From Synchronized Text to Shared Content

And a somewhat unconventional approach to using Shared Content

The Shared Content palette appeared in QuarkXPress 6 as the Synchronized Text palette. If you’ve never used it before, I’d like to explain what it can do for you, and what you may have never thought it can do for you. Let’s start with the basics…

The Synchronized Text palette that appeared in QuarkXPress 6 lets you synchronize text, such as an address, so if you need to use the address again, you can drag the content onto another location, or even an entirely different layout within a project. If you then change the address in one of the instances, all of your synchronized text will update across all of your layouts within the project.

The Synchronized Text palette in QuarkXPress 6 is located under Window> Show Synchronized Text. Once you open the palette, you can synchronize the entire contents of a text box. Let’s consider a scenario where you have a job producing collateral material for a hotel. They need a brochure, letterhead, envelope, and a postcard. Since Quark 6 lets you create multiple layouts within a Project you could design all four documents within one project by selecting Layout> New. Instead of typing the address four times, once for each document, you type the address in once, then make it Synchronized Text. You do this in Quark 6 by selecting some or all of the text and clicking the Synchronized Text button in the top left of the palette. The first dialog box that appears asks you if you’d like to “Synchronize the entire contents of the box?” You really don’t have a choice here, its OK or Cancel. OK makes Synchronized Text from the entire content of the text box, and of course Cancel stops this whole process. Choose OK and accept it. You might even just check the “Do not show this warning again” checkbox. This somehow makes me feel empowered.

This is the first dialog box that appears.

After you click OK, another dialog box appears that asks you to name the item. Give it a name that is relevant and click OK.

Name your Synchronized Content.

You can now see the content listed in your Synchronized Content palette.

Your new Synchronized Content is now in the palette.

To use the Synchronized Content, make another text box either on the current layout, or on another layout. Then drag and drop your Synchronized Content into the new text box.

Dragging Synchronized Content into the new text box.

The content should now appear inside your new text box. You can do this as many times as you like. It almost acts like a text macros out of Microsoft Word. Anything that you find that you need to type over and over again, you can make into Synchronized Content.

Another benefit is that if the text should have to change because it was typed incorrectly, or because you are now doing the same campaign for another hotel with a different address, you an change one instance of the Synchronized Content, and each one updates.

Updating one instance of Synchronized Content automatically updates all instances.

Then along came QuarkXPress 7…
QuarkXPress 7 really added a whole bunch of new options to the Synchronized Content palette, and because of Collaboration Setup (which lets you place or share a Quark layout inside another layout) and the fact that you could now synchronize or share pictures, it was now named the Shared Content palette. There are three approaches to sharing either a picture box or a text frame. You can share just the content of a text box, just like you could do by using Synchronized Content in Quark 6. But now in Quark 7 you can share the content of a picture box, which means that if you change the Shared Content of a logo inside a picture box then all the other boxes where you used that Shared Content will also update. Or you can share the Attributes of the content as well as the Content itself. This means that if you change the font or increase the text size of one Shared Content instance, they all change. And finally you could also Synchronize the box attributes, which means it would remember the box size, its frame, and any other box attributes. Let’s take a look at how these work.

The Shared Content palette in Quark 7 and Quark 8 is located under Window> Shared Content. Whether you select a text box with the Item or Content tool, it will still let you make a new instance of Shared Content. Once you have either a text box with some text in it or a picture box selected, you can either click on the New Shared Content icon in the top left of the palette, or use the double-arrow drop-down menu in the top left of the palette and select New.

Creating new Shared Content.

It is within the Shared Item Properties dialog box that you can choose exactly which properties you wish to share with the Shared Content.

The Shared Item Properties.

If you choose Content Only, and don’t check Synchronize Box Attributes, this feature will work exactly how it worked in QuarkXPress 6 with Synchronized Text.

If you choose Synchronize Content and have both Content and Attributes checked, it will remember what the text or picture attributes are (font, size, color, etc.) when the content is used elsewhere in the Project.

Choosing Shared Item Properties.

Once you have defined the new Shared Content, it appears inside your Shared Content palette. Since this type of content is only the content of a box, it cannot just be dragged onto a page — you must first create a new text or picture box. Then you can drag the Shared Content into the box. Notice how it remembers styling of the type. If you were to change one instance of the Shared Content, they would all update.

Synchronizing both Content and Attributes.

To take it a step further you can also synchronize the attributes of the box itself. By checking Synchronize Box Attributes in the Shared Item Properties dialog box, Quark will not only remember the text, and how the text was styled, but it will also remember the attributes of the box containing it (frame, background color, alignment, inset, etc…). Now that you have synchronized the box attributes you can simply drag the box out of the Shared Content palette and use it within any of your layouts, and it will retain the same look! Then, if you update one instance, they will all update. Synchronizing content in the Shared content palette inside Quark 7 and 8 can be a huge timesaver for any universal changes you need to make to documents. So think it over, where could this tool help you in your current workflow? Once you find a place to use it, USE IT!

Synchronizing both Content and Attributes.

While exploring the boundaries of Shared Content I found a somewhat unconventional way to using this feature. Follow me on this one…

Let’s say you have a “Tip” box of information that uses three or four different text styles. In the old Quark (or the newer ones) you could drag that text box into a Library for later use, and then drag the text box onto any page as needed. (Window> Library) You would then type in the new “Tip” info. You could also set up each style to have a Next style, so that as you typed, the text would automatically be formatted in the Next Style. If you also wanted to have a “style sheet” for the box itself, you could use an XPert Item Style in Quark 7 or an Item Style in Quark 8.

But let’s say you don’t use Libraries, even though you should! Why? Because an item stored in a Library is so easy to drag and drop onto the page! And let’s say you don’t use any Styles…. I won’t even comment on that one. But let’s just say…

Instead, you could make the “Tip” box a piece of Shared Content. This way you could just drop it on the page. Just be sure not to synchronize the Content when you add it to the Shared Content palette. Essentially, you would be using the Shared content palette as a Library – but with more features. This also saves you from having to applying Styles. (However, if Styles were applied, they would be remembered.)

Using Shared Content like a Library.

Either way you slice it, Shared Content can help you synchronize your content at any level you choose.