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Basic Concept of FrameMaker

by Ron Kurtus (revised 11 May 2007)

Adobe FrameMaker is a software application that is primarily used to create long documents, such as textbooks and technical manuals.

As its name suggests, FrameMaker uses text frames and object frames to define their location and allow for consistent flow of material, even during editing.

The program uses master pages that act as templates for the layout of various repeated pages. It also employs catalogs to define the formatting of major elements of a document.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Frames control flow

The FrameMaker named indicates its special use of frames.

Text frames

Text frames are defined and used to enclose text, as well as to allow controlled text from from page to page or from frame to frame.

Text frames defined by dotted lines on page

Text frames defined by dotted lines on page

Object frames

Object frames can not only enclose a graphic, but they also can be anchored to a specific area—such as a piece of text—so that it will stay with that area as the content is edited.

Master pages define layout

Master pages define a layout template of specific pages in your document. They are accessed from View > Master Pages on the menu bar. You can define the layout for right and left pages in a two-sided document. You can also define the layout for such things as the first page in a chapter and your title page.

This allows consistency throughout the document.

Catalogs assign characteristics and style

FrameMaker uses what they call catalogs to assign characteristics and style.


The paragraph catalog allows you to define the characteristics of paragraphs, including body text, headings, and special items such as notes.

FrameMaker Paragraph Catalog

Paragraph Catalog


The character catalog allows you to define and then designate special characters, such as bold, italic and colored text.

FrameMaker Character Catalog

Character Catalog


The table catalog defines characteristics of tables.


FrameMaker is used to create long complex documents. Text frames and object frames allow for consistent flow of material, even during editing. Master pages act as templates for the layout of various repeated pages. Catalogs define the formatting of major elements of a document.

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