Optimizing for online output before conversion

If your authoring process in FrameMaker is optimized for print output, consider the following before linking or importing FrameMaker documents into RoboHelp projects.

Heading formats

Determine the best mapping of FrameMaker heading formats to RoboHelp styles. FrameMaker documents define various heading formats specifically for print documentation. Among these formats are side heads and heading styles that start on a new page. These formats don’t apply to online formats. You generally map these heading styles to a few standard styles in the RoboHelp project.

Page layout settings

Often FrameMaker chapter templates specify an even number of pages so that new chapters begin on a recto (right) page. For online Help, ignore these pagination considerations.

Headers and footers

RoboHelp ignores headers and footers during conversion, including legal text such as “Confi­dential” and copyright lines. Include such text in the headers and footers in a separate step, after conversion. Similarly, in RoboHelp, re-create watermark text or images that you used in the printed documentation. Use the master page feature in RoboHelp to make these changes.


In print, cross-references specify page numbers which are irrelevant in Help. You can map cross-reference formats in FrameMaker to a format without the chapter and page number. Converting to online Help removes chapter and section titles in headers and footers. You can enhance navigability by using breadcrumbs, back and next buttons, and a defined browse sequence instead.

Redundant content

To provide context in different sections of a printed document, writers generally add redun­dant information such as brief summaries of concepts covered previously. Because online Help is a random-access, nonlinear medium, it requires less redundant content. Use cross-refer­ences and conditional text options to minimize redundant content in your outputs.

Chapter versus topic

Printed documentation requires you to segregate content into self-contained chapters, which allow readers to logically and physically separate content. Online Help segregates content at topic level, accessed one topic at a time. Although you can group the content within chapters into folders that expand when a user navigates the table of contents, only one topic appears at a time. In this case, try to provide comprehensive information without adding redundancy by chunking related topics together.

Context sensitivity

Online Help formats allow you to link specific topics to related content within the application workflow. Although you can assign map IDs to topics in RoboHelp, you can also assign context-sensitive Help markers in FrameMaker documents. RoboHelp reads these markers and assigns the map IDs to the generated topics. Ensure that sufficient information is contained in the topics that are created from FrameMaker.

For example, a short procedure as a stand-alone topic does not provide the conceptual infor­mation for the reader. To avoid creating topics with incomplete information, assign context-sensitive Help markers to topics at a higher level, so that the generated Help topic contains the concept, procedure, and any relevant graphics.

September 30, 2016

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