Top 10 Basic Errors Among Quarkxpress Users
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If you have recently started using QuarkXPress, you may
find yourself making some of the errors outlined in this
article. Take a second to read through our top ten beginner
pitfalls and spare yourself a little frustration in getting
to grips with your new software.
1. Not setting document properties for new projects
Beginners will often create a new project and click OK without
paying much attention to the settings in the New Project
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.
2. Mistaking margins for the edge of the page
Having set margins when creating a new project, many new
QuarkXPress users will still feel inclined to position their
text and picture boxes inside the margin guides, leaving
an extra space. Remember, the blue lines represent the margin
guides not the edges of the page. Normally, the edges of
your text boxes will need to be positioned on the margin
rather then inside them.
3. Overuse of ruler guides
Ruler guides are created by dragging the vertical or horizontal
ruler onto the page. As well as providing a visual reference,
guides can be used to align elements vertically and horizontally
by snapping elements to them like a magnet. For example,
if the tops of two text boxes are snapped to the same guide,
both boxes will be the same distance from the top of the
Guides are extremely useful aids but, if over-used (as often
happens with new users), you end up with a page covered
in confusing green lines. Consider using the measurements
palette as well: entering the same x measurement for two
boxes will align their left edges and the same y measurement
will align their tops.
4. Not snapping objects to guides
A classic error beginners make when using guides to align
objects is as follows. They drag a guide and align it (by
eye) with one of the edges of a box then they snap a second
box onto the guide. This means that only the second box
is actually snapped to the guide.
Remember that both boxes need to be snapped to the guide
to get the full benefit from them. Since one of the edges
of the original box was used as a reference point for the
guide, it will be almost aligned but not quite: it just
needs to be moved slightly until it actually snaps to the
guide. Position the mouse pointer over the appropriate middle
handle of the box until the cursor changes to a pointing
finger. Click and drag the handle so that it snaps to the
guide. (If necessary, move the handle away from the guide
and then back onto it to feel the magnetic snap.)
5. Misuse of automatic text box
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 realising 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.
6. Clicking on the text box tool when editing text
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.
7. Attempting to edit text when the Item tool is
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 previous
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.
8. Highlighting the Item tool when resizing boxes
Another common Item/Content tool error is that new users
will often insist on selecting the Item tool when resizing
a box: in fact, resizing works fine regardless of whether
the Content or Item tool is selected.
9. Creating too many text boxes
QuarkXPress newbies will often create more text boxes than
they need to (This box is for my heading, this one is for
my subheading, and so on...), forgetting that the format
of text can be changed as many times as necessary within
the same box.
Separate text boxes need to be created only where the attributes
of different blocks of text cannot be accommodated within
the same box: for example, a heading spanning two columns
above a two column story.
10. Focusing on the box rather than the content
Beginners in QuarkXPress will often spend a lot of time
aligning headings within a text box, for example vertically
centring, forgetting that, since the box will not print,
all that matters is the position of the text itself on the
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.
About the Author: The author is
a trainer and developer with Macresource
Computer Solutions, an established, independent
computer training company offering QuarkXPress training
courses in London and throughout the UK.
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