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Adobe FrameMaker: Reusing a TOC or Index

by Barb Binder, Adobe Certified Instructor on FrameMaker
Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Do you work on a number of projects in Adobe FrameMaker that look similar to each other? A wonderful feature in FrameMaker is the File > Import > Formats command, which allows you to quickly import all of your formatting commands from one document to another, or even from one document to all the documents in a book. This is a fabulous way to jump start a new project, or even just ensure consistency with a previous one. With this technique, everything is going swimmingly, until you get to the generated files. This is where most users find themselves slowing down as they recreate these files from scratch. Don’t do it! All you need to do is a little setup work in advance.

For this example, let’s assume that you have published a book about FrameMaker called “frame.book”. This book has a table of contents called “frameTOC.fm” and an index called “frameIX.fm”. Now you have a new project that is all about Adobe Acrobat and you have created a book called “acrobat.book”. You have created some of the chapters using the same formats as the “frame.book”, and you want to reuse the layout and formatting from “frameTOC.fm” and “frameIX.fm”.

Still with me? Just trying to describe the scenario takes more time that executing it.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Copy “frameTOC.fm” and “frameIX.fm” into the Adobe Acrobat project folder.
  2. Note that the Acrobat book is named “acrobat.book”.
  3. Simply rename the prefix on the copied files to match the book name: “frameTOC.fm” gets renamed “acrobatTOC.fm” and “frameIX.fm” becomes “acrobatIX.fm”. The key to this working is that the generated file’s prefix must match the book name, and the generated file’s suffix must match the expected suffix (TOC = table of contents, IX = index, LOF = list of figures, LOT = list of tables, etc. and these files must be placed in the same folder as the book file.
  4. Go ahead and add the generated files to your Acrobat book with the Insert menu as you would normally. For a table of contents, use Insert > Standalone Table of Contents (Fm 2019) or Insert > Create TOC (Fm 2020). For an index, use Insert > Standard Index. For a list of effective pages, use Insert > List of > Paragraphs. (You don’t want to use Insert > Files in this situation—that is only for user-created files.)
  5. When you update your book, FrameMaker will look in the folder containing the book file. If it finds a file with the expected name, it will add the new content into the file. When you open the generated file for the first time, it will be fully formatted.

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: 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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3 thoughts on “Adobe FrameMaker: Reusing a TOC or Index

  1. This is a terrific time saver! And thanks for this wonderful blog tool that can be referenced at any time. I remembered from your class that previously constructed TOC and IX files could be used, but I forgot just how easy it is and was working too hard and not getting anywhere. Hooray for “step 4”. Thanks!

  2. Hi Barb … I must be missing something simple. I copied the ‘PlaybookCh6TOC.fm’ to the new project folder and renamed it ‘2020 OIl Spill Response PlanTOC.fm’, then inserted the file to the book. The file’s icon is a gray FM (like the other files) and not an orange FM (like generated files). When I update the book, it does not recognize the inserted file. If I try to generated a new TOC, it creates a new one with same name. Any thoughts?r/ Patrick

    1. Hi Patrick:

      The key is to add the generated file to the book using the standard option for adding that specific type of generated file to a FrameMaker book, and not using Insert > File. I edited step 4 above to clarify this, because I was not as clear as I should have been:
      • To add a table of contents, use Insert > Standalone Table of Contents (FrameMaker 2019) or Insert > Create TOC (FrameMaker 2020)
      • To add an index, use Insert > Standard Index
      • To add a list of effective pages, use Insert > List of Paragraphs

      ~Barb