How to Start a Publication Part 3

The examples below are from real workflows. Even if they don’t exactly match what could be used in your situation, the ideas and concepts will likely trigger some thoughts about how you could be using the features in QuarkXPress more creatively.
–Jay Nelson
Editorial Director

Setting Up a Basic Ad Workflow

Just as each story in an editorial workflow has a life, so does each ad. In this next installment I will look at how to set up a basic ad workflow. You will see how to do it in previous versions of QuarkXPress and also by using new features in QuarkXPress 7.

Sales people sell ads — that’s just how it goes. It’s often their revenue that funds a publication, even more than sales of the publication itself. When ads come in, there needs to be a way of tracking each ad to make sure the right ad gets into the publication. You wouldn’t want last week’s ad to run in this week’s issue.

One way to keep track of ads is to assign a number to the ad as the job comes in. That number gets put on the top of the job ticket. The ticket is picked up by an ad layout artist who looks at the dimensions of the ad, and also whether it is a pick-up from an ad that has already run, or a new ad.

If you’re running QuarkXPress 7, this is where your upgrade is going to pay off. If this is a new ad, it would be great if the ad layout artist could pick the correct document size from a list within Quark, ie: half page ad, 1×2, 2×4, and so on. This would alleviate the problem of an artist using the wrong dimensions for the ad. (Because they read the wrong sticky note hanging off of their computer screen…)

A common mistake is to make a four-column ad by adding up the width of four columns, but forgetting to include the gutter widths — winding up with the wrong total width. In QuarkXPress 7 you can avoid this problem entirely by using XPert PageSets, which is included in the free XPert Tools set of XTensions from Quark. Or an even better way to accomplish this feat is to use Quark’s Job Jackets. For a full explanation of Job Jackets see: Three Experts Explain Quark Job Jackets
Using Job Jackets, you could have the person who assigns the ad number (usually a Traffic Manager) also make a Job Ticket for the ad. That way, when the ad is about to be done, the artist will pick up the correct Job Ticket, and do the job according to the specifications. For example, the Job Ticket would automatically control whether the ad is Color or Grayscale, which fonts should be used, and of the required minimum image resolution. Then, every time an ad is made, as long as the ad layout artist has the correct preferences set up on their machine, whenever they print, save, or close a layout the layout will be compared to the specifications in the Job Ticket.

Using this approach, if the document size is wrong, the problem must be fixed by the ad layout artist, before it goes to the person who puts all the ads into the publication and then sends the pages to press, or makes PDFs for the printer. (Otherwise, the page layout person has the additional burden of resizing the ad and fixing its colors and fonts.)

In earlier versions of QuarkXPress, the approach would be to make templates that the artists can use to build each size of size. However, unlike using a Job Ticket, this approach doesn’t provide any kind of preflighting for image resolution, colors, fonts, etc.

No matter which way you do it, a document size has now been chosen, the ad is ready to be created. If it was a pick-up from a previous ad, the older ad would be opened, saved with a new run-date at the end of its name, and updated.

Just a quick tip: Sometimes when a completed ad is imported into a picture box in the final layout, its frame seems thicker on some sides and thinner on others. A common cause of this is that the ad layout artist moved the frame box ever so slightly, causing it to hang off the edge of the original document page. When the ad was exported to EPS or PDF, that part of the frame is cut off. To avoid this, when I first make an ad I like to check Automatic Text Box in the New Layout dialog box. This automatically makes a box that is the size of the ad. When the layout opens I change the box’s Content to None, give the frame a weight, and lock it. Problem solved.

The question is… How should I store these ads? Obviously, you should save everything as loose items on your desktop, with unrelated filenames such as: Yesterday’s ad for that company.qxd. Just Kidding. You should really store all the ads on a central server. If you don’t have a dedicated file server, you could store them on an inexpensive network hard drive. The point is, if you have multiple people that need to work on these ads, they need to be in a central location that is accessible to all of the artists, with all of the related logos and images for the ads, so that the picture links don’t break and anyone can print a proof of the ads. I would recommend having an Ad folder on the server. Within that folder I would have folders labeled A, B, C, D, right down the whole alphabet. Then within those folders, you can have folders for the businesses that run ads with you. Joe’s AutoBody should be a folder inside the J folder. Within the Joe’s Auto Body folder you will have their ads, named by the date they ran. Then make a Links folder inside the Joe’s Auto Body folder where you will store all of the logos and images for that company.

How to Start a Publication Part 3This is an example of an ad storage folder.

Once the ad is complete, a proof is usually printed for the sales person so that punctuation and text accuracy can be reviewed. Then it’s reviewed by the client. Here’s a suggestion: instead of printing the ad and walking it over to the sales person, who would then fax the ad to the client, save some time and trees by using PDFs. If you send a PDF to the sales person they can use the Comments and Annotations feature in Acrobat to insert notes and write changes. Even if the Sales person doesn’t have the full version of Acrobat, if the ad layout artist does, they can use Comments> Enable for Comment and Analysis in Acrobat. This will enable the commenting and annotation tools in Adobe Reader even if the recipients don’t have the full version of Acrobat. The Sales person could mark up the PDF, send it off to the client, have them mark it up, and they could email their comments back to the ad layout artist. This leaves less room for mistakes because they don’t have to decipher what someone scribbled on a print, or even worse a fax. With text changes, you could just copy and paste from Acrobat into QuarkXPress.

Once the ad is finalized and approved by all, you can export the ad as a PDF or EPS into another folder where ads are stored for the upcoming issue. Whether you save the ads as EPSes or PDFs is another topic altogether, which I am not going to address in this installment. The important thing is that all ads are named with the number that was originally given to the ad on the job ticket. If a last minute change is made, a new EPS or PDF is saved over the older file. When printing the page the ad is on, if the ad has already been placed, then the link will need to updated since it has been modified.

When it’s time to place the ads, there are several XTensions that can automate the process. Managing Editor’s Ad Layout System (ALS) builds an overlay of the ads with their numbers on a separate layer in your publication. When it is time to import the ads into the pages, another XTension from MEI, FiFi or Find File Links, can search through the ad folder and automatically insert the ads into the correct picture boxes.

But this story is on how to set up an advertising workflow using only QuarkXPress. So here are a few ideas I’ve seen in use:

You could build a Library that contains all of your ad sizes, but with a trick: create a picture box the size of the ad, and put a text box on top of it containing some dummy text. Set the dummy text box to Suppress Output (Item> Modify). That way, it won’t print, but will be visible during layout. By later adding an ad number to that text box, this trick will let the layout person identify the ad by looking at its number, but the number won’t print.

Group the dummy text box with the ad box and drag it onto the Library palette. Then label it in the Library with the size of the ad.

When the ad layout artist is ready to lay out the ads, they use the appropriately-sized ad template, and include the ad number in its file name. The publication layout person uses the items in the Library as placeholders when laying out the publication. They enter the ad number into the text box whose output is suppressed, so that later it will be obvious which ad goes there, but the ad number never prints.

The publication layout person can then break up the publication so that people can work on separate sections. When it’s ready for output, the person doing final output notes the number on each blank ad and then imports the corresponding finished ad into the picture box from the folder where the ad layout artists have stored PDFs or EPSes of the ads.

This approach not only reduces the chance of using the wrong ad, it also reduces the chance of the ad being the wrong size.

How to Start a Publication Part 3Suppress Output in the Modify dialog box.

Another approach is to use the Shared Content feature in QuarkXPress 7. As the ads are being arranged in the publication, each ad could be made into a Composition Zone, then shared externally and saved into the appropriate ad folder. When it’s time to create the ad, the ad layout artist uses the shared ad file from that folder. If a paginator has the page open, then as the layout artist saves the ad, the ad will update in real time on the full page. This eliminates the need to place an external ad file at all. However, the ads cannot easily be reused because they are a part of that specific issue.

However, the opposite approach is probably the most powerful: each ad is created as a separate Layout and saved as a Shared Layout, (Layout> Advanced Layout Properties). Those Shared Layouts are then placed into the publication layout. And just like the example above, as the layout artist saves each ad, it will update in real time on the publication page. The advantage to this approach is that the ad remains a separate, trackable item and can be more easily updated for future issues.

Whichever way you get the ads into the final pages, if you use any of these methods, you will save yourself a lot of time at the end of the process, including searching for ads, changing ad sizes, and making sure you have the most current ad. And don’t forget the revenue that could be lost in running the wrong ad, or even the wrong size ad. Somehow all of this preparation will just ad up in the end.