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Top 5 Pain Points Tripping Up Your QuarkXPress to InDesign Game

Published By: CreativePro.com
Credit: Byline
Type: Feature
In L.A. they’re throwing “Innie” parties; flashing an InDesign CS2 CD-ROM is required to part the velvet ropes at SoHo nightclubs, and; in Dallas, even the manliest of designing men is sporting a butterfly tattoo. Learning InDesign is hip. It’s happening. It’s now. InDesign is the new black.

Coming from proficiency in QuarkXPress, however, some features of InDesign seem counterintuitive and can be confusing and downright frustrating. So what are you to do? Stand in line forever, wishing you were walking inside with the other hipsters to party ‘til dawn with transparency, rocking OpenType support, and exportable PDFs that actually print? No! Of course not! You’re going to read this article, learn how to overcome the top five pain points, and get IN.

  1. Runaround Sue versus the Gansta TextWrap

Runaround Sue may have been a jamming tune yesteryear, but getting IN is all about acquiring an ear for gansta Text Wrap.

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. In 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).

According to gansta text wrapper 50 Point, the fewer clicks and faster task switching of a palette over a dialog is “da shizzle ma fadizzle.”

  1. Someone Jacked My Text Box Tools!

In QuarkXPress you’re used to rolling with 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. What? InDesign can’t do text?

Relax, man. No one jacked the text box tools in InDesign. Do you see cinder blocks under its wheels? InDesign does text, it just doesn’t need separate tools to do it. You see, text box tools are like curb-feelers; you’ll see them around town, but only on old dude’s cars.

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. No jive, man! It’s that easy. The same is true for elliptical and polygonal (roughly equivalent to XPress’s Star tool) frames, and using either the Pen or Pencil tools to draw a closed path is the same as XPress’s Bezier and Freehand box tools.

Separate text frame tools is redundant. If you’re going to roll with the fast and the furious, you need a light, sleek ride that knows where to cast off dead weight to dial up the horsepower.

  1. Whacked Paragraph Leading

Dig the sitch:  You’re hanging with your peeps when someone says:  “Dude! I love this song. Amp the leading!” So, you highlight some text and pump up the leading. Then, bam! Your posse’s whole paragraph goes screwy. What’s the dealio? In XPress it ain’t nothing to tweak one line of leading, why does the I-to-the-N-to-the-Design have to be messing with your whole paragraph?

Chill, dude. It ain’t nothing but a preference thing. Direct your peepers to the Edit (Windows) or InDesign (Mac) menu, then Preferences, and Type. In the middle of the Type Options section uncheck Apply Leading to Entire Paragraph. Whomp the OK and get down to bidness.

  1. Master Page Objects Shutout?

In XPress, overriding a master page object on a document page is no big—grab it with the Item, Content, Rotate, or other tools, and work it like Shaq works a b-ball. Trying to override master page items in InDesign, however, can feel like playing one-on-one against Shaquille O’Neal:  a shutout. It doesn’t matter how much skillz you got or what tool you try—the Selection arrow, the Direct Select tool, even the Type tool—nothing is getting past InDesign’s seven-foot-one defender.

One of the great frustrations with XPress has always been how easy it is to inadvertently override a master page item. To address the need created by that frustration, 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. Now, run circles around the big guy.

  1. 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, like TiVo, is nothing new. XPress has had drag-and-drop text capabilities for years, as have most word processors. Why, then, did InDesign hook you up with a kicking surround sound system, Hi-Def flat screen, and 500 channels of digital cable only to stick you with a lame cut-and-paste BetaMax VCR?

Actually, it didn’t. Dragging and dropping text is a pain in the neck to almost exactly the same number of people as those who can’t live without it (some dude in Jersey tipped the scale toward the former). Some people still champion BetaMax, others can’t live without TiVo. Earlier versions of InDesign sided with the purists, but CS2 is pimped out with both.

Just hit the CMD+K (Mac) or CTRL+K (Windows) finishing move button sequence to flip open the Preferences, then hippety hop down to the Type panel. In the middle of that panel is Drag and Drop Text Editing. If you’re on the TiVo side of the argument, check Enable in Layout View and whomp that OK button. BetaMax lovers should leave it unchecked, as it is by default.


Are you down with getting past the top five pain points suffered by proficient QuarkXPress users learning InDesign? Cool. Then throw in the latest Eminendash CD, grab your bling, and say goodbye to lonely Saturday nights, because now you’re into the InDesign scene. You’re cool again. You’re IN, yo. Go get down with your bad self!