7.25 Word Processing Packages

Word processing software, so much part of today's office, has also widened the publishing market.


Early word processors used tag-based markup for document formatting, but most modern word processors provide some form of WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) editing. Today's word processors can handle photos, graphics and text (including footnotes and mathematical formulas) and automatically produce a table of contents and index for longer documents. Microsoft Word is the dominant package, with some 500 million copies in use worldwide, but open source (i.e. free) software is acceptable in many instances, at least where the file has not then to be converted to an HTML or PDF format. Web-based word processors, such as Google Docs, are becoming a popular alternative.

Self Publishing: Empowering the Author

Word processing packages have opened the door to self publishing. While declining margins oblige traditional publishing companies to concentrate on safe market sectors (celebrities, textbooks, health, self-improvement, etc.), the combination of client programs and the Internet has allowed authors to expand into more diverse and specialized niches. Most Print on Demand companies will accept a manuscript in MS Word format, and many DIY authors go the extra mile by first using Word or a similar package for typesetting to a near-professional standard, converting the Word file to a PDF format with free or proprietary software, and then selling the eBook themselves on the Internet. The recommended steps for typesetting in Word are:

1. Compile chapters into a single document.
2. Set the page size: File>Page Setup>Paper Size.
3. Set up columns and margins: File>Page Setup>Margins.
4. Set headers and footers: Layout>Header.
5. Save the template: File>Save As>Document Template.
6. Insert page breaks at chapter ends, turning off 'Link to previous' for both headers and footers: Insert>Break.
7. Set 'Section start' to 'New page: Layout>Section Layout.
8. Insert page numbers: Insert>Page Numbers.
9. Use the 'Show next' to go to the next header: Layout>Header>Show Next.
10. Turn off automatic repagination: Insert>Page Numbers>Format.
11. Check, if you delete a page break, that headers and footers have not been messed up.
12. Check the text spreads look good: View>Print Layout.
13. Tick 'Do full justification like WordPerfect 6x for Windows' in the Preferences menu: Tools>Options>Compatibility.
14. Choose the typeface and set the size from the dropdown list, adding a decimal point manually if desired: Format>Font.
15. Set the leading or line spacing: Format>Paragraph>Indents and Spacing: set Line spacing to Exactly, and enter value.
16. Set Page and Line Breaks: Format>Paragraph: Line spacing.
17. Create, test and modify Styles: Format>Style.

To create text of good 'color' ( evenly spaced lines, without gaps, rivers and compressed words):

1. Control the horizontal spacing by kerning: Format>Font>Character Spacing>Spacing. Expanded or condensed by 0.1 pt is usually enough.
2. Control the hyphenation. Select the relevant word and prevent its hyphenation: Format>Paragraph>Line and Page Breaks>Don't hyphenate.
3. Prevent 'widows' and 'orphans': Format>Paragraph>Page and Line Breaks.
4. Employ a Word Macro like WordSetter {4}

Word templates are useful, allowing setups to be used for other documents.

Marketing Strategies

Unless they are actually commissioning the work, traditional publishers expect the inquiry letter to included a researched publishing proposal that estimates demand, competition and likely sales (e.g. with TitleZ or similar services). Self-publishers will need to do the same exercise if profit is among their objectives. Sales promotion through a website usually needs to be augmented by other marketing methods: Amazon, epublishers, keyword research, readings, book launches, radio talk-shows, etc.


1. How has word processing changed office life? Has all been for the good?
2. Describe five word processing procedures useful for typesetting.
3. How has word processing empowered authors?
4. Compare Microsoft Word facilities with those of two free programs. Why as an impecunious author might you still use Word?

Sources and Further Reading

1. A Brief History of Word Processing (Through 1986) by Brian Kunde. Stanford Univ. December 1986.
2. Word Processing Software Review. Office Software Review. Nine popular programs compared.
3. List of word processors. Wikipedia. Extensive listings grouped by open source, commercial, online and those of historical interest.
4. Microsoft Word for Publishing Professions. Editorium. Site also sells useful software.
5. Perfect Pages by Aaron Shepard. Shepard Publications. An unattractive but useful book for the DIY publisher.
6. The Fine Print of Self Publishing. Book Publishers Compared. Detailed analysis of 25 top self-publishing companies.
7. Templates for Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Word. Inzones. One of many such outlets.
8. Typography Workbook: A Real-World Guide to Using Type in Graphic Design by Timothy Samara. Rockport Publishers. September 2004. Basics of design, without which the best software is useless.
9. Butcher's Copy-editing: Fourth Edition. CUP 2006. Standard work. Indian reprints are cheaper.