Hints and Tips

Preparing Text for Publication

The basic procedure for self-publishers is to prepare the text in a word processor (eg Word), scan any images required, place the text and images in a desktop publishing package (eg InDesign) then output a PDF file (Portable Document Format) to a DVD and take the disc to a commercial printer for printing and binding.

Can you guess the main reason why you can’t use Word from start to finish for a book with a significant number of illustrations? No? – didn’t think so. Believe it or not, you cannot have a page in Word that contains an absolutely positioned image and no text – for example a full page illustration on page 4 with the text flowing around it from page 3 to page 5. Every image has to be ‘anchored’ to at least one character of text on the same page as the image and if that character moves then the image moves with it.

Nevertheless, Word is an excellent tool for preparing text for publication – and if your document has a relatively simple layout then you may be able to go ‘all the way’ and produce a PDF file from Word ready for your printer. For an excellent article on using Word to prepare text for printing, see http://daiya.mvps.org/bookwordframes.htm, including a link to how to recover corrupt documents at http://word.mvps.org/faqs/apperrors/CorruptDoc.htm

Preparing Images for Publication

Scan colour images at 300 dots per inch (dpi) and black and white ‘line art’ images at 600 dpi. Colour images should be scanned in CMYK format (don’t ask – your printer will explain) with 16 million colours. You can also scan greyscale images in full colour at 300 dpi as this gives a better quality result than a greyscale scan. All scans should be saved in TIF format which is designed to reproduce images accurately at 300dpi (only use JPG format if you are publishing to the Web). You can expect a 20cm by 10cm colour image to result in a 9Mb file size with these settings.

Be aware that if you increase the size of an image after scanning you lose resolution in proportion to the increase in size. Images should therefore be scaled up or down during the scanning process to the size at which they will be printed. You can learn more about scanning at NDA’s Image Manipulation course.

Putting It All Together

A desktop publishing (DTP) package, such as Adobe InDesign, places text and graphics accurately on the page for publishing (see NDA’s In Design – Introductory course). Why use InDesign, rather than the cheaper and perhaps simpler Microsoft Publisher? Basically, if Publisher was a car you would happily drive it to the corner shop but would hesitate to use it for a big road trip. In our case it was Publisher’s inability to handle footnotes that led us to hand back the keys and opt for the InDesign limousine. Other limitations of Publisher include no table of contents or index capability, but we ended up creating these elements manually anyway.

Once you have decided on your DTP software the next step is to design a template. The first issue here is page size. This is inevitably a compromise between a page size that is economical in paper usage (A4) and something that looks professional (not A4) – discuss this with your printer. After choosing a paper size, set the margins and number of columns for both left and right page layouts and you are ready to roll.

Pour the text into your InDesign template from Word. If you have been smart and used Word styles (learn all about styles in Word Advanced) then all the styles will be imported to InDesign, making final tweaking much more efficient. Place any graphics where you want them, add the captions, balance the columns, add the headers and footers, index and table of contents, obtain and add an ISBN number, proofread, save as a PDF file and take to your printer – job done!


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