Arrange Items Across Layers — And Group Them

One very useful unique feature of QuarkXPress 7 is the ability to edit text in boxes that are obscured behind other boxes. There are times when it gets fiddly so I use a workaround which I’ll explain below — but I’m getting ahead of myself.

First up, how do you select a text box that’s sitting behind another item? Hold down Command-Opt-Shift (Mac) or Ctrl-Alt-Shift (Windows) and click on the front item: this selects the next item behind it. If you have several items overlapping each other, keep clicking until the item you want is selected.

How do you edit text in that box at the back? Just make sure you have the Content tool active and start typing. As long as the text box is already selected, you can even place the text cursor by clicking it in position, click and drag across characters and so on, just as if the text box was sitting in front of the others.

Take this scenario, for example. Here’s a stylized headline in Lithos Pro, coloured orange.

Arrange Items Across Layers -- And Group Them

And here’s a duplicate I made. I recoloured the text black and applied a 10% slant in the Text tab of the Measurements palette.

Arrange Items Across Layers -- And Group Them

Here I’ve aligned them, one on top of the other, to produce a cute, crisp, tweaked drop-shadow effect.

Arrange Items Across Layers -- And Group Them

The fiddly thing is that every time I change the headline text in the front box, I have to change the shadow text in the other box behind it. I can certainly select the shadow box and edit the text using the technique mentioned earlier, or course, but I’m working on a very busy layout – I keep clicking on the wrong boxes, accidentally moving items, and generally making a mess. And I have up to 20 of these headings in this particular publication over just three spreads.

So what I do is put the two text boxes on different layers.

Arrange Items Across Layers -- And Group Them

Then I group them. Yes, you can group items across more than one layer. When I select the grouped text boxes using the Item tool, this is how they appear in the Layers palette.

Arrange Items Across Layers -- And Group Them

Now when I want to edit the shadow text, I just hide the front layer for a moment. Easy.

Postscript: While this makes a nice exercise in playing with grouped items across layers, there is a much more elegant solution to synchronizing my pairs of headline text boxes and shadow text boxes. Ah, I gave you a clue. Can you guess what it is?