I must write a book for the university and I am looking for software. The style that I want is like the books of O'Reilly, Apress or Packt.

I need:

  • Insert a table of contents (automatic).
  • Divide and numerate chapters.
  • Insert code. Highlighting (automatic).
  • Insert formulas
  • Insert notes, warning boxes...
  • Insert elements: images, schemas, tables
  • Insert a table of figures/images (automatic).
  • Insert a index (automatic).
  • Custom design: custom layout, fonts, colors...
  • Export document: PDF, HTML.

Software/tools that I have considered:

  • Microsoft Word
  • A markdown editor
  • LaTeX
  • Adobe InDesign

Inconveniences that I have found:

  • MS Word is hard for hightligh syntax (?)
  • Markdown editors are limited for complex structures (?)

I haven't used LaTeX and InDesign.

Which is the more appropriate software/tools for write a tech book?

Note: I don't have reputation enough for tag correctly this question.

  • Quoting the help: "Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much." The topical question is far too large, and for the question in the content: do you want us to convince you that yes, LaTeX is the correct choice?
    – SF.
    Sep 18, 2014 at 20:02
  • Hi, and welcome to Writers. This is way too broad as written. You're asking for four things just in the title of the question, and "general recommendations" is too broad all by itself. Pick one thing you want to ask about; it looks like software is what you want to focus on. Sep 18, 2014 at 21:36
  • I've edited for focus. SF, Lauren, does this question work now?
    – Standback
    Sep 19, 2014 at 5:13
  • Actually, software questions are on-topic here so long as they're reasonably about writers using them (e.g. "how do I make a section heading in Word?" is not on-topic). See: meta.writers.stackexchange.com/q/875/1993. Sep 19, 2014 at 20:06
  • Do you need particular output formats? (PDF only, also HTML, anything else?) Sep 19, 2014 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


If you want a book to look like O'Reilly books, perhaps try DockBook, a system developed by that publisher.


LaTeX is the way to go. MS Word has improved a lot since the beginning (at least, so I'v been told, because I personally don't use it), but for equations and few other things (e.g. microkerning) it cannot compete with LaTeX. Adobe InDesign is more for professional typographers than writers.

Typically publishers of technical books provide to their authors LaTeX classes which conform to the publisher's style; other, possibly customizable, book classes can be found in LaTeX distributions.

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