Quark Print Collection full review

Having made us wait years for QuarkXPress 7.0, Quark is now bombarding us with new products at a frightening rate. The latest is the Quark Print Collection, a useful bundle of tools for printers and production specialists. It includes Quark Imposer for QuarkXPress and Quark Imposer for Acrobat, as well as Quark Item Marks and Quark MarkIt.

At the end of 2005 Quark bought a small software-development company, A Lonely Apprentice, that produced some useful utilities, including Imposer Pro. Quark’s new Imposer tool is essentially a revamped version of this.

Imposition is the way
Imposition is the art of laying out pages on a press sheet so they are in the right position for folding, trimming, binding and so on. This can be complex because you also have to get the trim and bleed margins right, and for some options, such as saddle stitching, the gutter will be different for the centre pages than it is for pages at the front and back of the magazine.

As well as a version for QuarkXPress, the Print Collection also includes Imposer for Acrobat. Unfortunately for Quark, this was launched about a week before Adobe announced Acrobat 8. Consequently, it only works with Acrobat 7.0. Quark says it is working on a version for Acrobat 8.0, but won’t confirm when this will appear. Both the Acrobat and QuarkXPress versions work similarly and have the same features.

The interface looks fairly simple, but don’t be fooled by this. You can get quite a range of impositions from two to eight-up, so if you’re putting a 16-page booklet together it automatically generates two eight-up sheets, one each for the front and back sides. You can specify saddle stitching, perfect binding, or no binding, and it will change the layout accordingly.

There are different options depending on the number of pages being imposed. So, for four-up work you can choose Standard, Work and turn, Work and tumble and sheetwise, and for eight-up sheets you can also select split web. These cover most common press arrangements. You can also flip and move pages if you decide you don’t like the automatic imposition scheme, or tile pages if the sheet size isn’t big enough.

The margins and gaps can be set up to control the differing amounts of trim and bleed. It handles differences in the gutter, called creep, whereby pages in different parts of a book are further from the centre of the spine. You do have to estimate the amount of creep to allow for, but it seemed to handle a rough guess fairly well. It also dealt with crossover, where a headline or picture runs across a spread, with no apparent trouble. These settings can then be saved for future use.

Imposer lacks some complex features, such as ganging different jobs together on the same sheet: this can be done only by merging documents together. Nor will it handle some of the more unusual requests, such as 12-page saddle-stitched layouts, which can be useful for producing booklets with square pages.

Strangely, it doesn’t pull information from a job jacket. Quark says this is because it’s a straight upgrade from A Lonely Apprentice’s Imposer Pro, and that it has not yet been fully integrated: this should be taken care of in version 2. However, to be really useful, it should also save the trim and margin information back into the job jacket. Quark says it’s also looking at extending other features for future releases, including support for larger than eight-up sheets, and the ability to impose more than one layout.

While imposition is already built into most high-end prepress workflows, the majority of printers are small outfits, often using the more basic workflows where imposition is an optional extra. This collection, particularly with the Acrobat plug-in, is exactly the right tool, at the right price, for these companies.

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