Search icon Looking for something?

The FrameMaker Five
2011, Q1 (April 07, 2011)
By Samartha Vashishtha

FrameMaker Tips
FrameMaker Tips
Editor's note: This article was first published in INDUS, the newsletter of the India chapter of STC. Republished with permission of the author.

If you’re always looking for quicker ways to accomplish tasks, these FrameMaker tips are just for you!

1. Find is not just for text…

You can use the Find/Change feature in FrameMaker to look for many different kinds of objects across a book or in a document. In particular, the Find Unresolved Cross Reference option could save you hours of troubleshooting when you generate PDFs.


The following Find/Change options are worth a mention as well:

  • Paragraph Tag: Search for a particular paragraph tag. For example, you can use this option to quickly browse through all Heading1 paragraphs in a document or a book.
  • Any Text Inset: Search for content snippets imported by reference into the FrameMaker document or book.
  • Anchored Frame: Search for graphics contained in anchored frames.

2. Track content changes across document versions

The Compare Documents feature in FrameMaker lets you create a consolidated document in which changes between versions are highlighted using inserted and deleted conditional tags. This feature is especially useful in collaborative environments that make use of a version control system.
Follow these steps in FrameMaker to compare documents:

  1. Open both versions of the document.
  2. In the newer version, choose File > Utilities > Compare Documents.
  3. Choose whether you want to see only a summary of the changes or the consolidated document as well.


3. Import book-level variables and formats

Your FrameMaker documents may have variables that are common across all chapters in a book. Set these variables in one of the chapters and then use the File > Import > Formats to import these variables into the other chapters.


If you also plan to import paragraph format properties from this chapter, ensure that it uses all the common styles used across the book. For example, if some of the files in the book have <Heading 4> topics and the file you’re importing formats from has none, you may notice formatting (and numbering) problems in the final PDF file. In such a case, set and import paragraph formats from a file that has <Heading 4> topics.

4. Create separate paragraph formats for comments

In addition to using conditional formatting, create one or more paragraph formats for comments and internal, editorial text. Use striking formatting for these paragraph formats, so that they stand out even when the condition indicators are hidden.
For example, create a text format, AuthorQuery, to highlight critical questions that you want the reviewers to notice. Use these example attributes to format this new paragraph format:

  • Bold, red, sans-serif font (if the body text is serif font such as Arial)
  • 1.5 lines of vertical space above and below the paragraph

For added effect, make the paragraph cover both columns if you have a two-column layout. Further, you can set the auto-numbering for the paragraph format to display the text, “Author Query”.


5. Apply change bars selectively

Aside from going with automatic change bars, you can select text and apply change bars to it at will.

  • Select the text and then press Ctrl+Shift+H to apply change bars to it.
  • To remove the applied change bar, select the character, word, sentence, or paragraph and then press Ctrl+Shift+H again.

Selective change bars come especially handy when you want to proof the source or highlight specific sections for review.

6. Make change bars invisible in interim PDFs

I said five tips, right? Time for a bonus tip!
If you want to preserve change bars in the source but hide them in an interim PDF, set their color to white in the Change Bar Properties dialog box (Format > Document > Change Bars). Later, if required, you can set the change bar color again to a visible color.


If you choose to make the change bars white, ensure that you don’t have a black background for the page numbers in the header/footer. Otherwise, white change bars will be visible alongside changed page numbers in the PDF.

If you are just beginning to learn FrameMaker or want to know more about specific features, the FrameMaker online help is an indispensable resource. You can also contribute to the documentation by adding tips and tricks, tutorials, troubleshooting information, or suggestions for improvement; all you need is a free Adobe.com account. Read these guidelines and start contributing right away!

Samartha Vashishtha works as a technical writer with Adobe Systems, Noida. In his spare time, he likes to read poetry, short stories, and food writing. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/samarthav. Samartha can be reached at svashish at adobe dot com. End of article.

More articles like this...
Comments powered by Disqus.