QuarkXPress 8: Grids, Guides & More Grids!

In QuarkXPress 8, grids and guides are beefed up to an extreme — and the answer to the prayers of many designers. Below is a rundown of what’s new in this area, courtesy of X-Ray magazine. (This is an excerpt from “QuarkXPress 8: a Suite Response“.)

Stick to the grid
I have a friend who is the most nitpicky critic you’ll ever meet when it comes to layout. He couldn’t care less what the document is or the intended audience — he’ll critique it — often to the dismay of a designer who is preening like a mother cat over her new litter. A proper critiquing session always begins with the grid. Thankfully, with QuarkXPress 8’s new design grid feature, there will never be another document created without consideration for the grid. [My friend is at this moment rolling around on the floor laughing hysterically. Professional help may be required.]

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Design grids, like baseline grids before them, enable you to quickly layout items on the page that align neatly. Now with design grids, you can have different grid spacing at the master page level.

The design-grid feature is analogous to the baseline-grid feature in earlier versions of QuarkXPress, but the premise is the same. Page grids enable you to set up a series of grid lines running horizontally across the page at the specified distance (increment) to enable easy alignment between text and items, text and text, and consistent spacing within text boxes.

Quark has expanded upon the baseline grid feature, and now allows you to define different page grids for different master pages or apply a special grid to a text box (known as a text box grid). You can control the attributes for each of the four types of grid lines: topline, centerline, baseline, and bottomline (the distance from the topline to the bottomline is equal to a font’s em height). You can also position each based on font size and line spacing. When the page grid is displayed, you can align text visually, lock text to the grid, and even snap items to the grid — just as you could with the baseline grid.

Page grids in QuarkXPress 8 function at the master-page level. This means that every page in your document could adhere to a different grid, as long as that grid is defined on the master page on which you based that page. As for text box grids, every text box could adhere to its own grid as well.

To create a custom grid for a page, choose PAGE > MASTER GUIDES & GRID. Notice that the master guides dialogue box has undergone substantial changes. There are now many options for defining the attributes of a grid. There are two tabs here: text settings and display settings.

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The master guides dialogue box has been expanded to include the options for page grids. Additionally there are now two options in the view menu for showing and hiding grids: page grids and text box grids.

In the text settings tab, you can choose to create a grid that is based upon a particular typeface, setting each option manually; or grids can inherit the attributes from any item in QuarkXPress that understands page grids. Do this by using the LOAD SETTINGS command. This could be master pages, other grids, or even style sheets.

When you link grid-style settings to a style sheet with the link option it can have far-reaching effects. If, for instance, you have created a grid style based on a style sheet that has 12-point leading and at some point in your production cycle, you modify the style sheet to 13.5 point leading, the grid styles based on this style sheet will also change. Caution: for text that is locked to this grid, the new spacing is applied and overflow may occur.

To create a grid and inherit settings from a predefined style sheet, do this:

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 1Open the grid styles palette.

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X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 2Click the fly-out menu and choose NEW.

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 3In the edit grid style dialogue box, choose your settings for the grid or click LOAD SETTINGS if you wish to use attributes defined for a style sheet.

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X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 4To link to a particular style sheet, click LINK TO PARAGRAPH STYLE SHEET [NAME OF STYLE SHEET].

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 5Optionally click the DISPLAY SETTINGS tab and define colors for each of the four different grid line types.

X-Ray Magazine v5n6 QuarkXPress 8 Accessibility Defined Step 6Click OK.

In the display settings tab, there are four line types for which you may set the color, the style, and the width. Click the PREVIEW button to check your work as you go.

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The display settings tab enables you to assign attributes to each of the four line styles.

To intelligently choose the display settings, you need to first understand the terminology. These lines are in reference to the true em height of a font size. Due to the glyphs of various typefaces, the actual top of the character may not sit at the top line. With a swash font such as Zapfino, the letters extend above this topline. The preview button will help you to accommodate anomalies. The centerline is the vertical center of the typeface, the baseline is the point where the text sits on the line, and the bottomline, again, for many typefaces, will indicate the point to where descenders will extend.

To create a grid, you may use any of the four options. Using the baseline only, you would be working in the same manner as previous versions of QuarkXPress when invoking the baseline grids feature. Use any of the four types that provide you the type of visual aids you need for item and text alignment.

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There are four types of gridlines available for either page grids or text box grids and each can be assigned a unique color. In my example, the topline is green, the centerline is pink, the baseline is yellow, and the bottomline is burgundy.

At a more granular level, Quark has provided text box grids. This type of grid enables you to define grids that are attributes of particular text boxes. 

Once you have defined the settings for either the page grid or the text box grid, you are able to lock text to this grid through the paragraph attributes dialogue box, or if working with style sheets, through the paragraph attributes dialogue box embedded there.

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Page grids, in the paragraph attributes dialogue box, is analogous to baseline grids of previous versions.

While you may have never used the baseline grids feature, you’ve probably bumped into it in the preferences dialogue, text format dialogue, or in the style sheets dialogue. In each of these places, baseline grid has been replaced with page grid and text box grid has been added.

When you format text to lock to gridlines that you have defined, you automatically ensure that you have consistently spaced leading across multiple columns and easily align other items placed in the layout with these same grids.

Even though your design calls for text box grids that differ from the grid settings of the page aground it, you may want the first line of the text box to align on one of the page grids. This is very easy. Click a grid line within the text box and drag to the page grid to which you want it to align and release.

Remember: Page grids are set up by going to the master page and choosing master guides and grid; Text box grids are set up by accessing the grid style, either through the edit menu or the grid styles palette. Text box grids can be applied to a text box in the same way as a color. Drag and drop onto a text box or select a text box and click on the grid style in the grid style palette.

Note: Grid styles can be appended through the standard append dialogue box and shared with other projects.

A trip to PREFERENCES > GUIDES & GRID, and you’ll find that you can also set a default visibility setting. That means that when the page is less than the percentage you type here, the guides and grids will not be visible.

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You no longer set the baseline offset in the preferences dialogue box, but here you can set the visibility threshold.

Get in line
Character alignment is an easy process for aligning the characters within a text box. In my examples, I have turned on the text box grid for the centerline and the baseline so that you may more easily see the effect.

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Character alignment is a new option in the style menu when you have text selected.

In this example, I have taken a headline from one of our recent stories along with the byline. Before QuarkXPress 8, in order to vertically align this text, I would have selected the byline and added baseline offset.

With a text box gridline applied, and my text locked to the baseline grid, you can easily see that the baselines of both groups of characters are aligned.

While this is a fairly simple example, think about the ease in which you could align several bodies of text. To use this feature, select all the text in the text box and go to STYLE > CHARACTER ALIGNMENT.

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After I have aligned my characters to the center, the results are obvious.

Guiding control
The guides feature gives you precise and extensive control over the project’s guides (not to be confused with grids). You can use the guides palette (Window menu) to modify the color, placement, display, and orientation of each guide in a layout, or you can click and drag a guide and the spread number, page number, location, color, scale, visibility, locked status, page/spread designation, and orientation are added to or updated in the guides palette.

You may also select multiple guides (SHIFT + CLICK or COMMAND + CLICK) and delete multiple guides in one pass (click the TRASH icon or CONTROL + CLICK or RIGHT CLICK to access delete through the contextual menu).

Notice also that the palette is divided into columns, and like all good little tables, can be sorted by columns. This is a great way to be able to view all guides that are, for instance, related to specific items within your layout such as sidebars. Assign them a single color and then sort by that color.

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The buttons across the top of the guides palette are: create a new guide, mirror guide, show horizontal guides, show vertical guides, and show only the current page/spread’s guides.

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The guides palette enables you to precisely add or modify the position of a guide. In my example above, and referencing the figure before it, I have modified the imprecise placement of the first guide to a whole number. Modifying the value here in the palette will move the guide on the page.

The two most important features are the ability to type the placement of a guide into a field and the ability to copy guides and paste them to another page. No longer must you zoom in to 800% to affect precise control over the position of a guide.

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When you click the plus icon at the top of the guides palette, you prompt the guide attributes dialogue box. Here you can precisely define the placement of your guide, and even provide a view scale so that the guide appears when you are viewing the page at a larger scale than that defined here or locked so that the guide cannot be moved.

Tip: An easy way to invoke the guide attributes dialogue box
is to double click on a guide.

Tip: If you have set up guides that you need in another document, you may import and export them using the guide palette. (They are not available through the append feature.)

To copy guides from one page to another, open the guides palette and multiple select the guides to copy, OPTION + CLICK or RIGHT CLICK to copy the guides, then scroll to another page or spread within the palette and PASTE.

The guides feature is so robust and has so many possible applications, that I could publish an entire story on the myriad of ways that I have seen these used. Suffice it to say that the feature set is extensive. Two features, for me, stand out: the ability to divide my page into a grid (within the page area or within the margin area), and the ability to place guides at the edges of items.

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Easily divide a page into columns and row (or grids) using the guides feature.

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To create guides at the edge(s) of a selected item, select the item and choose
from the guides palette fly-out menu.

Note: The guides palette is not sensitive to the zero point of your ruler. Guides placement is recorded as though the top-left corner
of your page is zero.