Word docs

Got into a little discussion on Twitter, when someone stated that the stigma of self-publishing is enforced “when the book cover and design looks like it was done in MS Word.”

I don’t design covers in word. But I do design the text inside with word. I lay out the text, make sure it fits, and looks good. I’m confident that the contents of my books look like the contents of most traditionally published books.

So it felt a little overbearing to relate MS Word as a joke to say something is terrible quality and self-published. I defended word once, and was told that no, MS word isn’t to be used for publishing. I wouldn’t use it for publishing either. Just layout. And finally, we come to the main point that the person was thinking: the junk data contained in MS word docs.

And then I got it. MS Word docs are horrendous at times for one simple reason: they track your changes, and save all that data inside the document. In other words, my story might only be 5k words, but it could be the size of an 80k novel in the background due to the doc saving all your changes. This also has given me grief when converting files for Smashwords or Amazon’s Kindle. It’s a great feature for writers and editors, but terrible for the people that end up getting the doc and have to print it. That doesn’t apply to me, but it does apply to others.

So, when working with Word docs, always disable markup and tracking. I go a step farther and copy all text in a new document that has always had the tracking disabled once I’ve finished the draft, though that isn’t always needed. This is an important point to working with word documents.

I love MS Word for my novels. I don’t usually write the novels themselves in it (Scrivner, the only reason I have a mac, period), but now that I know how to use it well, I can appreciate it’s usefulness to the self-publisher who doesn’t have access to anything better.

359 words I could have used in a novel.

About James Ashman

I write books of the fantasy, heroic, and adventure types. So far. I'm an author who loves fantastic stories.
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