QuarkXPress 4.1: Win9x/NT351 review:

QuarkXPress 4.1: Win9x/NT351

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MSRP: $995.00
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CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Lays out pages with exquisite precision; provides the robust, sophisticated drawing tools all professional publishers need.

The Bad Doesn't export pages directly to HTML or PDF.

The Bottom Line QuarkXPress 4.1 is a superior layout application equipped with the best set of illustration and text tools on the market. It's not for amateurs, but if you're a professional print designer, you'd better own a copy.

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8.0 Overall

Over the years, QuarkXPress has earned a reputation as the best professional page layout application on the market. And we think version 4.1--a free upgrade available to all registered users of 4.0--carries on the tradition. QuarkXPress has an impressive array of illustration, color handling, and text tools that generate flawless output. There's only one catch: the program still doesn't let you output completed documents to the Web--a major omission. Hopefully, version 5.0, due out later this year, will rectify the situation. Nonetheless, QuarkXPress is the most important tool in a professional desktop publisher's software kit. Business and SOHO designers should head for the less complex, but surprisingly sophisticated, Adobe PageMaker. Over the years, QuarkXPress has earned a reputation as the best professional page layout application on the market. And we think version 4.1--a free upgrade available to all registered users of 4.0--carries on the tradition. QuarkXPress has an impressive array of illustration, color handling, and text tools that generate flawless output. There's only one catch: the program still doesn't let you output completed documents to the Web--a major omission. Hopefully, version 5.0, due out later this year, will rectify the situation. Nonetheless, QuarkXPress is the most important tool in a professional desktop publisher's software kit. Business and SOHO designers should head for the less complex, but surprisingly sophisticated, Adobe PageMaker.

Layout With Style
When it comes to text composition and layout tools, QuarkXPress is at the top of the heap. Like other desktop publishing apps, QuarkXPress offers master pages--templates that will put an object, such as a page number, in the same place on all the pages in your document. The program also lets you pour text into and around any shape and set text so that it follows any path you lay out, such as a semicircle or a zigzag.

QuarkXPress conforms to color management industry standards, which means that you can adjust your documents so that the colors appear the same on your monitor as they will on other devices and media, such as paper. Even better, Quark's documentation offers detailed, easy-to-understand help. It includes a booklet that explains color management in layman's terms and shows you how to prepare your document for commercial printing. But don't let all of this help fool you; this is a serious tool for professional designers. Rank amateurs should steer clear.

More Web Support, Please
As much as we love QuarkXPress, it still suffers from some major omissions. Version 4.1 has added support for importing and exporting HTML, as well as the capability to import PDF documents and save files in PDF format. Unfortunately, the additions seem fairly half-baked. These capabilities should ensure that your publications maintain their proper formatting when you export them to the Web or send them to professional printers. But problems remain. For example, the HTML export tool saves only text flows, not entire documents, so you still can't use QuarkXPress to export your completed publication to the Web. Also, QuarkXPress won't save documents into PDF format directly--you have to install Adobe Acrobat Distiller, a completely separate program. These failures are especially disappointing because other layout programs do such a good job of Web publishing. Corel Ventura and all of Adobe's desktop publishing products, for example, seamlessly import HTML and output both Web pages and PDF files.

Still the One
But all told, QuarkXPress's tools still beat Adobe InDesign's hands down, and its type tools and color handling are superior to PageMaker's. Even with its Web deficiencies, QuarkXPress is a must-have for any desktop publishing professional.

QuarkXPress makes it easy to set text so that it follows any path you lay out, such as this semicircle.

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