Using Guidelines for Page Layout

Using Guidelines for Page Layout

How important are guidelines? Guidelines are so important that QuarkXPress puts guidelines on every page that you create unless you tell the program otherwise. You can place guidelines by doing what’s described in this section, or you can place them numerically if you have the Guide Manager XTension installed. For more information on XTensions, see Chapter 10.

In the New Project dialog box, the values that you enter in the Margin Guides and Columns areas determine the position of guidelines that are automatically displayed on your layout pages. Access the New Project dialog box by choosing FileNew, or by pressing z+N or Ctrl+N.

  • If you enter 0 (zero) in each field of the Margin Guides area, your pages won’t have margin guides.

  • If you also enter 1 in the Columns field, your pages won’t have column (vertical) guidelines.

  • If you later decide that you want to change your default margin and column guidelines, you can do so by displaying Master Page A (choose PageDisplayA-Master A) and then choosing the PageMaster Guides. The Master Guides dialog box lets you change the position of the margin and column guides. See Chapter 16 for more information on master pages.

In addition to margin and column guides, QuarkXPress automatically creates a grid of horizontal lines, called a baseline grid, on your layout pages (see Figure). You can display or hide the baseline grid by choosing ViewShow/Hide Baseline Grid, or by pressing Option+F7 or Ctrl+F7. The Paragraph pane of the Preferences dialog box, which you can access by choosing QuarkXPress Preferences on the Mac or EditPreferences in Windows (or by pressing Option+Shift+z+Y or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Y), includes two fields — Start and Increment — that let you control the placement of baseline grid lines.

Click To expand
Figure: The baseline grid is a useful layout tool.

Creating custom guidelines

Automatic margin, column, and baseline grid guidelines are good to have, but sometimes you want to create custom guidelines. For example, you may want to position several text boxes so that their left edges are aligned, as shown in Figure.

Creating a vertical guideline is a cinch. Here’s what you do:

  1. Click the vertical ruler displayed along the left edge of the layout window.

    If rulers aren’t visible along the top and left edges of the layout window, choose ViewShow Rulers, or press z+R or Ctrl+R.

  2. Hold down the mouse button and drag until the vertical line that’s displayed while you drag is in the position at which you want to place a guideline.


    When you drag, a small pointer shows left– and right-pointing arrows.

  3. Release the mouse button.

    Click To expand
    Figure: We aligned the boxes by dragging their left edges within 6 points of the vertical guideline.

The process for creating a horizontal guideline is the same as for creating a vertical guideline except that you click the horizontal ruler along the top of the layout window. When creating horizontal guides, if you release the mouse when the pointer is over a layout page, the guideline extends from the top edge to the bottom edge of the page. If you release the mouse when the pointer is over the pasteboard area above or below the page, the guideline extends across both the page and the pasteboard area.

To delete a custom guideline, click it and drag it back to the ruler from whence it came. You can delete all horizontal guidelines by holding down the Option or Alt key and clicking the horizontal ruler. All vertical guidelines are removed when you Option+click or Alt+click the vertical ruler.


If you want to place custom guidelines on all your layout pages, add them to your master page(s). We discuss master pages in Chapter 16.

At times, you may not want to display guidelines, such as when you want to see what a page will look like when it prints. The Show/Hide Guides command in the View menu lets you display or hide all guidelines. Pressing F7 alternately displays and hides guidelines as well.

But be careful! Pages look nice when displayed without guidelines, but don’t get in the habit of working this way because you can’t see empty boxes.

Snapping items to guidelines

One of the nice things about guidelines is that you can have QuarkXPress snap an item into alignment with a guideline when you drag the item within several pixels of the guideline. This auto-snapping behavior is controlled by choosing ViewSnap to Guides. (You can see this menu option in Figure.) By default, this command is turned on (checked). You can turn off this feature by choosing Snap to Guides when it’s checked. (The command toggles between on and off each time that you choose it.) You can also use the shortcut Shift+F7.


When Snap to Guides is checked, guidelines act like magnets, drawing items to them. This can be annoying if you need to position an item near — but not aligned with — a guide. To solve this problem, turn Snap to Guides off before positioning the item.

By default, an item snaps to a guideline when it’s moved to within six pixels of the guideline, regardless of the view percentage. However, you can change this by entering a different value in the Snap Distance field in the General pane of the Preferences dialog box. To open the General pane of the Preferences dialog box, choose QuarkXPressPreferences on the Mac or EditPreferences in Windows, or press Option+Shift+z+Y or Ctrl+Alt+Shift+Y.

While you’re in the General pane, you may also want to change another guideline-related preference. The Guides pop-up menu offers two choices: In Front and Behind. Choosing In Front draws guidelines in front of items; choosing Behind draws them behind items. Opinions vary about the best option to choose. One potential problem is that if you choose Behind and use a colored or blended background or a large picture as the backdrop for an entire page, you won’t be able to see your guidelines. Figure shows the two guideline-related preferences in the General pane.

Click To expand
Figure: The Guides and Snap Distance preferences in the General pane of the Preferences dialog box let you control the behavior of guidelines.

You also have the option to change the appearance of the guidelines in all your layouts. The Display pane of the Preferences dialog box, as shown in Figure, includes three buttons — Margin, Ruler, and Grid — that let you change the color used for margin/column guides, custom guides created by clicking and dragging on a ruler, and baseline grid lines, respectively. To change the color of a particular kind of guideline, click the Margin, Ruler, or Grid button and use the color picker that’s displayed to choose a new color.

Click To expand
Figure: The Display pane of the Preferences dialog box has three buttons that let you change the color of guidelines.

QuarkXPress lets you create only horizontal and vertical guidelines, but you can easily create your own angled guidelines. Just use the Line tool to create a line at any angle; then click Suppress Output in the Line pane of the Modify dialog box, which you access by choosing ItemModify.

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