If you’ve ever sat near me while I’m working in Quark XPress, you know what a charming vocabulary I have. I !@#$% hate Quark. It’s a $&%@! buggy piece of #@&!. I may need all the glyphs in the Unicode set to type my distaste for it.
But having glanced for a minute at Layers magazine’s new “InDesign Advantage Center,” I see a solution: I can follow their example and express my displeasure by highlighting a couple of my favorite InDesign features—which, gosh! how shocking!, Quark 6 doesn’t have. I haven’t yet played with Quark 7, but I’ve been reading reviews and think it’s safe to say these are all features it’s still missing. If I’m wrong, feel free to let me know—not that it’ll make me loathe that *&%$# plate of spaghetti code one bit less.
So. Here are the four InDesign features that I miss most in my current workflow:
Linked Master Pages
What it is: One master page can be based on another so that when you change an object or property on the parent page—such as the margins—all the masters dependent on it inherit the change, as well. You can override the inherited elements on any master or on any page in the layout.
How I use it: I usually set up at least three master pages, even for just a sample layout: Body, which is a standard text page with running heads; Chapter Opener, which has no running heads, probably no folio, probably a sink, and maybe some kind of ornament; and Guides Only, which I use for front-matter pages, art, and other oddities. The margins are the same for all three. As I explained the other day, trying to make castoff involves a lot of fiddling with the layout. I often have to change the margins a couple of times before I get something that works in combination with my typeface and leading. In Quark, I have to change these margins on each master page separately. In InDesign, all my master pages inherit their margins from the same übermaster, so when I change the original, the new margins apply to them all. Now, with at least 66.67 percent less clicking!
What it is: An option (turned off by default) of having page items move or resize when you shift your margins around. Objects that have been snapped to guides stay stuck to those guides, even when the guides move.
How I use it: When I change the margins on a master page, my text boxes automatically resize to fit the new margins. Art will also shift around so that it stays centered or whatever. There’s still usually a bit of fiddling to be done by hand, but this feature eliminates most of the boring cleanup.
What it is: A hotkey (cmd-return) opens a menu of all your paragraph and character stylesheets in the corner of the screen; you type a couple of characters (not necessarily contiguous—“tb” would call up styles called “table” and “text bold,” in that order; you can scroll using arrow keys or type more letters to filter the results further) to get to the style you want, and then hit return to apply it. The selection is sticky, so whatever style you applied last stays selected the next time you open the window. If you’re reapplying the same style often, therefore, you can get into an easy groove of cmd-return, return, cmd-return, return. It’s like Quicksilver for your stylesheets. You are using Quicksilver, aren’t you?
How I use it: I typically create at least twenty stylesheets, even for just a sample layout. I’m systematic like that. There are too many of them to make assigning individual keyboard shortcuts feasible. And because I always follow the same naming convention, it’s much easier for my reptile brain to come up with “TNI” or “STX” than to remember what option-cmd-1 stands for, never mind actually looking at the style palette, moving my hand onto the mouse or trackpad, scrolling down to the style I need, clicking on it, and moving my hand back to the keyboard. With Quick Apply, I can rely on physical memory rather than the more active layers of my brain. It’s much faster. More time for napping.
What it is: Most layout programs, and even MS Word, have both paragraph styles and character styles. The former applies to a whole paragraph (duh) and usually controls stuff like spacing, leading, breaks, and alignment. The latter applies only to selected text and controls stuff like font, size, color, tracking, baseline shift. Only InDesign, though, allows you to say, “In all paragraphs styled as ‘chapter first,’ set the first letter in the character style ‘stick-up cap’ and the rest of the first three words in the style ‘small caps.’ After that, use the default text style.” You can do very complex things with this feature, once you get your head around it. And if you change your mind, all you have to do is redefine some styles to get rid of all that pesky design crap.
How I use it: Gussying up tables of contents with different styles for the chapter number, title, subtitle, and page number. Setting the numerals on numbered lists in bold or another font. Styling list bullets in another font. Styling glossary terms differently from their definitions.
The overarching theme here is that the Adobe developers seem to understand that a large part of typesetting consists of repetition. To style a long document consistently, you have to do a lot of fiddly things over and over, sometimes for forty-five chapters. Computers are good at doing repetitive things consistently; people, eh, not so much. And the less time you have to spend manually selecting bits of text and clicking on palettes to style them, the more time you can spend doing the things your brain is better at, such as making it all look pretty. And when you change your mind about the handsomest way to do something, it’s not a total nightmare to undo one global design thingy and replace it with another.
At Quark, judging from the way the software is set up, they think all you’re designing is one-page ads. Each page different, like a snowflake. They just don’t get it.