QuarkXPress Palettes - dummies

By Jay J. Nelson

In QuarkXPress, you use palettes to create, edit, and apply attributes to everything on your page. (Quark named them palettes because they’re the digital equivalent of the palettes an artist uses to mix and apply colors to a painting.) QuarkXPress has three fundamentally different kinds of palettes:

  • Tools palette: Holds all the tools for creating and managing page items. It’s normally on the left edge of your display.
  • Task-specific palettes: Examples are the Page Layout palette, for creating and rearranging pages; the Colors palette, for creating and applying colors; the Style Sheets palette, for creating and applying sets of attributes to text; and the Layers palette, for clustering items together in layers above or below other items. These palettes are normally on the right edge of your display.
  • Measurements palette: This is where you spend the vast majority of your palette-clicking time. This very smart palette displays all the ways you can change the attributes of text, pictures, lines, and boxes. You also use it to align and distribute items and to control how text wraps around other items. For Mac users, it’s normally on the bottom edge of your display; Windows users might prefer it at the top.

The Measurements palette in QuarkXPress 2016 has a new feature: You can increase the size of the text and icons in it by 50 percent. To do that, click the little gear sprocket icon at its bottom left or top right and choose Large Size from the menu that pops up. Surprisingly, increasing the size doesn’t make the palette itself very much bigger — it just makes the items more readable.

Opening, closing, resizing, and moving QuarkXPress palettes

To display a palette, choose its name from the Window menu. To close a palette, click the close box in the upper-left corner of the palette or deselect the palette name in the Window menu. Some palettes can also be opened and closed by pressing the keyboard shortcut shown next to the palette’s name in the Window menu.

To resize a palette, click and drag any edge or corner. To move a palette, drag its title bar.

Grouping QuarkXPress palettes

Because QuarkXPress has almost 30 different palettes you can open, it also lets you glue them together into palette groups that stay together as you move them. The steps to create a palette group depend on whether you’re using a Mac or Windows:

  • On a Mac: Click the gear icon at the top right of any palette. A menu appears that lists every palette in QuarkXPress. Choose one to add it to the top of this palette group. If you choose a palette that’s already open, it moves to become part of this palette group. To remove a palette from the palette group, choose it again from the gear icon menu.
  • In Windows: Right-click the title bar of a palette and choose any palette name. If you choose a palette that’s already open, it moves to become part of this palette group. To remove a palette from the palette group, right-click the palette name and choose Detach palette name.

Docking palettes in QuarkXPress

You can dock a palette or palette group to the left or right edge of your display by dragging it until a blue area appears around it. When you release the mouse, that palette (or palette group) positions itself in the optimum location against that edge. This docking feature also makes palette hiding possible.

Because of the Measurements palette’s width, you can dock it only horizontally, to the upper or lower edge of your display. You can dock the Tools palette either vertically or horizontally.

Hiding QuarkXPress palettes (Mac only)

When it comes to working with palettes, Mac users have an advantage over their Windows-using counterparts. After docking a group of palettes, Mac users can hide the group by choosing Window → Turn Hiding On and then choosing which docked palettes to hide. When you do that, the palettes disappear beyond the edge of your display. When you move your mouse over that area again, the palettes reappear. If you have a small display, hiding palettes is a great way to keep those palettes handy but out of the way to maximize your project space.

Using palette sets in QuarkXPress

After working on a few projects in QuarkXPress, you may find that you keep some palettes open and others closed while performing certain tasks such as editing text, working with tables, designing a publication, or adding interactivity. By all means, make use of palette sets! This feature lets you store and recall the position and status of all open palettes and libraries so that you can easily switch among different palette arrangements.

To create a palette set, you first display all the palettes that you need for a particular task and hide all other palettes. Then you choose Window →Palette Sets →Save Palette Set As and enter a name for your set in the Save As dialog box that appears. If you think that you’ll frequently switch to this palette set, you might also want to assign a keyboard shortcut to it (as explained in the next paragraph). To retrieve a palette set, choose Window  → Palette Sets  →name of palette set or press the keyboard shortcut for that palette set.

To delete, rename, or assign a keyboard shortcut to an existing palette set, open the Edit Palette Sets dialog box by choosing Window  → Palette Sets →Edit Palette Sets. Select the palette set in the Edit Palette Sets dialog box and either give it a new name or click the minus (–) icon to delete it. To assign a keyboard shortcut to a palette set, select the set in the dialog box, click the Add Shortcut button, and then press your preferred combination of modifier keys along with a letter, number, or F-key. (Modifier keys on a Mac include Shift, Option, Command, and Control; modifier keys in Windows include Shift, Alt, and Ctrl.) To edit a keyboard shortcut, click the shortcut next to its name and then press your new shortcut keys.

Oddly, QuarkXPress doesn’t include a default palette set. So, before you go creating new ones, you may want to save the default palette arrangement as its own set. That way you can get back to what Quark believes is a basic set of useful palettes. Call it “the Palette Set Quark should have included” or maybe just “Default Palette Set.”

Searching palettes

You may find that some projects use a ridiculous number of style sheets, colors, or hyperlinks. Thankfully, those three palettes have a search feature that helps you find the one you need. To use it, click the Search field at the top of the list of items in the palette and type in part of the name of the item you want. The list will shorten to display only those items that contain the letters you type.