Killer XPress time-savers

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Navigating QuarkXPress is a lot like sleeping. There’s no glory in it, but we have to spend a lot of time doing it. That’s why tips for these low-level XPress tasks—such as zooming in and out, scrolling, and changing pages—are so crucial. Dig in here to find indispensable tricks and compelling shortcuts you’ll use over and over again.

Zoom to a specified percent—no mousing

You know that view-percent field in the lower left corner of the layout window? You can use it to zoom in and out, but it’s not much fun if you have to use both the mouse and the keyboard to do so. Instead, press control-V to highlight the percent field, type your number (no percent sign needed), and press return to go there. To get to the Thumbnails view, type

in the number field. To zoom right to a specific spot, first select an item or a bit of text in the area where you’ll be working. Note that XPress saves your view percent, so when you open a file, that view is in effect.

Zooming in bigger or smaller steps

Sometimes it’s handy to just click with the Zoom tool to zoom in on or out from the same area. By default, when you click, the view changes by 25 percent. But you can set the Zoom tool for a different percent. To get to the Tools preferences quickly, double-click on the Zoom tool in the toolbox; this highlights the tool icon in the right panel. Click on the Modify button to display the View dialog box. Increase or decrease the Increment setting—I like 50 percent. Less clicking is always refreshing. Now when you click with the Zoom tool, your view really changes. If you change the Increment setting when you don’t have any files open, your change applies to all new files from now on.

Fit in window zaps you to another page

Do you feel disoriented when you land on the wrong page after going to Fit In Window (Command-0)? If you’ve scrolled your page and you have even one pixel that belongs to the previous page or spread showing at the top of your window, then XPress considers that previous page to be the one you’re on. And that’s where you land when you reduce your view. Because XPress stacks pages and spreads vertically in one large workspace, there’s a dividing line that separates each page or spread from the ones above and below. Make sure you can’t see that dividing line at the top of your window so you won’t feel like you’ve landed in a strange land.

Watch the action with live scroll

There are times when you’ve got a long way to scroll, especially across a spread, and the Hand tool (option-drag) is just not up to the task. Here’s where the scroll bars really shine, except for one small detail—you can’t see where you’re going when you use them, so you often go too far or not far enough. But with the aid of just one little key, you can see the page scroll as you drag . Press the option key as you grab that scroll box, and you’ll stop exactly where you need to—no guessing games. If you really like this feature, you might as well make it permanent by turning on the Live Scroll option (in the Interactive preference pane).

See both pages of the spread

Have you ever found this frustrating? You’ve got a Facing Pages layout in a reduced view, such as Fit In Window, and you change pages—but instead of seeing the entire spread, you see only the right page. Having to scroll over to see both pages can be annoying. Whether you like to change pages via the Go To Page command (Command-J), the Page Layout palette, or the page-number pop-up menu in the lower left corner of the layout window, select an even-numbered page to see the whole spread at once.

Get the picture with the item tool

While you must always use the Content tool to import text (some things are sacred), anything goes when it comes to pictures. Go ahead—use the Item tool with Get Picture (press Command-E). There’s no logic, but it will save you time when you’re placing a picture, since you won’t have to change tools.

Get temporary access to the item tool

At any time, with any tool except the Zoom tool, you can get to the Item tool while skipping that trip to the toolbox. Typically, you’re using the Content tool to format text and adjust pictures. To move a box quickly, just press the Command key. Presto, you’ve got the Item tool for as long as you’re pressing the mouse down. You’ve got the tool you need next, but you forgot to select or deselect an item? Don’t run to the toolbox just to get the Item tool. Better yet, there’s no second trip back to the toolbox to reselect your original tool.

Faster access to fly-out tools

Are you sometimes caught second-guessing where that fly-out tool is buried in XPress’s toolbox? Or maybe you regularly use one of those hidden line or text-on-a-path tools? Here’s a great tip to expand XPress’s toolbox so the tool you need is visible in the toolbox. Just press and hold the control key as you select a fly-out tool. When you release the mouse, that tool will be added to the top level of the toolbox. If you don’t delete your preferences file, your enlarged toolbox will be displayed every time you launch XPress. To tuck that tool back in, just control-click on the tool icon. If you’re really obsessed, you can do this 18 times to display all 28 tools at one glance.

Keep a tool forever

Have you ever noticed that when you select almost any tool except the Big Two—Item and Content—you get only a single shot at using it, and then it’s gone? You’ve drawn a box and want to do another, but now you’re stuck with the Content tool once more. Or you’ve rotated an item, but to do it again, you have to return to the toolbox. These are familiar stories. But there’s a shortcut in shining armor that can solve your problems in no time flat. Press the option key as you click on the tool. Now you can draw lines and boxes or rotate items to your heart’s content.

Delete all horizontal or vertical guides

Some people just love using guides. You can temporarily forget numbers and simply snap things to a guide to align them. But before you know it, you’ve got a ton of guides on your page. This tip is great because you won’t have to decide which is worse—dragging each guide back into the ruler or leaving your work space a mess. Instead, you can kill all your guides with one blow—well, maybe two. First scroll your page, if necessary, so there’s no pasteboard visible between the page and the horizontal and vertical rulers. Then simply option-click on the top and/or side rulers to remove all horizontal or vertical guides, respectively. By the way, this works only for individual pages, not spreads.

Limit guide clutter by setting a view threshold

You often use a guide when you’re zoomed in and can really see what’s going on. Then you zoom out to a larger view—and behold, your page is riddled with guide clutter because you’ve already dragged out a few other guides. The guides you make when you’re zoomed in, however, don’t need to be visible in a zoomed-out view. Just press the shift key as you drag the guide out from the ruler. The guide will disappear when you zoom out. But zoom back in again, at the original view percent or higher, and you’ll see it right where you left it.

Plow through the Guide Manager maze

This article is an excerpt from QuarkXPress 6 Killer Tips , by Eda Warren (copyright 2004; reprinted by permission of Pearson Education and New Riders).

XPress’s Guide Manager (in the Utilities menu) lets you divide a page or spread into equal units, marked by ruler guides. For best results, start out on a page with a single column (using ruler guides along with column guides is confusing). Under Guide Manager, choose Horizontal or Vertical from the Direction menu, and Current Page or All Pages from the Where menu. Avoid the Spreads options, unless you want guides on the pasteboard. Most likely, you’ll want to use the Number Of Guides section rather than Spacing; you can’t use both. To divide the entire page into three equal areas, enter

for Number Of Guides, and then choose Entire Page/Spread from the Origin/Boundaries Type menu. Finally, click on Add Guides. The outside guides will fall on the page edges. So how do you put guides just in the live area within the margin guides? Selecting the Use Margins option is not the answer. Instead, choose Absolute Position from the Type menu, and for the Left and Right or Top and Bottom values below, enter the position of your left and right margins or top and bottom margins (for half-inch left and right margins, enter
for Left and
for Right); then click on Add Guides.

[ Eda Warren is the president of the Chicago-based graphic-design and training firm Desktop Publishing Services. ]

To set up guides only within the working area of your document, set the Type menu to Absolute Position and specify your margins.Tired of scrolling over to see the whole spread? Jump to an even-numbered page for a fuller view.
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