A Special Report

Creating an Ebook in Word and PDF

A poorly designed Ebook or Report will usually discourage readers from taking the time to look at your work and they'll click away, never to return.

It's often a challenge to know exactly "How to Do" things like Creating Articles and eBooks in Word and PDF formats. This Special Report has the answers
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            Creating an Ebook in Word and PDF
Moira Allen
* Since this article was written, it is a lot easier to create PDF files – OPENOFFICE and Miscrosoft Word programs will do it with one simple click on the PDF icon on the top task bar. The author's original text has been modified to reflect these shortcuts.

There are a number of situations in which you may find it necessary to create your own Ebook.

Perhaps you want to offer information from your Web site, or self-publish a book that you haven't been able to market to a "traditional" publisher. 

Perhaps you're working with an e-publisher, distributor or print-on-demand publisher who wants you to provide a fully formatted book (or who will charge extra formatting costs if you don't).

The good news is that, with a few clicks of your mouse, you can convert your manuscript directly into an Ebook.


The most common file format for an Ebook is Adobe Acrobat PDF. You'll be doing the actual "design" of your book in your word-processing program, however. (If you have a complex design that includes lots of illustrations, you may wish to use a desktop publishing program such as Pagemaker or Quark; however, that's beyond the scope of this column.)

   Since Word is the most commonly used word processing program (and the program in which most e-publishers will expect your document), this article will focus on formatting in Word. 

   You do not need to actually own Adobe Acrobat to convert your Ebook into a PDF file. However, if you want to add more features to your PDF document (such as hotlinked URLs, forms, or pages imported from other programs), you will need to buy the program. 

   It costs around $200 and is well worth the price, particularly if you expect to create more than one Ebook.

                                         Designing Your Ebook 

   A badly formatted Ebook will alienate readers more quickly than a badly designed print book. At best, it will look amateurish; at worst, it will be difficult to read or "navigate." Fortunately, you can create a professional "look" with just a few simple Word* commands.
                       * Microsoft Word
and OPENOFFICE have similar commands.
The references to specific commands in the rest of this
                     article usually are applicable to either word processor.
   You'll need to consider the following elements:

    Page size. Most books aren't formatted to an 8.5x11-inch page. Ebooks are typically between 5x7 and 6x9 (with 5.5x8.5 being a typical format). Your first step, therefore, is to set a custom page size in Word's or OpenOffice's "Page Setup" menu.

   Margins. Use Word's "Format: Document" command to set margins to a minimum of three quarters of an inch on all sides. (You may wish to set top and/or bottom margins slightly larger if you plan to use a header and/or footer.) Since Ebooks don't have "left" and "right" pages, turn off the "mirror margins" option.

   Headers and Footers. Place a "running header" at the top of each page. The easiest approach is to simply include the title of your book and the page number. You can place this information flush left, flush right, or centered. Place the title flush left and the page number flush right. I recommend using a slightly smaller font size for the header, and (if you like) using italic or bold. Another option is to put the title in your header and the page number in your footer. 

   To make sure that your header doesn't appear on the first page of each chapter, you'll need to use the "Insert: Break: Section: Next Page" command (rather than a page break) to separate chapters. Then, make sure that you've checked "different first page" in the "Format: Document: Layout" menu. You can also create a new header for each chapter (e.g., using the chapter title rather than the book title); to do this, turn off the "same as previous" option in the header command.

    Font. It's best to use standard fonts such as Times, Times New Roman, Century/New Century Schoolbook, or Palatino. Non-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica are good for chapter headings and subheads. Use a minimum of 11 points for your text, and 12 to 14 points for subheads. (Keep in mind that the reader can increase the display size of your book when reading it onscreen.) Since some fonts look better onscreen than in print, and vice versa, test your fonts both ways!

   Illustrations. One nice feature of an Ebook is that it doesn't cost extra to include photos, drawings, charts, etc. Illustrations do add to the total file size of your Ebook, howeverÑand this is an important consideration for the reader. (Keep in mind that many e-publishers and POD publishers won't accept illustrations.) 

   If you have a scanner, you can scan your own illustrations and convert them to .gif or .jpg files. A program like Photoshop will enable you to crop, enlarge, or reduce those images, or make other modifications. It will also enable you to save them at a lower resolution, thus reducing file size.

   While Word does allow you to incorporate illustrations in your text, it's not always easy to position them precisely where you want them. If you plan to use a lot of illustrations, you might want to consider using a desktop publishing program. When laying out photos or illustrations, be sure to leave an ample margin between the image and the surrounding text, and, where appropriate, include captions.

    Front Matter. Your book doesn't really start with "Chapter One, page one." It starts with "front matter," including:

     * A title page

     * A copyright page. The easiest way to generate one of these is to check the copyright page of any print book and type in the same information, substituting your own name, book title, date, etc. Don't include the "Library of Congress" information or the numbers that indicate the "edition" of the book. Don't bother with an ISBN unless you actually plan to offer physical copies of the book (e.g., on disk) through electronic bookstores like Amazon.com.

    * Create the © symbol by typing 0169 while holding down the ALT key on your PC  

    * Acknowledgements, if desired      

    * Table of contents (you can generate this automatically in Word by using "headings" formats for your chapter titles and subheads). 

   While many print books number front matter separately from the rest of the book, this can be awkward in an Ebook. The easiest approach is to treat the first page of your book (even if it's the title page) as "Page 1." 

   Back matter. The back of your book is a good place for an index, your bio, and contact information. It's also a good place to include advertisements for any other books that you are selling. (Keep in mind that even though your book may be formatted in one page size, you can easily include 8.5x11 flyers in the same book!)

                                                Formatting in Acrobat 

   Adobe Acrobat takes your Word document and displays it "as is" in a PDF file. To generate a PDF file, use the "print" command in Word and select the "Save as File" option under the "General" pull-down menu. Select "Acrobat PDF" as the file type and set "Destination" to "File." Hit the "print" button and your document will be converted to a PDF file. 

           *In current versions of MSWord and OPENOFFICE, clicking on the pdf icon
           in the top taskbar will create the PDF file.

You can automatically hotlink every URL in the text (be sure to include the http:// prefix on all URLS). I recommend underlining links or formatting them in a color, such as blue, so that the reader will easily recognize them as hotlinks.

   You can link your table of contents directly to the text. You can also import pages or files from other programs, including charts and illustrations. (If you plan to import files, leave a blank page in your original document, to be replaced by the imported page; otherwise, your pagination will be incorrect.) You can also set various protection levels for your book (including a restriction on printing, though I don't recommend this!).

                                                       Should You Zip It? 

    If you have a "long" Ebook i.e., a large computer file you may wish to compress it. Otherwise, your Ebook may take too long to download. All you need to compress your Ebook is a program such as DropStuff or DropZip; you can download free demo versions of these programs for Windows or Mac from Aladdin Systems. 

    DropStuff will create a .sit file; DropZip will create a .zip file. (I have found little difference between these two.) If you compress your Ebook file, your readers must be able to open those files again, so it's a good idea to provide a link to a site where the user can download a free version of such programs as WinZip or Stuffit Expander. 

    Self-publishing no longer means paying a small fortune for design and printing. With a little planning and the right software, you can create your own Ebook with a few clicks of a mouse!

Adobe - http://www.adobe.com
Produces Adobe Acrobat and the Acrobat Reader.
Adobe Tryouts - http://www.adobe.com/products/tryadobe/main.jhtml
You can convert a limited number of files to PDF format free at this site,
or sign up for a monthly service. 
WinZip  http://www.winzip.com/ 
Open Office - http://www.openoffice.org/download/
The FREE Productivity Suite that rivals Microsoft Office

           Moira Allen is the editor of http://www.writing-world.com and the author of more than 300
           published articles. Her books on writing include Starting Your Career as a Freelance Writer

   Our Reports and Getting  Started Tools are updated regularly by RichardPresents.com.

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