Quark tips?
October 18, 2006 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Quark tips for high-school newspaper crash course in layout, design, and editing?

I've been asked to help a high-school newspaper staff learn the basics of Quark, including sensible layout and design. I have some ideas of where to begin, but with only two days to cram it all in for the kids, I'd love to know what tips people think would be the most useful and the easiest to grasp in a short amount of time. I imagine I'll be starting with the basics, but I'd also love to be able to share some Quark-tip goodness. Anyone have suggestions? What was this most useful/applicable thing you learned as a Quark beginner? (Caveat: this is for PC.)
posted by mothershock to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Just teach them how to master stylesheets. Beat it into their brains until they cry for mercy.
posted by jeremias at 3:40 PM on October 18, 2006

We used pagemaker when I was in school, but by far the most useful things weren't quark-specific; you can figure that stuff out as you go. By far, the most impressive things came from the Newspaper Designer's Handbook which we used not as a textbook but as a guide and desk reference in my student newspaper in college.

The year before didn't use that book. The year after my group was in charge didn't. Neither of them won any awards. We won 'Best community college newspaper in state" at the yearly student journalism awards.
posted by SpecialK at 4:09 PM on October 18, 2006

i assume "switch to indesign" isn't going to fly, in which case: all of the macro stuff like master pages, column guides, and linking for text flow are all power moves, especially for periodicals. depending on their workflow, export options like distilling to PDF might be worth covering.
posted by sonofslim at 4:10 PM on October 18, 2006

Teach them the keycommands for clicking through layers (control button and click) so they can easily stack objects and then reach into the stack to manipulate a certain object.

All the key commands for resizing a picture box proportionally and for fitting a picture proportionally to the a box. However, I haven't used Quark in a while, so I've forgotten them, but they're in the manual.

And yes, stylesheets.

And The PC is not a Typewriter Book, for making good looking type and understanding the why and how of doing it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:10 PM on October 18, 2006

I use Quark 3.3 every day, and while I loathe it deeply, with a passion men can only dream of, it'd be a lot worse without:

1. THE BASELINE GRID. Set up a template with a reasonable baseline grid, have them lock body copy to it and presto: their text all lines up, by magic.

2. "Piano keys". The vital Quark shortcuts are accessed with Shift-Alt-Apple (or some heathen variant on windows) plus some other keys. In my office, that's called the piano keys. So PK+"< and pk+>" make selected text or pictures larger or smaller. PK+; and PK+' do the same for the leading. PK+[ and PK+] do the same for the tracking. While explaining these keys you can explain what point size, leading and tracking are.

3. Text chains. To prevent over-use of:

4. Runaround. Why you can set it on drop-ins and have things just work, especially in conjunction with #1.

5. Why copy-fitting matters: A story should fill its box, or you have a problem.

6. Master pages, and page number templates. The F10 palette and what it does

7. Style sheets. Tie them to the number pad keys

8. Shift-F9 selects the font box in the measurements palette.

9. Apple-B does picture frames

10. How a library works; why you don't put whole pages in there.

OH god, I nearly forgot:
Please, please show them how to scroll around with alt-dragging, how to zoom in and out with Apple-0 and ctrl-dragging a zoom box, and how to move boxes in content mode with apple-dragging. I watch people using the scroll bars and zoom tool way, way too much.
posted by bonaldi at 4:53 PM on October 18, 2006

The quick key commands make life so much easier. Also, in my collage layout classes we went through some of our favorite magazines/newspapers to find layouts that caught our eye and then the prof talked about why they were eye-catching (use of white space, placement of images, etc.) Maybe you can ask that they bring in some magazines/newspaper layouts they like ahead of time or you can pick some hip teen magazines to talk about yourself.
posted by Brittanie at 4:54 PM on October 18, 2006

It's also very useful to have a physical (printed-out) copy of the keyboard shortcuts next to each monitor. In a production environment, they'll be thinking of a dozen things at once and will really appreciate having the reference.
posted by lorimer at 5:06 PM on October 18, 2006

Stylesheets, definitely, but the other huge time savers are libraries and templates. You need all three to put out a publication.

Suggest that they learn at least one keyboard command a day. When I was learning Quark, doing this helped me learn the program more than anything else. Using the keyboard is a lot faster than using the mouse, and if they each pick up one command a day, they'll be experts (or at least intermediates) in no time.

Quark will do math for you. If you place an item at, say 20p7 but decide you want it three and a half picas farther to the right, just go into the proper dialog box or the measurements palette and type +3p6 next to 20p7, hit return and voila! Your item moves intantly to 24p1. You can mix picas and inches, too.

The measurements palette is your friend. Keep it on your screen at all times. It's useful for type specs as well as item placement.

On preview: everything bonaldi said.
posted by diddlegnome at 5:06 PM on October 18, 2006

As for design, the crucial thing I learned is Boxes, Ls, Hs and Us. Cruddy demo:

Where black line = headline, grey line = copy and red box = picture/artwork.

First, see how the shapes all fit neatly (ahem) into boxes? These boxes are the basic building blocks of a page -- if a part of one story sprawls out, like if the last column of text is inexplicably longer than all the rest say, it'll look amateur.

Don't have things weaving around one another, this isn't Tetris. Fit independent clusters of related things into "boxes" like above, and make those boxes neatly arranged with the other "boxes" on the page. If you want a pull-out info panel, for instance, make it the height of the last leg of text, so it fits inside the "box".

Second, the shapes within the box. Don't have the text being all weird. Ls (as in number 1 -- see how the grey text makes an L around the picture?), Us (as in number 2) and Hs (not shown, but imagine number 2 with a pullquote or second picture butting up inside columns 3 and 4) are your friends.

This is pretty restrictive, yes, but it's a great building block. When they understand these rules, and why they make a page fit together, they can start breaking them to do nice things. White space, for instance, by dropping one of the legs of text, and just putting a caption or quote in there.
posted by bonaldi at 5:09 PM on October 18, 2006

Editing: This one's a suonfabitch. Find the really dorky, pedantic one. If they know the difference between its and it's, they're your copy editor. I don't think you can crash this, but the vital bits are probably:

1. The intro (lede in US) to the story is the story. It has to set out everything to come. Get a newspaper. Make people read just the first paragraph of at least ten stories. Draw comparisons. Get this right.

2. The headline's job is not just to tell the story, it is to sell the story. A good headline should make the reader go "what is this about?" and want to read the story. I despair, sigh at US headlines, articles sometimes but even then I've seen some real gems in papers there too. It's an art to itself this, and I'm struggling to encapsulate it. The best headline writers basically learn by seeing what their editor allows in the paper, and which are rewritten. Be snarky, be funny, but sum up the story and don't cause offence.

3. Captions are not for the blind. "James Cheese, 12, climbs a tree yesterday" == bad. We can see he is climbing the tree. "James Cheese, 12, climbs to rescue Kitty McSnuffles yesterday" == good, cos it tells the story.

4. Make sure the damn copy fits the box. Your job isn't only to cut it to length, sometimes you have to pad it out and add words. To. Make. It. Fit. The. Box.

5. Check facts. Who/What/Why/Where/When? Who said all this? Is there a rebuttal from the other side?

6. Check the spelling, for the love of god.
posted by bonaldi at 5:20 PM on October 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by mothershock at 5:39 PM on October 18, 2006

Now bonaldi, I *know* you're not calling copy editors dorky and pedantic, are you? Because if you were, my friends and I would have to come after you with our pica poles and red pens. And I can use a proportion wheel like a Chinese throwing star.

Also, you misspelled "sonofabitch." Heh.

Seriously, bonaldi's points are all good ones, and the diagram is great. The main idea is to make it obvious from the design which things on the page go together. People already have plenty of reasons not to read newspapers without designers making it harder on them.

To see some great, mediocre and horrid examples of newspaper design, check out the following:

Newsdesigner.com. Mark Friesen of The Oregonian in Portland keeps an eye on redesigns and issues in the news design world.

News Page Designer. Designers and newspaper illustrators from all over the world post examples of their work here, and other members of the site can comment on the pages.

VisualEditors. Discussion forums, design galleries and a student section.

Today's Front Pages. The Newseum showcases front pages from around the world.
posted by diddlegnome at 6:05 PM on October 18, 2006

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