FrameMaker – Creating (Unstructured) Content

Learn to use FrameMaker like a pro. This is the full syllabus for my 2-day live online class. For the online course version of this material, see my online course site.

To see options side-by-side, see the Tech Comm Tools online store, where you can compare FrameMaker classes, courses, and private training options.

In FrameMaker – Creating Content you’ll learn the best practices and gritty details that will turn you into a superstar FrameMaker author. You’ll see the techniques that help technical communication professionals around the world to use FrameMaker to easily manage libraries of long documents, and produce consistent, feature-rich documentation.

Class material and features are based on the current release of FrameMaker, and users of previous FrameMaker versions are welcome. Books and class files will be supplied in earlier FrameMaker formats whenever possible.

Need to create FrameMaker templates?

Consider my Template Design Workshop, where you’ll learn everything you need to know about template-driven design. After the workshop, you’ll have a full template developed for your organization that helps you and your team create and maintain beautiful and efficient FrameMaker projects.

FrameMaker – Creating Content Syllabus

Goal: At the end of this material you will be able to author complex content in unstructured FrameMaker.

Understanding FrameMaker

Introduction to FrameMaker and interface

  • Menu items
  • Pods
  • Bottom bar (all 5 controls)
  • Quick Search/shortcuts/online help
  • Workspaces
  • Preferences
  • Set file info

Word processing Part 1

  • Create new doc from Memo (Create, not Show Sample)
  • Show creation of new content with para and char catalog
  • Manage application of styles using:
    • Paragraph catalog
    • Character Catalog
    • Headings/titles
    • Bullets/lists
  • Insert different types of special characters
  • Importing Microsoft Word files

Understanding FrameMaker templates and workflow

  • Explore the scope of what a template can do
  • Discuss the importance of consistent and logical style names for ALL related projects
  • Explore the chapter template from Working with Content
  • Show the strengths of FrameMaker vs. other apps
  • Look specifically at the advantages of numbering in FrameMaker

Using tables and graphics


  • Show table insertion at end of line vs. inserting on a blank paragraph
  • Manage Table Insert dialog
  • Add headers, footers, and title
  • Insert various types of content in table
  • Adjust cells, columns, rows
  • Merge/Straddle table cells
  • Add/Delete table structure
  • Why you should avoid Custom Cell Shading and Ruling

Graphics and Anchored Frames

  • Understand native FrameMaker Graphics Tools
  • Learn when to use/not use Anchored Frames
  • Anchored frame position options
  • 2-column graphics
  • Graphic frame vs. anchored frame
  • Crop
  • Float
  • Position of graphic in frame
  • Position of frame on page
  • Page graphics
  • Anchored frames
  • Moving frames
  • Moving/cropping frames
  • Use Object Styles to manage frequently used situations

Object Styles

  • Apply existing styles in a template
  • See a brief tour of how to use Object Style Designer (INT)

Cross-referencing content


  • Link to current
  • Show format options
  • Show ways to navigate to source location
  • Update References
  • Link to external docs (within same book file)
  • Unresolved xrefs

Improving your efficiency

Word Processing Part 2

  • Find/Change
    • Find text
    • Find other stuff
    • Options like wildcards and GREP/Regular Expressions
  • Thesaurus
  • Change bars
  • Revision tracking
  • Colors
  • Spelling checker
    • Dictionaries
    • Customization

Setting master pages

  • Understand why master page editing is part of the template course
  • Using master page assignments (the apply master pages command)
  • Manual master page assignments

Numbering styles

  • Apply numbering to paras
  • Show how numbers interrelate
  • Setting up numbering systems is part of Templates

Content Reuse

User Variables 

  • Company name
  • Include character style (INT/ADV)
  • Understand the As-is property in Character tags

Text insets

  • Create a small document for inclusion in other documents
  • Import the inset file into other docs and manage content from original

More content reuse

Conditional text

  • Use shortcuts to apply, subtract, or make text unconditional
  • Show pods related to conditional text


  • Recreate the Quadratic Formula
  • Type characters directly when possible
  • Use Shift+6 for exponents
  • Use spacebar to select ranges


  • Placing in para
  • Placing in table
  • Controlling with Format > Document > Numbering
  • Other formatting done in template file

Create long documents


  • Create new book
  • Add files
  • Numbering for page and chapter
  • (Add TOC)
  • (Add IX)
  • Show Update Book

Managing automated tables of contents

  • Show adding TOC, setting up included para styles
  • Show application of template (See Creating Books handout)
  • Use nonbreaking space to control Toc entries
  • Reference page tour (to discourage editing of TOC!)

Creating sophisticated indexes

  • Show adding IX, with Index markers already selected
  • Show application of template (See Creating Books handout)
  • Reference page tour (to control index dividers)

Index markers

  • Insert simple single entry
  • Insert multiple entries per marker
  • Insert second level markers
  • Control entries with code
  • See Fm Handouts.pdf


Crafting rich PDF output

  • Publish pod
  • Bookmarks
  • Customizing output settings
  • Why NOT to use Save As or Print To PDF
  • (When you might need to use Save As or Print to PDF)

Producing HTML5 for mobile and desktop

  • Show default behavior
  • Emphasize importance of mapping styles
  • Show areas for customization

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All topics can be delivered live (online or in person) and customized to fit your training needs.
For more information please contact Matt Sullivan

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