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How to convert Microsoft Word documents

into Adobe FrameMaker

October 1, 2009 By Ivan Walsh

This article explains how to convert large files between Microsoft Word and Adobe
FrameMaker.In this tutorial, the source file is the file being converted (Word) and target
file is the file that it will be converted into (in this case, a FrameMaker file).
Our goal during this process is to reduce the Word document into an (almost) plain-text
document but keeping its style names, as these will be used to match styles and tags
later in the FrameMaker document.
The overall process involves three stages:

Preparing the Word file for conversion.

Refining the FrameMaker file in line with the Style Guide.

Creating the PDF file.

Note: Before you start, print out the Style Guide and use it as a reference during the
overall process. This saves you time moving between files and also helps you become
more familiar with the Style Guides format and presentation as it sits on your desk and
is more accessible.

Preparing the Word file

The first step is to prepare the Word file so that its contents will convert more easily into
FrameMaker. This involves deleting all formatting that is unique to Word, such as Text
For example, FrameMaker has very powerful Table of Contents generation features, so
you can rely on this rather than trying to import Words or hard-coding it to match the
FrameMaker format.
To start the process, delete all the Word constructs that need to be removed before the
conversion process can start. This involves the following steps:

Deleting the Table of Contents (TOC)

Deleting headers and footers

Deleting local paragraph overrides

Deleting local character overrides

Deleting text frames

Deleting ALL Word specific features

Deleting linked graphics

The next section explains what needs to be deleted in Word, and provides some
information on why we use this approach.

Table of Contents
As FrameMaker has very advanced Table of Contents (TOC) functions, it is much
simpler to delete the TOC in Word and then rebuild it in FrameMaker.
In Word, select the TOC and delete it. Save the file.
Note: If youve used bookmarks in Word to generate a TOC, delete them as well. The
effort it takes to import them into FrameMaker is not worth the effort. FrameMaker can
do it quicker.

Headers and Footers

Both Word and FrameMaker have a different approach to Headers and Footers. In
FrameMaker, these are setup in the Master page and controlled from there. Trying to
import Words header and footers into FrameMaker will only confuse it.
In Word, open the header and footer option. Select each one and press Delete. Save the

Local paragraph overrides

This involves deleting any formatting in paragraphs (which should have been formatted
with Body styles) which has been done manually rather than formatted with a Word
If you import these local paragraph overrides into FrameMaker, they will confuse the
tag settings. Its much simpler to delete them in Word and then rebuild in FrameMaker.
In Word, select the entire document and press Ctrl+Q. Save the document.

Local character overrides

An example of local overrides is when, for example, in Word a paragraph is entirely
Times Roman except for the 3rd word, which is in italic. If the italic was set using a
character style, the FrameMaker file may assign that style to the 3rd word AND to the
remaining words in the paragraphnot what you want!
My suggestion is to delete all local character overrides in Word.
In Word, select the entire document and press Ctrl+Spacebar. Save the file.
Later, in FrameMaker, you will use the Paragraph Designer to modify the style correctly.

Word specific features

All Word specific features have to be deleted as they cannot be interpreted in
FrameMaker. Even worse, if you do not do this, they may corrupt the FrameMaker
In Word, delete all borders, WordArt, callout boxes, arrows, text frames, etc. Save the
Text Frames Word uses text frames to create what FrameMaker calls a side-head, i.e.
text that appears in the left margin column. To recreate the Word text frame in
FrameMaker, create a tag in FrameMaker called TextFrame and design this in
accordance with the style guide.

Linked graphics
Some Word documents link graphics (Insert | Picture | From File) to the document
rather than using the traditional cut/paste approach.
For a Word to FrameMaker conversion, this means that when you open the RTF file in
FrameMaker the graphic file have to correctly link to the same folders as those in Word.
In theory, this should work, but in my experience, this does not always work. Instead,
follow these steps:
In Word, select each graphic file, save it with a unique name, e.g. Architecture.gif etc,
and store it in the project folder. Once this is done, delete all graphics, and Save the file.
Note: In FrameMaker, you will import all these graphics back into the document.

Once all these steps are completed, you then need to modify different parts of the Word
file, depending on how it was created.
Note: This does not involve deleting content as we have done above, but modifying how
it is constructed, for example adjusting how the number and bullet lists are formatted in
Word so that they can be imported into FrameMaker with less data corruption.
You dont need to delete these constructs, but you do have to adjust their presentation
otherwise they will create confusion in the FrameMaker file, for example you could end
up with two bullets for every list entry rather than one.
For the conversion project, this involved managing the following areas:

Master Pages and sections






Spanned Columns

Books and master documents

Styles and tags

Master Pages and sections

FrameMaker uses Master Pages; Word uses sections.
In Word, sections are often used to insert different headers and footers throughout the
document. FrameMakers approach is totally different.

Figure 1 How to access FrameMaker Master Pages (View | Master Pages).

In Word, delete all section breaks. You can search for ^b to find all occurrences. Save
the file.

FrameMaker doesnt care how headings are named. Because of this, you dont have to
modify the style names in Word before the conversion unless you want to change the
style names to reflect the target template.
However, its recommended that you delete all redundant headings, and other
redundant styles, as they hold no value.
In Word, delete all redundant headings (Format | Styles and Formatting) and save the

Figure 2 In Word, delete all redundant styles and headings

If your Word document uses automatic numbering and styles, youre in luck! However,
if the numbering has been done manually, delete the numbers (but not the styles) in
Then, when you open the file in FrameMaker, you can attach a style with numbering
applied. You will probably have to do some resetting to 1 and so on, but this is
straightforward process in FrameMaker.
In Word, search for all numbers applied manually. Delete the numbers, but not the
styles. Save the file.

Like numbering, Bullets were done hopefully with styles and not manual overrides. If
styles were used, then keep the style names but delete the bullet from the definition.
In Word, search for all bullets applied manually. Delete the bullet. Save the file.

Figure 3 In Word, select pre-defined bullets and numbers

Note: If the bullets were done by hand in Word, you may find numbered paragraphs in
FrameMaker with two bulletsone defined by the FrameMaker tag, and one kept from
Word during the import. The quickest way to fix this is to delete the unnecessary bullet
by hand. When you open the file in FrameMaker, the bullets should appear correctly as
a result of FrameMakers numbering system.

In Word, you can only cross-reference within the same file; by contrast, FrameMaker
can cross-reference among other files within a Book. When FrameMaker reads a Word
file with cross-references, it finds obscure marker such as _Ref565989. These are of
no use to FrameMaker and need to be deleted.
In Word, delete all cross-references and re-create them in FrameMaker by hand. Save
the file.


Any artwork that was cut and pasted into a Word file can be imported directly into
FrameMaker. However, there are two issues to consider:
1. The quality of Cut and Paste files that you bring into FrameMaker often degrade, i.e.
lose quality. Though it may be time-consuming, its recommended that you re-create
these in PhotoShop and then import them into FrameMaker.
2. Linked graphics in Word files will not work in FrameMaker as the link settings affect
what happens on the FrameMaker side. As discussed earlier, delete these files, save
them individually, and then import into FrameMaker (File | Import | File).

Spanned Columns
In Word, delete spanned columns. These could open in FrameMaker as one pica wide
and confuse FrameMakers setting. Delete the spans and re-build them in FrameMaker.

Books and master documents

Word has a Master Document feature that can be used for managing complex long
documents. However, I strongly advice against using this feature; it is very unreliable
and prone to corrupting documents. In turn, FrameMaker uses the concept of a Book to
assemble project files and is very stable.

Figure 4 FrameMakers Book feature

For the test conversion project, we use three files to create the overall Book; cover
sheet; table of contents; main user guide pages. When working in FM, note that each of

these files has a different master page and you need to update each master page where

Styles and tags

Wherever possible, use similar-named styles in both applications, for example,
Copyright style; the only exception is when matching Words default Normal style with
FrameMakers default Body tag.
Note: The fewer styles/ tags in FrameMaker, the easier it is to manage. Delete all
redundant styles or tags and merge those that are similar.

Saving the RFT

After completing all these steps, save the Word file in Rich Text Format (RTF).
You can now open it in FrameMaker and refine it in accordance with the style guide.

Figure 5 In Word, save the file as Rich Text Format

Preparing the FrameMaker file

You now have a modified Word file, saved as RFT, with all Word-specific features
removed. The next phase involves:

Returning the content deleted from the Word file, such as Artwork, headers,

Updating cross-references, indexes, TOC etc.

Matching the file with the Style Guide.
To start the process:
In FrameMaker, in order to open the RTF file:

Select File | Open | File Types | All Files (*.*).

Figure 6 Select All Files (*.*) to view the RTF file.

In the Unknown File Type pop-up window, select Microsoft RFT and click

Figure 7 Select Microsoft RTF and click Convert

This opens the RTF file, though the format and presentation will be modified slightly
from the Word version.
Save the file with a .fm extension. The next stage involves returning all Word content
that was deleted (or modified).

Importing Graphics
You have two options when bringing graphics into FrameMaker. You can either:

Option A Cut and paste from Word or

Option B Cross-reference to a project directory.

Option A usually results in large file sizes as the file has to hold the graphics, whereas in
Options B they are cross-referenced from their respective location.
The problem with using Option B is that you have to include the graphics folder when
sending the FrameMaker files to other users.
However, the good news is that when you need to update any graphic file in the
document (or documents) instead of manually going through each page, you simply
update the relevant graphic and all files are updated automatically!

Figure 8 Option B Import files by reference

Unwanted Tags
After youve opened the RTF in FrameMaker, you may find that youve gained a
character tag called Default Paragraph Font.
The only way to delete it is to select the text, choose Default Font, and re-assign it.

Custom table ruling and shading

To delete custom table settings from the entire FrameMaker document, do the

Select the document.

Choose Table | Custom Ruling & Shading.

Select both of the From Table settings, and select all check boxes.

Click Apply.

Updating the Header and Footers

As mentioned earlier, both Word and FrameMaker have a different approach to Headers
and Footers. In FrameMaker, these are setup in the Master page.
FrameMaker provides default settings for each documents headers/footers. Use the
Paragraph Designer to modify them and, when finished, select Update All. You can
then return to the Body Pages.
Note: when a Book is comprised of several files, you need to set the page numbers so
that there is consistency between each file. To do this, open the FrameMaker file:

Select Format | Document | Numbering | Page.

Enter the start page number and Save.

Updating the Table of Contents

This process has 2 options depending on whether you want to integrate your TOC in the
main document or you want to create a standalone TOC. For the Klariti project, I used
Option B as outlined below.

Option A this places the TOC within the main FrameMaker file. This option
makes sense when you have a small file that is easy to update.

Option B this involves creating a standalone TOC that will form one part of a
large FrameMaker book. In this project, we used Option B as the main file was very

large and other sections used different master pages, styles etc.
To create the TOC, follow these steps:

Open the FrameMaker Book.

Add files where necessary.

Click Add | Table of Contents.

Figure 9 How to create a Table of Contents

This creates a standalone TOC file. Open this and check that it matches with Style
Guide. To update the design/layout, open the Master pages and make the required

PDF Setup
Before you create the PDF document, you need to define the conversion settings in
FrameMaker. To do this, go to:

Format | Document | PDF Setup.

In Settings, select Print and for Page Range, select All.

In Bookmarks, check Generate PDF Bookmarks, and for Include Paragraphs add
Chapter Title and Headings 1, 2, and 3.

In Tags, check Generate Tagged PDF.

Click Set to finish.

Figure 10 In PDF Setup Settings tab, select Print from the drop-down menu.

Figure 11 In the Bookmark tab, add the Chapter Title and Headings

Creating the PDF file

The final step involves converting the FrameMaker files into PDF.
In this test conversion project, we have used 3 FrameMaker files which together form a
FrameMaker Book. A book, as the name implies, is a master file that controls the
relationship between the files that it contains.
To do this, follow these steps:

In FrameMaker, open the Cover Sheet FrameMaker file.

Click the Print Option (File | Print). Select the PDF prnit driver from the Print
drop-down menu, for example, Adobe PDF.

In the options screen, select All and Convert PDF Data.

Click OK.
Follow the same steps for the other two FrameMaker files. You now have three PDF files
based on the FrameMaker files. After all files are converted, close FrameMaker and
open Adobe Acrobat.
The next step is to create a master PDF file that will contain the 3 PDF files in the
correct sequence. To do this, open the Cover Sheet, and add the other two files as

Open the Cover Sheet pdf.

Click Edit | Insert Pages and Add the TOC pdf file.

Click Edit | Insert Pages and add the Klariti.pdf file.

Once all files have been added, choose File | Save As and save the file.
You now have the entire FM file in PDF format. The next step is to create hyperlinks for
the main headings.

Creating Hyperlinks
In FrameMaker, when you add a table of contents, there is an option to create
hyperlinks automatically. However, during this project, this option failed to work. An
error message stated that it required additional fonts in order to compile. Therefore, the
table of contents file did not create hyperlinks to the chapter titles and headings.
Nonetheless, in Adobe Acrobat, you can manually create these links. To do this, you
select the heading and cross-reference it to the relevant page in the file.

Figure 12 The Link tool in Adobe Acrobat

To do this, follow these steps:
1. In Adobe Acrobat, open the master PDF file, e.g. UserGuide.pdf.
2. Select Window | Bookmarks to display the bookmarks. This option shows the Chapter
Title and H1/H2/H3 headings.
3. Navigate to the section of the document where you want to create a link.

4. Select the link tool.

5. Create the link rectangle in one of the following ways:
Drag the mouse to create a marquee.
Press Ctrl (Windows) and select the target text with the I-beam. This allows you to fit a
link rectangle exactly around the selected text.
6. In the Create Link dialog box, choose a rectangle type.
7. Select a highlight option for when the link is selected.
8. Choose an action type.
9. Choose a magnification option.
10 Click Set Link.
Complete this step for all headings in the TOC.

Figure 13 The Link Properties option in Adobe Acrobat

This process will create hyperlinks from all headings to their respective sections in the
PDF document.

Security Settings
In Adobe Acrobat, there are various security options available. The most relevant for
this project is to ensure that unauthorized personnel cannot modify the document.

In particular, you want to disallow unauthorised personnel from copying text from your
PDF into their documents, for whatever reason.

Figure 14 The Document Security option in Adobe Acrobat

To do this, follow these steps:

In Adobe Acrobat, go to File | Document Security.

Choose Adobe Standard Security from the drop-down menu.

Under Permissions, check the four options, e.g. No Printing etc.

Click OK. Click Close and then File | Close to save the settings.

Figure 15 Security options in Adobe Acrobat

When you re-open the file, these settings will apply.

Matching the Style Guide

To get the styles to match, review the styles/tags in the FrameMaker file against those in
the Style Guide.
For example, if the Style Guides Body style is Arial 10 etc, and the FrameMaker file has
it set to Times Roman 11, you need to correct this as follows:

Open FrameMaker and select all content marked as Body.

Open Paragraph Designer and update the Body fields.

Select Apply to All. This updates all occurrences of the Body style in the

To stop other technical authors from using the wrong styles, delete ALL redundant
styles. For example, the RFT file may have several body styles, e.g. Body, Body + Left,
Body + Indent. In FrameMaker, delete all of these otherwise future authors may use
these inadvertently.

What do you think?

This approach has worked well for me when converting Microsoft Word documents into
FrameMaker. I should add that the latest versions of Adobe FrameMaker offer a more
streamlined approach to converting the docs.
With that said, youre still going to have to clean up the Adobe FrameMaker docs to
some extent regardless of how well the converter works.
Over the next few weeks, Ill look at conversion software and work on the latest version
of Adobe FrameMaker, which Ive now got my hands on.
Let me know if youve come across better ways to convert these docs or maybe some of
the issues youve had in converting these docs.