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Get Acquainted with Referenced and Copied Graphics in FrameMaker 6

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Graphics are a great way to spice up any document. Lisa Jahred takes you on a tour of copied and referenced graphics in FrameMaker 6, and guides you through troubleshooting those MIA graphics.
Lisa Jahred, author of FrameMaker 6: Beyond the Basics, writes a regular column for InformIT.
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When you create documents in FrameMaker, you often use graphics from other applications such as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, or another graphic program. You have some considerations in deciding what graphic file types work best for your project and whether to import by reference or copy graphics into a document.

Whether you are just starting out with FrameMaker, or you've been at it for awhile, a good understanding of referenced and copied graphics in another step toward working successfully in FrameMaker and avoiding frustrating results.

This article teaches you the basics of referenced and copied graphics and how to handle referenced graphics that are MIA.

Here's a rundown of this article's focus:

  • Understanding copied and referenced graphics

  • Working with copied graphics

  • When to import graphics or use copy/paste

  • Working with referenced graphics

  • Getting information about referenced graphics

  • Troubleshooting MIA graphics

Understanding Copied and Referenced Graphics

You have the option to import graphic files by reference or copying them into a document. A little experimenting is a good idea before you go on a mass graphic-import mission. If you decide to change the method used later in the production process, and you already incorporated numerous graphics into your documents, you must reimport each graphic. What a headache!

You can choose to import a graphic by reference or copy the graphic into a document by selecting a radio button in the Import File dialog box, as shown in Figure 1.


Keep in mind that the radio button that you selected the last time you imported a file becomes the default the next time you import a file.

Figure 1 This dialog box allows you to either import or copy a graphic into your document.

Let's review the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

Copied Graphics

When you copy graphics into your FrameMaker documents from another application, they become part of your document's file size. This method works well for documents that do not have many graphics (and the graphics are small in size).

What happens to a typical document after a large graphic is copied into it? The document size grows by leaps and bounds. If you were to import many large graphics into a document, your document file would become too large to easily manage.

Another disadvantage of importing graphics by copying is that if you need to make any changes to the graphic, you must make the change in the source application and reimport the graphic into the FrameMaker document.

Referenced Graphics

When you import graphics by reference into FrameMaker documents from another application, it does not become part of your document's file size. The graphic appears to be part of your document, but it is really referencing a file that's being stored outside of the document.

Importing graphics by reference keeps your document's file sizes down and, therefore, makes them easier to manage. Another great advantage is that if you want to make changes to the graphic, you can make the changes directly to the source application; the next time you view that graphic in FrameMaker, the graphic automatically reflects those changes.

A slight disadvantage of referenced graphics does exist. You must pay close attention to the file management of graphics that are being referenced in documents with respect to file location and naming. If you later change the filepath or name, FrameMaker cannot find the referenced graphic, and you'll encounter the Missing File window. You'll also see gray boxes in place of graphics in your document. Later in this article, I show you how to update FrameMaker documents to the new filepath or name.


You can generate a list of references for imported graphics that helps you keep track of referenced graphics for all your documents. See Chapter 8, "Creating Tables of Contents and Other Lists" in FrameMaker 6: Beyond the Basics (New Riders, 2001, ISBN: 0735711089) for more information on creating lists of references.

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