Wilkie Martin - Surviving Publication

Author of the unhuman series of addictive comedy cozy mysteries set in the Cotswolds. This documents my encounters with publishing and includes things I hope will be useful later. It also covers some local writing competitions and reviews some writing events.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Creating a PDF for a novel in MS Word

We started the process by preparing my novel as a PDF to see how it would look in book form. The first step was to combine my separate MS Word Chapters into one document and then to adjust the MS Word page settings to try to get a reasonable PDF document. In case what we have done might help fellow authors at a similar stage, this is the process we followed and the specific settings we used. We don't know if this is the best way to do it - but it is how we did it. No specific publisher's specifications were used, so if you know who you are aiming at then check their requirements.
(For help in any other settings or different options there are many self-help books in this field. We found Aaron Shepard’s book ‘Perfect Pages’ useful to identify some of the settings we've used . )

(We used MS Word 2003, but these settings looked ok when seen and amended in MS Windows 97)


  • 1. Open a new MS Word document
  • 2. Set the document name and author. (File->Properties)
  • 3. On separate lines enter the number # for each chapter in the book (so you can keep track of where you are).
  • 4. Insert a section break between each of these lines. (Insert->Break, tick Section Break for type: next page)
  • 5. Import each chapter under it's relevant heading. (Insert->File).


  • 1. Select the whole document, and choose a common font, and font size. We're currently using Century Schoolbook, 12pt. (We picked Century Schoolbook as that is used in Terry Pratchett's books and is the look we wanted.)
  • 2. Set all the text to be type 'Normal'.
  • 3. With all text still selected (or select apply to Whole Document), change the formatting to be justified so it lines up with the margin on both sides (use the icon box 'justify').
  • 4. With all text still selected (or select apply to Whole Document), change on File->Page Setup, on the Paper tab, set Width to 156 mm and Height to 235 mm.
  • 5. With all text still selected, change on File->Page Setup, on the Margins tab, set Orientation to Portrait, and Pages to 'Mirror Margins', set Top Margin to 1.5cm, Bottom Margin to 1 cm, Gutter Margin to 1 cm, Left Margin to 1.5 cm, Right Margin to 1.5cm.
  • 6. With all text still selected, change on File-> Page Setup, on the Layout tab, untick 'Different first page’ for headers and footers, set 'Header from edge' to 0.5 cm, set 'Footer from edge' to 1 cm.
  • 7. With all the text selected, change on Format->Paragraph set line spacing to exactly 14pt (which is the chosen font size + 2 pt).
  • 8. With all the text selected, change on Format->Paragraph on the Line and Page Breaks tab, untick 'Widow/orphan control'.
  • 9. With all the text still selected, in Tool->Options,on Compatibility, tick ‘Do full justification like WordPerfect 6.x for Windows’ and tick ‘Don't use HTML: paragraph auto spacing’.
  • 10. Switch on the formatting marks so you can see them in the document (Tools->Options, on View, for Formatting marks tick All).
  • 11. Review the whole document. Remove extra tabs (these appear as little arrows) so that the formatting can be set once and be consistent for the whole document.
  • 12. When the whole document has been reviewed for spurious formatting commands, then, switch the formatting marks back off (Tools->Options, on View, for Formatting marks untick All).
  • 13. Review the document for paragraphs that need to be separated from the preceding text and use Format->Paragraph and set the 'Space before' to 28pt (2* font size + 4pt) and the 'Space after' to 28pt (2 * font size + 4pt).
  • 14. Review the document for paragraphs where the text should be kept together (eg in a letter) use Format->Paragraph on Line and Page Breaks tick Keep lines together.
  • 15. Replace any double spaces with a single space (Edit->Replace). Repeat this until no changes are made.
  • 16. Replace any " (double straight quote) characters with " (replace with the same double straight quote character) and the setting in step 9 should change it to one of the double "" curly quotes when the replace is done.
  • 17. Replace any ' (single straight quote) character with ' (single straight quote character) and again the setting in step 9 should change one of the single ‘ curly quotes.
  • 18. Replace … with . . . . (space.space.space.space)
  • 19. Replace contracted words starting ‘xyz with ’xyz (we did this by looking for space quote and then replacing the quote with two straight quotes, which are converted to curly quotes by step 9, and then removed the one we didn't want).
  • 20. With all the text selected, in the top ruler line, change the general indent setting. Move the up and down arrow and little box so that they align with each other. Then drag the down pointing arrow half a centimeter to the right to give the indent. And click on the rule bar at the down arrow point to create a tab mark (like a small black L). If you don't have a little ruler then select it using Tools->Options, on the View tab, tick to Show Horizontal scroll bar.
  • 21. Find the start of each section and set the heading type on the first heading line to 'Heading 2' and set the font (Century Schoolbook 10 pt). Change the formatting on these lines to be 'centre'.
  • 22. At the start of each section select the whole of the first paragraph, and in the top ruler line (as in step 20) drag the down pointing arrow to align with the upwards pointing arrow and little box (so the first paragraph is not indented).


  • 1. Go to the top of the document and add an extra section break (Insert->Break, tick Section break for new page). Insert->Reference->Index and Tables, on the 2nd tab 'Index and Tables', set show levels to at least 2, tick 'show page numbers', and 'right align', untick 'use hyperlink'.
  • 2. When the index is generated select the whole text and choose the font and font size wanted.(Although we took the table of contents out in the end) .


  • 1. Set page numbers, Insert->Page Numbers, select 'Bottom of Page (Footer)', 'Centre' alignment and tick 'Show number of first page'.


  • 1. Select header/footer view using View->Header and Footer. Go to the start of every section and check ‘same as previous’ setting is present (it appears as text 'same as previous' above the dotted header box). The 'same as previous' icon is on the Header Footer popup toolbar that appears as two pages with a dotted arrow below them.
  • 2. Use the icons that includes left and right arrows on the end of the Headers and Footer popup toolbar to move between section headers. At the start of the first chapter's section select File->Page Setup and on the Layout tab, untick 'Different first page', and tick 'Different Odd and Even pages'. Use the left/right arrows to move between the odd and even page headers.
  • 3. If on the odd page put in the book title (in upper case) and centre.
  • 4. If on the even page put in your name (in upper case) and centre.


  • 1. Add a title page for the first page in the book (this is the first page not the cover page) with title and author. Use a larger font of the same style. (Century Schoolbook 26 pt)
  • 2. Set 'Spacing before' to 144pt (2 inches) using Format->Paragraph.
  • 3. Set 'Spacing before' and 'Spacing After' to 28pt for the author name line.
  • 4. Add a 2nd page to hold the copyright information (this is also one place where the publisher and ISBN information would also go).
  • 5. Set 'Spacing before' and 'Spacing After' to 28pt for all the lines so it is well spaced out.
  • 6. On the start of the first chapter, select View Header and Footer and remove the 'same as previous' setting (see step 1 in adding headers and footers above). Move up to the new front page and clear the headers. (Use the next/previous section icon to check the title is still present on the first chapter.)


  • 1. Using the Print Preview icon, review the whole document. Check the layout and page/line breaks are all ok.


  • 1. The PDF generator we are using is free and is ok for viewing the output. The one we are using is PrimoPDF (http://www.primopdf.com/)
  • 2. Once the application is loaded, to generate the PDF file from MS Word, Print the document and select the printer called ‘PrimoPDF’. We use the default Print menu options. This will then ask for the location of the generated PDF file. The settings we use within PrimoPDF are:
    PDFSetting:– tick print
    and set
    Document properties: enter title and author
    Security:128 bit encryption, enter a password for the change PDF, tick allow user to print, tick allow user to copy, tick always use these settings
    Options: tick overwrite existing file, tick launch application after conversion.
  • 3. The application we use to view the document is adobe reader (http://get.adobe.com/reader).
    Print the first few pages and review. And gradually print and review the whole document.
  • 4. When you see what your document looks like in the application that opens (in adobe if that is what you are using), then adjust until you have the layout you want. If you add/remove pages then go back to the index and either regenerate it (right click it, and update field) so the numbers are right, or in Tools->Options, on Print tab, tick 'Update fields'.

We intend documenting some other processes that we think may be useful.


If you are at the same stage, then good luck. Let us know how you get on.