FrameMaker Tutorial:
Master Pages

Developed for advanced documentation students by
David A. McMurrey Dianne Shelton
Jacqueline J. Pulido ---

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


The following tutorial guides you through the steps of creating master pages in FrameMaker. The tutorial shows you how to create columns, build headers and footers, and insert graphics all within the master page. This tutorial is provided for advanced documentation students on a free, as-is basis, without guarantee of accuracy. If you see any errors or think we should have included other tasks, let us know!

Other tutorials focus on the basics, styles, graphics, tables, cross-references, book building, variable text and conversion techniques. 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.

The tutorial's instructions are based on FrameMaker version 6.0 for Windows. You may encounter some minor differences if you are using another 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 Master Pages

FrameMaker documents are made up of three types of pages--body pages, reference pages, and master pages. When you create a new document, you will automatically have a master page, along with a reference page, and a body page.

Master pages contain background text and graphics and specify the page layout for the document pages. 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 guides you through the steps of creating a master page. You can design any custom format, but for learning purposes, you will design a generic glossary page.

Create the glossary master page:

  1. Open FrameMaker.

  2. Choose File > New > Document.

  3. From the New dialog box, click Portrait to create a new blank document with the default FrameMaker properties.

  4. Choose File > Save As.

  5. Save the document as a template. In the File name box, type glossary.fm and click Save.

    Note: If you are working in the TCM computer lab, use the A: drive to save your file on a diskette.

  6. Hold down the Enter key to create two to three pages filled with carriage returns.

  7. View the master page. Choose View > Master Pages. (A single-sided document has a right master page only; the right master page contains a header frame, main text frame, and footer frame.)

  8. Create a new master page. Choose Format > Page Layout > New Master Page.

  9. In the Add Master Page dialog box, type in the new name, Glossary, and click Add.

    Add Master Page

    Notice the status bar shows the name of the master page that is currently displayed.

    Status Bar

  10. Since you are creating a glossary master page, you will need to design a page layout with two columns. Hold down the Ctrl key and click inside the main text frame--the selection handles will appear around the frame, showing it's selected.

  11. Choose Format > Customize Layout > Customize Text Frame.

  12. In the Columns area, type in 2 in the Number box to create two columns and then, click Set. The main text frame for the glossary master page now has two columns.

    Custom Text Frame

  13. Click outside the main text frame to deselect the frame.

Adding Headers and Footers

In this section, you will learn how to customize headers and footers in the master page. First, delete the existing header frame and create a new one:
  1. Hold down the Ctrl key and click inside the existing header frame--the selection handles will appear.

  2. Press Delete to remove the existing header frame.

  3. Choose Graphics > Tools (or click on Graphics Tool icon along the right edge of the FrameMaker document window).

  4. From the Tools Palette, click on the Text Frame tool ( ).

  5. Draw a new header frame approximately 7 inches long by 1/2 inches high. (As you draw, the lower left corner of the status bar shows the frame's current dimensions.)

  6. When you are finished drawing the header frame, the Add New Text Frame dialog box appears. Background Text should be already selected. Click Add to insert the header frame.

  7. Click outside the header frame to deselect the frame.

  8. Click in the header frame and type Glossary.

  9. Select the text, Glossary, and make it bold, then choose Format > Font > Arial, and Format > Size > 24 pt.

Now, modify the existing footer and add page numbers:

  1. Scroll to the footer frame.

  2. Hold down the Ctrl key and click inside the footer frame--the selection handles will appear.

  3. Widen the footer frame. Choose Graphics > Scale.

  4. In the Scale dialog box, change the Height to 0.4 inches and click Scale.

  5. Click outside the footer frame to deselect the frame.

  6. Click in the footer frame and choose Special > Variable.

  7. In the Variable dialog box, click on Current Page # and click Insert.

    Variable dialog box

    Note: If you want to learn how to add and modify different variables, see the FrameMaker tutorial on Autonumbers, Variable Text and Version Control.

Adding Graphics

Along with adding background text, you can also add graphics to master pages. To place a graphic on your master page:
  1. Scroll to the top of the glossary master page.

  2. From the Tools Palette, click on the Graphic Frame tool ( ).

  3. Draw a small graphic frame in the upper left corner of the master page outside the main text frame.

  4. Copy a small graphics file named image9RM.JPG. Click here to copy the graphic.

  5. Import the graphic in frame you just created. Choose File > Import > File.

  6. In the Import dialog box, click on image9RM.JPG and click Import.

  7. If the Unknown File Type dialog box appears, make sure JPEG is selected and click Convert. When the Imported Graphic Scaling dialog box appears, click Set. The graphic is now inserted in the glossary master page.

Using Master Pages

Now that you designed the glossary master page, you can apply it to the body pages.
  1. View the body pages. Choose View > Body Pages. (Remember that the body page currently uses the right master page.)

  2. Choose Format > Page Layout > Master Page Usage.

  3. From the Master Page dialog box, click on the Custom pull-down menu and select Glossary. In the Apply To area of the Master Page Usage dialog box, you can specify the document pages that will use the glossary master page. For now, apply to Current Page.

    Master Page Usage

  4. Click Apply. The current body page now uses Glossary as its master page.

    Note: If you are working on a book, or a large document with different layouts, you will see the complete listing of the available master pages in the Custom pull-down menu.

  5. On the body page, notice the graphic, header text, and footer text are in the background and you cannot move or edit them. To edit this material, you need to view the glossary master page.

  6. Scroll through the rest of your document. Since you applied the glossary master page to the current page only, the other pages still use the right master page format. Apply the glossary master page format to the rest of your document.
In this tutorial, you have learned how to build a master page. You have learned how to add columns, build headers and footers, and insert graphics all within the master page. Experiment with master pages to build your own unique layout.


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