Designing Print Documentation:
FrameMaker Tutorial—Master Pages

Developed for Advanced Documentation Students
David A. McMurrey
Dianne Shelton

See the FrameMaker resource page for additional study materials. Got a question about this tutorial? Post it in the FrameMaker FAQ

The following FrameMaker tutorial will guide you through the steps of creating master pages. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know! These tutorials only get you started; if you have more in-depth needs, see the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide or Adobe FrameMaker Classroom in a Book. (This tutorial is provided for advanced documentation students on a free, as-is basis, without guarantee of accuracy.) This tutorial is based on FrameMaker version 5.5 for Windows. You may see some minor differences if you are using a different version.
Note: In order to fully understand master pages, you should first be familiar with the basic tasks in FrameMaker.

Master Pages and Templates

You might be curious about the difference between creating templates and creating master pages. Templates are made up of master pages, reference pages, and body pages. When you open an existing template, you will automatically have a master page, along with a reference page, and a body page. When you create a new template, you also create a new master page. Master pages are one of the building blocks for creating a template. When you create a master page, you are creating a template. You use master pages when you want to design a custom page layout. If you want to create a double-sided document, you create two master pages—one master page for the right side and another master page for the left side. If you want to create a book, you build a master page for each element of the book. For example, you can create a chapter master page, an index master page, and a table of contents master page.

Creating a Master Page

The following section will guide you through the steps of creating a master page. For this tutorial, we will create a glossary master page. You can design any custom format, but for learning purposes, we will design a generic glossary page.
  1. Open FrameMaker, and click on File and then on New.
  2. Create a blank document by clicking on Portrait in the New dialog box.
  3. Save the document with a descriptive name (for example, by clicking on File and then on Save As. (If you are working in the TCM lab, save the file into the F drive.)
  4. Note: If you want to save this project as a template, change the name from to project1.tmp.

  5. To open the master page, click on View and then on Master Pages.
  6. Since you want to create a standard glossary page, you will need to add columns to our master page. Click on Format and then click on Page Layout, and then on Column Layout.

  7. In the Column Layout box, type in the number 2 to create 2 columns. Press the Update Entire Flow button.
Note: We will use the default settings for Margins and Width. However, if you want to change the settings of your page layout, go ahead and type in 1.25 for the Top and Bottom margins.

Adding Graphics

On this glossary page, you will create a graphic box to place the graphic on the master page.
  1. Click on Graphics and then click on Tools.
  2. The standard tool box will open up.

  3. Click on the Graphics Frame tool button ().
  4. Draw a small picture box in the upper left corner of the page outside the main text box.
  5. Now, you can paste in a graphic. Click here to copy a small graphic.

  6. Paste the graphic in the box.
  7. Click on View and then click on Body Pages to view your page. Notice that you can't move the graphic on the Body Page.

Adding Headers and Footers

Let's delete the existing header and make our own header box.
  1. Click on View and click on Master Pages.
  2. Click on the header box and press Delete.
  3. Click on the Text Frame button ().
  4. Draw a header box 7 - 1/2 inches by 1/2 inches.
  5. In the Header box, type Glossary.
  6. Format the word Glossary by highlighting the text and clicking on Format. Apply this style: Bold, Arial, 26 pt.
  7. View your header from the Body Page. If you don't like the graphic so close to the heading, try moving it around in the master page, or just delete it.
  8. Now, let's modify the existing footer and add page numbers.

  9. Go back to the Master Page and click on the footer box with the Select Object arrow().
  10. Drag the box up 1/8 of an inch and drag the box down 1/8 of an inch. This will widen the box by 1/4.
  11. Click on Special and then on Variable.

  12. Click on Current Page # and press Insert.
  13. Note: If you want to learn how to add and modify different variables, see the FrameMaker tutorial on Autonumbers, Variable Text and Version Control.

  14. Now, view the Body Page.


Using Master Pages

Now that you designed a master page, how do you use it?
  1. First, make sure you are on the body page.
  2. Click on Format and then on Master Page Usage.
  3. Click on the Custom menu and select Glossary.
  4. Note: If you are working on a book, or a large document with different layouts, you will see the complete listing of master pages in the Custom menu.

  5. Click on Apply.
In this tutorial, you have learned how to build a master page. You have learned how to make columns, add graphics, and build headers all within the master page. Experiment with master pages to build your own unique layout.

If you've completed this tutorial and are taking an online course in print documentation, go to the FrameMaker workshop area of the Print Documentation Chatroom and let the rest of the class know how you did on this tutorial.

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