DTP QUESTIONS & ANSWERS, PART III



I've had several DTP related questions this month from the email link on the web site so it's time for a Questions and Answers roundup--feel free to send any questions or comments to my email address andrew.davidson@onyx. octacon.co.uk.


QUARK TAGS


Q. I'm hoping to use Quark Tags format soon to help format text from a database for a telephone directory publication. I've never used this Tags format before so it's all new to me --what exactly is the XPress Tags format and how does one save a Quark document as such?

A. Quark tags format is Quarks own format for formatting text, and can be imported or exported from Quark. It is based on plain ASCII text, but also allows full text formatting and styling by using simple codes with angled brackets. Because of this, any software capable of outputting ASCII text files can also be used to create fully styled tags files to import into Quark. (The formatting being set by using codes within the angled brackets within the ASCII). As an example of bold:

To make any following text bold, the code is
and to remove the bold you can either use another
(the first turns the bold on, the next turns if off)
or you can use the <$> to reapply the current style sheet (an remove any 'local formatting').


An Example of Bold Italics:

This would be plain,
this would be bold,
<$> this is back to normal.

Other examples are
for italic, and
would give bold italic.

Any text formatting that can be applied in Quark can also be defined by these tags too (kerning, tracking, baseline shift etc -- there's a full listing of all the codes with examples in the Quark manual's appendix. There's also 2 very good tech notes on Tag coding on Quark's web site too (http://www.quark.com)

This is normal,
this is bold italic
<$>this is back to normal.

A style sheet called "@body text:
<$>":
You can also apply Style sheets by using the name of the style you with to apply:
@body text:<$>.
This text would be in the body text style sheet. The above would apply the style sheet named 'body text', the @ means to apply the next named style, and the <$> removes any local formatting.

As Quark's tags only describe text formatting, you can only save text with the format from either continuous linked text or individual text boxes.

To save the text in Quark tags format, select the text box containing the text, then select the contents tool (rather than the item tool), then use File > Save Text As... and from the Formats choose Quark Tags.

This way you can use 'reverse engineering' to find the codes you need: Style the text to suit in Quark (use Style sheets as much as you can, this way the code is just to apply that style sheet and not all the individual formatting) then save it as tags format and then open this file into any text editor and you'll see all the tags coding within the <> brackets.


HEADER CODE


There is also a header code needed for the tags file, and this can differ from different versions of XPress. On my International English 3.32r3 PC version, the header on the very first line is:

If you save some text in tags from your version of XPress, you'll see a similar header too.

XTension from Em-Software Quarks Tags format can only format text , but there is an XTension from Em-Software called XTags that allows the creating of any Quark item by using tags codes. All the original Quark Tags codes remain intact, but with XTags you can create anything from tags codes (picture boxes, import pictures, frames, text boxes), anything you can create normally in XPress can also be created with tags with the XTags XTension.


SAVES HOURS OF MANUAL FORMATTING


I've used both Quark Tags, and XTags and they've saved hours of manual formatting work in XPress. A client wanted to create a fully formatted document of a directory listing each month from a database, including images etc. XTags worked perfectly for this -- all the info was input into the database, along with the picture filenames, then this was all output as simple ASCII but with XTags formatting.

When imported into Quark, the XTags XTension created as many text boxes, picture boxes as required and imported pictures to suit too. The whole Quark document was created automatically just from the XTags coding.

Quark's Tags format is ideal for just text formatting, and this again can save hours -- examples here have included automating television schedules listings and classified adverts sections, etc. If you just need to format mainly text, Quark tags is the way to go; if you also need images, picture boxes, etc., then the XTags XTension would certainly be worth a look.


CHROMALIN PROOFS


Q. I've read your DTP articles on the web site, and you mentioned Chromalin proofs -- how do you make a Chromalin proof, is there a printer I can buy to do this or how would I get a Chromalin proof?

A. When preparing a full colour image to print on a printing press, you need to produce 4 films -- one for each of the 4 process colours required for full colour printing. This way you end up with 4 films; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (hence CMYK).

As the films are black and white and only represent where their associated colour will be, it's difficult to tell how the colour images will print, and if the plates are made and a test print run, any changes then would need the plates to be re-made and that would be expensive.

This is where Chromalin comes in. The Chromalin system uses the actual films the printing plates would be made from to produce a colour proof or print, so it can be checked before any plates are made, and in this way you are actually checking the films you would make the printing plates from.

The system is based on exposing light through your films onto light sensitive Chromalin film. Where the light exposes the film, the film looses its 'stickiness' -- the other areas remain sticky. These films are then run through the Chromalin machine that puts another layer of film with a coating of the associated colour (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) over the films and this only adheres to the sticky areas of film that the light was kept away from. (This can change depending upon whether you're using positive or negative films, but basically the toner only adheres to the areas where the ink will be.)

You then end up with several layers of film and colour, and the whole lot can be laminated into a single sheet. The whole process can be time consuming and requires the Chromalin machines to combine the colours and films etc. Usually, the bureau who output your original films would be able to produce a Chromalin or other manufacture's equivalent.

So to recap, your cyan film is exposed to the Chromalin system, and you end up with a new film, in cyan of all the cyan areas in the image -- then the magenta, yellow, and black films are exposed in turn. You end up with new films for the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and these can be aligned together and laminated into a single sheet. This then represents the final printed piece, but there's one drawback! Because the final Chromalin is a lamination of several films and sheets you can end up with a very high gloss image that looks amazing! The printed result can often look 'flatter' -- it's the sheer number of layers and films that can give a Chromalin a very high gloss look. (It can also be created in a matte finish, but the gloss version tends to be super glossy, sometimes far more glossy that the final printed piece.)

Once the Chromalin is checked you can then use your original films to make the plate from, so the same films are used to create both the Chromalin and the final printing plates. Recent developments have been the 'Digital Chromalin' where your file can be printed directly to produce the proof, however this does not test the actual films you would use, only the file. There's more info on the Digital Chromalin at the DuPont Website at http://www.dupont.com/print.

Unless you need to produce thousands of Chromalins per year as a printer or service bureau, it's not economical to buy your own Chromalin system; it's cheaper to have proofs output at a service bureau or printer as and when you need them. The whole system can be time consuming and expensive.


MAC AND PC EPS FILES



Q. I've used Macs for several years, but recently I've had to use PC more often. I found that EPS files that look fine on screen on the Mac can look poor on the PC although they all print fine. Why can EPS's look poor on PC's on screen in comparison to the Mac?

A. It's all down to their preview images. Typically Macs use PICT images for the EPS preview and PCs use TIFF images.

Unfortunately TIFF preview images don't fully support transparency, so if you have a vector logo as an EPS with TIFF preview, the logo is framed by its own surrounding rectangular (or whatever) bounding box. On the Mac, the same logo as a EPS would generally have a PICT preview which can support transparency, so the background to the logo would be transparent.

It's all down to the original choice of TIFF for PC EPS's, although there is now a better alternative. Some PC packages can now use Windows Meta File (WMF) images as the EPS preview and these support transparency fully and are much closer to the Mac's PICTS than TIFF's ever were.

Freehand 7 and Illustrator 7 on the PC still don't give you the option for WMF previews, but CorelDraw 6 or higher does. There is a workaround though. There's a very neat freeware utility called EPSWMF available that can take a WMF and merge it into your EPS as the preview. All you do is export your image twice, once as a EPS and then as a WMF, and EPSWMF will add the WMF to the EPS.

The last time I downloaded it, I got the latest version from:
http://members.aol.com/tylernb/web/. From there it's in the 'downloadable' section, or try: http://members.aol.com/tylernb/web/epswmf.htm for the direct download page.

WMF previews are excellent for logos and most vector type images though they don't work with raster (PS) type files. The difference between the TIFF & WMF previews is amazing; even at high zoom and scaling amounts the WMF remain smooth and crisp, whereas the TIFF's would be jagged and pixelated. Using EPS-WMF previews on the PC is the equivalent of using EPS-PICTS on the Mac.

As for Photoshop on PC, check the options in the EPS options box it brings up when you save. There's options to set the quality of the preview image; a 1 bit B/W TIFF is going to be real bad but the 8 bit 255 colour TIFF should be fine.


BULLETED QXP LISTS


  • Item One
  • Item Two
  • Item Three


Q. I need to create bulleted lists in QuarkXPress, as there is no automatic way to create bullets. Is it possible to use Style Sheets instead? A. If you need a fairly simple bullet there is a neat trick to build it into a style sheet. Set up a style sheet with a tab setting that gives enough room for a single bullet and a space, then use the single bullet and space as the tab fill characters. Use the Formats Indent to indent as required, and the First Line Indent to pull back the text.

As an example, set up a style with something like (this assumes 10 pt text): text 10 pt, left indent 3 mm, first line indent -3 mm, left tab at 3 mm with bullet and space as tab fill characters. You might have to tweak all the values to fit depending upon the font -- too much tab space and you'll get more than one bullet, too little and there wouldn't be enough room for a bullet -- it needs just enough for the single bullet and space to fit into.

When you need a bullet, just apply this style sheet, and type a single tab at the start of the line and the bullet fills in the indent; this way you can get a hanging bullet point by simply typing a tab at the start of the line. Having the settings within the style sheet make it easy to edit or turn off altogether the bullets, much easier than having to edit each bulleted point individually.

Once again, please feel free to send any DTP questions or comments to the email address below. Having a very Happy New Year best wishes for '98. Until next month happy DTP'ing!

Andy Davidson
CONTACT: andrew.davidson@onyx.octacon.co.uk



Return to Top



Home Andy's Columns


Webmaster: aanestad@wco.com
Copyright © 1995-1998, SVCG. All rights reserved.

URL: http://www.vom.com/svcg/index.htm