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The Ultimate Guide to FrameMaker's Paragraph Formats

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FrameMaker provides you with great flexibility in changing the appearance of text in documents. Get acquainted with the concepts and techniques behind FrameMaker’s Paragraph Designer and resulting paragraph formats.
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Formatted paragraph text in documents provides a necessary visual reference for those reading your document, giving clues as to the meaning of the text or its significance in the grand scheme of the document.

In the old golf ball typewriter days, changing the appearance of text on a page meant taking out the print ball and switching to a print ball with a different font type. Print balls didn't vary much. The main print ball was a Roman font, and you could get a couple of variations off of it, such as italic Roman. Clean wipes came in really handy, too, for cleaning the ink off your hands after handling the print ball. Although ink fingerprints on the typewritten page weren't too attractive, they were sometimes unavoidable.

Computers provide us with far more flexibility in changing the appearance of text. We can take a variety of paragraph text formatting ingredients, mix and match them together into a single paragraph style, and attach them to a paragraph as a single unit—known as a paragraph tag in FrameMaker.

FrameMaker's Paragraph Designer is the vessel that allows you to mix and match paragraph format ingredients. The collective ingredients are stored in a Paragraph Catalog as a paragraph tag. You can transform the appearance of paragraph text with a click by applying a paragraph tag to text.

In this article, you become acquainted with the concepts and techniques behind FrameMaker's Paragraph Designer. You are also presented with the information you need to work effectively with resulting paragraph tags.

Get Down to Basics

The Paragraph Designer is where you will likely spend the most time when creating or modifying paragraph formats. With help from the resulting paragraph tag, you can set paragraph text with precise characteristics, and get the consistency you need in and across documents.

Before you get started with the Paragraph Designer, it's a good idea to plan ahead and work through a document's formatting requirements to establish formatting standards.

Take time to consider paragraph tag names that you will use. Paragraph tag names are not only displayed in the Paragraph Catalog, but are also used with other FrameMaker features such as variables, cross-references, and generated files. With that in mind, keep paragraph tag names short, consistent, and easy to understand.


Select Format, Paragraphs, Designer; or press Control+M to access the Paragraph Designer window.

The Paragraph Designer window consists of six properties:

  • Basic—Defines indents, alignment, line spacing, tabs, and next paragraph tags.

  • Default Font—Paragraph text appears in the default font specified.

  • Pagination—Defines settings for paragraph placement, page break, widow/orphan control, and specifications for normal, side head, run-in paragraphs, and spanning columns.

  • Numbering—Allows you to construct autonumber formats to produce automatic numbering series in paragraphs.

  • Advanced—Contains settings for hyphenation, language, word spacing, and choice of reference frame above or below paragraphs.

  • Table Cell—Defines custom cell margins and vertical alignment settings for text inside table cells.


To access any one property, use the Properties pull-down menu, or (Windows) click a property tab across the top of the window.

The Paragraph Designer has a number of settings under each property page. You can work with all or some of the settings when defining paragraph formats. For example, if you are defining a paragraph format for a level 1 heading, you don't have to be concerned with settings in the Table Cell page of the Paragraph Designer window. The Table Cell settings only apply to text within a table cell.

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