Friday, April 19, 2019

A to Z Challenge - Q for Quark Xpress

Theme - Journalism jargons
This is a popular Desktop Publishing software from Denver, Colorado-based Quark Software. The application is used by a number of newspaper companies in the world.

The first version of the software was released in 1987, with periodic upgrades subsequently. It competes with similar software like Adobe InDesign from San Jose, California-based Adobe, and NewsGate from the Aarhus, Denmark-based CCI.


In the pre-computer era, journalists worked with just pen, paper and typewriter. The page-making was done by phototypesetting operators, it was never the work of journalists.

After computers entered newsrooms, the entire word-processing operation changed. In the newsroom, journalists make the pages with help from the designers. Journalists now need to know about designing and designers need to know about journalism.


From 1999 to 2009, I worked on Quark Xpress to make pages of the newspaper I worked for. We had an MS-DOS-based platform on which stories were edited, and the edited stories were exported to Quark Xpress on which the pages were made.

More elaborate and complex design elements like charts, graphs, illustrations etc., were done on Adobe InDesign by the designers, which were then imported to the QuarkXpress pages.


Since we need to make a newspaper page in not more than one hour, and since the shape of news stories are the same (only the content varies), the 'article shapes' are templated and stored in a library.  These templates have a number of dummy articles with different shapes and different headline point sizes.

So all that has to be done is to pull out the required article shape from the library and flow in the edited news story on to this article shape. We need to then only tweak the headline and the article to fit the space.

(This post is a part of the "Blogging from A to Z Challenge April 2019".)


  1. Thanks for the info. I was not aware of this until I read your post.

  2. Oh, I used this software in the nineties. For a lawn care company, I put together newsletters to foster friendly competition between ten or so branches around the country. In late winter/early spring, lawn technicians focused on telemarketing to establish new customers. That was the most fun I had on a job. Even the course I took was enjoyable, with a very charismatic man I still recall as suffering terrible migraines. He would push through to teach his classes, but remember nothing of the day later. Astonishing.

  3. I can't imagine how hard this all must have been before computers.

  4. I remember Quark XPress. I must confess that I never used the software myself, but my sister-in-law is a designer and she used to convert design files and then install them on my computer for me. My son still uses InDesign for his design work and when we worked on a journal together I would send him Word files and he would convert them. I came of age just before this era, and though I could follow instructions to use this stuff I didn't fully understand it myself. When I worked on newspapers in the late 70s and early 80s we still used waxers to make up the pages for printing!

  5. @ Rajan - Thank you!

    @ Darla - Yes, in the nineties, Quark was very popular. Glad to know that you have worked on it. Migraine can be terrible.

    @ Liz - Having worked in a newsroom in the pre-computer era too, I can say that the workflow was more organized then compared to now. Page-making and newspaper production was more tedious and laborious.
    Those days, there was a limit to one could do. Also, information flowed much slower.
    Today, everyone seems to have access to everything!
    Information is flying thick and fast all over the place. You need to consciously cut yourself off to avoid being bombarded with text, photos, videos, GIFs and what have you!
    Worse, no one knows what is true and what is not!

    @ Josna - InDesign is now very popular. It's very user-friendly too.
    Glad to know you worked in newspapers. Yes, those were the days of what we used to call here as 'bromides', 'butter papers', 'wax papers'... How the world has changed!

  6. Some news teach before it comes in the visual or print media.That much runs the wheels of news.Thanks for the info.

  7. @ Rudraprayaga - Thanks Sarala for reading the posts and for the comments.