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Adobe FrameMaker: Removing a Character Tag

by Barb Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor on FrameMaker

From a recent Rocky Mountain Training Advanced Adobe FrameMaker 11 student:

Hi, Barb. Hey, your class was super helpful to me; I am making great progress toward my 10/31 deadline! I have a question that I haven’t been able to find an answer to myself. Is it possible to search for a character tag through an entire document and remove it?

Here is my scenario: I only use one character tag for this project, which applies shading to a given string of text. We use this to show what has changed from one release of the guide to the next. So, when I start my new release, I want to eliminate all of those tags as my first step. Do you know of an easy way to do that? 

I found that Esc + o c p will remove a character tag from a selected string, but it also removes all override formatting as well. Because I use bold, italic, etc. as character overrides, I don’t want to just select all the text and do that. I’m hoping for a way to target and eliminate that one character tag specifically.

That’s a great question that doesn’t have a easy answer. The problem is that when you remove a character or paragraph tag from a catalog, it remains on the text.

I think your best bet will be to use Edit > Find > Character Tag > [your character tag name here], and then click on Find to navigate to the first instance. Change to > Character Format. Press SH F8 to set the dialog box to As Is, and then uncheck Background Color. As you move through your document, you will be able to quickly remove the background color, but the tag name will still be lurking in your files. For that reason, I might call it 2012 Highlight this year, and 2013 Highlight next year, so that you don’t accidentally reactivate the highlights on last year’s changes.

That said, while I like the design you have selected, this is going to be an ongoing headache for you. Change Bars are specifically meant to do this, and are easy to use. For more information on how to use change bars in Adobe FrameMaker, see

Thank you, Barb. I wish I could use change bars, but we already have thousands of people in the company trained to expect highlighting. In addition, the change indicator must appear in my RoboHelp output as well as in the PDF, so I think I’m stuck with highlighting.

I really like your suggestion of coming up with a differently named tag for each year. That will make it much easier to use the process you outline to find them and to make sure that I’m only highlighting what I want in case I miss anything.


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3 thoughts on “Adobe FrameMaker: Removing a Character Tag

  1. First of all I would try to get rid of the overrides 🙂
    Anyway, as Barb writes, change bars are exactly the way to go. But they have their drawbacks as well (e.g. translation memory systems tend to not like them which can be a show stopper). And they are not useful if you need to indicate single words as changed.
    Actually I like the idea of the highlights, and so I came to conditional tags. They might be the best approach here. Just set up a set of conditional tags for each year and define a highlighting background color. Apply the conditionals to the text. Now you can multiple things with this: First, you can simply hide the highlight (all other formattings remain intact) if you need to (and reactivate the highlight if you like) by simply de/activating the “Show Condition Indicators” setting. Also you can even decide to completely hide (!) conditionalized text. This could be useful if you want to insert comments that are useful for internal review with colleagues, but should not appear in the end-user output (that is, Print/PDF, online help etc.).

    Cou can get an idea of it here:

  2. I had considered using conditional text for highlighting but I had some questions that I haven’t had time to research. First, I am producing text for both PDF and Robohelp outputs, and I must produce two versions of the PDF: one with the highlights showing, and the other without. Yes, you can make the conditional text appear highlighted or not while you’re in Frame, but can you actually change the appearance of the text when you publish it (rather than just displaying or hiding it)? And when I publish to Robohelp, can I configure the conditional text such that it will appear as highlighted in its output? And for the PDF version without the highlighting, I still have to leave the conditional text visible, so can I control the appearance (i.e., highlighted or not) in the output via a template, or do I have to manually reconfigure each time I publish one way or the other?
    If I could get out of using character formatting to show changed text (unfortunately, I do have to show changes on that granular level), then I wouldn’t have to use overrides for italic and bold. (That’s the lesser of two evils, there. I COULD have several character formats for bold, italic, bold highlighted, and italic highlighted, or I can just have the one and use overrides, which is what I chose to do.)