. XPress 4.0 incorporates most of the features that were on my original wish list as well as a few delightful surprises, including the ability to create Bézier shapes; enter text on a path; make all sorts of conversions, such as from a text box into a picture box or a line; create clipping paths; create custom dashed and multi-line frames, lines, and paragraph rules; find and change style sheets; selectively append style sheets, colors, H&Js, and lists; resize whole groups; turn XTensions off and on from within the application; synchronize style sheets and other specifications across multiple documents; and—hoot, holler, jump in the aisles—create and apply character-based style sheets.

Some of the enhancements are smaller and won't engender a lot of media fanfare, but are nevertheless welcome to a daily QuarkXPress user like myself. Take smart space, for example. If you copy and paste a text passage, XPress figures out whether a space is needed before and/or after the pasted text and inserts it automatically for you.

Should you toss out your drawing application, now that QuarkXPress has its own Bézier tools? No, you'll still need that drawing application for some tasks. But what you'll like about XPress' Bézier tools is that you can draw right in your layout program and see how your text path or irregularly-shaped picture box looks in your layout. What's more, QuarkXPress' anchor points and curve handles are easy to see (less squinting). And you can convert a corner anchor point into a curve using a keyboard shortcut or with a quick click on an icon on the Measurements palette—elegant maneuver.

Is 4.0 more difficult for a beginner to learn? Not really. There are more features to learn, but the basics are the basics. Here's my advice: Think of yourself as a visitor in a foreign country, and use this volume as your guidebook. But don't try to see the whole country all at once. Give yourself time to get acquainted with the turf, with where the various menus, features, screen icons, and commands are located, and with the new QuarkXPress language. This Visual QuickStart Guide will help direct you down the main thoroughfares, with its step-by-step instructions, hundreds of illustrations, and oodles of tips to help you avoid getting lost.

How difficult will it be for you to upgrade your skills if you already know the program? The new folder tab interface is a bit different, but the basic methods used to create documents haven't changed significantly. If you're an experienced QuarkXPress user, the beauty of this application upgrade is that you can add to your store of knowledge in bits and pieces—learn how to use character style sheets, for example, or fiddle with the text path tools—without turning your life upside down or substantially interrupting your normal work flow.

You may have already noticed that I can never resist improving my books. In this very thoroughly revised edition you'll find an updated design, new illustrations, many more tips,[*] and more thorough introductory paragraphs and instructions. In fact, you'll find new tips and info bites on almost every page. So even if you memorized the previous edition, take some time to read the fine print in this one. In addition to the spanking new instructions for all the latest features, you'll find tips that will save you time and revised instructions that will hopefully shed light on the older features—some of which until now you may have been avoiding like the plague. I extend to you a warm welcome to the new and improved QuarkXPress 4.0 for Windows: Visual QuickStart Guide

[*] Speaking of tips, I'd love to hear from you if you've come up with any tips that you think might help other readers of this book or any corrections that you think I should make. I can be reached at Pixbill@aol.com. Don't ask me for advice on hardware, though. To say it's not my forté is a gross understatement.

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