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FrameMaker: handling wide tables

A table is a text container which can easily display relations. Much information can be displayed without loosing overview.

However, the space where a table can be placed – the paper with the text frame on it – is not unlimited. Hence for a growing number of columns some ideas must be developed how to cope with this:

[To top/bottom of page] Reduce font size and/or character width

You start your table with the standard formatting of your template (e.g. the font size is 12pt). When it becomes necessary to add more columns, we may decrease the font size to 10pt and use a narrow version of the font (10 pt Lucida Sans Narrow) and decrease the widths of the columns accordingly.

However, soon we reach the lower limit of the font size which can be read with ease (this depends on the font itself) and of course only for few fonts narrow variants are available.

[To top/bottom of page] Use the full paper width

A FrameMaker table can extend beyond the text frame in which it is anchored. However, at the paper edge the table is cropped in any case.

What you can see from the table also depends on the alignment (left, right, center).

[To top/bottom of page] Place the table on a landscape page

Correctly spoken not the table is rotated, but the text frame with the table anchor.

If you keep the master page in portrait mode and just rotate the inner text frame, you can not directly edit a table anchored in this text frame:

The method to create a rotated masterpage:

  1. Create a master page in portrait mode (e.g. copy from Right) and name it appropriately (e.g. R-rotated)
  2. Rotate page with Format> Customize Layout> Rotate page clockwise/counter clockwise.
  3. Rotate central text frame back. The heading/footing area will remain rotated.
  4. Create also a L-rotated page. For ease of reading it is best to have the same orientation here.

You may wish to assign the rotated master pages automatically depending on a trigger paragraph (which can not be in the table itself). In the example files the table anchor paragraph is used as trigger. Hence it has a unique name.

[To top/bottom of page] Split table horizontally and align it on facing pages

Several conditions must be observed for the table and the anchor paragraph:

It is possible to extend the table parts into the gutter (inner margins), so that you don't need to repeat the heading column. This may not look very pleasent in a particular layout, but provides additional space for 1 to 3 columns:

[To top/bottom of page] Place table on an oversized paper

This is of course an obvious method. You can combine any paper sizes in one FrameMaker book - and also in the generated PDF. However, you can not Save as PDF the whole book with various page sizes. Only the page size from the first file in the book is considered. In any case you will need the full Acrobat product to combine various PDF files into one – or a similar product serving the purpose.

[To top/bottom of page] Sample FrameMaker file

All of these methods are demonstrated in detail in this zip-archive (FM 7.x), which contains the following files:

table-wide.book     the FrameMaker book
table-split.pdf     used in table-wide1.fm
table-wide1.fm      portrait A4
table-wide2.fm      landscape A3
table-wide2.pdf     PDF created from table-wide2.fm
table-wide.pdf      PDF created from book, pages 15,16 replaced by table-wide2.pdf
table-wideTOC.fm    first file in the book, portrait A4

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 URL:   Created: 2007-01-23  Updated:
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