Overmatter Checkmate in Seven Moves

Forgive me, I don’t do design. I’m a sub-editor, which means I work with words. Page layout programs aren’t very good at words: they are graphic design programs that just happen to let you put text into boxes… rather grudgingly, in my opinion.

The fact that QuarkXPress is great for typography is irrelevant. I’m talking about text. You know the sort of thing: sentences, paragraphs, textual communication… basically, the bits on a page that people read rather than look at.

Why, for example, does the program not show overmatter? When there’s too much text to fit inside a box, a little red cross symbol appears, whereupon my designer colleagues nod wisely and say: “Ah, there’s overmatter.” Yes, I know there’s bloody overmatter, thank you very much, but how much is there and what does it say? “Draw another box on the pasteboard and link the text to it,” my designer colleagues advise me.

Oh great. How would you like it if every time a picture was too big to fit inside a picture box, you had to draw another picture box on the pasteboard in order to view the rest of it?

However, until Quark chooses to bundle a Show Overmatter XTension with QuarkXPress, I have little choice but to do as my designer colleagues suggest. But just drawing any old box and linking to it is not what a sub-editor needs. You see, sub-editors don’t cut overmatter: they cut text throughout a story. So my overmatter box must have precisely the same column width as the text on the page. This way, I know how many lines to cut elsewhere in the story.

How’s how I do it in as few steps as possible. Let’s say you have a three-column text box that has run into overmatter.

Overmatter image 1

  1. Press Command+D (Mac) or Ctrl+D (Windows) to duplicate the box.
    Overmatter image 2
  2. Drag the new box onto the pasteboard.
  3. Press Command+A (Mac) or Ctrl+A (Windows) to select all the text, then press Backspace to delete it.
    Overmatter image 3
  4. Click on the original box on the page to select it.
  5. Choose the Linking tool
  6. Click once on the first box, then again on the new box.
    Overmatter image 4
  7. If there’s still overmatter, drag the middle handle of the box on the pasteboard downwards to reveal more of it.
    Overmatter image 5

If you can suggest another way of viewing overmatter for sub-editing while maintaining column widths, but using fewer moves, I’d like to hear from you. Or can you script it?