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QuarkXpress - Graphic Design Software

Updated on July 25, 2011

Xpress Quark Tutorial!

In this article I wanted give an introduction to one of my favorite designing platforms, one I actually prefer a lot more to the newer software such as Adobe InDesign and even the Adobe Illustrator software I covered. Quark Xpress has stood the test of time and has been one of the only design layout software's for the Macintosh platform since 1987.

To be more precise QuarkXpress is a page layout application. A page layout application is a central gathering place for text, pictures, lines and other graphic elements, all of which together compose a page or series of pages. QuarkXpress can be used to produce anything from a tiny hang tag for a line of apparel to a series of encyclopedia. A completed document can be output on a home laser printer (club newsletters, invitations, etc.) or output on a high-end imagesetter for final printing by a commercial printer (book, magazine, leaflet etc.), or uploaded for on-line viewing.

In the following paragraphs I have provided a reference guide to basic QuarkXpress features, you'll be able to learn how to actually build pages and the process of creating your own publication(possibly your first novel?).

Photo courtesy of

Quark Xpress PC

Firstly, it is no good turning up and trying to produce work off the top of your head. You must have visuals or at least a magazine/advert/ whatever to work from. In the case of a magazine you must know what size it is, what the margins are, how many columns in the grid, the space between the columns (gutter) and an idea for type sizes, fonts(typefaces). The basic process can be split into 3 sections:

  • Simple Setup
  • Master pages
  • Design

Basic Setup

Start Quark from the Apple menu

When Quark is up and running, select New from the File menu, and this dialogue box(above) appears:

Enter in the information required from the information you have already prepared. Don't forget, you are making major design decisions at this stage and you need to get them correct. Otherwise you might find your print out is different from what you expected and have to start all over.

Next, from the View menu come down to and select Show Document Layout. The document layout palette appears. You can create new pages for the document in this palette by dragging pages down from the master page icon. Before we move on to the next stage it is worth having a basic grasp of how Quark operates. It is a box-based system, you create text and picture boxes from the toolbar, and place them in position on the page, you can then use the measurement palette to edit the contents of various boxes, it is useful to have images already sized correctly to avoid distortion.

QuarkXpress 7 - Style Sheets

What is a Style sheet? Style sheets are indispensable in a large document(magazines etc.) where you have a number of different styles of text, headings and captions sometimes in a single text box. Style sheets are a really useful and time saving method of formatting text.

How do I apply a style sheet? Follow the numbered boxes that will appear and are shown above:

1. Click new which is indicated in this box to create a new style. Make sure you select the correct option, either paragraph or character.

2. Then give the style a name indicated in this illustration and if need be create a keyboard shortcut. Then go to character attributes to set the type style.

3. In this step select the Character font you require, the size, and the style. Avoid using faux bold and italics. Where possible select the true bold or italic versions from the font menu.

4. Finally we have Formats, work your way carefully through the formats, tabs and rules boxes. When you have completed the style sheets click OK and Save.

Quark 7 - Master Pages


1. Take your time

2. Remember where you are

The first rule is obvious. The second means remember that you are working on a master page, and that all you want on the master pages is common elements - those things (page numbers, running heads, footers etc.) which appear on every page. You don not want to start laying out pages on the master page.

You access the master pages from the document layout palette(Above) from the view menu. You can tell that you are on the master page by the page being highlighted on the document layout palette, from the chain icon in the corner of the pages and it also says so in the bottom left hand corner of the page.

In the second image above we can see a close-up which points out the page numbering. You establish the page numbers by creating a type box in the correct position and typing command 3.  This is then styled (font, size etc.) and the box copied to the other pages. Remember to position the boxes using the X and Y values in the measurements palette(pointed out) - choose easy round numbers.

The same principles apply to putting in running heads and other items on the master pages. The basic idea is to be methodical about setting these pages up. if you need to copy items across from left page to right page, make sure you get all the styling done before you copy - so you only do it once. Bear in mind that alignment might also change from left to right.(alignment pointed out along the bottom)

Quark Xxpress 7.5

Lastly, make sure you have double clicked on the page icon to bring you off master pages and back to the actual document, now you can start working on your actual design. The master pages will be shown. master pages are non printing pages, but, anything you enter on the master pages will be repeated throughout the document. So, if you draw a large red square on the right hand master page, every right hand page in the entire document will contain a red square.

Take your time over this, until you become familiar with the boxes and the way they work. Here are some final tips:

  • Work to the grid you have given yourself
  • Do not over clutter the design
  • Remember, text boxes can also have columns within them and text can be styled differently within the boxes
  • Text will always seem smaller on screen than printed out, look at magazines for ideas of size and style
  • Use the View menu fit in window to see the whole page and the zoom tool to see parts in detail. Don't worry if the text goes into grey bands, it is just too small to render properly at that magnification!


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