When you need to produce a document, any word processor you choose will likely have the option of working with styles. The style you select will define how paragraphs, fonts, tables, images, page layouts, page breaks, etc. are displayed.
Many people ignore setting up these features, especially if they are working on document projects with small amounts of content. However, when you are working with more complex brochures, whitepapers or manuals, the use of styles becomes essential.
Styles in FrameMaker
I see and review all types of documents and most of them have applied styles. The most common style issues I see are:
- Lists of disorganized styles.
- The style names aren’t clear.
- Multiple styles doing the same things and overriding each other across the document.
Being organized and applying styles correctly is important in any application, but if you are working in FrameMaker it is particularly necessary and you must apply the styles and naming conventions following best practices.
Here are some examples where following style best practices in FrameMaker can make a major difference:
- Most of the time when you are working in FrameMaker, you handle large volumes of content and several documents or manuals under the same format. Maintaining consistency across different documents can be very tricky if you don’t apply a style and have a good template in place.
- When you use MS Word’s import features to add content to your FrameMaker files and provide direct mapping of Word styles to FrameMaker, the name of your styles should be clear and simple in order to easily find a correct match.
- If you need to publish your content to ePub or HTML5 your style choice will affect the results. These output formats use the styles in your source documents to define how to transform and present your content online. You can define your generated output by specifying properties and options for each style. By using styles in your source documents, you have greater control over your output.
- RoboHelp converts all paragraph formats from FrameMaker to RoboHelp CSS styles, thus retaining the appearance and behavior of the FrameMaker formats in the RoboHelp project. To ensure consistency you need to use the styles properly and avoid overrides on you content in FrameMaker.
Taking the time to keep your styles in order and applying them across your document projects without any overrides can be tedious and difficult to maintain, but at the end of your project you will certainly see the benefit. You will be organized, have consistent formatting across your projects and save yourself a lot time.