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Adobe FrameMaker: What to know about working with generated files

By Barb Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor on FrameMaker

FrameMaker will happily create, or generate, files for you. A table of contents, a list of tables, a list of figures, a list of effective pages and an index are all examples of generated files. They are fairly easy to set up, and once working, you can update them as you update your book, so they will always reflect the latest edits.

That said, there are a set of rules that all generated files follow. Work within the rules, and these files work like a dream. If you don’t know the rules, or try to break the rules, it quickly becomes a nightmare. (Note: These rules apply to all versions of unstructured FrameMaker.)

Here are the key rules to successfully managing generated files:

  1. Initial formatting. A new generated file will copy the formatting commands from the first non-generated file the book window. Problems in that file will be copied to the generated files, so finalize the first non-generated file before you start adding generated files to your book. Examples of formatting that is copied into the new generated file include the paper size, margins, columns, headers, footers, colors, etc.
  2. Filenames. Generated files always use the bookname + For example, if my book name is and the suffix for a table of contents is TOC, the table of contents is automatically named
  3. Book icons. Generated files use an orange and black icon in the book window to distinguish them from user files, which have an orange and white icon.
  4. Paragraph styles. Paragraph styles are assigned automatically to the generated text, and their names will end with the suffix for the generated file.
  5. Edits. Never type on a generated page! If you type on a generated page and then update your book, FrameMaker will remove your edits. If you see a typo in a generated file, fix it on the body page and update your book.
  6. Document title. The only exception to “Never type on a generated page!” is made for a document title. If you want to add a document title to a generated page it must be the first paragraph in the flow, and its paragraph style name cannot end with the suffix for that type of generated file. For example, in a table of contents, the title style can be named ContentsTitle, but FrameMaker will remove it if you name it ContentsTitleTOC.
  7. Controlling the presentation. Changes to the presentation of the generated files are made on the reference pages. For example, a table of contents has a TOC reference page. An index has an IX reference page. You can rearrange the building blocks to change the order of presentation, or replace the default space in front of the page numbers with a tab. Remember that reference page changes don’t take effect until you update your book.
  8. Editing your initial choices. If you made a mistake when you were setting up the generated file, you can right click the file in the book window > Set up XXX, where XXX is equal to the type of generated file you are working with. For example, if you forgot to add a heading level to the TOC, right-click the TOC in the book window and choose Set up Table of Contents. Add the missing heading and update your book.

Feel free to ask a specific question about the generated files using the form at the bottom of this post. I am also available for hourly, online coaching and can help you set up your own basic generated file in about an hour. See One-on-One Online Coaching.

More posts on using generated files in FrameMaker

Adobe FrameMaker: Adding tabs to a table of contents

Adobe FrameMaker: Including chapter numbers in a table of contents

Adobe FrameMaker: Removing bold from page numbers in a table of contents

Adobe FrameMaker: More on customizing a table of contents

Adobe FrameMaker: Reusing a TOC or Index

Adobe FrameMaker: List of markers

Adobe FrameMaker: How to create a list of effective pages

Adobe FrameMaker: Creating a simple glossary for a book

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4 thoughts on “Adobe FrameMaker: What to know about working with generated files

  1. Hello, I have a question about saving a FrameMaker book with generated files under a new file name. Say my original book is titled ‘apple’. I SAVE AS the book as ‘apple 123’. When I attempt to open the apple 123 TOC I get an error message ‘File xxx does not exist’. I’m at a loss. The TOC was created using the correct methods. Other Adobe FrameMaker help support posts say to just rename the TOC in FrameMaker. The only issue is that the TOC no longer becomes a file, not an adobe FrameaMaker file. Any help is greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Heather:

      Generated files are very particular and one of the requirements is that the generated files must use the book name + If you rename your book from to, remove the generated file(s) from the book window. Open the folder containing your project files and rename the file:

      To add it back to you book, you can’t use Insert > Files. You must use Insert > Create TOC (wording varies slightly from version to version), move the headings to the Include column and update your book. Your TOC will function as expected again.


      1. Good morning and thank you for taking the time to answer my question. But to make sure I’m correct in my understanding: Your instructions are that every time I rename the book with a new name, I have to create a new TOC in the file? If this is the case, do you know if a FrameMaker update is the cause of this? In the past with other books, I’ve never had to create a new TOC after renaming the file.
        Thank you again, Heather

        1. Hi Heather:

          What I’m saying is that the generated files in FrameMaker have a specific naming pattern they must adhere to: book name + If the book is renamed, the generated files need to be renamed.

          If the file appears in the list with an orange/white icon in front, FrameMaker thinks it is a user file. You will need to pull it out and add it back in as a generated file with the orange/black icon.

          I can’t speak to your previous workflow, nor can I tell you what is different in FrameMaker 2022 as it pertains to your old workflow. What I can do is tell you what will always work without having your files in front of me. You can take it from there.