Designing templates in FrameMaker (Part 4)

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.

In this post, we will discuss numbered lists. Numbered lists are typically used for steps. Something like:

  1. Open the “other program”
  2. Try to work with numbered lists.
  3. Control your anger.
  4. Switch to FrameMaker.
  5. Live happily ever after.

You see, numbered lists in FrameMaker really work. You just need to set them up correctly, once, and as step 5 says, live happily ever after.

So let us set up a numbered list. For this, we will use a little bit of mathematics—just a little bit, I assure you, and there will be no pain.

In FrameMaker, a numbered list comprises two paragraph tags – the first one to set up step 1 and the second tag to set up the subsequent steps (2, 3, and so on). Why? Well, this is because we define the first step using the building block n=1 (n as in number, so it means that the first step starts with the number 1). The subsequent steps are defined using the building block <n+>, which instructs FrameMaker to increment the number in previous step. So, the first step always has the number 1, and the subsequent steps are numbered 2, 3, and so on. Watertight logic, this, and there is no scope for confusion or things going wrong.

Here is how you specify the building blocks for the two numbered lists.

The paragraph tag to be used for the first step has the numbering properties as follows:

And, the paragraph tag to be used for the subsequent steps has the numbering properties as follows:

I know what you are going to ask now: “What is that N: thingy there? You said this was going to be easy!”

It is easy, actually. The N: thingy is something like an identification badge. For example, you can have a numbered list with numeric characters (1, 2, 3…) and another one with Roman numerals (I, II, III). Different series for these two help FrameMaker to determine which is which. The series label is an alphabet, following by a colon, for example, A: or H:. You specify the same series label for both the paragraph tags. You can use any alphabet character to identify a series.  A: is as good as Z:.

Do as the Romans do

Wait, you say. How about using alphabets instead of numbers—steps that start with A, B, C instead of 1, 2, 3…? Or how about using Roman numerals: I, II, III, and so on? No problems about that. Instead of specifying “n”, you specify “A” or “a” to use alphabets (upper- or lower-case respectively) and “R” or “r” for Roman numerals (again, upper- or lower case).

Here is how you set up two paragraph tags (remember, we need two paragraph tags—one for the first step and the other for the subsequent steps):

Numbers within numbers (or nested numbered lists)

One day, your boss will come up to you and say, “This numbered list is OK, but the senior management wants numbers within numbers. Please send them to me before the end of the day.” What the boss means is this:

See the steps a, b, and c in step 4? They are the numbers within numbers. For this, you create two additional paragraph tags to use for sub-steps a, b, and c in step 4. Here are the building blocks for all the four paragraph tags:

First step: A:<n=1>

Next step: A:<n+>

First sub-step: S:<a=1>

Next sub-step: S:<a+>

See, how easy FrameMaker makes it for you leave for the day.

Numbered headings

Now, suppose you want to create a formal-looking report that has headings numbered like these:

I could go on and add more headings, but you get the point. (If you notice the absence of humor from the headings, it is because this is a formal-looking official report. No humor allowed, sorry).

Here are the building blocks:

Heading: H:<n+>

Sub-heading: <n>.<n+>

Sub-sub-heading: <n>.<n>.<n+>

That’s it. And I promise you it works or your get your money back. Try it and you will like it.

In the next blog post in this series, we will talk about headings that have some specific text added to them automatically. Stay tuned!

Earlier in this blog post series…

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