Converting Word Files to PDF

At PDF is the best format to submit your books in. Any other format your submit gets converted to PDF and that PDF is used for printing. If the book is submitted in any format other than PDF and the conversion is done at our end, there might be some issues. For example, if you have used a font that is not available on our system, converted document won’t have those fonts and will not look good.

Its not a surprise that the most common format we receive the books in is MS Word format. So, here are a few tips to convert MS Word to PDF.

Table of Contents

Popular PDF converters

  1. Adobe Acrobat: This is a paid option from Adobe. It is expected to create most standard compliant PDF. Some of the POD providers insist that the PDF submitted to them should be created through Adobe’s product. does not have that requirement, but if you do have Adobe, you should use it. Once you have the product installed, you will have “Adobe PDF” as a printer option. You need to press “Ctrl-P” and select “Adobe PDF” as the printer.Screenshot showing Adobe PDF in printer listIf you just click “OK” from here and save the resulting file, it will create a PDF, but it will result in one of the most common problems we see in the files submitted as PDF. The page size in the resulting PDF won’t be the page size you had set up for the book. It will letter (8.5″x11″) or A4 (8.26″x11.69″).We will discuss how to correct this, later in this article.
  2. Office 2007 – Save as PDF: If you are using Microsoft Office 2007, you can install and use its “Save as PDF or XPS” plugin. Once you have this plugin installed, you will have the option to save as PDF available in your office menu.This option will work out of the box. The pdf file created will have the correct page size too.
  3. Cutepdf Writer: This is a Free option and works very well. You can download the Free CutePDF Writer. After installing it, “CutePDF Writer” will be one of the printers listed, when you Press “Ctrl-P” on your MS Word Document. You can create a file by selecting this option and clicking on the “OK” buttom. It will, hwoever, give the same problem as “Adobe PDF” of not creating the right page size. How to solve this will be discussed next in the article.

Getting the right Page Size in the converted PDF

Right Size in the MS Word file

The first step is to ensure that you have set up the intended page size in the MS Word itself. The default page size in MS word is either A4 or letter. Most of the time a print book will not look good in these sizes. You can check out these MS Word Formatting related FAQs on to ensure that you have set the correct page size in MS Word. A list of supported Book Page Sizes on is available in our FAQs.

Once this is taken care of  “Save as PDF or XPS plugin” for Office 2007 works out of the box.

For Adobe PDF and CutePDF Writers, you need to set the the correct page size.

Adobe PDF

After Pressing “Ctrl-P” and selecting “Adobe PDF” as the printer, click on properties. You will see a screen like following. If you don’t get it, make sure you click on “Adobe PDF Settings Tab” on the screen that comes.

Click on the “Adobe PDF Page Size” drop down. If your intended size is there in the drop down, you can select it from here, click “OK” and proceed as usual.

If the page size is not there, you need to click “Add” button next to the drop down. It will give you a screen like following

Enter a name of your choice in “Paper Names” and enter the intended width and height in “Paper Size”. Remember to select the right “Unit” (inch or mm). The following will create a size of name “My Book Size” of the page size 5″x8″, which you will be able to use going forward.

Click on “Add/Modify”, then click on “OK”. You will be back to the following screen with printer list

Screenshot showing Adobe PDF in printer list

Now click on the “Properties” again and this time, “My Book Size” will be available in the “Adobe PDF Page Size” drop down.

Select the “My Book Size”, click “OK” and proceed to create the PDF file.

Cute PDF

In CutePDF the option for changing the page size is almost hidden.

Press “Ctrl-P”, select CutePDF writer as the printer and then click on “Properties”. On the resulting screen select the tab “Paper/Quality”

Now click on “Advanced” Button. On the resulting screen, click on the “Paper Size” Drop down. If your intended paper size is available, you should choose that.

Else, you should select “Post Script Custom Paper Size”. The resulting screen will let you specify the page size. Enter suitable width and height. Remember to select the right unit (inch or mm) The following selection will make the page size 5″x8″.


Click “OK” (4 times) to create the PDF of the desired size.


Have more queries about submitting PDF files on You can shoot them as comments here and we’d try to answer them.

Tips for formatting the interior of your book

If you are taking help of a professional designer for your book, he should take care of most of the things we will talk about in this post and more. If you are doing it yourself, or working with a local DTP shop where people may not have much experience in doing print book formatting, these tips will come in handy.

  1. Ensure that you have the following pages in place
    • Title Page – Would typically have book title, subtitle, author’s name and any other information that is expected to be there on the cover page. If it is a self published book, you can skip the publisher’s name here. If you are putting this book under some imprint name, that can come on this page. This should normally be the first page of the book. If you want you can keep one blank sheet (two blank pages) before this. Such pages are useful if you are expecting to distribute signed books.
    • General Information Page: This page would have copyright notice, information about publisher/printer etc. A sample for a book being published through is here. You should use it after putting your name at suitable place. The best place for this page is right after the title page. It should be printed on the back of the titel page.
    • Dedication: You may want to dedicate your book to someone. In that case have a page for that after the title and general information pages
    • Preface and Foreword: Preface is generally written by the author to introduce the book to the readers. This can be a place for a heart to hear talk with the readers. Having or not having a preface depends on the individual style of the authors.

      Foreword is usually a introduction written by someone else. If you know someone who can write a good foreword for your book, it is a good idea to include that.

    • Table of Contents: Most types of books are better off with a Table of Contents. The exact page numbers can be put in only after the rest of the book is formatted. But in the final file, remember to check that table of contents is there.
  2. Ensure that important parts of the book starts on an odd-numbered page. An odd numbered page falls on the right side of an open book. As a good design practice, any new section should start on the right side of the open book; hence on an odd page. If needed, insert blank pages to achieve this. Title page, Dedication, Preface, Foreword, a new part of the book or first chapter of the book should all start on an odd numbered page. Typically the page after the title page would be the “General Information page” as mentioned in the earlier point. So, if dedication comes after that, it would go on an odd numbered page as desired. But a page should be left blank before starting Table of Content. Similarly, if table of content spreads across odd number of pages, then a page should be left blank before starting the preface or the first chapter.
  3. Pages should be numbered suitably. As a general rule, all the pages should be numbered. Although as a design practice on some pages, page number may not be printed. Some pages, which will do without page numbers being printed are

    • Title Page
    • Dedication Page
    • Blank Pages
    • First page of a new part of the book or first page of the first chapter

    There is enough scope of creativity in how to number your pages, but there are two common styles of numbering the pages, between which you may need to make a choice.

    • Number the pages before the actual content (title page, dedication, table of contents, sometimes preface etc.) with Roman Numerals and restart the numbering at “1” with Arabic Numerals from the first page of actual content
    • Number all the pages starting from the “Title Page” with Arabic Numerals. There is no restarting of page numbers when the actual content comes in the book.

    If the book has multiple parts, sometimes you may design it so that the different parts of the books have page numbers restarting. It is not a common practice though and not recommended in general.

  4. Use suitable fonts for body text. While it is not a hard and fast rule (and you will find enough people arguing for just the opposite), the general wisdom says that for body text of printed books, a serif font should be used rather than a sans-serif. For titles, headings etc. sans-serif is fine and you can get creative. But for the body text of most books, readability is the most important criteria and serif fonts work better there. Some commonly used good fonts for body text are Garamond, Palatino Linotype, Century Schoolbook, Georgia, Bookman, Rockwell etc. To know more about the serif and sans-serif fonts and what differentiates them, read this article on wikipedia.
  5. Font size, spacings, margins should not be too high or too low. Too big a font size, too much of margin on all sides or too much of spacing can make a book look childish (unless the book is meant for children, where less text, more spaces, attractive illustrations are the way to go). At the same time, too less of these can make the book look cramped and unreadable. Fonts sizes of 9 to 11 (maximum 12) works fine for body text with most common fonts. Line space of 1.2 to 1.5 works well. Side margins can fall in the range of 10-15 mm. For bigger page sizes, margins can be increased a bit. These may need to be adjusted if your target audience belongs to group with special needs. Books targeted at elderly people can have bigger font size and more blank space as the eye-sight problem will be more prevalent in that group.
  6. Content pasted from web must be revisited for formatting. If you have pasted content from your website into a word processor, it may carry unnecessary styles, hyperlinks, colors etc. which are not suitable for the print book and would make things look out of place. Remember to reformat the web content to match the style chosen for the rest of your print book.

Book Design for different distribution mediums

Gone are the days when there was one and only one tried and tested way of distributing your book. Life has more choices and complications now. You can choose between the form in which to distribute the book. e.g. e-book or print book. You can choose the distribution medium for the book, which could be online or offline. Certain book design decisions will depend on which of these choices have you made.

We will specifically talk about distribution of print books through online mediums vs. offline mediums. Let us first look at some characteristics of online and offline mediums.

  • Search vs. Browse: This refers to whether a potential reader has reached your book by searching (for specific content) or by browsing (through all kinds of content). In general browsing will be more common way a reader will find your book in the offline store (especially the modern format retails where they encourage browsing), whereas search will be the dominant one in online mediums.
  • Distraction opportunities and options to engage the reader: Online stores will typically have a book page, which will, at the minimum, give information about the book. Information about the author, publisher, other contributors can also be typically made available. Then editorial and user generated reviews might be there. Overall, once a reader has reached the book page, there are ample opportunities to increase the engagement for that particular book without the actual book coming into picture. In the offline world, this opportunity will be missing. The books will mostly be kept next to each other and quickly passing on to the next book is easy.Online world has its own challenges for you as an author trying to sell the book. In an offline store, the physical book is immediately there in the hands of the reader. Quickly flipping through the book and reading a few paragraphs is easier for the reader and creates good engagement with the book. Even with features like preview or search inside, the effect of actually holding the book is not quite replicated in the online world.

What does all this mean in terms of design decisions?

  • Cover Design is extremely important in the offline world. It does not mean that you should have a bad cover if you are selling purely online, but in offline stores, the difference between a catchy and a non-catchy cover can be a lot. Word to note here is ‘catchy‘. Yes – the cover has to be beautiful and suitable for the book, but it also has to stand out and get the attention. A beautiful cover, if not catchy enough, would fail to ensure that the book gets picked up. Hence while designing the cover, a fine line between being catchy and being suitable has to be treaded. In trying to make the cover catchy, you can not make it too loud for its subject or target audience.In search oriented discovery, the cover design may not be that crucial. You still need to have a good and suitable cover. But you can relax a bit on the catchiness aspect.
  • Sub-title and back cover text must be used cleverly in offline world. In the offline stores, there is no equivalent of a “book page” from the online world. So, there is no separate place for you to put in engaging information about the book. All you have is the physical book, title, sub-title and back cover text.
    • You need a short, catchy and suitable title. Short because people may not read a long title in the short attention span they have. Catchy because once people read the title, they should be tempted to pick up the book. Suitable because if kids are getting attracted by the title of the book which was meant for techies, it would not result in the final sale.
    • If the title is catchy, but too symbolic, sub-title is the place to explain what the book is about. If the reader can’t quickly make up her mind about whether or not the book is interesting to her, she may be distracted easily.
    • After the book is picked up and title+sub-title encouraged the reader enough, in most of the cases she would either flip through the pages, look at the back cover or do both in no particular order. Here, the back cover text becomes very important and the space must be used properly. Typical text that can go on the back cover includes
      • About the author
      • A synopsis of the book
      • Excerpts from the Reviews of the book

      What works best depends on the genre of the book, popularity of the author etc. If it is a fiction by a new author, then a gripping synopsis or reviews will work better than the detailed author’s bio. If the fiction is by a well known author, then reference to author’s earlier work will definitely work to an advantage. If the book is a non-fiction and author’s professional life can show her to be an expert in the area, then author’s bio with details of her professional achievements will work well. There is no universally correct practice about what should go in the back cover text. Depending on the genre and the author, suitable text to attract the readers should be placed. Feel free to get creative, but remember that creativity should entice the reader, not confuse them!

    • Last, but not the least, the interior design comes in to picture. As mentioned, reader will tend to flip through the pages of the book before deciding to buy. Two things about interior design that are important would be
      • Looks of the interior: The interior should not be ugly. It should follow the good practices for headers, body text, separators, fonts, text-justification etc. The book should not be over-designed either. Unless it is a colorful children’s book or a coffee table book, where the design is the main part, the interior design should be such that it is not noticed! It should facilitate reading content, not hamper it. So, to repeat – not ugly, not over designed.
      • Readability of text: As the reader is flipping through the book, she wants to be able to read some parts from the book. If a readable font is not used or if the text is too dense, this gets hampered. Hence, the fonts and line spacing should be chosen carefully.

    In the online world, the information provided on the book page assumes similar importance. The content on the book page should be guided by the same overarching question of ‘What will make the reader want to pick the book up’.

Overall, the conclusion is that the design of the book, especially the cover, matters a lot in the offline world. It does not mean that if you are selling your book online, you should throw a bad design at your readers. What it means is that you have to be extra careful on the design aspects if you are planning to sell through offline store. Because small and subtle things may decide the fate of your book irrespective of its content. The design of the book has to ensure that it gets picked up by the target audience in an environment full of distraction.

[Self Publishing Guide] Self Publishing your Book – Step 2: Design the Book

This post is an excerpt from our Self Publishing Guide for Indian Market. If you have not, you may want to read the following post in this series before starting on this one

The book design is in two parts – the interior of the book and the cover.

Book interior. The layout, fonts, size, etc of the book needs to be designed according to the target audience. For instance, a children’s book will have more illustrations with larger, well spaced out fonts and an overall endearing look. On the other hand, a thriller will have a denser text with an easy-to-read font. Technical books are likely to have more diagrams and tables.

Book cover. Unfortunately, most people do judge a book by its cover. So, design an eye-popping cover for your prized work.

Suggestions for an attractive, effective book cover:

  • Do include the author’s photograph somewhere. This gives the author behind the book a personality and helps readers connect better.
  • Use the back cover to show positive reviews of the book and a gripping synopsis of its content.
  • The design of the front cover, title and subtitle should arouse the reader’s curiosity.
  • The book title and the author’s name should be printed on the spine for better visibility on a bookshelf. (This may not be possible for thinner books.)