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Tools of the Trade

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book


QuarkXPress lets you keep libraries full of items: picture boxes, text boxes, lines, groups of objects, and so on. These libraries are saved as external files on disk. For example, while writing this book, I placed each piece of artwork in a library, grouped with figure numbers, captions, and callouts. The artwork was later dragged out of the library by the production team onto the QuarkXPress pages. This increased the chance that nothing too weird would happen when making pages, and decreased the time it took to produce a chapter.

Note that a library holds page items, plus their contents. For example, you could place a text box with a particular headline in a particular style in a library. However, picture boxes in libraries don't fully embed their pictures. If a picture was imported using Get Picture, the library only remembers the link to the external file, rather than the file itself. So, although my artwork could be stored in a library, I still had to move all of my EPS and TIFF files from disk to disk (if you are lost, don't worry; I talk about all these issues in Chapter 9, Pictures).

You can have more than 10 libraries open at a time (I haven't found an upper limit yet), and each library can hold up to 2,000 entries. You can even label each library entry for quick access. Let's look at how all of this is done.

Manipulating Libraries

Libraries are, in many ways, just like QuarkXPress documents. Putting an item in a library is like putting it on a separate page of a document. The analogy follows in creating and opening libraries, as well. You can create a new library by selecting Library from the New submenu in the File menu (or by pressing Command-Option-N or Ctrl-Alt-N). And to open a library, you select it in the Open dialog box (the program recognizes it as a library automatically, so you don't have to do anything special). Once you choose a library, QuarkXPress brings it up on your screen as a palette.

As I mentioned back in the last chapter, palettes work much like other windows (in fact, I often call them windoids). For example, you close a palette like a window, by clicking the Close box in the upper-left corner (upper-right in Windows). The palette floats, so you can move the palette wherever you like on your screen. You also can expand the palette by clicking the Zoom box in the upper-right corner of the window. Note that this type of zooming doesn't have anything to do with a percentage scaling view. The first time you click on it, the palette fills your screen. The second time, it decreases back to "normal" size. You also can resize the windoid by clicking and dragging the lower-right resizing box, just like a normal window.

Adding and Moving Library Entries

You'll hardly believe how easy it is to add and remove library entries. To add a page item to an open library, just click on the item with the Item tool (or hold down the Command (Ctrl) key to get a temporary Item tool), and drag the item across into the library. When you're in the library, your mouse cursor turns into a pair of glasses (don't ask me why; all the librarians I know wear contacts), and two triangular arrows point to your position in the library. When you let go of the mouse button, the item you're dragging is inserted in the library at the location these pointers indicate. That is, you can position your page item (or an existing library item) anywhere in the library by dragging it into place.

You also can add an item to a library by using Cut or Copy and Paste. You need to use the Item tool to cut or copy an item from the page, but you can use either the Item or Content tool to paste it in a library. Just click in the position where you want the item to go, then press Command-V (or Ctrl-V; or select Paste from the Edit menu). When picking a place to paste the item, click between two items, so that you can see the positioning arrows. If you click on an item in the library before pasting, you are telling QuarkXPress to replace that item with this new one.

Note that although I'm saying you can add "an item" to the library, that one item can contain a number of page items. If you want, you can select picture boxes, text boxes, and lines—whether grouped or not—and put them all into the same library item.

After you add an item to a library, then you can see a thumbnail-size representation of it (see Figure 3-92). This representation is highlighted, and you won't be able to do any work on your page until you click someplace other than the library.


Figure 3-92 Adding an item to a library

You can move an item in a library from one position to another by clicking on it and dragging it to a new position. If you have more items in your library than will fit in the palette, you may have some difficulty, because the library doesn't automatically scroll as you drag. I use one of two methods to get around this. First, you can cut and paste items, as I described above. Second, you can click the Zoom box to expand the size, reposition the item, and rezoom the box down to a small palette.

Removing Library Items

To take an item from an open library and place it on a page, click on it with either the Item or Content tool and drag it onto your page. This doesn't remove the item from the library; it makes a copy of it on your page. It's similar to dragging something from one document to another. If you want to delete an item from a library, click on it, then select Clear from the Edit menu (or press the Delete key). You also can use Cut from the Edit menu (Command-X or Ctrl-X), which removes the item and places it on the Clipboard. QuarkXPress always warns you before totally removing something from a library, because you can't Undo afterward.

Labeling Library Items

Imagine having 150 different items in a library and trying to find just the ones that are pictures of baby seals. Remember that all you can see on the screen is a tiny thumbnail representation of the items. Luckily, you have labeled each library item with a foolproof system, and you are just a popup menu item away from finding those baby seals.

Every item in a library may be labeled either for identification purposes or to group items together (or both). With your library items labeled, you can access the library items by a single label, multiple labels, and more.

To assign a label to a library item, double-click on its thumbnail representation. Up comes the Library Entry dialog box. In this dialog box, there is only one field in which you can type the label. After you add one label to an item, the popup menu in this dialog box is enabled (see Figure 3-93). This popup menu lists each of the previous labels you've assigned (see "Tip: Grouping Library Items," below).


Figure 3-93 The Library Entry dialog box

After you have labeled items in your library, you can select from among them with the popup menu at the top of the Library palette (see Figure 3-94). This acts as a kind of electronic card catalog. There are always two items in this popup menu: All and Unlabeled. Selecting All shows you every item in the library. Selecting Unlabeled displays only the items that have not yet been labeled. Any other labels that you have assigned to library items also appear on this popup menu. If you select one of these, you only see items that have been assigned that label.


Figure 3-94 Selecting a subcategory in the library

Then, if you select a second label from the popup menu, that label is added to the category you're already looking at. The name on the popup menu changes to Mixed Labels, which tells you that more than one label is being displayed. You can deselect one label category by rechoosing it from the popup menu (that is, these labels in the popup menu act as on-and-off toggle switches). You can deselect all the subcategories by choosing All from the popup menu.

Saving Libraries

No matter how hard you try, you won't find a command to save the library file. This can be disconcerting, to say the least. What happens to all those items if you can't save them?

In previous versions of XPress, QuarkXPress would save a library only when you quit the program or closed your current document. This is generally unacceptable, because people work for long periods without quitting or closing a document (during the production of the first edition of this book, one person lost over an hour's worth of work because of a system crash before the library was saved).

Fortunately, you can turn on the Auto Library Save feature in the Preferences dialog box. This feature, which is on by default, forces QuarkXPress to save a library every time you place a new item in it. This may slow down your work a little if you're adding a number of items, but it could also save you lots of time if something should go wrong.

Once a library is saved on disk, you can move it from one computer to another. However, note that you cannot move it from a Macintosh to a PC or vice versa. This is an unfortunate limitation due to the way QuarkXPress saves the thumbnail images.

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