FrameMaker Tutorial:
Paragraph & Character Tags

Developed for advanced documentation students by
David A. McMurrey Pam Renwick
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 shows you how to create, use, and modify paragraph and character tags. 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, graphics, tables, templates, master pages, 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 Tags

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

A tag is a unique set of formatting characteristics. Textual elements like headers, footers, special notices, labels within illustrations, and figure titles are all examples of tags. A typical heading that uses Arial font, 24 point size, bold, 18 points of space above, and 9 points of space below is a tag. Plain, ordinary body text -- the standard paragraph of a document -- is a tag. The set of formatting characteristics for a bulleted list is another example where a tag is used, as is a numbered list.

In the Introduction and Basics tutorial, you learned about the two types of tags, paragraph and character tags, FrameMaker uses to format text. Paragraph tags allow you to format a paragraph of text. Character tags, on the other hand, allow you to format a character or characters within a paragraph without changing the entire paragraph. Take a look at any document and count the different tags that you see.

Tags are valuable because:

If you design your document properly, you shouldn't have to manually create any textual elements; the tags should be set up, ready and waiting. Of course, when you create a first-draft, it's hard to foresee all the tags you may need. But, instead of manually changing a paragraph to be indented and to use a smaller type size, you can name the paragraph format as a tag.

In simple documents, such as letters and memos, you press the Enter key twice to create a blank line between paragraphs. However, when you create a professionally designed document, you rarely press Enter to create space between textual elements. You also rarely use the spacebar to create horizontal space, or even use tabs. All the formatting and alignment details should be already specified in the tags for that document.

Using FrameMaker Tags

FrameMaker offers unlimited tags and many templates that contain tags, as well as page layout specifications. Let's explore the tags used in an existing template:
  1. Open FrameMaker.

  2. Choose File > New > Document or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + N.

  3. In the New dialog box, click Explore Standard Templates.

  4. In the Standard Templates dialog box, the left column shows a list of the different types of templates (Business, Reports, etc.) that FrameMaker offers. Click on any one of the templates (Memo, Fax, etc.) and look at the description and preview shown on the right side.

  5. Click More to view the rest of the list.

  6. Under the Book heading, click on Chapter, and then on the right side, click on Show Sample.

  7. Scroll through this sample document, clicking in the document window on the various areas of text and looking at the tag names shown in the Paragraph Format pull-down menu box (next to the tab buttons):

    Paragraph Format menu

  8. Open the Paragraph Catalog by clicking on the paragraph symbol ( Paragraph Catalog button ) in the upper right corner of the document window. In the Paragraph Catalog, you'll see all of the tags that have been designed for the Chapter template.

  9. For fun, place the insertion point in one of the Body paragraphs (click anywhere within the paragraph) and from Paragraph Catalog, click on Figure. Notice the entire paragraph changes to this tag.

  10. When you are ready to exit this sample template, click on the X located in the upper right corner of the document window.

  11. Click No, when asked to save before closing. (Leave the Paragraph Catalog open.)

It may be that one of the existing templates with its own specially designed set of tags is right for the document you are developing. However, it's also useful to know how to create your own tags.

Creating Heading Tags

The logical way to create tags in FrameMaker is to first design the page layout -- decide on the page size, margins, text frames, and so on. However, to keep things simple, let's just create the tags. (You will learn about designing page layouts in the FrameMaker Templates tutorial.)

In this lesson, you will create a new heading tag (style) by modifying one of FrameMaker's existing tags. First, open and save a new document:

  1. Choose File > New > Document (Ctrl + N).

  2. From the New dialog box, click on Portrait to create a new blank document (i.e., one that uses no templates).

  3. Choose File > Save (Ctrl + S).

  4. In the File name box, type Style1 and click Save.

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

Now, type the heading's text and apply an existing tag to the text:
  1. Type My Heading (do not press Enter).

  2. With the insertion point still in the line you just typed, click on Heading1 in the Paragraph Catalog.

Modify the format of Heading1:
  1. Choose Format > Paragraphs > Designer. (Ctrl + M).

  2. Click the Basic tab and notice you can control indents, margins, and tabs, among other things:

    Basic properties

  3. Now, click the Default Font tab. For Family, select Arial and for Angle, select Italic and any other changes you like. The settings look like this:

    Default Font properties

  4. Click Apply to make your changes take effect. (Don't click Update All; this changes all instances of Heading1.)

Now save this new format as a tag that you can use anytime:
  1. From the Paragraph Designer, click on the Commands pull-down menu (lower left corner) and select New Format.

  2. In the New Format dialog box, type MyHeading1 in the Tag box and make sure Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection are both checked, as follows:

    New Format

    Note: Tag names are case-sensitive. MyHeading1 is not the same as myheading1.

  3. Click Create. The new tag is now available in the Paragraph Catalog.

  4. Click the Basic tab again. Look at the lower right corner of the Paragraph Designer. With the Next Pgf Tag option, you can specify which tag is automatically applied to the next paragraph when you press the Enter key. The checkmark shows this option is activated and the box below shows which tag gets applied:

    Next Pgf:

    In this case, after typing a heading, you normally want a body paragraph to follow the heading.

  5. Close the Paragraph Designer ( X ).

  6. Click on the Save button ( Save File ) to save your document.

Creating Body Text Tags

Creating tags for ordinary body text is pretty much the same as it is for headings:
  1. Press Enter a few times to start another section within your document.

  2. Type three or four lines of text, each separated by only one paragraph return ( ¶ ).

  3. Place the insertion point on the second line, and open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl + M) .

  4. Click the Basic tab and:

    • Change the First and Left Indents to 0.5 inches.
    • Select Justified for Alignment.
    • Type 9 pt for Space Above Pgf and Space Below Pgf.
    • Type 12 pt for Line Spacing.

  5. Click Apply to see how the new format looks.

  6. Save this format. From the Paragraph Designer, click on the Commands pull-down menu and select New Format.

  7. In the New Format dialog box, type MyIndent1 for the tag name and make sure Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection are both checked. Then, click Create.

  8. Next, click the Default Font tab. For Family, select Courier New and for Size, select 10 pt.

  9. Now, click Update All.

  10. Close the Paragraph Designer ( X ).

  11. Save your document again ( Save File ).

Creating Bulleted List Tags

In this section, you will create a tag for a bulleted list and learn how to change the standard bullet symbol. First, create a bulleted list:
  1. Press Enter a few times to start another section within your document.

  2. Type three or four lines of text, each separated by only one paragraph return ( ¶ ).

  3. Place the insertion point in one of the middle lines.

  4. Select Bulleted in the Paragraph Catalog.

  5. Open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl + M).

  6. Click the Basic tab and:

    • Change the First Indent to 1.0 inches and the Left Indent to 1.25 inches.
    • Set a new tab. Under the Tab Stops area, click Edit. In the Edit Tab Stop dialog box, type 1.25 in the New Position box, and then click Continue.

  7. Save this format. From the Paragraph Designer, click on the Commands pull-down menu and select New Format.

  8. In the New Format dialog box, type MyBullet1 in the Tag box and make sure Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection are both checked. Then, click Create.

  9. Close the Paragraph Designer ( X ).

  10. Press Home to move the insertion point to the beginning of the text, then press Tab to move the text way from the bullet symbol.

FrameMaker is not too hospitable about enabling you to change the standard bullet symbol in a bulleted list. The symbols are not easily accessible; they are only in the Quick Reference book and not online. To access a symbol:
  1. From the Windows taskbar, choose Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map.

  2. In the Character Map dialog box, click on the Font pull-down menu and select Wingdings.

  3. Look at the available Wingdings; when you click on a character, the keystroke required to get this character is given in the lower right corner. For this lesson, click on the open square without shadowing (located near the middle of the third row); its keystroke corresponds to the letter o:

    Character Map

  4. Click Close to exit the Character Map dialog box.

In order to use this symbol, you have to first create a character tag that uses the Wingdings font:
  1. Place the insertion point anywhere in your bulleted line.

  2. Choose Format > Characters > Designer (Ctrl + D) to open the Character Designer.

  3. For Family, select Wingdings, and in the Character Tag box, type boxster1.

  4. Press Apply, and when the New Format dialog box appears, click Create.

  5. Close the Character Designer ( X ).

Now activate this symbol in your bulleted list:

  1. Make sure the insertion point is still in the bulleted line and open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl + M).

  2. Click the Numbering tab.

  3. In the text box just below Autonumber Format, delete the \b and type the letter o. The box now reads o\t. Remember the letter o corresponds to the open square symbol with the Wingdings font. The \t indicates a tab.

  4. In the Character Format box to the right of the Building Blocks, select boxster1 from the list. The settings for Numbering properties now look like this:

    Numbering properties

  5. Click Update All to modify MyBullet1. The bullet symbol is now the open square style.

  6. Close the Paragraph Designer ( X ).

  7. Save your document ( Save File ).

Creating Numbered List Tags

In the Introduction & Basics tutorial, you learned how to create numbered lists and how to restart a numbered list to one. You'll probably also encounter situations in which you'll want a lower level, or "nested" list. Typically, a second-level list uses lowercase letters in contrast to the Arabic numerals used in the first-level list, as shown below. In addition, the items in a second-level list are usually indented from the first-level items.

Example of a nested list:

    List example
First, create the first and second-level list items:
  1. Press Enter a few times to start another section within your document.

  2. Type eight lines of text, each separated by only one paragraph return ( ¶ ).

  3. Place the insertion point on your second line of text and select Numbered from the Paragraph Catalog. Repeat this procedure for the third and fourth lines.

  4. Place the insertion point in the fourth line (numbered 3), and open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl + M).

  5. Click the Numbering tab.

  6. In the text box below the Autonumber Format, change <n+> to <a+>. The Autonumber Format box now looks like this:

    Autonumber Format

  7. Click Apply. You'll notice that the number 3 changes to the letter c.

  8. Now, change the letter c to the letter a by changing <a+> to <a=1>, and then click Apply.

    Note: The n specifies Arabic numbers and the a specifies lowercase letters. The =1 specifies that the item is the first value in whatever tag is specified (1, I, A, a, and so on). The + means that the item's value increments by one.

Indent the second-level list:
  1. Click the Basic tab. Notice the text is currently indented to the left by 0.25 inches.

  2. Make sure the insertion point is still positioned in the fourth line (labeled a).

  3. To indent this second-level item, change the First Indent to 0.25 inches and the Left Indent to 0.50.

  4. Also change the 0.25-inch left tab setting to 0.50 inches:

    1. In the Tab Stops area, click on 0.25" L, and then click Edit.
    2. In the New Position box, type 0.50.
    3. Click Continue, then click Apply.

Now, save this second-level list format as Alphanum:
  1. From the Paragraph Designer, click on the Commands pull-down menu and select New Format.

  2. In the New Format dialog box, type Alphanum in the Tag box and make sure Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection are both checked.

  3. Click Create, and then Apply.

Apply the Alphanum tag to the following lines:
  1. Place the insertion point in the fifth line, and click on Alphanum in the Paragraph Catalog. Notice the label did not increment as expected.

  2. To make the label increment as expected, click the Numbering tab in the Paragraph Designer.

  3. In the Autonumber Format box, change <a=1> to <a+>. Then, click Apply. The line correctly increments to the value b.

  4. Now, place the insertion point in the next line, the sixth line, and click on Alphanum in the Paragraph Catalog. Once again, the label doesn't increment correctly -- it's also an a. Follow the previous step to increment this line to its correct value, c.

    Note: A way out of this dilemma is to make the Alphanum tag <a+> and manually change the first Alphanum item to <a=1>. For now, leave the settings as is.

Your list now consists of two Numbered items (1 and 2), then three Alphanum items (a, b, and c). Notice what happens though when you try to apply the Numbered tag to the seventh line:

  1. Place the insertion point in the seventh line.

  2. Click on Numbered from the Paragraph Catalog. Notice the seventh line gets numbered 4 instead of the expected 3. Why? Because 4 and d are the same character in terms of sequence.

To fix this problem, don't manually tag every list item as you did above. Use what FrameMaker calls a series label:
  1. Place the insertion point in the third line (numbered 2).

  2. Click the Numbering tab in the Paragraph Designer. In the Autonumber Format box, type A: in front of the <n+> and click Update All. (If prompted, click Remove Overrides.)

  3. Now, place the insertion point on the fifth line (labeled b). This time in the Autonumber Format box, type B: in front of the <a+> and click on Update All. (If prompted, click on Remove Overrides.)

    You have just created two separate numbering "streams" for the Numbered and Alphanum tags.

  4. With the Paragraph Designer open to Numbering, click on each of the list items and see what the Autonumber Format box looks like.

  5. Close the Paragraph Designer ( X ), and save your document ( Save File ).
This is intended only as a brief overview on how to create numbered lists in FrameMaker. The commands may seem complicated, but once you get familiar with the terminology, FrameMaker provides reliable control over all numbering streams in your document.

For instance, if you have numbered chapters, you can create a C: series label; a F: series label for numbered figures, and a T: series label for numbered tables. For more information on series labels, see the chapter in the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide on formatting text -- specifically, the section on formatting lists.

Creating Special Notice Tags

Technical documents often contain special notices -- notes, such as warning, caution, and danger, that highlight special points or alert you to potential problems. These notices must use a consistent format and style and are especially good candidates for FrameMaker tags.

Create a tag for a warning note:

  1. Press Enter a few times to start another section within your document.

  2. Type one paragraph that's several lines long (do not press Enter, create one long paragraph).

  3. Create a character tag called boldital:

    1. Open the Character Designer (Ctrl + D).
    2. Type boldital in the Character Tag box.
    3. Change Angle to Italic and change Weight to Bold.
    4. Click on the Commands pull-down menu and select New Format. Make sure Stored in Catalog and Applied to Selection are both checked, then click Create.
    5. Close the Character Designer ( X )

  4. Place the insertion point anywhere in your paragraph, and open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl + M).

  5. Click the Basic tab.

  6. Change the Left Indent to 1.0 inches, and leave the other indent settings at zero.

  7. Set a new left-aligned tab. Under the Tab Stops area, click Edit. In the Edit Tab Stops dialog box, type 1.0 in the New Position box, and select Left for Alignment. Then, click Continue.

  8. Save this format. From the Paragraph Designer, click on the Commands pull-down menu and select New Format.

  9. In the New Format dialog box, type Warning1 in the Tag box and make sure Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection are both checked.

  10. Click Create, and then Apply.

  11. Next, click the Numbering tab.

  12. Click on Autonumber Format to activate this option (a checkmark shows it's activated). Then, type Warning:\t in the box below Autonumber Format, and click on the character tag you designed earlier, boldital. Make sure that boldital appears in the Character Format box:

    Character Format

  13. Click Update All to apply the warning tag to your paragraph. Notice how the paragraph aligns to the text, not to the warning label:

    Warning note

  14. Save your document one last time.


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