InDesign’s elegant text controls give it a distinct edge over QuarkXPress in that it can constantly reflow text, making paragraphs more reader-friendly. While the FitInXT 2.1 Quark XTension cannot make such changes in real time, it can retrospectively help to make text more legible.
The Fit Text to Block feature manipulates existing text by allowing individual control over any or all point sizes, horizontal and vertical scaling, leading, paragraph spacing and kerning/tracking. The six options include allowable percentage change and order of priority. In use, just allowing changes to paragraph spacing (if the text isn’t fixed to the baseline) and kerning or tracking can make a huge difference to readability – something Quark’s own H&J settings do a poor job of. Using this, along with the Repeat to Fit option, achieves good results quickly.
FitInXT doesn’t stop there. Fit Text to Path enlarges text to fit a Quark-generated text path while Fit Block to Text changes block sizes to match existing text. There’s a word/line count palette that can be used with Quark’s text overflow feature to show exactly what overmatter there is. It’s much easier to use than the alternative of creating a new text box, flowing the extra copy into it, copying and pasting to a further text box and word counting it. FitInXT will even search for text overflows, moving from one instance to the next, and alert you to any overflows before printing. The additional headline and title fitting facility is useful for single lines of text.
The other main feature is the handling of vertical and horizontal rules. This is particularly useful for news pages where rules are frequently used to divide stories. Rule insertion can be within a multi-column text box or between single columns, with control over line style, end shape, colour, shade and thickness. A rule can also fit block height rather than text height and automatically follow the precise lengths of text boxes. No more dropping guides, drawing lines and nudging them into place! The rule features include style sheets and keyboard shortcuts; and Quark integration is good enough to be able to undo edits, something that eludes many third-party XTensions.
If text fitting and rule placing is an important part of your job, FitInXT will prove invaluable. It’s very easy to use and achieves good results quickly. There are a couple of gripes though. First, the copy protection includes a USB key and 30-letter keycode that has to be input each time you remove the key and forget to replace it before launching QuarkXPress. This is painful for those of us who find multiple uses for the keyboard’s USB port. It’s also a bit pricey compared with, say, ALAP’s Xpert Tools Pro, which offers 16 XTensions for the same price. However, it’s a specialist XTension and thus pretty unique.