How to assemble a book in MS Word?

Noticed that we don’t have a specific software section (or I just couldn’t find it) so for the time being I’ll leave it here.

I have some 1 000 articles written over several years and have been toying with the idea of turning those into a book. But there are a lot of complications around this and I’m a bit schtumped about how to proceed.

There are illustrations in almost all the articles, can I just select text and avoid the graphics (never encountered the need before)?

Also somewhat taken back about all the reformating that needs to be done. Watched a whole bunch of YT videos on this topic but they all start out with a perfect planned project whereas I need to separate wheat and chaff. Google searches comes up with nothing applicable (is it just me or are they getting less and less relevant?).
Also thinking of doing two versions, one with a complete set of notes and one without. Is there an easy way to accomplish that? My thinking is that it must be easier to somehow delete all the notes for a separate version, but can that be accomplished in bulk, or do I have to sit and do them one by one?
Have a whole lot of other conondrums but don’t want to scare you guys just yet.

As a person w/ decades of experience in publishing and graphic design who has done projects as small as folded laminated informational pocket booklets through 2,200 page directories, and giant point of presence displays, my suggestion on this is:


There are two types of long documents w/ graphics in Microsoft Word:

  • those which are corrupt
  • those which are not yet corrupt, but eventually will be

If typography were easy, Word wouldn’t be the foetid mess which it is.

Use Microsoft Publisher if you want a Microsoft application, spring for InDesign, get the Serif Affinity Publisher program, use the opensource Scribus, or, use (La)TeX — using LyX as a front-end would make that pretty simple.

Having two versions is easily done using conditional formatting which is turned on/off (it’s often done for student/instructor versions of textbooks for example).

If you’re willing to use either of the free/opensource programs Scribus or (La)TeX, I’ll gladly walk through the entire design w/ you here, or in some forum suitable to that.


That is hilarious! :rofl: And at the same time it brings back scary memories of seeing large red crosses in place of previously perfectly fine images. Sound advice! :+1:t2:


Graphics (pictures and ukiyo-e) would be something for the publisher to deal with. I’m just considering the manuscript. Even if I do a copy & paste into (La)TeX I still need to be able to select only text, right? Or does it have a paste only text option? Sorry, I have never used it and neither do I have any experience in Linux.

I am somewhat aware that Word doesn’t handle long documents well.

If you’re getting a publisher to finalise it, then it’ll be up to what software they use. In that case though, they’ll likely just want the text in the order you want it and do the rest themselves. For this, they often accept Word documents as it is just text (with notes for the general location images might go).

If you do for some reason need to do some of the page layout yourself:

  • Microsoft Publisher is pretty good but I don’t know of any publishers that use it as it is missing quite a lot of advanced features (gotta get that kerning just right). It doesn’t corrupt like Word, but large files can make it very slow.
  • InDesign is an industry ‘standard’. As is QuarkXPress. Both are expensive.
  • Serif Affinity Publisher is another ‘upstart’ made to take on Adobe. It has most of the same features, though some things are done differently, or occasionally not there. It’s decently priced, though not an industry ‘standard’.
  • Scribus suffices if you have no money. Do note that of the publications they show use it, they are all niche and frankly look pretty bad.
  • (La)TeX is very powerful, but oof, only really use that if you’re a masochist. Lyx makes it more bearable, but it’s your standard OpenSource fare.

Used to have a copy of the predecessor to InDesign, was it PageMaker? But that doesn’t run in a modern computer. Another one I’ve heard of is Scrivener, is that any good?
The publishing houses I’ve been in contact with recommended either Word or PDF. Hence my question on hownto go about it in Word.

Scrivener is great for the process of compiling/writing your book. It’s for idea management.

I’ve no idea if publishers accept it though. I do know that some of the big publishers are very much in the Word camp. They just get their clients/authors to send them the text and handle all the page layout stuff themselves.

As you’re planning on getting a publisher to do a lot of the work, you really need to decide on which publisher and they should tell you how they want you to submit your work.

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The question is how the publisher wants to handle it — traditional way is for the author to provide:

  • manuscript — this should be as clean as possible, just italics and small caps and so forth and styles for headings for formatting, and endnotes if need be, w/ callouts for placed figures/art
  • figures/artwork — provide a good quality digital image, named so as to be unambiguously matched up w/ the callout in the manuscript

The publisher would then:

  • have a design/template worked up
  • import the text
  • place the images
  • adjust the text and images so that everything falls out as nicely as it can (in my entire life, I’ve had exactly one chapter come out perfectly on import/initial formatting — fastest 40 minutes of my life)
  • output proofs for approval

Some publishers now have the author provide a finished text as a PDF which is press-ready.

To get things into LaTeX you would:

  • export all the text and import it, and apply markup
  • export all the images to separate files and add a command at each place they are needed to import them. If you have all your images in Word you will want to extract them somehow.

That is the problem, the book will basically be an editet version of almost 1 000 blog posts and 95 % of those have a couple of illustrations. The blog is created in Word, hence my little predilection to stay within that system.

Is one blog post per file an option? Have each one start a new page?


Perhaps deciding on chapters would be a good idea, and then having one Word file per chapter and a new page for each post within that?

Again though, it really depends on what your publisher will want.


FWIW (not much) I remember from the nineties that word has an option to build a master manuscript out of separate files. This allows you to work with smaller files and minimizes the risk of file corruption while editing. If all blog posts use the same style for headings I think you can even auto generate a ToC for the entire assembled doc.

But then again, it’s probably wise to heed the advice from the experienced folks in this thread and stay away from Word if possible. :slight_smile:

If anything, multi-book files are more prone to corruption than long documents w/ graphics.

Do not go there.

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This part is the easy part: “There are illustrations in almost all the articles, can I just select text and avoid the graphics (never encountered the need before)?”

Select eveything in the source docs & then “Copy.”
In the destination doc, right click & select the “text” option under “Paste.”
No images get pasted.

The ultimate “…reformating that needs to be done” is another whole story that the others above have sugested better solutions that I could have.

Good luck!


Then it also lose all formatting like bold, italics etc?

Unfortunately yes.


If you simply want to remove the images, search for ^g and replace w/ nothing (if my uncertain organic memory is correct).


Ahh, hidden codes. After leaving Wordperfect I had completely forgotten about their existence. Thank you, these are exactly the tips and hidden gems I’m after.

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