I hope you don't mind me introducing myself to the list and then asking
a question straight away.  My name is Mark, I am based in Oxford, UK,
and I write reports that assist pharmaceuticals with their marketing
authorisations - at least that's the interesting part of my job. 

I've been looking at Framemaker for some time now, basically as an
alternative to grappling with changing layouts in Microsoft Word and
Publisher.  The bottom line is that I enjoy writing content but I loathe
the fiddling around with layout.  The fiddling always seems to involve
1) thinking that everything looks ok 2) printing a hardcopy, and then
realising that it doesn't look so good so editing it until my waste bin
is, well, full of waste.

My first step into Framer-dom (other than watching the Adobe demo and
downloading some whitepapers) was buying a cheap sealed copy of
Framemaker 5.5 in March on Ebay, which I plan to upgrade, either to 7.2
or 8 (when it's available).  The reason I am being so hesitant to just
go out and buy the software and subsribe to every training course
available (other than cashflow) is that I am basically unsure whether
Framemaker will do the job I want it to, hence I will try to describe
what I need as follows in the hope that someone can advise me.

My job involves producing 40 page reports in Microsoft Word.  These
reports are  nearly identical.  I use the mailmerge feature in Word to
import variables such as the date of the report, the name of the product
on which the report is based, the final score that the product achieved
and so on.  These are inserted at the relevant points in the text using
mailmerge.  Tables and graphs from an Excel spreadsheetare are then
copied and pasted into the report manually.

Is this something that I can do better using Framemaker?  Please bear in
mind that I am something of a perfectionist and would like to make my
reports look beautiful, but easy to produce.  Would listees please share
their experiences in terms of how long it took them to get to grips with
this kind of functionality (I speak of mailmerge type things)?

I hope I have expressed myself clearly.  If there is any further
information I need to provide please let me know.  I really appreciate
your attention and look forward to making your acquaintances,

Best wishes, Mark 

Mark Lawrence
First Read This
+44 01865 30 40 52

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