Tips and Tricks for Using Conditional Tags in Adobe FrameMaker

In my last blog post, I discussed how to create and apply conditional tags in Adobe FrameMaker. In this post, I’m going to provide some tips and tricks for using this tool more effectively. 

Make Use of Tag Styles 

When you create a tag in FrameMaker, you can set it to have a Style, Color, and Background. This is particularly useful in the editing stage as it lets you distinguish tagged text and objects from the surrounding content. 

When choosing a text color, be sure to pick something that will stand out from your existing text styles (for example, don’t pick dark blue if that’s a color you use for headings in your text). If you use track edits in your document, keep those colors in mind as well – you will want something that is different so you don’t confuse the two. 

Note: If you have content that is tagged with multiple tags, the colors of the tags will be combined in the display. So if your two tags are blue and yellow, the tagged content will appear green. 

You can also add a style to the tag (as shown below), like Underline or Strikethrough. I find the Underline option to be helpful as it can show you if your spaces are tagged (or not – see the next section for more info). If you want the tagged content to stand out even more, you can add a background color that can act like a highlight. 

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Watch What You’re Tagging 

When tagging text, you want to be aware of the surrounding spaces and how the tags will affect the text when they are hidden. If you tag text within a sentence, but neglect to tag either the leading or trailing space around it, you will end up with an extra space when the tag is turned off. In the example shown below, the first sentence doesn’t have the spaces tagged, whereas the second sentence has included the leading spaces in the tagged text. When the Metric (orange) tag is hidden, there are extra spaces left in the first sentence. This is where adding an Underline style to your tag can be helpful, as you will be able to see which spaces have been tagged. 

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The same is true when tagging paragraphs – you need to be sure to tag the entire paragraph, including the invisible paragraph markers, in order to avoid having extra line breaks or stray bullets when the tag is hidden, as shown below. One trick that can help is to turn on text symbols so the paragraph markers are visible (right-click and select Text Symbols). 

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Tagging Images and Tables 

When applying conditional tags to images, you want to select the image frame to tag, and not the image itself. If you have callout text within the image, you can tag that as you would any other text. 

For tables, how you tag depends on what you need to happen. If you have text within a cell that needs to be tagged, but you will have unconditional (not tagged) text left in the cell, you can apply the tag to the text. If you want a whole row or column to be tagged, be sure to select it in its entirety instead of just the text inside (otherwise, when the tag is hidden, you will be left with an empty row). You can tell that the row has been tagged instead of the text because the tag color will display as a hashed outline around the cells instead of the text changing color, as shown below. The same applies if you want to tag an entire table. 


Importing Tags from Other Documents 

If you are working with multiple files within a book or need to use the same tags across many projects, you can set them up in one file and import them into the others. 

  1. Open the file that contains the tags you want to import. 
  2. Open the file (or book – you can select multiple files at once this way) that you want to import the tags into. 
  3. Select File>Import>Formats….  
  4. In the Import Formats dialog box, select the file that has the tags from the Import from Document drop-down list. (If your file is not in this list, you will need to open it.) 
  5. Click Deselect All (if you aren’t importing any other formats, like styles from a template), then select Conditional Text Settings
  6. Click Import
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I hope these tips will help you when using conditional tags in FrameMaker to output different versions of your documents! 

About the Author

Breanne MacDonald

Technical Editor<br><br>Fueled by her meticulous nature, an eye for detail, and a love of books, Breanne has been an editor for over 10 years. She has been a technical editor with ASCENT since 2019, and outside the office she is an avid volunteer with the Editors’ Association of Canada. Breanne holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University and a certificate in publishing from Ryerson University.

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How to Create & Apply Conditional Tags in Adobe FrameMaker
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