QuarkXPress 9 review

£935
Price when reviewed

Just ten years ago QuarkXPress dominated the professional publishing industry, but Quark seemed more interested in electronic publishing than in print, and allowed Adobe InDesign to seize its market. Now, with the advent of the tablet, the age of rich digital publishing has truly arrived and Quark is determined that its flagship package should win back its crown.

This time, however, Quark hasn’t forgotten its print-based bread-and-butter. The core market for QuarkXPress has always been high-end publishing houses producing regular publications, and here the efficiency, productivity and consistency offered by style-based handling are key. With version 9 users have much greater control over how style sheets are applied so that, for example, you can now preserve local overrides or remove them.

More usefully, you can also automatically apply the next style in a predefined list. This option is useful for applying multiple styles – a heading followed by an introductory paragraph, followed by body text, for example. QuarkXPress 9’s new Conditional Styles let you take the idea further, offering more advanced rules.

QuarkXPress 9 - styles

You could, for example, use the tool to apply an introductory paragraph style, set its first sentence to small caps, go to the end of the story then back to the last tab and then apply a byline character style from there to the end of the paragraph. Conditional styles are a bit of an effort to set up, but will really help automate regular design workflows.

Added power

Another major boost to efficiency and consistency comes with QuarkXPress 9’s style-based handling of bullets, numbering and outlines. These let you specify factors such as character formatting, type of numbering and distance from the following text. Outline styles are particularly powerful as they let you define up to nine indent levels, each with its own numbering style.

Crucially, the new styles and indents can be applied directly, much as you would handle them in Word.
Handling of tables – useful for managing longer lists – has also seen an overhaul, with the old fixed-grid limitation consigned to history. Now, you can flow anchored tables across multiple pages, complete with repeating header and footer rows. You can also import tables from Excel in the latest XLSX format.

Callout Styles, meanwhile, allow you to finely control how callout boxes are aligned. You can now align a box, not just to its anchor, but to its containing paragraph, box, cell, page or spread. And you can create a whole host of important design effects such as graphical icons or explanatory notes that float next to the text.

Details

Software subcategory Graphics/design software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? yes

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