SAN FRANCISCO (05/30/2000) - Long before Microsoft Corp. Word dominated the word processing field, a program called MacWrite was bundled with every Mac sold. The original version of MacWrite was based on word processing technology licensed from Quark Inc.-surprising, given that importing text into QuarkXPress is far from trouble free. If Quark was processing words back in the 1980s, why doesn't XPress do a better job of importing word processing files today?
Fortunately, you can improve QuarkXPress's performance and save yourself the time and trouble of reapplying formatting by following a few rules and procedures. Note that this article addresses the import of Microsoft Word documents because they're the least altered by XPress. However, most word processors can save files in Word format, so you can benefit from this information even if you don't use Word.
Get That Text
The Cut and Paste commands may seem like an easy way out, but do yourself a favor and don't try to cut text from Word and paste it into XPress. The text usually comes through, but it loses all formatting. When you need to maintain style sheets, bold and italic text, font size, or other formatting, the best option is to use the Get Text command, located in the File menu.
The Get Text dialog box has two check-box options: Convert Quotes and Include Style Sheets. The first simply lets you convert straight quotes to curly quotes and double hyphens to em dashes.
The second option tells XPress whether to read the file's style sheets. When you don't select Include Style Sheets, the imported text is tagged with the current style sheet and unwanted local formatting to match its appearance in Word. Even worse, applying a new style sheet has little or no effect on this text. That's why I always turn on Include Style Sheets when importing Word files.
Lost in Translation
Because XPress and Word have different feature sets, importing formatted text files isn't always seamless. For instance, XPress converts Word's tables to tab-delimited text. XPress also ignores Word's page geometry (including columns, placed text blocks, and margins) and paragraph autonumbering. Word's footnotes show up at the end of an imported text file. And Word's drop caps and other fancy formatting such as borders and shading rarely import properly.
There are tricks around two of these shortcomings. To preserve a table you painstakingly built in Word, save it as a PDF file and then import it into an XPress picture box. (Of course, you can't edit the table later, not even to change the typeface.) To keep autonumbering, save the Word file as a Word 5.0, 5.1, or 6.0 document before importing it.
A Character Study
Despite Quark's claims to the contrary, you may be in for trouble when you import Word for Windows documents into QuarkXPress for Macintosh. I've seen all kinds of weirdness, most frequently when I import "special" characters such as curly quotes and em dashes, which often translate into unexpected and undesired glyphs. The best solution I've found is to open the Windows file in a Mac version of Word and then save the document under a new name before importing it into XPress.
No matter what import problems you encounter, make sure to download the latest import filters from http://www.quark.com/files.
The Last Word
Even if XPress does someday include a word processor, we will still have to deal with the millions of word processing files out there. With careful planning and strict use of style sheets, you won't be at a loss for Word.
DAVID BLATNER is the author of The QuarkXPress 4 Book (Peachpit Press, 1998) and three QuarkXPress videos from Learnkey. You can find his Web site at http://www.moo.com.
Sidebar: Importing Word's Styles
The most important step you can take when importing a Microsoft Word document into a QuarkXPress file is to make sure the style-sheet names are the same in both documents. The formatting can be wildly different, but as long as the style-sheet names are the same, XPress can swap Word's definitions with its own.
TIP: To make sure you've got the same style-sheet names in both programs, import some Word text into an XPress document with different style-sheet names.
XPress automatically adds the Word style-sheet names to the Style Sheets list, where you can redefine them at will.
Translating your styles cleanly from Word to XPress is easy:
1. Except for the occasional use of italics or other means of emphasis, use Word's style sheets, not local formatting.
2. When you import the document into XPress using Get Text, make sure you turn on Include Style Sheets.
3. If the styles are defined differently in the two programs, XPress asks you which version you want to use. Choose Use Existing, which strips out the Word definitions and applies the XPress styles.
4. Word sometimes saves extraneous style sheets -- such as the character style called Default Paragraph Font -- which you may now want to delete to keep things tidy.
Sidebar: Get Rid of the Plus Sign
It's a common problem: Before you get a Word document, someone selects all the text and changes its font and size. Because the formatting was applied locally rather than by changing style sheets, all the local formatting remains when you import the document into XPress. When you try to apply a new style sheet, the text doesn't take on the new style properly.
One way to jump this hurdle is to go to XPress's Style Sheets palette and apply No Style to the text first; then apply the style sheet. However, this wipes out all local formatting, including any bold or italic words you might need to keep. Here's a technique to strip out the unwanted local formatting while retaining the formatting you want:
1. Click in the text, and you'll see the plus sign in the Style Sheets palette, indicating that there's local formatting.
2. Edit the XPress style sheet definition so it matches the imported Word text characteristics.
3. Click on Save in the Edit Style Sheets dialog box. Notice that the plus sign is gone from the Style Sheets palette.
4. Now edit the style sheet definition again, resetting it to the formatting you desire. Voila -- the unwanted local formatting disappears, leaving the stuff you want behind.