Designing Print Documentation:
FrameMaker Tutorial—Templates

Developed for Advanced Documentation Students
David A. McMurrey
Pam Renwick

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

The following informal introduction to FrameMaker shows you how to create, use, and modify templates in FrameMaker. If you see any errors or think I should have included other tasks, let me 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. Other tutorials focus on basics, styles, tables, graphics, cross-references, book building, variable text, and the like. (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 later version.

Note: For the sake of brevity, we use an abbreviated style for menu commands throughout this lesson. For example, "Choose File > New" means "Choose New from the File menu".

About Templates

If you are not familiar with using and creating templates in a word-processing or desktop publishing application, read this section.

A template is both a collection of styles, a page layout definition (page size, margins, etc.), and other elements. Like styles, templates are valuable because:

Exploring FrameMaker Templates

FrameMaker offers many templates that contain styles along with page-layout specifications. Explore the styles in the various templates:
  1. Open FrameMaker.

  2. Click on File > New, and then in the dialog box, Explore Standard Templates.

  3. The left column of the screen shows a list of the different types of templates that Frame offers. Click on any one and look at the description and preview shown on the right side of the screen. Use the More command button to view the rest of the list.

  4. Under Special, on the left side of the screen, click on Newsletter, and then click on Show sample.

  5. Scroll through this sample document, clicking on the various areas of text and looking at the style name in the bottom left corner of the FrameMaker window.

  6. To look at the page layout: click on Format > Pages > Normal Page Layout. Notice how the three columns are defined.

  7. Click on the paragraph symbol in the upper right corner of the FrameMaker document window. In the Paragraph Catalog popup menu, you'll see all of the styles that have been designed for the document template.

  8. For fun, place your text cursor in an ordinary body paragraph and click on a different style in the Paragraph Catalog popup. This will change the style of the paragraph. When you are ready to exit the sample, click on the X at the upper right hand corner of the document window.

It may be that one of the templates with its own specially designed set of styles is right for a document that you are working. In any case, it's useful to know how to design your own templates.

Using FrameMaker Templates

Using a FrameMaker template is easy:
  1. Click on File > New then click on the Explore Standard Templates command button at the bottom of the dialog box.

  2. Select Newsletter again, but this time click on Create.

  3. Notice that you cannot change the masthead (which contains the title Views, and other such material). To change this, you have to go to the documents master page. To do this, click on View > Master Pages. There are four separate master pages used by this newsletter. Scroll to the master page containing the title Views. Change the company name to your name and change the title to whatever you like, and then return to the body pages by clicking on View > Body Pages.

  4. Exit the newsletter template without saving.

We'll get into using master pages like this to create background text next.

Creating a FrameMaker Template

Let's create a template in FrameMaker. To make it interesting, imagine that we are creating a template for a quick reference booklet that will be 20 pages long.

  1. Open FrameMaker, and then click File > New.

  2. Create a blank document (one that uses no templates) by clicking on Portrait in the New dialog box.

  3. Give the file an identifiable name (for example, qref.tem) by clicking on File > Save As. (If you are working in the TCM lab, save the file into your local drive).

  4. Start setting up the template by defining the page size and margins. Click on Format > Page Layout > Page Size. Set the width to 4 inches and the height to 8 inches. Specify Pagination to be Double-sided with the first page to be right-sided. Click on the Set button.

  5. To set the top and bottom margins, click on Format > Page Layout > Column Layout. Set the top and bottom margins to 0.40, the inside margin to 0.50, and the outside margin to 0.25 inches. Click on the Update Entire Flow button.

  6. When you press Update Entire Flow, you'll next be looking at your master page layout. Press and hold the Enter key until you create a second page (you are filling the page with carriage returns). Notice how the width of the left margin varies depending on whether it's inside or outside. Click on View > Body Pages and look at the difference between the two. Notice that the Headers and Footers do not display on the Body pages. These headers and footers are in the background.

  7. One of the nice things about templates is that you can text for the headers and footers, including page numbers, in the background. To do this, click on View > Master Pages. You'll see header and footer frames at the top and bottom of the two master pages, one for the left page and one for the right.

  8. Click in the right-page header frame; type Perl Reference Guide. Make it bold, italic, then click on Format > Font > Arial, and Format > Size > 9 points. Keep it left aligned. The alignment icon is the second button to the left of the tab buttons. Click on this button and choose left aligned from the list.

  9. Click in the left-page header frame; type Perl Version 4.109. Make it bold, italic, then click on Format > Font > Arial, and Format > Size > 9 points. Make this one right aligned, click on the alignment icon to the left of the tab icons and choose right aligned from the list.

  10. If you are ambitious (or feeling lucky), try drawing a solid ruled line beneath both of the header frames you just put text in. Click on Graphics > Tools (or click on the triangle icon along the right edge of the FrameMaker document window). Click on the straight line toward the top of the graphics toolbar, and draw your lines!

  11. Now for some page numbers. Position the cursor in the footer frame in the right page type Page. Click on Format > Headers & Footers, and then on Insert Page #. Now, highlight the footer and make it the same format at the headers (Arial, 9 point, bold, italics). Do the same thing in the left-page footer frame; only make the footer right-aligned.

  12. Now, go back to the body pages by clicking on View and then on Body Pages. Take a look at your template now. Hold down the Enter key to create several new pages filled with carriage returns; notice how the headers alternate and the page number increments.

  13. Save and close the quick-reference template you just created

Using a Custom FrameMaker Template

If you created that custom template for the quick-reference document in the proceeding, you're all set to use it now.

  1. Start a brand new file by clicking on File > New.

  2. Use the directory box to locate the directory in which you save the template. In the box under Use Template:, select the quick-reference template. (Ignore the ones with % in them; those are backups.)

  3. Click on New at the bottom of the dialog box. You'll see a copy of your template, ready to use.

If your instructor or syllabus requires it, continue with FrameMaker Templates Practice.

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.

This information is provided and maintained by David A. McMurrey. For information on use, customization, or copies, e-mail