On naming FrameMaker formats


Formats, also commonly called styles, are the mainstay of FrameMaker documents. A little thought applied to naming formats carefully while designing templates could save writers a lot of time later. Well-named FrameMaker styles also save time and when you choose to migrate your documentation to Structured FrameMaker, since styles can be mapped more readily with their corresponding XML elements.

In particular, the following recommendations around naming FM formats are useful:

  • Name related formats consistently. For example, H1, H2, and H3 and not Heading1, H2, and Head 3.
  • Use similarly-named formats only when required. For example, Head 1, Heading 1, and H1 in quick succession in the formats list could be confusing. If there’s a good reason for having similarly-named formats, it should be evident by simply looking at the format names. Examples: Head1.StartPage and Head1.TableText.
  • Name formats (especially character formats) after their intended purpose rather than how they format text. For example, Emphasis rather than Italics and Strong instead of Bold.
  • Name frequently-used formats such that they appear on top of their alphabetical group. For example, H1 will appear in the list above all styles that begin with H. Since format names are case sensitive, H1 precedes h1 in the format list.
  • To move frequently-used formats to top of the format list, precede their names with a period (.). For example, .Note and .Tip may be formats that writers use frequently.
  • Precede the names of infrequently-used formats with a tilde (~) or z to move them to the bottom of the formats list. zzzz…

Although elements in structured authoring environments work differently than formats, you will find some of these naming conventions useful in naming elements as well. This topic in FrameMaker 10 Web Help gives you more information on to creating and managing paragraph and character styles. You can create new styles in FM10 in much the same way as you did in earlier FrameMaker versions. Just that the redesigned Paragraph Designer makes things a lot easier and intuitive! Also, the Paragraph Designer in FM9 is part of a larger group of docked panels that make it easier for you to create templates. Besides formats, you can manage conditional text tags, tables, markers, and cross-references all from this docked group of panels. Catch a glimpse of it below!

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