Quark Lessons Learned
Quark and The Reluctant Typographer
I spent the last two weeks in January 2006 putting the finishing touches on my first publication, The Devil’s Bastard. By that, I don’t mean tweaking the manuscript—I’d been trying to stop doing that for the past eight months. What I’m talking about is the finishing touches on the publication itself: The historical note my copyeditor suggested, as well as the “family tree,” which again, she suggested. Then there was the promotional material I wanted to include in the back of The Devil’s Bastard on my next release, Wolf Dawson. Other pages required for an actual book included the half-title page, title page, copyright page, and dedication. The material had to be copyedited, honed, cut and polished and trimmed in such a way to ensure my 306-page typeset novel measured out to a 320-page book—ten even 32-page signatures. Even signatures are what the printers like and the even signatures save the publisher money.
Well, I did it. I did it all, typesetting, front matter, promos and the author’s bio. I numbered the pages and even set sections of the book apart from one another when necessary. But there were glitches along the way. Relatively speaking, ending up with an even number of signatures turned out to be an easy task.
I refer to this section of my tutorial as the Quark lessons-learned page. I figure it will continue to grow over the years, though I hope those lessons learned will diminish with each successive book I publish.
Learning Quark did not prove the nightmare I feared when I decided on that particular software. It is the industry standard, and I couldn’t afford to take risks with my choice—I needed something I knew was acceptable to printers. I decided on Quark 5.0 for Windows, even though there are more recent upgrades on the market, because my local community college offered an online course on 5.0. As of today, I regret that I did not purchase 6.5. There were other students taking the 5.0 course who were doing so using 6.5, and, as it turns out, I am unable to make my book into a PDF document myself because I need an Acrobat distiller for the Acrobat Reader on my computer. That is Acrobat Reader 5.0 and the proper distiller is no longer available. With Quark 6.5, I don’t need the Acrobat Distiller—the capability to create PDF is inherent in the 6.5 software. I’m going to upgrade to 6.5 for my next book—I might even go to 7.0.
But that’s in the near future, this is now. I used Quark 5.0 to typeset my novel, and I will use it to develop the cover for my first novel.
Quark’s capabilities are extensive, and the limited use I make of those capabilities is shameful. The software is a graphic design program as well as a typesetting program. Designers and topographers do amazing things with it. I’m an author, who wants to get her books to the reader. At this point in my “typesetting” career, I am focused on typesetting a fiction novel, and I’m assuming that’s why you are reading this article—to learn “how to” and “from” my mistakes. That’s fine, but if you’re gonna learn Quark—you certainly need to learn more than “from” my mistakes. This tutorial is meant to supplement the basics based on what I learned the hard way. If you are as unfamiliar with Quark as I was going into this, I suggest you take a course—on line, classroom, or whatever and supplement that with a good book on Quark. I purchased the Quark X Press 5 Bible, Galen Gruman, Barbara Assadi, and Kelly Anto, Hungry Minds Press, but there are others. I read that monster cover to cover, but I really wasn’t able to appreciate it until I actually started using Quark. I also routinely refer back to my course materials. I took Susan Daffron’s “Introduction to QuarkXPress 5.0 for Windows” online thru ed2go.com (Education to Go).
At this point, I’m assuming you are far enough into your page design/typography effort to be able to ask semi-intelligent questions about Quark. You have to know about creating new documents, about pages, and about text and graphic boxes.
Quark uses content boxes—text or graphics—these are “items.” You don’t type or put a picture on a page without creating a text or graphic box first. Then you can type in the box, cut and paste text into a box, import text into a box (same with graphics)—whichever way you want to get your item/s in the box.
Unless you understand Quark’s basic fundamentals, my “lessons learned,” presented in alphabetical order on the sidebar, will be of no value to you. So peruse my “mistakes” and “discoveries” and see if there’s anything here that addresses your present dilemma. Then read thru my list anyway—you might run across something you’ve given no thought to, but which might help you. Be advised, though, unless I’ve encountered a problem and figured out a solution, I won’t have it on the list. Of course, there might be something I know how to do that isn’t listed here also—because it wasn’t a problem for me. So if you are really stuck, feel free to ask me a question. I’ll try to help—as one determined author driven to learn typesetting to another one equally determined.
Oh! And about typography in general—so you’ll know what you’re trying to make Quark do—get a copy of James Felici’s The Complete Manual of Typography (Adobe Press). The man loves his subject and you can see that in the way he designed this beautiful book.
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