Crucial considerations for generating PDF files

When you generate PDF files from FrameMaker documents, you are required to set a number of options in the PDF Setup dialog box. For example, your organization may have customized PDF job options that you need to specify.

PDF-options.jpgFrameMaker 9 documentation has a detailed article on the considerations for generating PDF files. The article also explains how you can optimize the size of the generated PDFs, control SWF file and 3D object embedding, and make your PDF files more accessible for the differently-abled.

Read the FrameMaker Help article here!

My FrameMaker tweets

I have been tweeting recently about FrameMaker concepts and tips. In particular, I have been tweeting about the basics of structured authoring in FrameMaker. As I stumble upon interesting things, I plan to continue tweeting about the Technical Communication Suite.

You can access current (and future!) tweets at and Follow me on Twitter at

Do let me know your thoughts. If you want me to tweet about some particular feature in FrameMaker, do let me know as well.

FrameMaker: Making comments stand out

Consider this scenario: you’re working in a FrameMaker document that uses a lot of conditional tags, including the conditional tag defined for comments and editorial notes. If you need to work on incorporating comments, you can display all the conditional content in the document with the condition indicators visible. However, browsing your way through the multi-colored text to look for comments may be difficult.


A simple workaround here could be applying a character tag to the comments and editorial notes in addition to the conditional formatting. This way, even when the condition indicators are hidden, the comments and editorial notes in the document stand out from the rest of the content.The screenshot below illustrates the character tag Comment-text applied to editorial notes.After.jpgFurther reading

Quicker review cycles with FM9

As a technical communicator, you’ve probably sent more PDFs out for review than any other type of file. Reviewers add their comments, which you incorporate by comparing the PDF file with the source .fm document. So far, but not anymore! FrameMaker 9 lets you import PDF comments directly into your documents.

It’s a simple three-step workflow that you can now follow for reviews:

1. Generate a tagged PDF out of the FM file and send it for shared review. To do this, check Generate PDF For Review Only in the PDF Setup dialog box.


See Tagged PDF in the online FM documentation for details on tagged PDFs.

2. Let reviewers add their suggestions using the commenting features in Adobe Acrobat — sticky notes, text edits, text highlights, and so on.

3. Import the comments back into the source .fm file and choose which ones to keep. Before importing comments, FrameMaker lets you select if you want to import all comments or only comments of a specific kind.


An important prerequisite here is to not modify the source FrameMaker file after sending the tagged PDF for review until comments have been imported back into it. This ensures that the comments are inserted into their exact location in the FrameMaker document. The FM import summary dialog reports the number of comments that were inserted into an approximate location, but not their exact intended place.Untitled-3.jpg

After import, PDF comments are inserted into the FrameMaker document as tracked text edits, text formatting, or markers. In particular, sticky notes from the PDF are imported as markers. Use the Markers pod to read and manage these markers.

Untitled-5.jpgYour source document will look something like the screenshot below after PDF comments have been imported into it.


It’s a few weeks now since I began using this feature, and I’ve found it quite a time saver. Read the Adobe Help article on this feature to get hooked onto it straightaway. For a list of other cool features in FrameMaker 9, click here.

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 rather than 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 9 Web Help gives you the more information on to creating and managing paragraph and character styles. You can create new styles in FM9 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!blog-pd.jpg

Who am I?

Difficult question, eh! Well, I work with Adobe Systems as a technical writer. The primary product I document is LiveCycle. I have, in the past, also contributed to the documentation of Adobe Technical Communication Suite and Adobe eLearning Suite.

Through this blog, I plan to share my experiences, “discoveries”, and tips about these products that I use extensively, both at work and at home.

Also, I tweet fairly regularly. Catch me on Twitter at

I hope you have a pleasant time reading my musings. Keep visiting this blog often!