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What we do. Step-by-step process: how to get your book from manuscript to printed book. Estimate your costs by finding a book similar to yours.
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The Transformation - MS Word to InDesign

  • When I receive your final Word MS (manuscript), I will import it into InDesign and start formatting it.

  • It will then no longer be a Word document, but an InDesign document with a format no longer compatible with Word.

  • No new or revised Word MS should be sent after that, because conversion to InDesign and formatting would have to start all over again.

  • Once I start formatting, any changes to the MS content (now in InDesign) should come in the form of a marked-up PDF file. I will produce the PDF file of your book and send it to you for proofing and markup when formatting is completed.

  • Only under certain circumstances would it be practical to submit a new Word MS (when there are a large number of changes to a simple layout book). We would discuss this beforehand.

Indexing and Cross-referencing

  • If you are using automated indexing and cross-referencing in Word, it should all be completed and tested before the final Word MS is submitted.

  • If indexing and cross-referencing is to be done manually, it should be done at the end of production when the final InDesign document is completely formatted and final PDFs are produced.

Is your manuscript ready?

Book design costs are based on the time it takes to do the work. We can work with pretty-well anything you supply to us, but the closer the manuscript and associated material provided are ready for layout and formatting, the less time it will take us to complete the job (which equates to a lower cost!).

The best approach to manuscript preparation is "keep it simple". Anything more than straight-forward text entry may result in a need to undo what you've done. If you've already prepared your manuscript before reading this, send it to us before you start making changes. We will have a look at it and let you know how you could make it easier for us.

When we first see your manuscript and all associated material, we will examine it for the following. A more detailed explanation of How to Prepare Your Manuscript is given below.

  1. Can the files provided be read?

  2. Is the completed manuscript provided in one file with all the content in the proper order?

  3. Has all content editing been completed?

  4. Has proofing for grammar and spelling been completed? (We will read a few pages as a cursory check.)

  5. Are there no improperly placed spaces, paragraph or line breaks that need to be removed?

  6. Is there no extensive formatting that will need to be removed?

  7. Are there no special character attributes that will need to be removed or replaced?

  8. Are there no special fonts that are required?

  9. Have all images been stored as separate files?

  10. Have image locations been embedded in the manuscript with the proper identifiers?

  11. Have image captions been included with the imbedded identifiers?

  12. Are all images provided in the correct mode, size and resolution?

  13. Are all images ready (not requiring Photoshop work such as trimming, tone, contrast, saturation, etc.)?

  14. Are charts and graphs ready for placement and not requiring to be reproduced?

  15. Are tables set up to fit the width of the book's text block?

  16. Are index, footnote and endnote markers correctly placed?

If the answer to all these questions is “yes”, then you have a very well prepared manuscript! However, authors often don’t have the time or inclination to make sure all this is done. Do as much as you can, and we'll help you with the rest.

Image quality:

  • The resolution of photo images for books ideally should be 300 pixels per inch. For example, an image to fit across a 4” space on a page should be 1200 pixels wide (300 pixels  x  4").

  • The resolution of line drawing images should ideally be 600 pixels per inch.

  • Printers will either reject or provide a warning if images are more than 15% lower than the ideal resolution.

  • For more information on image quality, see my web page at:

How to find the dimensions (in pixels) of an image:

  • Mac users: Find the image file in your Finder, right click the image and select Get Info. A pop-up window will open with the dimensions of your image displaying in the More Info section. The dimensions show the pixel height and width of your photo.

  • PC users: Right click on the image file, look at Properties, and then view the Summary or Details tab.

Please ask us about anything you are not sure of. A simple question might save us both a lot of time, and save you $$$.

Here's  more on manuscript preparation:

How to Prepare Your Manuscript

  • Margins, indents, spaces, soft returns, formatting and layout
  • Manuscript File
  • Rewriting Before, Not After, Layout
  • Fonts and Good Writing
  • Titles, Subtitles and Sub-subtitles
  • Images
  • Be Open to Suggestions

by Irene Watson, Managing Editor of Reader Views

When authors finish their books, they may have ideas for how they want their books to look; however, too often authors either over-communicate with their book designers, or they fail to communicate clearly. Here are some tips for preparing your Word manuscript so it is ready to go to your book design/layout person for processing with the page layout program InDesign.

Margins, indents, spaces, soft returns, formatting and layout

  • Keep it simple. In fact, you should not concern yourself with layout at all, and very little with formatting since all the work you put into it will need to be undone by your book designer.

  • Set up margins if you like, but your margin setup will not be transferred nor used by your designer. Using the Word default margins would be just fine.

  • In the main body of your manuscript, let text automatically flow from one line to the next and from one page to the next. Hit Enter only at the end of each paragraph. Pressing Enter (hard return) or Shift Enter (soft return) to move the cursor to the next line or page will cause spacing problems when your manuscript is formatted into its final book size.

  • Do not use tabs or spaces to indent the first line of a paragraph; that will be taken care of automatically in InDesign. In fact, tabs should not be used at all other then in tables.

  • Keep it simple and it will be easier for your book designer to to make it look right.

Manuscript File

  • Your manuscript should consist of one file so there are no mix-ups in the order you want  all the contents to appear in your book. Be sure to have every part of the book included (title page, copyright page, acknowledgements, etc). See Parts of a Book

Rewriting Before Layout, Not After

  • Do not send your book to your book designer until it is as close to perfect as you can make it. You should not be rewriting anything once your layout person has the book in his hands. Rewriting a paragraph or adding or subtracting text can result in photographs moving, or mess up the text from widows and orphans on pages to a piece of text accidentally hiding itself. Furthermore, every change made after the book is laid out is an error waiting to happen that might be missed before the book is printed.

  • Since perfection is rather illusive, it is expected that, after getting the first few drafts, you will find some errors and changes you would like to make. Making changes in the InDesign program is not difficult, but it does take time (which is billed to you!), and as mentioned above, it can lead to other problems.

Fonts and Good Writing

  • Too many authors try to emphasize their points by using special fonts and sizes. Beyond just overusing italics, underlining and bold, they also use special fonts and font sizes for titles and subtitles. If you are a GOOD writer you do not “need” to over-emphasize the KEY words in your book.

  • For one thing, all those italics, different fonts, bold and underlined words are a distraction and make the book not only visually unappealing, but difficult to read. Furthermore, they distract the reader from your content and meaning. In short, they are almost never necessary. Trust me, save the fancy fonts and italics for when you really need to emphasize something. That doesn’t mean the one word in a sentence or the one sentence in a paragraph. It means the one word or phrase in a chapter—yes, a chapter, and even that is pushing it. More emphasis than that will just irritate your reader—in fact, it sometimes will make your reader feel like you are hammering your point to death because you think your reader is not smart enough to understand what you are saying. More likely, if you feel you need to hammer your point home, you need to make your point clearer.

  • Fonts, bold words, and italics are never a substitute for good writing. If you can’t get your point across with good writing, you won’t succeed through overemphasis and fancy fonts.

Titles, Subtitles and Sub-subtitles

  • Word Styles: A considerable amount of production time can be saved by the book designer if the imported Word manuscript has had styles assigned to headings, sub-heads, bullets, indented text, etc. This time-saving function applies particularly to books that have several heading levels and many body text categories. It is not a difficult procedure to learn, and it can make your own work much easier and consistent. See MS Word Styles
  • If you’re writing a novel, you probably have only chapter titles and perhaps the occasional scene shift. However, you must make it clear in your manuscript where one part ends and the next begins. That doesn’t mean going crazy with the fonts or sizes. The best thing to do is simply to use Times Roman 12, and where necessary, center a title and leave a space between it. For a new scene, insert a couple of asterisks ** between the old and new scenes so the layout person knows a break will go there. Using all those fancy fonts is ultimately just more work for your layout person who will end up having to change them anyway. The more work you give your designer, the more he’ll probably charge you as well.

  • In non-fiction books, the layout can be more complicated as you may have many points to make with sections and subsections and even charts and graphs to include. If you are not going to use MS Word Styles (as mentioned in the first point above), the best advice is to lay everything out simply. You may want to number titles or subtitles like in an outline.

  • For accuracy, submit a Table of Contents with your manuscript to your layout person to reference. In the Table of Contents, include all the chapter titles and subtitles so they are clear and so your layout person can find them. Don't bother with page numbers; that'll be taken care of automatically by your designer. For example, you might create a Table of Contents that looks like this:

Part I: Why Am I Fat?
        Chapter 1: My Family is Fat
                Food is Love
                Eat Everything on Your Plate
                You’re Fat Like Your Mother
        Chapter 2: I Eat When I’m Depressed
                The Vicious Cycle of Dieting
                Finding Substitutes to Cheer Us Up
Part II: Diet and Exercise

Remember, your layout person is not going to read your book, just lay it out, so make things clear for him.


  • Be sure you have all your images collected before you start the book layout. That includes making sure you have permission to use them. Few things are more frustrating for a layout person than to be told the images are coming and not to know where they will be placed in the book.

  • Your manuscript should include markers in the location where you would like your photos to appear, perhaps in red on a separate line. The marker would contain the photo file number or name, followed by the caption you would like to appear with the photo.
    For example:  Photo 21: Annie Oakley in her twenties.

  • If you are doing a book with numerous images, you may want to name the photo file with numbers to make it easier for you and your book designer to locate them in the photo folder.
    For example:  21_Annie Oakley.JPG

  • All images in your book should be supplied separately. If they are supplied only as imbedded images in Word, they will very likely have to be extracted by your designer and checked for mode, resolution, size, etc,. Extracting imbedded files from a Word document while preserving their original resolution requires some time-consuming work. You can, however, leave your images imbedded in your Word document, as long as you also provide them as separate files. The imbedded images will be used as image placement markers, then removed by your designer and replaced with seperately stored images.

  • Be sure to ask your layout person how the images need to be submitted and in what format—jpegs, tiffs, etc., and what dpi (resolution)? Images downloaded from the Internet will not usually have a good enough resolution to be reproduced on paper in a book—and don’t forget they are usually copyrighted. 

  • Poor image resolution is one of the most common errors made in manuscript preparation. Be sure your images are of the proper resolution, that is, 300 pixels per inch. For example, photos for a 4.5" wide text block should be around 1350 pixels wide (300 pixels x 4.5"). Line art should be of an even higher resolution, say, 500 to 600 pixels per inch.
    For more information on image resolution, see Photos and Images.

Be Open to Suggestions

  • Before you choose a book designer, be sure to get recommendations from other authors. You might ask for samples of the designer’s work. Discuss your book with the designer and see what he recommends and what ideas he has for its design to make sure you are both “on the same page.”

  • Book designers have generally been doing their jobs for a long time. They will have reasons why they choose certain fonts, type sizes, or margins for your book, primarily so the book will be appealing visually and also accessible to your readers. Convey your ideas to your designer, but do not micromanage the process.

  • Ask the book designer to layout just a few pages so you can see them and approve the font, size, and headers. Then once you like the look of the book, let the book designer do his or her job. Wait until you see the proofs and then you can make whatever small adjustments necessary.

  • By following these simple common sense guidelines, you’ll end up with a beautiful book that will meet or exceed your expectations. Not only will you and your book designer both still be on speaking terms, but you can both be proud of the end result.

Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views.

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