By Jay J. Nelson

QuarkXPress is a page layout program. To build a page, you draw a few boxes (containers) and fill them with content (text, pictures, and other stuff). Add a few rules (lines) and frames (picture edges) and you have a layout.

If you’re clever, you link your page to a master page (which holds items such as page numbers and headers that repeat on multiple pages) and organize your page items on layers (to cluster related items together for viewing or printing).

Everything on a QuarkXPress page is referred to as an item.

Over the years, QuarkXPress has evolved to support the needs of publishers and designers with major new capabilities such as interactive and animated items, B├ęzier (pen) tools that rival Adobe Illustrator, real-time collaboration with others working on the same document, creating e-books and even mobile apps, supplying powerful table-creation tools, converting content from other programs into native QuarkXPress items, creating anchored callouts, and providing support for dozens of languages in the same document.

In case the built-in features aren’t enough for you, you can buy and add third-party XTensions to QuarkXPress, which are plug-ins that add new capabilities ranging from one feature to an entire automated database publishing system.

Quark is the company’s name. QuarkXPress is the product’s name. Quark has other products besides QuarkXPress. Just as you would never say “Adobe” when referring to Photoshop or Acrobat, or “Microsoft” when referring to Word or Excel, you don’t refer to QuarkXPress as “Quark.” That said, you commonly hear people say “Quark” when referring to QuarkXPress. Use your social judgment to decide which name you want to use.

Quark was founded by a science geek who named the company after the elementary particle that is a fundamental constituent of matter. In keeping with that science nerdiness, one XTension (QuarkXPress plug-in) developer cleverly named his company Gluon, which is the elementary particle that “glues” quarks together to form protons and neutrons.