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Overcoming the Top 5 Pain Points of Switching from QuarkXPress to InDesign

Published By: Publish Magazine
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A lot of designers are making the move from QuarkXPress to Adobe’s InDesign. But if you’re a proficient QuarkXPress user, some features of InDesign seem counterintuitive, confusing and downright frustrating.

Below, learn how to overcome the top five pain points.

1. Quark’s Runaround versus InDesign’s TextWrap

In QuarkXPress, runaround is the process of forcing text in a box to avoid another object—usually a picture box or another text box. This is accomplished on the Runaround tab of the Modify dialog, and includes options for making text “runaround” the shape of the box, it’s content, non-white areas, or clipping paths.

Like all the best music, the chords haven’t changed; they’re just played in a different key. Everything QuarkXPress’s runaround does in a dialog, InDesign does in a palette. >From the Window menu, select Text Wrap. You should see familiar controls.

The real boon to palletizing this function is that palettes can remain on screen without inhibiting your ability to select other objects. In XPress, setting up runaround on several boxes requires repetition of: select object, keyboard shortcut (or mouse up to the menu), enter settings, click OK button. With InDesign, it’s: select object, enter settings, Return key. The difference might not seem like much, but fewer steps always equate to less time and work. Even better, InDesign’s Object Styles can store text wrap settings, making the process of applying identical settings to multiple objects a one-click operation (after the first instance).

2. Where are the Text Box Tools?

In QuarkXPress you’re used to using picture boxes and text boxes. You want text? Grab a text box tool (rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse, Bezier, and so on), draw the box, jump to the Content tool, and type away. In InDesign, though, there are no text box tools.

But no worries: InDesign does text, it just doesn’t need separate tools to do it.

Like just about every other feature of InDesign, there are at least two ways to create text frames (“boxes” is old school). For rectangular text frames, just grab the Type tool then click and drag to define the dimensions of the frame. Start typing. Another way to do it is to pick up either the Rectangular Frame tool (it looks just like the Rectangular Picture Box tool) or just the Rectangle tool beside it and draw your frame. While these can hold pictures or be left empty—say, to become a colored design element—clicking inside either one with the Type tool automatically transforms it into a text frame.

The same is true for elliptical and polygonal (roughly equivalent to XPress’s Star tool) frames. Using either the Pen or Pencil tools to draw a closed path is the same as XPress’s Bezier and Freehand box tools.

3. Paragraph Leading

With XPress, tweaking one line of a paragraph’s leading is simple, and changing that line doesn’t effect the entire paragraph. Not so with InDesign. But you can fix this. In InDesign, direct your mouse to the Edit (Windows) or InDesign (Mac) menu, then click Preferences, then click Type. In the middle of the Type Options section, uncheck “Apply Leading to Entire Paragraph.”

4. Master Page Objects Shutout?

In XPress, overriding a master page object on a document page is no big deal—simply grab it with the Item, Content, Rotate, or other tools. Overriding master page items in InDesign, however, is much harder to do.

InDesign makes the process less accident-prone. It is possible, though. Just hold down Shift+Opt (Mac) or Shift+CTRL (Windows) when clicking on a master page object from within a document page.

5. Drag and Drop Text Ain’t Dragging or Dropping

The ability to highlight a portion of your text and drag it to a new place in the text box is nothing new. XPress has had drag-and-drop text capabilities for years, as have most word processors. Why, then, does InDesign force you into the cut-and-paste paradigm?

Actually, it doesn’t. Just hit CMD+K (Mac) or CTRL+K (Windows) to flip open the Preferences, then select the Type panel. In the middle of that panel is “Drag and Drop Text Editing.” If you like dragging and dropping, check “Enable in Layout View” and click OK. Cutters and pasters should leave the box unchecked.