Controlling Page Layout with Frames

Starting with version 6 of Pagemaker you don't need to have all of your data available before being able to lay out where you want your text to go on your page. Instead you can use the frame tools in the Pagemaker toolbar to set aside the space for your text which can be added later. If you place these in your document without loading the text you will have a template that can be used to create a series of similarly laid out documents.

There are three different frame tools in the toolbar. They are the rectangle frame, ellipse frame, and polygon frame tools which can be found immediately to the right of the rectangle, ellipse, and polygon tools. You can recognise the frame tools because they're the ones that have an X in the middle of them.

the Frame tools on the Pagemaker Toolbar

The main differences between for example the rectangle tool and the rectangle frame tool are that if you select the frame tool before placing text then the text will flow inside of the frame. With a normal rectangle, the fact that it is selected will be ignored and you will have to choose where to place the text (which wont flow inside of the rectangle unless the rectangle just happens to match with where the text would have gone anyway. If you didn't select the frame first then placing the text into the frame will automatically flow inside the frame border.

So what you can do is to place frames (of whichever of the three shapes) wherever you intend for the text on your page to go. As well as accessing the frames from the toolbar you can also access them from the keyboard by pressing Shift+Alt+F4 for a rectangle frame, Shift+Alt+F5 for an ellipse frame, and Shift+Alt+F6 for a polygon frame.

The default for the text frames (of whatever shape) has the actual frame appearing on the page. You may not want them to be part of your finished page layout. All you have to do to remedy this is to right click on each frame and select Fill and Stroke... from the menu. You can then change the stroke to None. A grey line will still show you where the frame is but the frame border itself will not be printed in your final output. There is also a way that you can avoid having to do this for every frame individually and that is to go into the Element menu and change the Stroke to None before you start adding frames in the first place. You will need to remember to change this back if you also want to add normal rectangles etc. to your pages as well as the frames since the same default stroke value is unfortunately applied to both.

After placing all of your frames the next thing to do is to link them together to control how the text will flow from one frame to the next. If you click on a given frame with the pointer tool then two link tabs will appear at the top and bottom of the frame. All that you need to do is to click on one of these. A symbol that looks like links of a chain will appear next to the pointer. All you need to do now is to click on the frame that you want to link to that end of the first frame. Later when you place text into the first frame in such a chain of linked frames the text will automatically flow through from one frame to the next using as many of your linked frames as it needs to hold the text. Of course if there are insufficient frames to hold all of the text then a red arrow will appear at the bottom of the last frame and you will need to click this and place the remainder of the text just the same as if you hadn't defined your page layout using frames.

Using the frame tools to define where your text will go before placing your text on the page will give you a much greater control of your page layout as well as making future modifications to that layout much easier.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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