Avoiding Text Reflow When Opening Legacy Documents in QuarkXPress 7 or 8

QuarkXPress 7 and 8 have an improved text engine, so if you copy and paste text from an older document into a document created in QuarkXPress 7 or 8, it may reflow.

Here’s how all this works:

For QuarkXPress 6 to work on Mac OS X, Quark added support for the basic character sets in Unicode (OpenType) fonts. However, they didn’t add support for the advanced features in OpenType. This allowed QuarkXPress 6 to keep the text engine from earlier versions of QuarkXPress.

However, when Quark added the avanced OpenType features to QuarkXPress 7 and higher, they improved the text engine all around. Thankfully, they also included the older text engine, and it is used when you open an older QuarkXPress document. So, for example, if you open a QuarkXPress 6/5/4 document in QuarkXPress 7 or 8, the text flow will not change.

But, if you open a document that was created in QuarkXPress 7 or 8, and then open an older document and copy text from it, if you paste that text into the new document it will use the new document’s text engine and may reflow.

Here’s the big tip for working with text across versions of QuarkXPress:

To open a legacy document and keep its original text flow, just open it in QuarkXPress 7 or 8. You can do that from the Desktop by dragging it onto the QuarkXPress icon, or from within QuarkXPress by choosing File> Open.

To convert the text in a legacy document to the new text engine in QuarkXPress 7 or 8, launch QuarkXPress 7 or 8, then choose File> Open. Select the file you want to open, and then hold down the Option or Alt key as you click the Open button. Everything in that legacy document will then be rebuilt as a fresh, new QuarkXPress 7 or 8 document.

(By the way, this is a good problem-solving technique as well. If a document begins acting strangely, sometimes you can Option/Alt-Open the file to rebuild and fix it. This doesn’t always work, but it’s the quickest technique.)

You may notice that the information at the bottom of the File> Open dialog box changes when you do this. When you first select the legacy document, the bottom of the Open dialog will display the version of QuarkXPress that created that document, and was last to save it. If you’re opening a document that was created in QuarkXPress 4, and last saved in QuarkXPress 6, that’s what you’ll see down there. After you perform the Option/Alt-Open technique, the Open dialog will indicate that you created the document in QuarkXPress 7 or 8 and last modified it in QuarkXPress 7 or 8 as well.

In the screen shot at the top of this story, the document was created in QuarkXPress 3.31 and last saved in QuarkXPress 7. After Option-opening it in QuarkXPress 8, the Open dialog looks like this:

Jay Nelson is the editorial director of PlanetQuark.com, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at Lynda.com, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.

7 thoughts on “Avoiding Text Reflow When Opening Legacy Documents in QuarkXPress 7 or 8

  1. hwang seungho


  2. rose jensen

    Hello Jay,

    I’m working with a file that has had legacy copy cut and paste into it. I’m getting the reflow error. Can I use the technique you describe (opening with the alt or option key held down) to fix the reflow error I’m getting [19]?

    Please email if you’ve discovered anything new about this issue. I’ve got files that are causing me a lot of trouble when I try using an important third party extension.

    Thanks in advance of my request,


  3. Jay Nelson

    Rose: the important thing to remember is that it’s not an error. Newer versions of QuarkXPress use a new text flow engine. So, if you combine your old text with text in a new document, the old text will use the new text engine. There’s no way around that (that I know of).

  4. This was terrific advice. I upgraded to QXP 8.15 this month from 6.5. Had nothing but constant crashes for the strangest actions I did (spell checks, moving pages, etc.) As your article says, opening legacy 6.5 files in 8.1 doesn’t create a QXP 8 file on Save; the text engine remains 6.5. Plus these files go back to version 4 based on the “created” info, so they didn’t even register as 6.5 when I used them last!

    Your trick to use the Option key seems to have solved my crashes as I brought all these files up to version 8. Keeping my fingers crossed anyway!

  5. Steve Brannon

    Thanks for this information. We were having an issue with a Quark document (running OS 10.4.11 on a G5 PowerPC). When saving a QuarkXpress 7.5 document, text would reflow. This document contained many ads built in QuarkXpress 6.5. In 7.5, holding down the alt/option key while reopening the document did the trick. No more reflow problems.

    Thank you, thank you!


  6. Russell

    @ Steve Brannon

    If you wanted to preserve the text wrap, wouldn’t you want to open old docs WITHOUT holding the Option key?

  7. I’m working in Quark 8.1.6. Ever since I upgraded I have had problems with text reflowing when saving files down to Quark 7. I would reopen the v7 file in 8 and would see that all the text had reflowed. Didn’t matter whether Opentype or PST1 fonts. I couldn’t get any answers from Quark. All they said was that when they opened both versions of the file on their machine they did not see any reflow. (I still dont know if they opened the v7 file in Quark 8 or 7.
    I was at my wits end until reading this article. It didn’t specifically say that there were differences between Quark 8 and Quark 7 in terms of a text engine. BUT!!!! I just tried to open the 7 file in 8 using the option key and all the text is back to normal! No Reflow! YAY!
    i still need to test what happens when opening the saved down file in Quark 7. I don’t have a copy on my machine. I can only hope that since the file was saved specifically for that version, the reflow problem will not exist. Hopefully it was just a problem when reopening the exported file in Quark 8.

    What I do still have problems with is reflow when sending a Mac (quark) file to a Windows (Quark) machine. If anyone can explain/solve THAT issue, I’ll be a happy camper.

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