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Many publications and other documents are worked on by teams of people, each with varying expertise or simply to break the larger project up into smaller projects that can be completed on time. In this magazine for example, there is an area down here that I would like someone else to complete for me. One way to do that would be to use the Composition Zones feature in QuarkXPress. There are several ways to make a composition zone. If you already have some content you would like to send off to that person, you can select those items on the page and either Ctrl-click or Right-click and choose Composition Zones > Create.
This converts all those items into one group known as a composition zone. On the other hand, if all you have is blank space on your page that you know you need to fill with some items, you can use the Composition Zones tool here and just drag out an area of the page that you want someone to fill. Now that doesn't make sense for this layout, so we'll work with this composition zone item that we created down here. To pass it off to someone, you need to use the Shared Content palette, add it to the palette, give it a name, decide whether you want this to be available only within this project or possibly to other projects as well, and then if you are going to hand it off to somebody, you click Make External.
It asks you to name the file that you are going to give to the other person. I'm going to call it Petstumes locations and put it on the desktop and click OK. So now it's named in the Shared Content palette, Petstumes locations, and I have spun it off as a separate document that I also called Petstumes locations and this is now available to either email, FTP, or placed on a server for someone to work on. So now I'm the person who is going to be working on this project. I get the file, I double-click it, it opens into my copy of QuarkXPress, and I make whatever changes I want.
We are going to change Dallas to Houston. When I save that document, it updates in the other document that it came from. Notice now it says Houston instead of Dallas down here. As long as this spun-off document is still in the location that I originally put it, much like a placed picture file for example, where XPress wants to keep track of that picture by it location, XPress also wants to keep track of composition zones by the location where you put them. So if you emailed this to somebody, when they emailed it back to you, you could put it back in the location where it originally was and this document will know to update.
So let's say you are finished with this project and you don't want to be synchronized to that other document anymore. You can select it in the Shared Content palette and click the Trashcan and it will warn you that you are about to break the link. I can click OK and now the link is broken, but it's still in my layout. If I want to edit it in the layout, I can simply Ctrl-click or right-click on it and choose Composition Zones > Edit, and it opens into a separate window because actually the composition zones is now a hidden layout within my project.
I can make changes here and notice that it's updating immediately down here. Now you may be saying why on earth would you keep it separate like this when you could just put it back in there and make the changes on the page, and that's a good question. If you want to do that, QuarkXPress doesn't have an obvious way to put it back on the page. All I can recommend is that you select all the items in the composition zone, copy it, and then down here delete your original item and paste it back into place.
Now we are back to where we started and you can edit this just like it was before we turned it into a composition zone. Now in this simple example, the composition zone was really just one box with some text in it, but a composition zone can contain any combination of pictures, lines, text, anything on a QuarkXPress page, because of that you need to be careful that whoever is working on the composition zone supplies you with any fonts or pictures that you have added to that composition zone so that when you go to output it, you have got all the assets you need. Even with all these considerations taken in to account, being able to hand over a portion of your document for someone else to work on and have it updated real time as you are working on yours, can be a tremendous time-saver and an extremely valuable feature in your workflow.
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