Enhanced contextual typographic controls

QuarkXPress 9 offers some advancements in the area of typography. Take the case of nested bulleted, numbered and outline lists. Although Microsoft Word lets you nest such lists easily, to have them work properly in previous versions of QuarkXPress meant applying the correct paragraph style to each list item, manually indicating the level of bullets or numbers. QuarkXPress 9 adds a new feature called Bullet, Numbering and Outline Styles, to control the nesting, numbering and bullet behaviour of paragraphs that function as list items.

When you import text in .docx format (but not .doc format), QuarkXPress 9 retains the bulleting, numbering and outlining in your word file, and converts them into a new type of style called Bullet, Numbering and Outline. You can then have paragraphs use those styles to ensure consistent formatting of list elements. Plus, as you change text in a list, QuarkXPress updates the numbering as needed.

QuarkXPress treats these styles separately from paragraph styles, so you can attach them to paragraph styles. You can also apply them within paragraph styles. That seems like more work than necessary until you realise that this separation means you can reuse such styles, rather than re-creating them for every paragraph style that might use them.

QuarkXPress 9 adds the ability to let tables automatically break if they don’t fit in the current page, adding header and footer rows along the way if specified (the tables need to be in a story that flows across pages, of course). But the new version of QuarkPress still can’t import tables from Word (they are converted to tabbed text that you then have to convert back to tables within QuarkXPress).

QuarkXPress 9 features an advanced implementation of Conditional Styles, in which you create rules that apply various types of character formatting within a paragraph. This feature has all sorts of uses, from adding a dingbat character to the last paragraph in a story to boldfacing the first phrase in a bulleted or numbered list.

Conditional Styles in QuarkXPress 9 can span multiple paragraphs. Styles can be applied both forward and backward from the condition’s location, which means you can have much more flexible rules. And rules can be set to look for specific text or markers and jump to them.

Finally, QuarkXPress 9 adds a small but very welcome ability to its style overrides options. Often, when you’re working in a layout, you have to undo unnecessary local formatting applied by the author or editor (for example, an author applies a specific font and text size as a local override to better see the text, rather than simply adjusting the paragraph style). You can override such formatting, but doing so also wipes out legitimate formatting such as italicised text and the use of OpenType style variations, such as automatic fraction formatting.

QuarkXPress 9 now gives you several override options so you can, for example, preserve italics and boldface when overriding text to which a font and type size were manually applied. This little change will save a lot of work for layout artists and copy editors.

ePub export capabilities

One of the major new features of QuarkXPress 9 is ePub export. Creating ePubs is not simply a matter of exporting a file, like creating a PDF file. That’s because ePubs don’t understand layout, an ebook is a linear flow of text and images: Concepts such as text wrap, callout and sidebar have no meaning.

QuarkXPress 9 offers a new reflow view in which you place pages from a current layout whose contents you want to include in an ePub version. You can then change the placement order of elements to work better in an ePub’s linear flow, as well as delete items that don’t fit and add new ones that make sense specifically in the ePub. You can also edit text in the reflow view without affecting the text in the source layout, such as to handle special symbols and the use of fonts that ePub viewers such as Apple’s iBooks don't support.

It does not try to figure out the layout artist’s intent but instead lets the artist make these often subjective decisions. Very smart, but not complete.

For example, all text in the reflow view is given the same style, so you lose most of the formatting and have to retag all the non-body text. You have to re-mark up your entire layout either before or after exporting it to ePub format in QuarkXPress 9. You also cannot export multiple layout files or a book file into one ePub, such as in the case of a book where each chapter has its own layout file; instead, you must first combine them into one file.

Also missing are controls over the export resolution of images (which are converted to the JPEG format used in ePubs). If your layout uses leader lines with its graphics, or uses shapes created in QuarkXPress as graphics (such as for workflow diagrams), the ePub export removes them, and any text callouts for those images are placed as independent stories. That means you need to create special versions of those images in Photoshop or Illustrator to keep their graphics and text together.

There’s no ePub editing capability in QuarkXPress 9 to do the inevitable fine tuning, you’ll need a separate ePub editor for that.

OUR VERDICT

QuarkXPress 9 builds on the strengths of previous versions, and adds some innovative new capabilities, such as ShapeMaker. It has also added sophisticated tools such as Conditional Styles, Callouts, Linkster and Cloner, and smart enhancements to style overrides. The new ePub export capability takes the right approach to handling these difficult conversions, despite removing text styles and not providing basic export controls or post-export editing capabilities.