Designing templates in FrameMaker (Part 2)


In this detailed blog post series, Asit Pant, a veteran technical communicator and FrameMaker community member, guides you through the main steps in the process of creating a FrameMaker template. The information in this series is targeted mainly toward creating unstructured templates, but many parts of it also apply to structured templates.

The previous post in this series provided an overview of templates and explained how to use the paragraph designer. Thanks to all those who appreciated the post; this keeps the motivation going!

I heard from people asking me to me to explain auto-numbering in detail, with real-world examples. Your wish being my command, that is what we will do in this post: look at examples of numbered and bulleted lists, and more.

A quick recap: Use the numbering properties tab of the paragraph designer to design paragraph formats for:

  • Bulleted lists
  • Numbered lists
  • Paragraphs with standard text that appears at the beginning, for example “NOTE”.

The under-the-hood mechanism that makes these lists possible is called Autonumbering. Autonumbering is a way to create (and increment when required) characters, numbers, and text that get affixed to the paragraph. Let us dive right into examples that will make all this clear.

Bulleted lists

First, let us create the format for a bulleted list. This should be easy. Well, almost!

Let us get going. I will explain the concepts as we go along.

  1. Create a new paragraph format:
    • From the Commands dropdown list select New Command.
    • Enter a name in the New Format dialog box.
    • Click Create.
  2. In the paragraph designer, click the numbering tab.
  3. From the Building Blocks list, select the bullet character (.) and \t.

Umm, what are those building blocks that we just selected? Technically speaking, they are building blocks of the list. The bullet character is, well, the bullet character for the list. The \t building block inserts a tab after the bullet. Why do you need a tab? It is so that there can be an appropriate space between the bullet character and the text that follows it.

If you do not insert a tab, the bulleted will appear like this:

•Remind the subject matter expert (for the tenth time) to send review comments

•Run the latest build of the tool and capture screenshots again

•Attend meetings for the rest of the day

Whereas you want it to look like:

  • Remind the subject matter expert (for the tenth time) to send review comments
  • Run the latest build of the tool and capture screenshots again
  • Attend meetings for the rest of the day

Even though using more spacing does not change the situation (you still have to capture the screenshots again, and the less said about the other two items the better), it makes the list look elegant. And this is where tabs come in. Tabs are all about elegance, you see. To set a tab, head to the Basic Properties of the paragraph designer (click the leftmost icon displayed at the top of the paragraph Designer) and click Edit to create a new tab. For details of creating tabs, see the “Formatting the TOC” section in this blog post.

So, are we done? Well, I had said creating bullets is almost easy. There is one more thing you need to take care of: Indents. To explain, let us expand the previous example:

Remind the subject matter expert (for the tenth time) to send review comments

Run the latest build of the tool and capture screenshots again. What? In the last meeting you
were told there would be no more changes?

Attend meetings for the rest of the day

You see what I mean? The text does not wrap correctly in the second line of the second bullet. But, help is at hand, in the friendly neighborhood Basic Properties tab. Set a left indent value equal to the value of the first tab stop, and you are done.

Here is the situation, neatly packaged; I mean the list, nicely formatted :

  • Remind the subject matter expert (for the tenth time) to send review comments
  • Run the latest build of the tool and capture screenshots again. What? In the last meeting you were told there will be no more changes?
  • Attend meetings for the rest of the day

Sub-bullets

Want even more? OK how about sub-bullets. Something like:

  • Remind the subject matter expert (for the tenth time) to send review comments
    • Note to myself: Remember to attach chocolate brownies with the draft
  • Run the latest build of the tool and capture screenshots again. What? In the last meeting you were told there will be no more changes?
    • Lesson learnt: Pay attention to what people do, not what they say.
  • Attend meetings for the rest of the day

For this, create a paragraph to use as a sub-bullet. Typically, the bullet character of the sub-bullet starts right below where the text of the bullet starts. For this, make the left indent of the sub-bullet have the same value as the first tab stop entry of the main bullet.

That’s all for now. In the next blog post in this series, we will learn how to change the bullet character. Stay tuned!

, , ,