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Reader Responses to

Quark or Pagemaker?

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Walter Zekanoski

You touch on an issue that Don Roberts addressed (see Letters to the Editor in the July 1996 Communication Arts) and which I am tired of debating: Quark vs. PageMaker in terms of output performance. This is not a design issue. It pertains to the prepress end of things. While it is important for a file to rip without electronic glitches, this is peripheral to the design process. I hope Don Roberts has put to rest the myth that Quark performs better than PageMaker at the service bureau.

With respect to the issue of PageMaker vs. Quark as a design tool: an advertising executive with whom I was applying for a design position asked me why I had used PageMaker to design all the samples I had sent him and did I know Quark. My standard response to this inquiry is this: a page layout program is a vehicle. If competent designers are in the driver's seat, they can get where they want to go. No matter which page layout program people use, if they cannot design, choosing one over the other makes no difference.

A person manipulates a software program to achieve pleasing design, not the other way around. However, this is not to say it doesn't matter which program a person chooses. If the software is user-friendly, capable, and fast, it only enhances the design process. The typographic, graphic, and image manipulation tools should expedite, foster, and inspire the design process. To find out if this is the case, the following questions need to be asked

  • Is the program awkward or cumbersome at certain functions?
  • Is the layout area chaotic or messy to work in?
  • Are the pull-down menus organized in a coherent manner?
  • Do keyboard controls realoly make things easier and faster?
  • Are the tool pallete in teh way of designing?
  • What is the learning curve of the program?

    In his review of PageMaker 6.0 (March/April 1996 Communication Arts) Richard Koman said virtually nothing about these issues. He seemed only to be cheerleading for Quark. I would like to see a truly even-handed analysis of the two.

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    Wayne Kilburn

    Graphic Designer, AAA Washington

    As a former PageMaker user, I thought I'd give my 2 cents worth on the subject of Quark vs PageMaker. Until January of this year, I was a dedicated PageMaker user.

    I work for a medium sized company, and I am the graphic designer in the marketing department. Consequently, I've got a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it in. I'm always looking for ways to improve my efficiency. My print buyer suggested that I take a look at what Quark could offer. I thought to myself "Yeah, right -- I'll switch when pigs fly!" But, he persisted, telling me of Quark's ease of use and listing its production features. Finally, to humor him, I began to compare the two programs.

    Well, to make a long story short, I was impressed with what I found. I abandoned PageMaker in January, and I haven't regretted it a bit. I've been able to shave considerable time off of my production schedules. I've found Quark to be much more efficient than PageMaker and it really wasn't that hard for me to learn.

    There are a lot of little things about it that all add up to big time savings. As an example, to put a keyline around a photo used to be a nightmare with PageMaker! Making sure that the box that carried the keyline was exactly lined up with the photo was next to impossible. With Quark, you simply select the photo you want to keyline, press command-B, and enter the size of keyline you want. Yes, it's true that PageMaker now has a plug in to handle this task in an easier way, but this disables the cropping -- Quark does not have this shortfall.

    Also, Quark's "collect for output" feature has been a major time saver for me! I no longer have to worry about my links straying from my working folder. I used to spend most of my production time confirming that the links I loaded onto the Syquest were really the ones that PageMaker needed. I just wish that Quark would ad a "collect fonts" function.

    Anyway, these are my opinions and I hope that they are meaningful to someone. Thanks for the chance to share!

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    Luis Blanco

    Verilux Ltd.

    PageMaker forever!

    Care to respond to any of the comments or add your reasons for using one program over another? E-mail the editor.

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