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Chapter 4. Headers and Footers > What Headers and Footers Are Made Of

What Headers and Footers Are Made Of

The more you understand about what headers and footers are made of, and how they work within FrameMaker, the easier it is for you to accomplish tasks that utilize these features. It’s important to take a quick tour of what’s inside FrameMaker’s headers and footers before moving on to more in-depth explanations and real-world examples.

Headers and footers can comprise any combination of hard-typed text, graphics, and FrameMaker variables. These elements are discussed in more detail in the following subsections.

Hard-Typed Text

A simple way to display information in headers or footers is just to type text directly into the header or footer of your document. However, this method neglects FrameMaker’s powerful global-updating features. For example, if you type the document title in the header of several master pages in your document, and you need to make a change later, you have to edit all the occurrences of that document title on each master page.

Although this method does not work well for long, complicated documents, you should consider using it for short, one-page memos that use one master page. You can also use this method in parts of the header and footer that do not change, such as the word “Chapter” in “Chapter 3”.


Back to Basics

Graphics imported by reference update automatically based on the source graphic.

You can import or create graphics (such as a company logo) in headers and footers by using the same methods as in other parts of your document. If you place graphics into headers and footers, these graphics will be displayed on all body pages in your document that correspond to the particular master pages that contain the graphics. Again, keep in mind that, if you want to make a change, you must change each occurrence of the graphic on master pages.

Simple System Variables

FrameMaker provides system variables for use in headers and footers. System variables perform a variety of functions, and they update themselves based on information generated by the system. These type of system variables include the following:

  • Page number and page count

  • Current date, creation date, and revision date

  • Filename (short) and filename (long) (the full path)

Back to Basics

From a master page background text frame, use Format > Headers & Footers > Insert Page #.

These system variables are easy to include in a document.

Let’s look at how a simple system variable, such as a page number, works. You can implement this clever feature in your document by viewing the master page and selecting the page number variable from a menu to insert it into the header or footer. When viewed on the master page, the page number has no fixed quantitative value and is represented by a pound sign (#). When viewed on body pages, the page number reveals its quantitative value, automatically incrementing by 1 from page to page.

That’s all there is to it. Simple system variables are easy to use because you don’t have to think about them that much. You can read more on this topic in the section “Starting with the Easy Stuff” on page 82.

Medium-Strength System Variables

FrameMaker user variables fall under the medium-strength variety. They require a bit more effort than simple variables. User variables enable you to define fixed headers and footers that don’t change often. For example, you can create a user variable to contain a document title. Then insert that variable in the header area on several master pages used in your document. The document title will be displayed in the header, both on the body pages and the corresponding master pages.


Learn how to use Volume Numbers to perform a similar task in “Tricks with Volume Numbers” on page 88.

Now suppose that you decide to change the document title. In contrast to hard-typed text, when you change information stored in a user variable, you can simply change the variable definition in one place, and all occurrences of that variable update automatically—what a great time-saver.

For further exploration and some real-world examples of medium-strength variables, see the section “Working with Fixed Headers and Footers That Rarely Change” on page 84.

Industrial-Strength System Variables

FrameMaker provides more robust and powerful variables for use in headers and footers that vary from page to page in your document. Some of these include the following:

  • Chapter number and title

  • Subheading number and title

  • Dictionary-style headers

These industrial-strength variables are more complicated than the other varieties. To work correctly when viewed on document pages, they assume a value that relies on underlying detail elsewhere in the document. But what does that really mean?

These powerful variables are made up of “containers” that store references to particular paragraph tags. Information in paragraphs in your document that have the particular paragraph tags specified by the containers is automatically displayed in the header. Based on each occurrence of content with those paragraph tags, the header automatically changes from page to page.

If you can’t wait to start using these powerful variables, skip to the section “Working with Varying Headers and Footers” on page 90. Otherwise, to learn more about using the simpler system variables, read the next section.

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