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The Layers Palette

The Layers palette helps you work in a more organized manner when building your documents by letting you separate each part of your layout into its own layer. For instance, you could put all your pictures boxes on one layer and text boxes on a different layer. Then, your copy editor could hide all the pictures in order to focus better on the text. Or, in a document that will be distributed in two countries, you could put English text on one layer and Spanish on a second layer. Because only visible layers are output when you print, you could hide the Spanish layer when printing the English text, and vice versa.

You can also use layers as a way to play around with a new design concept while keeping other parts of your layout intact and not compromised, like a trial-and-error playground. For instance, if your picture boxes were all on one layer, you could duplicate that layer, hide the original layer, then play with those pictures all you want, knowing that if it doesn't work out, you can just delete this duplicate layer and go back to your first idea.

Layers have long been a staple of illustration programs like Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia FreeHand; in fact, if you've used layers in those programs, you'll be right at home using the Layers palette in QuarkXPress.

The Default Layer and master pages. Before I get into the details of creating and manipulating layers, I need to mention two kinds of layers that appear in every document you create. The first is the Default Layer, which cannot be deleted. This is the layer that your objects live on when you don't specify any other layer—it's the basic layer that you're probably used to from earlier versions of XPress.

The other "layer" is the master page layer. While the Default Layer appears as a separate layer in the Layers palette, this one does not. Sadly, there is no way to assign master page objects other layers while viewing the master page (see Chapter 4, Building a Document, for more on master pages). Instead, when you place an object (a box, line, or whatever) on a master page, XPress always assigns it to the Default Layer, but on your document pages these objects appear below the other objects on your Default Layer—as though there were a separate master page layer.

Of course, you can always select a master page item on your document page and assign it to another layer, but that breaks the link between this item and the master page (so changes to this item on your master page won't change this object on your document page anymore).

Making Layers

You can control everything having to do with layers in the Layers palette (select Show Layers from the Window menu; see Figure 3-58). To make a new layer, click on the New Layer button (that's the one that looks like sweat is flying off it). Layers always appear named "Layer 1", "Layer 2", and so on, but it's easy to change these names (I'll cover that in a moment). Note that you can have up to 256 layers in your layout (including the Default Layer), but I recommend keeping your layers to a minimum whenever possible, for the sake of simplicity.


Figure 3-58 The Layers palette


Figure 3-59 Flags Visual indicators.Layers palette's context menu

Assigning Layers

When you draw out a box, table, or line, it is automatically added to whatever layer you have selected in the Layers palette. The selected layer always has a little pencil icon visible to the right of the layer name, indicating that you can write to that layer (see Figure 3-60). If you create something on the wrong layer, don't worry; it can easily be moved.


Figure 3-60 Icons in the Layers palette

As soon as an object appears on a layer (any layer other than the Default Layer), XPress adds a little colored icon in its corner, called a visual indicator (see Figure 3-61). Visual indicators let you see which layers are assigned to your items by matching the color of the drop-shadowed colored rectangle to the color assigned to the layer in the Layers palette. The visual indicators won't print; they're for your onscreen reference only. However, if these visual indicators are driving you batty, you can make them go away by choosing Hide Visual Indicators from the View menu.


Figure 3-61 Visual indicators

Switching layers. You can move one or more items from one layer to another by selecting the object(s) and clicking the Move Item to Layer button in the Layers palette. This displays the Move Items dialog box (see Figure 3-62), where you can pick the destination layer. XPress always moves the item(s) to the exact same page coordinates on the new layer.


Figure 3-62 Moving items from one layer to another

Another way to move one or more selected objects is to drag the Active Item icon (it looks like a small box of squares in the far right column of the Layers palette) to the desired layer. If that icon is confusing, note that it's a miniature version of the standard eight handles around a selected item on your page—that is, the "active item."

A third method to move items from one layer to another is using Cut or Copy and Paste. This is the slowest method (you have to select the object, cut it, click on a different layer in the palette, and then select Paste). Worse, the object is always centered on the screen when you paste it rather than ending up with the same page coordinates.

Of course, when you move an item to a new layer, the object assumes the attributes of that new layer. That is, if the target layer is turned off (is invisible), then that object will suddenly disappear when you assign the layer.

Moving and Deleting Layers

Adding page items to your layers is only half the fun! You also need to be able to manipulate the layers themselves: moving them up and down, merging them together, duplicating them, and deleting them.

Moving layers up and down. To change the stacking order of your layers (moving a layer makes objects on that layer appear above or below objects on other layers), you can hold down the Option key (Mac) or the Alt key (Windows) while dragging a layer up or down in the Layers palette.

Note that the Send to Back, Send Backward, Bring to Front, and Bring Forward features in the Item menu only work within a layer, not across the layers. That is, choosing Bring to Front makes the selected object the topmost item on its layer, but won't move the object from one layer to another.

Merging layers. You may decide at some point during that creative process we call page layout that your file just doesn't need so many layers. Fortunately, you can merge layers together, so that the objects on two or more layers all end up on one happy layer. To merge two or more layers, select more than one (unlocked) layer for merging by Shift- or Command-clicking (Ctrl-clicking) in the Layers palette. Then press the Merge Layers button to display the Merge Layers dialog box (see Figure 3-63). Here you must decide which layer will be the new home to all the items from these selected layers.


Figure 3-63 Merging layers

Duplicating layers. You can duplicate a layer (make a copy of the layer and all its contents) with the context-sensitive menu: Control-click (Macintosh) or right-button-click (Windows) on the layer you want to duplicate, and then select Duplicate Layer. However, if that layer has one or more linked text boxes, you may get a result you don't expect.

  • If you duplicate a box containing the first box of two or more linked boxes, the contents of the entire linked story will be copied into that box and will be displayed with the standard overflow symbol.
  • If you duplicate a layer with a middle box from a linked chain of boxes, all of the copy from that box and any successive copy will be copied into that box with an overflow symbol. The copy contained in boxes from linked boxes preceding that box disappears from the new layer.
  • If you duplicate a layer containing only the end box in a linked set of boxes, only the copy from that box will be duplicated into that box.

These results are just the same as if you used the Copy and Paste, Duplicate, or Step and Repeat features on a linked text box.

Duplicating layers between documents. Need to get one or more layers from one document into another? No problem: when you drag an object from one document into another, the object's layer comes with it. The same thing happens when you drag a page from one document into another (when both files are in Thumbnails view). If you need all the objects on a layer to come across, too, then make sure you first choose Select Items on Layer from the Layer palette's context menu. Unfortunately, there's no way to duplicate layers from one layout space to another within a project (because you can't drag-and-drop between layouts).

If you don't want a layer to come with a dragged object, make sure you assign the Default Layer to that object before dragging it. By the way, if the target document already contains a layer with the same name in the Layers palette, XPress adds an asterisk symbol to the layer's name.

Deleting layers. To delete a layer, select the layer you no longer want and click the Delete button in the Layers palette. QuarkXPress displays a dialog box asking if you want to delete the items on that layer or move those items to another layer (see Figure 3-64).


Figure 3-64 Deleting a layer

Layer Attributes

Every layer has six attributes: Name, Color, Suppress Printout, Locked, Visible, and Keep Runaround. You can turn on and off the Visible and the Locked attributes by clicking in the first two columns of the Layers palette (the columns with the eyeball and the padlock at the top). You can change all six attributes by double-clicking on the layer in the Layers palette to bring up the Layer Attributes dialog box (see Figure 3-65).

  • Name. As soon as you create a layer, it's a good idea to change its name to something more descriptive than "Layer 1."
  • Color. The Color attribute affects that layer's Visual Indicator; it has no effect on the color of that layer's objects or printing or anything like that. I rarely change a layer's color. One exception is when I'm making a Notes layer (a layer for notes to myself or other folks working on this layout), which I often change to either a bright green or a light blue. (The blue reminds me of "non-repro blue," like the old days before desktop computerized page layout.)
  • Suppress Printout. Turning on the Suppress Printout checkbox in the Layer Attributes dialog box is basically the same as selecting all the objects on that layer and turning on the Suppress Printout check-box in the Modify dialog box (see "Suppress Printout and Suppress Picture Printout," earlier in this chapter). This is helpful for a Notes layer or any other time when you want something to be visible on screen but not on the printed page. Note that you can also control which layers will print from the Layers tab of the Print dialog box (see Chapter 13, Printing).
  • Locked. In earlier versions, turning on the Locked checkbox was the same as selecting the items on that layer and selecting Lock from the Item menu. As you know from "Locking Items," earlier in this chapter, the Lock feature isn't particularly robust. Fortunately, now when you turn on the Locked checkbox (or click in the Locked column of the Layers palette), XPress really locks the items on that layer—you can't even select these items anymore. Text and picture boxes on locked layers are still affected by Find/Change and Picture Usage, however.
  • Visible. The most commonly-used layer attribute is Visible, which determines whether you can see the items on this layer. Of course, items on an invisible layer will not print either, so this is a fast way to switch among layers you want to print and those that you don't.
  • Keep Runaround. Let's say you have a picture box on a layer, and that picture box has a runaround setting that forces text to flow around it (see "Text Runaround" in Chapter 11, Where Text Meets Graphics). The Keep Runaround attribute tells XPress what you want to do about text runaround when this layer is invisible. When it's turned on (it is by deafult), the objects on that layer still force text to wrap around them. If you turn this off, then the text wrap on other layers will change depending on whether the layer is visible or not. For instance, if your document has a Spanish layer and an English layer, you probably want the text to flow differently depending on which language is visible.

Figure 3-65 The Layer Attributes dialog box

Layer Preferences

If you don't like the default settings in the Layer Attributes dialog box, you can change them in the Layer panel of the Preferences dialog box (Command-Option-Shift-Y or Ctrl-Alt-Shift-Y; see Figure 3-66). Of course, you can't change the Name or Color attributes here, as those are different for every layer. However, you can turn on or off the Visible, Locked, Suppress Printout, and Keep Runaround checkboxes.


Figure 3-66 Layers preferences

Like other layout preferences, if you change these settings while your file is open, only that file is affected. If you change the settings with no document open, then all newly created documents from that time forward will reflect the new settings.

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