FrameMaker Tutorial:
Reference 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 FrameMaker tutorial guides you through the steps of working with reference pages. You will learn how to create a reference frame, add boilerplate graphics, and store custom math elements. 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, templates, master pages, cross-references, book building, 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 Reference Pages

Reference pages store the document's boilerplate material or graphics. For example, instead of cutting and pasting a graphic every time you need it, you can place the graphic in a reference frame (an unanchored graphic frame on a reference page) and then use the graphic as a property of a paragraph format.

Reference pages also contain hypertext commands, mappings for HTML conversion, and formatting information. You can store custom math element definitions on reference pages and control how source documents are displayed in hypertext documents.

Viewing Reference Pages

First, get familiar with reference pages. Open a new blank FrameMaker document and display its reference pages:
  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. In the File name box, type refpage.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. To display the reference pages, choose View > Reference Pages.

  7. Click on the Previous/Next Page buttons ( Previous/Next Page ) to view the six different reference pages and look at the information that each page contains.

The default elements include tables for HTML mapping elements, heading formatting information for generated lists, and basic line styles. When you create customized reference pages, you may include hypertext commands and definitions of custom math elements. For example, with a little understanding of HTML tagging, you can use the HTML mappings to convert a FrameMaker document to HTML.

Creating Reference Frames

In this section, you will create a reference frame to use as a part of a paragraph format. Specifically, you will create a formatting element called chapter dots. Instead of the traditional solid black rule underneath the chapter title, you will create a dotted line.

Create the reference frame:

  1. With the reference pages displayed, choose Graphics > Tools. The tools palette opens up.

  2. Scroll to the first reference page.

  3. Click on the Graphic Frame tool ( Graphic Frame tool ) and draw a graphic frame, approximately 1.25" long by 0.25" high, anywhere on the first reference page. (Remember the status bar shows the frame's dimensions, as you draw.)

  4. After the frame is drawn, the Frame Name dialog box appears. Type in chapter dots for the name:

    Frame Name box

  5. Click Set.

  6. Click on the Text Line tool ( ).

  7. Place the insertion point inside the graphic frame near the left edge and type six periods ( ...... ).

  8. Change the periods' format. Select the periods and choose Format > Characters > Designer.

  9. From the pull-down menus, change Family to Symbol, Size to 52 pt, and Weight to Bolded, then click Apply.

  10. Click on the Close to close the Character Designer window.

  11. Click on the Save button ( Save File ) to save the changes.

Apply the reference frame to a paragraph:
  1. Choose View > Body Pages.

  2. Click in the document window and type Chapter Name. Do not press Enter (leave the text cursor on this line).

  3. Open the Paragraph Designer. Choose Format > Paragraphs > Designer.

  4. Click on the Default Font tab, and change Family to Arial and Weight to Bold, then click Apply.

  5. Click on Advanced tab, and change Frame Below Pgf to chapter dots.

  6. Give this paragraph a new name. In the Paragraph Tag box, type Chapter. The settings for the Paragraph Designer should look like this:

    Paragraph Designer

  7. Click Apply.

  8. When the New Format dialog box appears, make sure Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection are both checked, then click Create. You have now created this graphic element as part of a paragraph tag named Chapter:

    New Graphic Element

  9. Click on the Close to close the Paragraph Designer window.

Creating Boilerplate Graphics

In this section, you will create a reference frame to store a boilerplate graphic. Boilerplate graphics help you create a consistent visual format for your readers. Specifically, you will create a frame to hold a warning graphic. Every time you use the warning graphic, it will appear in the same place on the page.

First, create a new reference page:

  1. Choose View > Reference Pages.

  2. Choose Special > Add Reference Page .

  3. Type in boilerplate for the name.

    Add Reference Page

  4. Click Add.

Now, make the reference page have the same column format as the body pages:

  1. Choose View > Master Pages.

  2. Click on the main text frame's border with the Select Object tool ( Select Object )--the selection handles appear.

  3. Press Ctrl + C to copy the text frame.

  4. Choose View > Reference Pages.

  5. Press Ctrl + V to paste the text frame on the reference page. Now, the reference page has the same exact column format as the body page.

  6. Click outside the main text frame to deselect the frame, then click inside the frame's border--the text cursor appears.

  7. Choose Special > Anchored Frame.

  8. From the Anchoring Position pull-down menu, select Outside Text Frame, change the Side to Left, the Distance Above Baseline to -0.50 inches and the Distance from Text Frame to 0.10 inches. For the Size, type 0.75 inches for Width and 1.0 inches for Height.

    The settings should look like this:

    Anchored Frame box

  9. Click New Frame. The frame box appears on the page.

Now, paste in a graphic:
  1. Click here to copy a graphics file named warning.gif.

  2. To copy the graphic file:

    1. Using your mouse, right-click on top of the image.
    2. Click Save Image As....
    3. Select the directory to save the file and click Save.

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

  4. In the Import dialog box, click on warning.gif and click Import.

  5. In the Imported Graphic Scaling dialog box, select Custom dpi and type 95, then click Set to insert the graphic in the frame.

Finally, add some text:

  1. Click on the Text Line tool ( ).

  2. Place the insertion point inside the anchored frame underneath the warning symbol, and type Warning.

  3. Select the word Warning and apply this style: Arial, 10 pt, Bold. Choose Format > Font > Arial, Format > Size > 10 pt, and Format > Style > Bold.

Copying Boilerplate Graphics

In this section, you will copy the boilerplate graphic to the document's body page. To copy the warning graphic:

  1. Click on the anchored frame's border--the selection handles will appear.

  2. Press Ctrl + C to copy the anchored frame and its contents.

  3. Choose View > Body Pages.

  4. Click in the document window and press Enter to create a new paragraph.

  5. Change the paragraph format to Body. From the Paragraph Format pull-down menu, click on Body.

    Paragraph format pull-down menu

  6. Press Enter four or five more times.

  7. Now, type Improper use will result in injury! and do not press Enter (leave the text cursor on this line).

  8. Press Ctrl + V to paste the anchored frame in the body page. The warning graphic should be copied to the left margin, as specified on the reference page:

    Warning Note

When you need this graphic in your document, you can simply copy it from the reference page. FrameMaker automatically pastes the graphic in the location specified on the reference page. This is why it is known as a "boilerplate graphic".

Storing Custom Math Elements

If you need to create a math element not found on the Equations Palette, you will need to create a reference page to store the new element. This section shows you how to create a reference page to store custom math elements.

To create the reference page:

  1. Choose View > Reference Pages.

  2. Choose Special > Add Reference Page.

  3. Type in FrameMath for the name.

  4. Click Add.

  5. Now, click on the Graphics Frame tool ( Graphic Frame tool ).

  6. Draw a small graphics frame on the reference page.

  7. In the New Frame Name box, type in a name for the math element you want to create and click Set.

  8. Create the new math element for your document. For more information about Equations, see the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide or Adobe FrameMaker Classroom in a Book.

In this tutorial, you have learned to create a reference frame, a reference page, and boilerplate graphics. You have also learned how to use your reference frame and graphics as an element in your paragraph formats. Experiment with reference pages and build your own unique elements.


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