Shared Content is a feature that’s been available in QuarkXPress since version 6, but is often overlooked. One reason may be that it’s one of those clever functions that has myriad possible uses but none that immediately spring to mind. Another is that, with the launch of the groundbreaking version 7, it got tangled up with Composition Zones, an even cleverer function that was presented in such a counter-intuitive way that many users gave up trying to figure it out.
In version 8, Shared Content remains a powerful way to automatically update similar items within a layout or, via Composition Zones, across multiple documents. The basic idea is that when you change one instance, all the others immediately update to match. This is, of course, the point of paragraph styles (long established as essential for text), item styles (more recently adopted for objects) and picture links (when you edit a placed graphic in Photoshop, for example, it updates in your layout) – so why use Shared Content instead?
Firstly, because it just works: whoever’s editing your document doesn’t have to figure out how your styles are set up and that they need to update a style to change further instances. Changing any item immediately and visibly updates the rest. Secondly, because text styles only change the appearance of text; Shared Content can change the text itself. And thirdly, because you can do cool tricks.
Read the tutorial in MacUser Vol 26 No 10, on sale now.