Converting Text to Outlines for Special Effects in QuarkXPress

By Jay J. Nelson

The text formatting controls in the QuarkXPress Measurements palette are fantastic, but there are some effects that you can’t create on live text, such as filling text with a picture or a color blend (gradient), or reshaping the outline of an individual character. To achieve these effects, you need to convert the text to Bézier boxes, which you can easily do by following these steps:

  1. Select the character or characters you want to convert.
  2. Choose Item → Text to Boxes and one of these options from its submenu:
    • Unanchored: To convert selected text to unanchored Bézier boxes, choose Unanchored. The text is copied, converted to boxes, and placed lower on the page.
    • Anchored: To convert selected text to anchored Bézier boxes, choose Anchored. This option converts the text to boxes and replaces the text with anchored boxes within the story. This technique is handy when you want to convert a small amount of text, such as a drop cap, and keep it within the flow of text.
    • Convert Entire Box: To convert all the characters in a text box or multiple text boxes to unanchored Bézier boxes, choose Convert Entire Box. This option removes the text from its box, converts each line to a merged set of boxes, and places each merged set in the same location on the page as the original lines of text. The original text box (now empty) remains below the converted text.

After your text is converted to Bézier boxes, you can treat them exactly like other boxes: Fill them with pictures or color blends, use the Pen tools to reshape them, and so on.

If you paste or import a picture into the converted text, the entire string of text acts as a combined mask for the picture. If you want to put a different picture in each letter, separate them by choosing Item→Split → Outside Paths or Item →  Split→All Paths. Splitting “outside paths” maintains the counters (holes) in the letters, to see through them to whatever is behind. Splitting “all paths” unmerges the holes from their surrounding letters, causing them to be shapes on top of the letters.

After you convert text to boxes, it is no longer editable as text — you can’t type new letters to replace old ones. Those original letters have been converted into boxes shaped like the original letters.