My 3 Favorite XPert Tools are Now in QuarkXPress 8!

Quark’s free XPert Tools set can also streamline your workflow in QuarkXPress 7

Quark has been giving away 12 “XPert Tools” XTensions for some time now for use with QuarkXPress 7. They were not part of an update, and unless you’ve had your ear to the ground listening for free Quark XTensions, you may not have heard of them.

You can learn about them and download them for free at Quark’s website.

All of these new XTensions for Quark are extremely useful, and add a greater level of performance to your everyday Quarking. However there are three in particular that I use all the time, and I find are the most useful: XPert Item Styles, XPert Guides, and XPert Find Change. To use these in Quark 7 you will need to download the set of XPert Tools from the previously mentioned Web page, but for those you who are about to upgrade to QuarkXPress 8, they will already be built in! Yes, these former free-flying XTensions now have their permanent place in the Window menu in QuarkXPress 8, and you can even include them in your Palette Sets!

I will begin this series by introducing you to my own personal favorite, XPert Item Styles.

XPert Item Styles
What are Item Styles, and where should I use them? I hope that you’re already using Character and Paragraph Styles to style text. Why? Because using Styles makes your life so much easier. Let’s say you make a “header” Style for text, and apply that Style throughout your document to all of your headers. If the font or color or size of the header needs to change, you don’t have you go back, select every instance and change it — you just change the Style and all of the text you applied header to changes! Now that’s a time saver! You can even automate making a table of contents this way using your Lists palette.

An Item Style works the same way as Paragraph and Character Styles. Lets say all of your existing picture boxes have a .5 pt black frame. Some of them have a runaround applied, while others don’t have runaround. Suddenly, after an initial printout, you need a way to change all of your frames to 1 pt. What to do? Let’s take look at your options without Item Styles.

When you use the picture box tool, it automatically draws a picture box with no frame, and an automatic “Item Runaround” with no space on either side. You could change the default of the Picture Box tool to always draw items with a .5 pt frame. If you choose QuarkXPress>Preferences> Print Layout> Tools (Macintosh), or Edit> Preferences> Print Layout> Tools (Windows) you can make that change in the tools Preferences dialog box. This way every time you draw a new picture box, the box will be drawn with a .5 pt frame. You could also change the default runaround, but if you don’t always want runaround, and you enter a runaround value, then you will have to shut it off each time you don’t need runaround. But changing the default properties of the picture box would not help you change existing boxes. Could you use Find/Change to select the boxes that have .5 pt frames and change them to 1 pt frames? Sadly, no — not with the out-of-the-box Quark toolset. But with XPert Find/Change you could! More on that to come…

Style 1
This is the new tool Preferences dialog box in QuarkXPress 8. Even though the tools have changed slightly, you can still set a default for the picture box tool.

Style 2

Double click the picture box icon to edit its default settings.

Back to the problem at hand. If you need to draw every box with a .5 pt frame, you should make an Item Style that you can apply every time you import an image. To make a new Item Style, choose the palette menu at the top right of the Item Styles palette, and choose New to make a new Item Style. Make sure you go through all of the Item Style choices and consider whether or not you want each option included. For instance, under the Box tab you could assign a fixed height and width inside the Item Style, but you may not want that for this particular style. Or under the Picture tab you may not want the Item Style to remember the scale or the offset of the picture. Make sure you only check what you actually want applied to an item. In this case, I recommend beginning with just a black frame with a width of .5 pt. There are a lot of settings in this dialog box — far more than I have time to explore in this exercise — but I would definitely take a look at all the attributes you could include in an Item Style.

Style 3
Making a new Item Style with only the frame width and color.

Style 4
All three images with the “Black Frame .5 pt” Item Style applied.

If some of your images have a frame but also need a Runaround you should have an Item Style that does only that. Make a new Item Style that is “Based On” the previous Item Style that contains the .5 pt black frame. Just add the settings for the Runaround you need. Because this Item Style is based on the Style that defined the frame, if you change the original Style’s frame width, this new Style will update as well.

Style 5
Basing one Style on another.

Style 6
The Item Style named “Black Frame .5 pt w/ Runaround” applied to the three images.

Applying the Style is much easier than going through the tedious process of picking a color for your frame, then a weight, then the Runaround. It’s one click and you’re done. Now if it comes time to change every one of your frames to 1 pt, you can change the original Style that all the other Styles are “Based On”, and all the pictures that that Item Style is applied to will automatically update. Or let’s say you need to change the color of the frame: all of the picture boxes would change.

Style 7

For this example I only changed the Style name to “Black Frame 4 pt,” then I changed the frame width to 4 pt in its settings, and all the images updated. This is because the Style applied to those boxes (“Black Frame .5 pt”) was based on the other style. I changed the name of “Black Border .5 pt w/ Runaround” to “Black Border 4 pt w/ Runaround” just so it made sense. You may want to name your styles according to their intended use, rather than which attributes they affect. For example: “Large picture”, “Sidebar picture”, “Caption box”, etc. In this case the overall change was easy enough, even with re-naming the Styles.

Item Styles are a great way to make universal changes easily. I urge you to look deeper into all the time that you can save. You could make an Item Style for two-column or three-column text boxes, and if your layout changed, you could just change one Style. Item Styles can even define the box size, so if you make a lot of boxes of the same size… get the picture?

I do have some suggestions to Quark for future versions of Item Styles: Item Styles should have the ability to save Paragraph Styles in Item Styles. That way, you could style a box, and also style the text within it at the same time. This would make formatting pull-boxes of information so much easier! As it stands now you have to apply the Item Style then apply the Paragraph Style.

Styles Rule!

Making global changes quickly and efficiently is what XPert Item Styles are all about — use them often and become a Master of your own Layout domain!