FrameMaker 7.0 Tutorial:
Paragraph and Character Tags

Developed for advanced documentation students by
David A. McMurrey Jana Owens
Spring 2004

For additional study materials, refer to the FrameMaker resource page. Got a question about this tutorial?
Post it in the FrameMaker FAQ


FrameMaker version 9 tutorials are now available.

This tutorial is provided for advanced documentation students on a free, as-is basis, without guarantee of accuracy. If you find any errors or think we should include other tasks, let us know!

This tutorial discusses the following topics:

Subsequent tutorials focus on tables, anchored frames, graphics, templates, master pages, reference pages, cross-references, tables of contents, indexes, variable text, book building, conversion techniques, and structured documents. These tutorials provide an overview of each topic discussed. If you required information about advanced FrameMaker topics, refer to the Adobe FrameMaker User Guide or Adobe FrameMaker Classroom in a Book for the current version of FrameMaker.

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

About Tags

A tag is a set of text formatting characteristics that is applied to textual elements, such as headers, footers, special notices, labels within illustrations, and figure and table titles. For example, the set of formatting characteristics that make up a bulleted or numbered list is a tag. Tags are valuable because:

Tags save time. Instead of applying a set of formatting characteristics to a selection of text every time you want to create a heading, you can simply select the tag name and apply it to the text.

Tags provide consistency. If you work on large documents over a long period of time, or work with other people on the same document, it is difficult to ensure that textual elements are consistent throughout the document. Tags make it easy to maintain consistency.

FrameMaker provides two types of tags: paragraph tags and character tags. These tags are essential to the professional technical writer.

Paragraph tags allow you to format a paragraph of text and assign it a name so that you can use the same format on other paragraphs within your document. This is very similar to the concept of styles in other desktop publishing applications. Paragraph tags affect an entire paragraph, and every paragraph must have a tag associated with it.

Character tags, on the other hand, allow you to format a character or characters within a paragraph without changing the entire paragraph. For example, you can use 11-point Courier New to differentiate code samples from body text. It is much easier to select a character tag called Code than to select Courier New and 11-point for each occurrence of sample code. Character tags affect only the selected text.

Opening the Paragraph and Character Designers

The Paragraph and Character Designers are used to apply, modify, and create tags.

To open the Paragraph Designer, select Format > Paragraphs > Designer.

The Paragraph Designer appears.

To open the Character Designer, select Format > Character > Designer.

The Character Designer appears.

Opening the Paragraph and Character Catalogs

The Paragraph and Character Catalogs are used to apply tags.

To open the Paragraph Catalog, select Format > Paragraphs > Catalog.

The Paragraph Catalog appears.

Tip: To open the Paragraph Catalog, you can also click located on the right side of the document window.

To open the Character Catalog, select Format > Character > Catalog.

The Character Catalog appears.

Tip: To open the Character Catalog, you can also click located on the right side of the document window.

Applying FrameMaker Tags

FrameMaker provides a default set of paragraph and character tags. When you create a new document, these default tags are displayed in the Paragraph and Character Catalogs.

To apply paragraph tags:

  1. Open FrameMaker, and create a new document.

  2. Within the document, type Introduction.

  3. Open the Paragraph Catalog.

  4. Place your cursor within the first line of text, and select Heading1 from the Paragraph Catalog.
The line of text changes to the selected format.

To apply numbered list tags:

  1. Within your document, type eight lines of text. (Press Enter after each line.)

  2. Place your cursor within the first line of text.

  3. From the Paragraph Catalog, select Numbered1.

  4. Select the remaining lines of text, and select Numbered.

The text changes to a numbered list.

Note: To prevent the numbering from continuing through subsequent numbered list, you must start each list with the Numbered1 paragraph tag.

To apply character tags:

  1. Within your document, select a single word, and open the Character Catalog.

  2. From the Character Catalog, select Emphasis.
The text changes to the select format.

Experment by applying other paragraph and character tags to your text.

Creating Paragraph Tags

You can modify existing FrameMaker tags to provide additional styles. In this tutorial, you modify an existing paragraph tag to create a custom heading tag.

To create a custom tag:

  1. Within your document, type Paragraph and Character Tags. (Do not press Enter.)

  2. Place your cursor within the line you just typed, and select Heading1 from the Paragraph Catalog.

  3. Open the Paragraph Designer, and select the Basic tab.

  4. In the Paragraph Tag pull-down menu, type MyHeading1.

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

  5. From the New Format dialog box, click Create. (Make sure the Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection check boxes are selected.)

  6. From the Space area, select 1 Line from the Above Pgf and Below Pgf pull-down menus.

  7. From the Line Spacing area, select Single.

  8. From the Next Pgf Tag pull-down menu, select Indented, and click Update All.

  9. Select the Default Font tab.

  10. From the Family pull-down menu, select Arial, and then select 18.0 pt from the Size pull-down menu.

  11. Click Update All.

    The new tag is applied to your text and is now available from the Paragraph Catalog.

You can use the steps in this exercise to create other tags, such as heading tags, body tags, and tags for indented text. Experiment with other FrameMaker tags by changing the various settings in the Paragraph Designer.

Creating Character Tags

You can create custom character tags to use with custom paragraph tags. In this exercise, you create a custom character tag to use in the next exercise.

To create a custom character tag:

  1. Open the Character Designer.

  2. In the Character Tag pull-down menu, type Wingding.

  3. From the New Format dialog box, click Create. (Make sure the Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection check boxes are selected.)

  4. From the Family pull-down menu, select Wingding.

  5. Click Update All.

    The new tag is applied to your text and is now available from the Character Catalog.

Creating Bulleted List Tags

To create bullet tags, you must apply a special formatting feature known as building blocks. Building blocks include bullets, tabs, numbers, letters, and other elements that are applied automatically to paragraph formats. In this exercise, you create a custom bullet tag by changing the standard bullet symbol.

To create a bulleted list tag:

  1. Type several lines of text within your document. (Press Enter after each line.)

  2. Select the text that you just created, and select Bulleted from the Paragraph Catalog.

  3. Open the Paragraph Designer, and select the Basic tab.

  4. In the Paragraph Tag pull-down menu, type MyBullet1.

  5. From the New Format dialog box, click Create. (Make sure the Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection check boxes are selected.)

  6. In the Indents area, type 1.0 in the First box and 1.25 in the Left box

  7. In the Tab Stops area, double-click 0.25" L.

    The Edit Tab Stop dialog box appears.


  8. In the New Position box, type 1.25, and click Continue.

  9. Click Update All.

  10. Select the Numbering tab, and type F\t in the Autonumber Format box.

  11. From the Character Format list, select Wingding. (Wingding is the character format that you created in the previous exercise.)

  12. Click Update All.

    Your bulleted list should look similar to the following.

Experiment with creating your own bulleted lists.

Tip: You can use other font characters in your bulleted list by copying the character from the Windows Character Map. To copy characters from the Character Map.

  1. From the Windows taskbar, select Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Character Map.

  2. In the Character Map dialog box, select a font from the Font pull-down menu.

  3. Within the character map, select a character.

  4. Click Select, and then click Copy.

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

  6. Within the Numbering tab in the Paragraph Designer, paste the character in the Autonumbering Format box.

Creating Ordered List Tags

Ordered list tags use special building blocks called counters and series labels to increment list items.

Counters increment values in an ordered list and consist of a style indicator and an increment value surrounded by angled brackets; for example, FrameMaker uses the following counters in the default Numbered1 and Numbered paragraph tags:

Series labels identify numbering streams and consist of a letter followed by a colon; for example, FrameMaker uses the following series label in the default TableTitle paragraph format: T:

In this exercise, you modify an existing numbered list to use letters instead of numbers and then apply a series label to identify each numbering stream.

To create ordered list tags:

  1. Within your document, type eight lines of text. (Press Enter after each line.)

  2. Apply the numbered list paragraph format as described in Applying FrameMaker Tags.

  3. Create a new paragraph format to begin the alpha list:

    1. Place your cursor within the fourth line of text, and open the Paragraph Designer.

    2. Select the Numbering tab.

    3. In the Paragraph Tag pull-down menu, type Alpha1.

    4. From the New Format dialog box, click Create. (Make sure the Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection check boxes are selected.)

    5. In the Autonumber Format box, change <n+> to <a=1>.

      The Autonumber Format box should look similar to the following.

      Autonumber Format

    6. Click Update All.

      The number 4 changes to the letter a.

    7. Select the Basic tab.

    8. In the Indents area, type .25 in the First box and .50 in the Left box.

    9. In the Tab Stops area, double-click 0.25" L.

    10. In the Edit Tab Stops dialog box, type .50 in the New Position box.

    11. Click Continue, and then click Update All.

      The line is indented.

  4. Create a new paragraph to continue the alpha list:

    1. Select lines five, six, and seven, and then open the Paragraph Designer.

    2. Select the Numbering tab.

    3. In the Paragraph Tag pull-down menu, type Alpha+.

    4. From the New Format dialog box, click Create. (Make sure the Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection check boxes are selected.)

    5. In the Autonumber Format box, change <n+> to <a+>.

      The Autonumber Format box should look similar to the following.

      Autonumber Format

    6. Click Update All.

    7. Select the Basic tab.

    8. In the Indents area, type .25 in the First box and .50 in the Left box.

    9. In the Tab Stops area, double-click 0.25" L.

    10. In the Edit Tab Stops dialog box, type .50 in the New Position box.

    11. Click Continue, and then click Update All.

      The selected lines indent.

      Your list should look similar to the following.


    Notice that line eight is incorrectly numbered. This happens because FrameMaker does not recognize line eight as being part of the top-level list. You can correct this problem by applying a series label to the paragraph formats that you just created.

  5. Apply a series label to the new paragraph formats:

    1. Place your cursor within the fourth line of text.

    2. In the Paragraph Designer, click the Numbering tab.

    3. In the Autonumber Format box, type A: at the beginning of the line, and click Update All. (If prompted, click Remove Overrides.)

    4. Place your cursor in the fifth line of text.

    5. In the Autonumber Format box, type A: at the beginning of the line, and click Update All. (If prompted, click Remove Overrides.)

Your list should look similar to the following.

Creating Special Notice Tags

Technical documents often contain special notices—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; therefore, they are great candidates for special FrameMaker tags.

To create a special notice tag:

  1. Within your document, type a line of text.

  2. Place your cursor within the line of text, and open the Paragraph Designer.

  3. In the Paragraph Tag pull-down menu, type Warning.

  4. From the New Format dialog box, click Create. (Make sure the Store in Catalog and Apply to Selection check boxes are selected.)

  5. Select the Numbering tab, and type Warning:\t in the Autonumber Format box.

  6. From the Character Format list, select Emphasis, and click Update All.

  7. Select the Basic tab.

  8. In the Indents area, type 1.0 in the Left box.

  9. In the Tab Stops area, double-click New Tab Stop.

  10. In the Edit Tab Stops dialog box, type 1.0 in the New Position field, and click Continue.

  11. Click Update All.

Your text should look similar to the following.

You can also create special formats using the Windows Character Map using the procedure described in Creating Bulleted List Tags. Create your own special notice tag by applying different font characters.

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