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Defining Paragraph Designs in FrameMaker

by Ron Kurtus (26 December 2006)

When you create a blank document in Adobe FrameMaker, you will get their default list of paragraph styles or designs. Creating new documents from templates provides different designs, according to the type of template used. All paragraph designs are listed in the Paragraph Catalog. You can revise, add or delete paragraph styles according to your needs. Minimizing the number of designs makes it easier to work with your documents.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Designs in new document

When you create a new blank document, you will have a set of default paragraph designs. If the new document uses a template, the default paragraph designs may have been modified or even replaced with custom paragraphs.

Default paragraph designs

When you create a blank document in FrameMaker, you will automatically get the following list of default paragraph designs:

These are considered the most common used. The character settings for each are also considered common. It is a good idea to check each to see if it has the look that you desire for your documents. Also, you may consider eliminating any that will probably not be used in your document.


Custom paragraph designs

When you use a template as a basis for your new document, you will probably get a more extensive list of paragraph designs in your Paragraph Catalog. Sometimes there are an enormous number of designs from old documents. This can make formatting cumbersome.

Of course the advantage of using a template is that you do not need to change your paragraph designs. It also allows for consistency between documents.

Modify paragraph design

It is a good idea to define the look that you want in your document entering your content. One good way is to experiment in Microsoft Word to see which font face and size to use, as well as to define spacing. Word is easier to use for such adjustments than FrameMaker.

Perhaps delete unwanted designs

If you do not plan on having tables, it might be worthwhile to delete them from your Paragraph Catalog. Some say that you never know if you may have a need for them in the future, but I feel it is easier to add what is needed than to have to work around what is not needed on an everyday basis.

Modify designs

If you want to change or modify the default paragraph designs or those from your template, first click on the paragraph assigned to a design. If you have not already done so, open the Paragraph Designer (Ctrl+m or Format > Paragraphs > Designer...). Then change the various aspects of your design and click Apply and Update All.

Adding new paragraph designs

You can create a new paragraph design from the Paragraph Designer dialog box. Select some text that you want to use as a starting point for your design.

In the Paragraph Designer dialog box, select Commands > New Format.... Name and create your new format. Then make changes to the various functions in the Paragraph Designer. Click Apply and Update All to apply this new paragraph design.

You can also delete the design from Commands > Delete Format....

Formatting document

You can assign a paragraph design to your document text from the paragraph drop-down menu on the Formatting Bar (View > Formatting Bar), from Format > Paragraphs, or from the Paragraph Catalog (Format > Paragraphs > Catalog...).

Unfortunately, there are no keyboard shortcuts for assigning specific paragraph designs.


A new blank document will have a default list of paragraph designs, while one created from a template may have other paragraph designs. All paragraph designs are listed in the Paragraph Catalog. You can revise, add or delete paragraph styles according to your needs. Minimizing the number of designs makes it easier to work with your documents.

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