I need a document editing software with following features:

  • Separate content and style editing. I want to be able to create different style sheets for text and restrict document only to those styles. While editing content you select style from predetermined set. It must not allow frivolously changing text properties like font, size, color etc like you would do in a Microsoft Word document.
  • I want to be able to create structure of the document independently from the content. If you want to edit or remove section you need to do it not from within the document but rather through table of contents "feature". To edit, add or remove content you need to select section you want to work on and then edit it.
  • When you want to add pictures, tables etc, you add it to "resource" section and then add reference in the content.
  • It must have features like header, footer, background etc.
  • When you are done editing document you need to "export" it to generate final document with styles applied to it.

I know it sounds more like HTML or web content but intent is to separate style from content for non-web document editing.


This sounds sort of like a description of FrameMaker or some other desktop publishing tool. FrameMaker has been the premier tool for writers creating large, complex technical documents since the early 90's.

FrameMaker (Wikipedia)

FrameMaker has separate paragraph, character, and table styles. Once created, you can save them and apply them (any or all three) to other documents. Frame lets you create page templates as desired. Each page template can have a different margins, orientation, headers/footers/background, etc.

Frame supports multi-file "books" created from sub-documents and has menu options to add a separate TOC, Table of tables, figures, references, etc. as files within a "*.book" file.

You can generate output as PDF, and export to RTF, and several other on-line formats.

The thing you don't get is plain text files, of course. Frame's files (.fm*) are binary.

I'm not an Adobe fan (I've been using Frame for 25 years and loved Frame Technologies and still rue the day Adobe bought the app), but still think this is the best writing tool for serious, large documents available anywhere.

The GUI allows for customization, there's a very strong third-party community who have macros and applications, and the most recent revs also have a scripting language.

It isn't cheap, but it's the most powerful writing tool out there.

I've worked with 200-300 page books with 70+ images (all separate from .fm file and referenced to a drive location) and tables running, in some cases, 30+ pages.

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