contents   index   previous   next

Understanding QuarkConverter


QuarkConverter was created in response to a real need in a real publishing house to bring documents edited in Microsoft Word into QuarkXPress. According to the QuarkXPress manual, you’re supposed to be able to do this. If you’ve tried it, you know it’s a challenge, at best.

It’s true that you can open a Word or RTF document into QuarkXPress (unless, as sometimes happens, this locks up or crashes your system). The problem is that the imported document retains its formatting, which prevents typesetters from using QuarkXPress as it was meant to be used. One of the beauties of QuarkXPress is that by modifying a document’s style sheet, you can globally change the document’s format—unless, of course, the document has other formatting applied directly, which is what you get when you bring in a Word document. In that case, you can still change the style sheet, but you’ll also have to manually reapply the paragraph styles, which makes little sense. Of course, you could always save your Word document as a text file, losing all formatting, then bring it into QuarkXPress and reapply all of the formatting manually. That doesn’t sound like a good solution either.

XPressTag Files


The answer to this dilemma is to import documents as XPressTag files, which are text files that use tags to mark formatting. For example, an XPressTag file has no italic text. It can’t, since it’s just a text file. Instead, it includes the tag <I> on each side of an italicized word, and when QuarkXPress sees that tag, it turns on italics. When it sees it again (or sees the <$> tag), it turns them off. Similarly, an XPressTag file might include the tag @Heading 1: in front of a paragraph that will be a main heading. When QuarkXPress sees that tag, it formats the following text with the characteristics the typesetter has specified for Heading 1 in the document’s style sheet.

So how do you get an XPressTag file? That’s where QuarkConverter comes in. QuarkConverter turns Microsoft Word documents into XPressTag files that can be brought into QuarkXPress, allowing a typesetter to change type specifications globally. For example, let’s say you’ve been editing in Word and have marked spec levels using paragraph styles (which is what you should do). You used the style Heading 1 for your main headings and Heading 2 as subheads. When you convert your document with QuarkConverter, those headings will be tagged as @Heading 1: and @Heading 2:. Character styles will be tagged as well. Also, most character formatting will be tagged and thus preserved, including bold, italic, underline, word underline, strikethrough, small caps, all caps, superscript, subscript, and raised 3 points. (Such oddities as shadow, outline, double underline, and dotted underline are not supported and will be lost, unless you change them into something else before using QuarkConverter.) QuarkConverter does not convert such formatting as fonts, point size, paragraph formatting, kerning, and so on, all of which should be defined in your QuarkXPress style sheets, not in directly applied formatting.

Character Translation


When you start QuarkConverter, it checks to see if you are working on a PC or a Macintosh. Then it asks you to choose the platform on which you will be using QuarkXPress (Macintosh or PC). This is necessary so that QuarkConverter can properly translate members of the ASCII (ANSI) character set numbered above 128, which are different on the Mac and the PC.

For example, if you have the word fiancé in a PC Word document and bring it into QuarkXPress on the Macintosh, you won’t get fiancé; you’ll get fiancÈ. In general, accented characters don’t translate correctly. Other characters that don’t translate correctly include em dashes, en dashes, bullets, and quotation marks. Ouch! QuarkConverter solves this problem by “hard-coding” these characters into the XPressTag file using ASCII numbers. (For example, <\#147> is the QuarkXPress code for an opening quotation mark on the PC.)

That also means the characters won’t be lost or converted into something else when the document is saved as an XPressTag (text) file. For example, on a PC, if you save the copyright symbol, ©, in a text file, you’ll get this: (c). Saving a.m. (lowercase letters formatted as small caps) in a text file gives you this: A.M. (capitalized letters, which you’d have to lowercase and reformat in QuarkXPress). Saving curly, “smart” quotation marks gives you straight, “un-smart” ones ("like these").

If you tell it to, QuarkXPress will convert straight quotation marks into curly ones on import, but it won’t do it as intelligently as you might like. For example, if you’ve carefully used apostrophes (as opposed to single quotation marks) at the beginning of such abbreviated words as ’tis, ’twas, and ’49er, the distinction will be lost when the document is saved as an XPressTag (text) file. And when the file is imported into QuarkXPress, the apostrophes will become single quotation marks (‘tis, ‘twas, and ‘49er), which you don’t want. QuarkConverter solves this problem. The result is that when you fix apostrophes and quotation marks the way you want them in Microsoft Word, they’ll stay that way when the document is brought into QuarkXPress.

Fixing Typographical Problems


In addition, QuarkConverter eliminates various typographical problems with the following options, which you can select:

1. Placing discretionary hyphens at the beginning of hyphenated words (except those that begin paragraphs, which would prevent using drop caps on those words) and after all hyphens. This prevents such bad end-of-line breaks as self-reli-ance. You never want to break an already broken word, right? I don’t, unless doing so makes the line extremely loose, and in that case you can fix it by hand.

2. Placing discretionary hyphens at the beginning of words joined by an em dash, and after all em dashes between words. This, too, prevents bad breaks.

3. Placing discretionary hyphens at the beginning of contractions, such as couldn’t, shouldn’t, they’re, and so on. (The complete list is couldn’t, didn’t, doesn’t, hadn’t, hasn’t, isn’t, oughtn’t, shouldn’t, they’re, wasn’t, we’re, wouldn’t, and you’re.) I thought about putting discretionary hyphens at the beginning of words that end with a liquid l, such as particle and terrible, but the proper way of handling those is to put them into your QuarkXPress hyphenation exception dictionary. QuarkXPress, as yet, won’t let you include words with apostrophes.

4. Placing nonbreaking spaces after the first two periods in a set of ellipses ( . . . ), and after the first three periods in a set of ellipses followed by a space and then single or double closing quotation marks ( . . . ”). No more broken ellipses, and your ellipses can be justified, too! You’re not using that ugly little ellipses “character” (…), I hope.

5. Placing a discretionary hyphen at the beginning of the last word of each paragraph, preventing the last word from breaking.


Translating Index Entries


Finally, QuarkConverter translates Word index entries into those for QuarkXPress. This makes it possible for an editor or indexer to create an index in a Word document, using Word’s automatic indexing features. When you bring that document into QuarkXPress, the index entries will become Quark index entries, making it possible to generate an index automatically after typesetting and pagination have taken place. This is valuable because editors don’t have to worry about indexing in QuarkXPress, and it also saves time in the production process because indexing can take place—in Word—before rather than after typesetting and pagination.

Microsoft Word and QuarkXPress actually handle indexing quite differently, as you might expect. However, enough overlap exists that QuarkConverter supports and will convert the following index functions from Word:

1. Main entry.

2. Subentry.

3. Sub-subentry (follows a colon after a subentry).

4. Range of pages (marked with a bookmark). This is actually converted to QuarkXPress’s “following number of paragraphs” index entry.

5. See, See also, and See herein.


Please note that if you decide to translate index entries, you must manually insert an XPressTag version code at the top of your document after running QuarkConverter and before bringing the document into QuarkXPress. QuarkConverter can’t do this for you because it has no way of knowing what XPressTag version you are using. To translate index entries, you must have at least version 2.03, and the code at the beginning of your document would look something like this: <2.03><e0>. To find out what version of XPressTags you are using, export a document (“Save Text”) as an XPressTag file from QuarkXPress. Then open the file into Microsoft Word. You’ll see the version code at the top of the document. This is the code you must type in at the top of the files created by QuarkConverter if you want to use automatic index entries.

Saving Files from QuarkConverter


When QuarkConverter is finished, it automatically saves your documents as text files, gives them an .xtg extension to differentiate them from your original documents, and places them in the same folder as your original documents. For example, let’s say you used QuarkConverter on a document called DOCUMENT.DOC in a folder called FOLDER. When QuarkConverter was finished, you could look in FOLDER and see your original file, DOCUMENT.DOC, along with a new text file, DOCUMENT.XTG, which is the document you would import into QuarkXPress. Please note that the converted file is not a true .xtg (XPressTag) file because it doesn’t include an XPressTag version code at the top. The .xtg extension is to differentiate the converted document from your original one.

Importing XPress Tag Files into QuarkXPress


Importing an XPressTag file into QuarkXPress is a fairly simple matter:

1. Create a new document (or open an existing one) in QuarkXPress.

2. Place your cursor into the document where you want the text to begin.

3. Click the File menu.

4. Click “Get Text.”

5. Click “Include Style Sheets.”

6. Find and click the XPressTag file.

7. Click “OK.”


The XPressTag file will be imported into the QuarkXPress document, and you can modify the style sheets to match the type specifications the document is supposed to have.