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
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?
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.
Can the files provided be read?
Is the completed manuscript provided in one file
with all the content in the proper order?
Has all content editing been completed?
Has proofing for grammar and spelling been
completed? (We will read a few pages as a cursory check.)
Are there no improperly placed spaces, paragraph or
line breaks that need to be removed?
Is there no extensive formatting that will need to
Are there no special character attributes that will
need to be removed or replaced?
Are there no special fonts that are required?
Have all images been stored as separate
Have image locations been embedded in the manuscript
with the proper identifiers?
Have image captions been included with the imbedded
Are all images provided in the correct mode, size
Are all images ready (not requiring Photoshop work
such as trimming, tone, contrast, saturation, etc.)?
Are charts and graphs ready for placement and not
requiring to be reproduced?
Are tables set up to fit the width of the book's text block?
Are index, footnote and endnote markers correctly
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.
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
- Margins, indents, spaces,
soft returns, formatting and layout
- Manuscript File
- Rewriting Before, Not
- Fonts and Good Writing
- Titles, Subtitles and
- Be Open to Suggestions
by Irene Watson
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
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.
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
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
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
For one thing, all those italics, different fonts,
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
Fonts, bold words, and italics are never a
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
- 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
layout person knows a break will go there. Using all those fancy fonts
ultimately just is 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
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
out simply. You may want to number titles or subtitles like in an
For accuracy, submit a Table of Contents with your
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
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.
manuscript should include markers in the location where you would like
your photos to appear, perhaps in
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
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
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,
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
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
For more information on image resolution, see Photos and Images.
Be Open to Suggestions
Irene Watson is the Managing Editor of Reader Views.
Before you choose a book designer, be sure to get
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
Book designers have generally been doing their jobs
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
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
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.