Digital Diagnosis: How do I painlessly transition from Quark to InDesign?

Digital Diagnosis: How do I painlessly transition from Quark to InDesign?

TechQA_featWelcome to MNA’s new technology column, Digital Diagnosis.  You’ve got tech questions?  Our Digital Media Committee has answers. Send us an email with your question at


Do you have any guidelines/information about efficient, “painless” transitioning from Quark to InDesign?

-Jan Wann, New Prague Times


There is no one-size-fits all answer to this one, Jan.  Many members of our Digital Media Committee have made this transition over the years.  While it may not be totally painless, here are some tips from those who have made the transition.

Jason Brown, Long Prairie Leader:
The most cost effective way is to rebuild everything native to InDesign. It’s painful, but its the cheapest and purest way. When we did it we looked at plugins, but Quark back then was still lacking in stability to begin with so we just plowed ahead with InDesign.

Brandon Quesnel, Times Media, St. Cloud:
There is a conversion guide (PDF) available from adobe at that helps explain the differences and tool comparisons, and a section about opening Quark files in InDesign. It’s been a few years since I used Quark, but the guide would be a really good tool for anyone going through the transition.

Mike Mazzio, Duluth News Tribune
We are currently in the conversion phase right now and we are using a plug-in for InDesign called Markzware Quark Conversion. We use it to convert all of our ads, but we aren’t using it for our pages. We are recreating our pages manually so they are pure.

Jean Doran Matua, Tri-County News, Kimball
If I were to do it again, I would use the same method Mike describes above. I converted many years ago (when Quark didn’t upgrade for OS X for more than two years) but I just sort of ripped the band-aid off and did everything new, from scratch.

The one piece of advice I’ve heard often: resist the urge to re-set your keyboard shortcuts and settings in InDesign to mimic those of Quark (which can be done). Just re-learn to do things in the native InDesign way.