Becoming Familiar with the QuarkXPress Interface - dummies

Becoming Familiar with the QuarkXPress Interface

By Barbara Assadi, Galen Gruman

You may notice that the QuarkXPress interface bears a strong resemblance to the features used by other Windows and Macintosh programs. If you use other programs, you already know how to use QuarkXPress components such as file folders, document icons, and the set of menus at the top of the document window.

You create a document by choosing File –> New –> Document or open an existing document by choosing File –> Open –> Document.

When you display a document in either Windows or Macintosh, you’ll see a few visual elements:

  • The ruler origin box lets you reset and reposition the ruler origin, which is the point at which the side and top rulers are 0 (zero).
  • The name of the open document appears on the title bar, located below the menu bar on the Mac and above the menu bar in Windows. You can move the document window around in the screen display area by clicking and dragging the title bar.
  • If you have reduced or enlarged a document, clicking the zoom box on the Mac or the restore box in Windows, at the top right corner of the document window, returns it to its previous size.
  • You can make a document all but disappear by minimizing it (in Windows) or turning it into a window shade (on the Mac). To minimize a document, click the minimize box in the document’s title bar. To make a document into a window shade, double-click its title bar or click its WindowShade box on the Mac.
  • The vertical and horizontal rulers on the left and top of the window reflect the measurement system currently in use.
  • The pasteboard is a work area around the document page. You can temporarily store text boxes, picture boxes, or lines on the pasteboard. Items on the pasteboard do not print.
  • QuarkXPress displays a shadow effect around the document page. The shadow indicates the edges of the document.
  • If you select Automatic Text Box in the New dialog box (which you access by selecting New Document from the File menu), a text box appears on the first page of the new document.
  • Clicking and dragging the size box on the Mac resizes the document window as you move the mouse. In Windows, you can drag any side of the window to resize it.
  • The View Percent field shows the magnification level of the page that’s currently displayed. To change the magnification level, enter a value between 10 and 800 percent in the field; then press the Return key or click elsewhere on the screen. Press Control+V on the Mac or Ctrl+Alt+V in Windows to highlight the View Percent field.
  • Switch pages using the page pop-up.
  • Use the scroll bars, boxes, and arrows to shift the document page around within the document window. If you hold down the Option or Alt key while you drag the scroll box, the view of the document is refreshed as it “moves.”
  • Close a document by clicking its close box.


The menu bar appears across the top of the document window. To display a menu on a Mac, click the menu title and, if you’re using an older version of operating software, hold down the mouse button. (In Windows or Mac OS 9 or later, just click the menu title; you don’t need to hold down the mouse button.)

From the menu, you can select any of the active menu commands. QuarkXPress displays inactive menu commands with dimmed (grayed-out) letters. When commands are dimmed, it means that these commands are not currently available to you — they’re inactive.

To select one of the active menu commands, hold down the mouse button as you slide through the menu selections. (As you get used to the program, you can avoid using menus by using the keyboard equivalents for menu selections instead. Keyboard equivalents are displayed to the right of the command names in the menu.)

If an arrow appears to the right of a menu command, QuarkXPress displays a second, associated menu when you choose that command. Sometimes this secondary menu appears automatically when you highlight the first menu command; other times, you must continue to hold down the mouse and slide it to the submenu name in order to activate the menu. This may sound a little confusing on paper. But go ahead and try it. You’ll find it’s no big deal. (Again, in Windows or Mac OS 9 or later, you don’t need to hold down the mouse button; just click the arrow to make the submenu appear.)

Dialog boxes

Some menu commands are followed by a series of dots called an ellipsis (. . .). If you choose a menu command whose name is followed by an ellipsis, a dialog box appears.

Some dialog boxes also contain submenus. If a menu has a submenu associated with it, an arrowhead appears to the right of the menu entry. In addition to submenus, QuarkXPress includes several pop-up menus, which appear when you make certain selections in a dialog box.

QuarkXPress uses tabs, a semi-new kind of dialog box that merges several dialog boxes into one. In fact, you’ll often see six or seven of these tabs — similar to what you see on a file folder in an office cabinet — in a single dialog box. Like the file folders in an office cabinet, these tabs keep a large amount of stuff organized in one tidy spot. Click the tab, and it comes to the forefront, showing you the options for that tab. You simply work with each tab you want within the dialog box.

Keyboard shortcuts

You can select some QuarkXPress functions through pull-down menus, some through palettes, some through keyboard shortcuts, and some through all three options. Most new users begin by using menus because menus are so readily available and familiar. But as you become more comfortable using the program, you may want to save time by using the other options as well, particularly the keyboard shortcuts.