I have a book in Microsoft Word format which I would like printed as a book as a present for someone. It is predominately text with a few black and white photos. From what I see, perfect binding looks like the best route. However the site I have looked at requires the book in PDF. They have told me to use InDesign, Gimp or Inkspace as a design software, then convert to PDF.

As I haven't used any of these, does anyone have any good advice on which is best to pick up, converting the Microsoft Word .doc to the design program first of all, then converting the result to PDF?

  • 3
    why can't you make a PDF from Word? Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 16:51
  • Welcome to Writers! Please have a look at our tour and help pages, and I hope you enjoy the site. Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 18:29
  • Just a heads-up - questions that are asking for product or service recommendations (which this question does, but only in part) rarely work well here and are often closed, as there's no canonical answer possible. (Questions asking for features to look for tend to work better.) Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 18:31
  • Thanks for the replies.. Hi Lauren, the lady I spoke to said that Word doesn't allow for bleed margins and proper layout, which the other software would... I have to say that searches on GIMP have predominantly thrown up graphics rather than text, so I am leaving that one, as my book is mainly text.
    – user23988
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 22:18
  • If you know someone who has MS Publisher (related to Word) that might do it.
    – user23046
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 23:51

4 Answers 4


They have told me to use INDESIGN, GIMP OR INKSCAPE as design software, then convert to PDF.

Whoever told you that, they either hate you or are on a wrong set of meds.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is for manipulating images, not book-length text.

INKSCAPE is a tool for creating and editing vector graphics, again, not book-length text.

Adobe InDesign would be a professional's choice for a job, but it has a steep learning curve, as any professional tool.

MS Word has an option of exporting files in PDF format, why not just do that, as @LaurenIpsum suggests?


I must recommend LaTeX. You're able to control all sorts of different factors, and it always looks beautiful in the end - and, of course, it can be converted into a PDF file. Using the book class is your best bet - I'd check out TeX Stack Exchange for information and advice. If you don't want to download the program (it's free, by the way) you can use Share LaTeX, which is online, and then just download the resulting PDF and send it off. Both LaTeX and Share LaTeX accept diagrams, so you can create those in Inkscape or whatever, and if using Share LaTeX, upload them to the site, and then they'll show up in the document.

Hope this helps!

  • 5
    I know a thing or two about LaTeX, and would not recommend it to anyone who so far has been using MS Word. In addition, the requirement of the print service may be hard to implment in LaTeX without detailed knowledge.
    – user23046
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 23:47
  • @RobtA, what the OP is using ("predominately text with a few black and white photos") is fairly easily created in LaTeX, even if the user is new. The few commands the user would have to use for this are fairly intuitive. Finally, if by the requirement of the print service you mean the need to have the document converted into a PDF file, if the OP uses ShareLaTeX, that literally is how it downloads, so it's very simple.
    – auden
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 0:26
  • OK, I will accept that. It is certainly easy for me (I have a document class on CTAN) but I thought it might be too difficult for someone else. My rationale was that the OP might not know what a bleed box is, or how to configure it, and needs a GUI.
    – user23046
    Commented Mar 14, 2017 at 1:27
  • Latex is not a good solution if you don't have programming skills. It has the highest skill requirement of any editor. Needing to know what a command is and what that means is a huge ask. That said, it gives you the largest range of configurability, so it has value for the expert. Still, this would not be my recommend when someone is struggling with file conversions.
    – Kirk
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 12:25
  • @Kirk I figured with another stack exchange site on the topic, the whole internet, etc. available as well as the fact the OP wouldn't really need many commands (to set up the document - there are many templates, to make some headings - very simple, and to insert images - there are many examples) made it an okay solution in this case.
    – auden
    Commented Mar 19, 2017 at 12:30

The simplest solution, which does not require any additional knowledge or software, is to re-size your images so that they do not approach the page edges.

If an image approaches the page edge (or reaches it, or goes past it), then you need the bleed box for commercial printing. This is a technical internal detail of PDF. It is not rocket science, but not all software enables it. Note that your home printer does not care.

If all images remain within the margins set for ordinary text (so that there is white space around each image) then you do not need a bleed box. For a one-off book, I would do it this way.

  • An alternative is to use Draw (LibreOffice) or some other very simple graphics package to take your photo and embed it in a larger white borderless rectangle, select both and export them as a new image you insert into the novel, instead of the original.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 11:22

Just for the record, on march 15 for LaTeX was available the new class of document: "novel". Is a streamlined configuration oriented to novel and stories. Its documentation is easy to understand and have great hints about publishing for fiction authors.

I have tried and found it well balanced and to the point. Just a clarification. It is still in the list of "experimental" packages, even it is not experimental at all. Its author created and used it for its own published books on demand.

You can get it from CTAN.org

  • I am the author of that novel package. It stopped being "experimental" a short time after issuance, and has been on the regular list. BUT... Due to recent changes in other TeX packages, novel now crashes. This is not due to any change in novel. Since I have no intention of revision my code each time some obscure package changes, I have requested that novel be removed.
    – user23046
    Commented Jun 7, 2017 at 18:14

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