Recently I had to take over a huge project that was done in QuarkXpress. Not my forte if any of you have noticed! I’m an InDesign girl through and through. In fact, up until this project, I hadn’t worked in Quark very much at all.
It was a learning opportunity—something that I’ve come to enjoy—even if it was full of frustration and aggravation about the differences between the two layout programs.
I thought I’d put together a little collection of my observations about the basic differences between working in Quark vs. working in InDesign. Hopefully it will help those of you who are transferring from one program to the other. I’m writing from the perspective of an InDesign user picking up Quark, since that’s what I am, but hopefully if you’re going the other way around—Quark to InDesign—you’ll find this useful, too.
Below I’ve shown the pictures and listed the name of each tool in Quark and what it does (if the name isn’t explanation enough). I’ll be referencing these tools, so best to mention them first.
Item Tool – essentially the Move tool
Content Tool – basically a combination of both the Direct Selection Tool (white arrow) and the Text tool
Zoom Tool – you can toggle this tool the same as in Adobe programs, Ctrl+Spacebar+Click for zoom in and Ctrl+Alt+Spacebar+Click to zoom out.
Text Box Tool – used to create new text boxes. Click and hold on tool button to find more text tools
Picture Box Tool – used to create new picture boxes for importing images. Click and hold on tool button for more shape options.
Line Tool (has the Pen Tool underneath)
Line Text-Path Tool – click and drag to create a link on which to type. Click and hold on tool button for more line options.
Composition Zones Tool – allows you to create areas that other QuarkXpress users can modify over a network. Complicated and I don’t understand quite how it works.
Scissors Tool – cuts the bounding line of an object, creating two end points where you click with the Scissors tool
Starburst Tool – no, it doesn’t conjure up yummy candy, it just draws a star. Define variables like number of spikes and spike depth by double clicking on the tool button.
One of the basic and most aggravating differences between InDesign and Quark is the shortcuts. I am an avid shortcut junkie and to not be able to hit T for the Text tool was beyond maddening, not to mention how much it slowed me down. Also unfortunate is that the shortcuts are not only different—and in other cases completely nonexistent—in Quark, there is also no way to change them.
Screenshot of the Keyboard Shortcut preferences from InDesign (shown with Quark shortcut set selected)
Fortunately for any of you moving from Quark to InDesign, Adobe has graciously allowed you to not only redefine every shortcut to your personal preference, but there is even a shortcut set saved that mimics Quark shortcuts (shown above). How’s that for accommodating?
So what handy shortcuts do exist in Quark?
Instead of using Spacebar as you would in InDesign to toggle the hand tool to move around the canvas, use Alt, which is actually what you would use to toggle the tool if you’re cursor is in a text box in InDesign, so perhaps it’s not quite as foreign. Though let me tell you, switching between Illustrator and Quark is disorienting!
Use Ctrl+Alt+Tab to move down the Tool panel and Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Tab to move up it. No, there are no shortcuts for individual tools so quit pouting about it, and yes, your fingers will feel like they are playing a demented game of Twister.
Ctrl+0 will zoom out to fit the page within the screen and is thankfully the same in both Adobe products and QuarkXpress. Ctrl+Spacebar+Click to zoom in and Ctrl+Alt+Spacebar+Click to zoom out are also identical (though in Quark you may not see the cursor change to the zoom icon until you click).
For most other options I needed like Full Resolution preview and Send to front or back I used the right click menu.
Working with Images and Text
I’ve heard many Quark to InDesign users say that getting a handle on how images are treated in the two programs is difficult. I never understood why until now.
In InDesign, you simply import images. There is no step before hitting Ctrl+D to bring up a dialog window where you can choose which image(s) to import. For Quark, however, there is a step before that. You must use the Picture Box tool to draw a content box for the image first. This content box acts as a clipping mask. With InDesign, this step is combined into importing an image; a content box is automatically created for you.
You’ll need to use the Text Box tool to create a text box, too. You should be used to this from InDesign, though.
There is no on-the-fly or real time transform function or tool in QuarkXpress. You can control some aspects similar to a transform that you’re used to in the Adobe products, but you’ll have to access those through the Modify dialog box, which comes up if you double click on an object (text or image) or right click on it and choose Modify. Find the transform-ish options under the Picture or Text tab, depending on the type of content box. There is no checkbox to preview the changes before clicking ok either, so it’ll be a lot of trial and error (more time wasting).
The other way to resize images is to resize the content box with the Item tool and then right click and choose Scale Picture to Box. This can be very time consuming, especially if you need exact proportions in relation to other items, so if possible, make your images exactly the size you’ll need them in your image-editing (Photoshop) or vector application (Illustrator). When you import the images into a picture box, right click and choose Fit Box to Picture.
Linking Text Boxes
Screenshot of where to click to link text boxes in InDesign
To link text boxes in InDesign all you need to do is click on the blue/red box (a red + indicates overflow text) of the text box and click the box you want to link it to so that the text flows into that box. In Quark, however, there is a special Link tool. The method is still straightforward: click on the text boxes in the order you want them linked. To unlink boxes, use the Unlink tool. See also how to add a new first linked text box from Planet Quark.
I had so much to tell you that it turned into many more pages than I had originally planned. Next time, I’ll fill you in on the differences between InDesign and Quark regarding paragraph and character styles, master pages, bulleted and numbered lists and give you some further resources for both programs.