What’s the most widely used DTP software in UK magazine publishing? As part of an analysis of modern magazine production methods, I asked a group of 20 students to each interview a magazine editor (or another senior member of staff). The verdict came back loud and clear – we found (based on a survey of around 18 magazines) that 80 per cent used InDesign.
So should new journalists forget about Quark?
No. It is still common to find Quark used in the newsrooms of local newspapers and in book publishing etc. Students who already have a good grasp of Quark learn InDesign very easily. It’s just a case of finding out how you access the various tools, using the ridiculous number of palettes. My students have found that InDesign generally offers more functionality than Quark 6.5. On the downside, like a lot of Adobe products, InDesign is totally bloated. I’ve also come across a lot of compatibility issues, particularly when moving files between various versions of InDesign. These need to be patched.
What DTP skills do employers want?
Guardian Media Job adverts (based on a non-scientific survey conducted 11th May 2007. Note: This is not just job adverts in journalism, but includes areas such as marketing, book publishing, PR and telecoms etc)
- InDesign mentioned in 58 adverts (publishers looking for these skills include:HACHETTE FILIPACCHI (Art Director), Future Publishing (Designer)
- Quark mentioned in 66 adverts (publishers looking for these skills include Centaur (sub-editor) and Informa Professional (middleweight designer)
What DTP package gets the best reviews?
Random review quotes on Quark 7:
"Quark has added some good features to XPress 7, including Unicode,
transparency, drop shadows, improved palette handling, synchronizing
objects, composition zones, job jackets, as well as a multitude of
smaller but very useful features such as PDF/X support and Font
Fallback. And users who stick with Quark XPress will be happy that the
company is adopting some of the InDesign features that began turning
heads four years ago. But the new territories Quark is staking
out—especially composition zones and job jackets—will hardly excite the
broad design community, and they’re difficult to learn."
"Throw in a major reduction in
the standalone price and a good-value upgrade, and it’s clear Quark has
not only heard all the criticisms but acted on them. QuarkXPress
certainly isn’t going down without a fight. It isn’t enough to cause a
return mass migration, but it’s an essential upgrade."
eliminated enough of XPress’ glaring omissions to stop people from
migrating to InDesign. It may even bring some of the bigger publishers
back to the Quark fold."
..and random review quotes about InDesign CS3
"Despite a few wrinkles and omissions, InDesign remains the most capable
page layout software available. The more I use this new version, the
more I appreciate the subtle retooling throughout, not just the obvious
"At times, the advanced power it
offers leads to complexity, and those QuarkXPress fans who are happy
within their comfort zone will accuse it of bloat – and rightly so, if
they wouldn’t use the additional power. Ultimately, though, InDesign
CS3 is capable of tackling harder jobs and producing better end
results, and doing so even more efficiently than its rival. It fully
deserves its professional publishing crown."
InDesign or Quark – which is cheaper?
The old advice still applies. If you need things like Photoshop or even Dreamweaver, you’ll want to buy the entire Adobe Creative Suite. But there are numerous versions these days. Adobe has created a flash based product selector and it’s torturous to use!
The basic advice is that if you work predominantly in print, you’ll need Adobe CS3 Design Standard – £944.98 on Amazon. These products are always cheaper if you’re upgrading. If you’re lucky enough to be a student (lecturers are excluded from the deal) you get Adobe Design Standard CS3 Student for £161.99. But the "bargain" for students (if software is ever a "bargain") is the feature packed CS3 Masters Collection for PC – you get the entire Adobe collection including all the web stuff for £400. The standard price is over £2,000!
Looking to buy InDesign CS3 alone? It’s £668 (no student discount).
So, what does this all mean?
Quark is certainly fighting back and is attempting to win over the education market. But that InDesign / Photoshop combo is pretty compelling in publishing. But I can’t stand the fact that Adobe has so many versions of CS3. You also have to check that the product you buy work with your OS – be careful Vista users! Adobe needs to make its student deals available to lecturers as well!