Formatting a Complex Scholarly Book in MS Word

The first five numbers in the California Classical Studies series were produced with Adobe InDesign. Previous postsdescribed some of the obscurities, limitations, and bugs that needed to be worked around to produce the print-ready PDF and the ePub file> for those books. Some of the problems are traceable to the ungainly complexity of Microsoft Word’s .docx format and what happens when files are (in the terminology of the program) “placed” in an InDesign chapter document or when stretches of text copied from Word are pasted into InDesign.

It was always the intention at some point to experiment with avoiding InDesign and producing the needed files directly from Word. I was reluctant to try this at first because of my experience of the longstanding Word bug regarding footnote placement in complex documents: notes may be placed on the wrong page, or a note may be cut off at the end of a page and not continued on the next, or a note may not be displayed at all. This intermittent and unpredictable fault has been around for many iterations of Word for Mac (and online reports suggest it occurs in the Windows version too). A second major concern was anomalous behavior I have experienced with headers and footers in Word when one has a long and complex document with many sections, with changing running heads in different sections, especially if one has passages of two-column text (as in an index), which may involve several section breaks on the same page. Occasionally I had found it impossible to edit the header in the way I desired. Finally, many changes in the user interface of Word in recent versions have been deleterious to efficient work: e.g., multiple steps are required for what used to take one step; the space-wasting icons in the toolbar crowd out other items; and the degree of customization possible in the toolbar and has been reduced.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I started to format my own volume in the series, Preliminary Studies on the Scholia to Euripides, directly from my Word files of the chapters. Would I spend some hours preparing the book only to reach an impasse and have to start over again in InDesign? Would the PDF produced at the end of the process pass the verification when uploaded to the Lulu publishing system? In the end, the process was successful (the print book was placed on the Lulu sales page on November 22, 2017), but there were certainly stressful moments when I feared my work had been wasted.

The Footnote Positioning Bug

There had not been any footnotes in the front matter, but when the font and line-spacing in the first chapter were adjusted for the series style, the footnote positioning bug appeared on the very first page of the first chapter when seen in Print Layout view. When you run into a problem with either Adobe or Microsoft software, the official help documents provided by the vendor is, in my experience, rarely useful, as they apparently don’t like to admit the bugginess of their products (or the fact that they have known about a fault for a long time and not fixed it). A Google search for the problem is usually more helpful, if you can find the right combination of terms to locate the precise issue. The hits for such a search often reveal mention of the issue on user forums or tech sites that encapsulate some helpful tips in a page of advertisements. It is sad to see how far back in time users have been stymied by some issues, and many posts on user forums seem never to have attracted a valid, generalizable solution. Fortunately, in this case I did find the advice that setting the text paragraph styles used in the main text to have exact line heights is now known to solve the problem. In Word, because many of my documents contain an admixture of a standard Roman font and a specialized Greek font in the same sentence, I am used to using line heights of “at least” 2 points or so more than the point-size of the fonts, since legible diacritics in polytonic Greek (like footnote reference numbers) may require extra height and one must avoid having them cut off. So the paragraph styles initially had “at least” settings, but these needed to be changed to “exactly” settings (the basic text style of our books is 10pt Minion Pro with 12.5pt line spacing).

I was working with Word 2011 because I prefer its interface to that of Word 2016 and because Word 2016 had been crashing too much for me (actually just freezing up, not responding, necessitating a force-quit). The “exactly” setting seemed to work at first with Word 2011, but the pagination was not stable and the problem came back after a short time. I then started to work on the files in Word 2016 instead, and in this version the placement of the footnotes was both correct and stable. I was also pleased to find that one of the more recent monthly updatings of Word 2016 had apparently fixed whatever had been causing my crashes. So the biggest worry about using Word was eased.

Header and Footer Problems

In theory, it is easier to edit changing running heads in Word than in InDesign. In our design, within the body of the book, left-hand running heads (even-page header) have the page number flush left followed by the title of the book, while right-hand running heads (odd-page header) have the chapter title followed by the page number, flush right. The first page of a chapter has no running head (different first page applied to the section), but a footer with centered page number. The footer on other pages is blank. In the front and back matter, the left and right headers are the same (e.g. Preface, Bibliography), again with first page treated differently.

In actuality, a number of anomalies and annoyances arose in editing headers and footers.

(1) Several times after I added the page number (using the page number button on the toolbar) to a first page footer, the number inexplicably disappeared as soon as I closed the footer view and returned to the full page view with focus in the body of the page. This turned out to be because the Different First Page setting, previously checked by me, had become unchecked all by itself. The workaround is immediately to reopen the footer and once again check Different First Page.

(2) As the document grew larger as further chapters were added, there was an annoying behavior by which the focus jumped. That is, after double-clicking in the header on a particular page to open it and edit (or sometimes by using the menu command View Header and Footer, since double-clicking in a header seemed to work only intermittently), the header that was opened and in focus was often the header in an earlier section of the document and not the one you were trying to edit. It was of course possible, but unnecessarily time-wasting, to use the Next Header button several times until one was in the right section. Similarly, when closing a header to return to Print Layout view, the focus usually jumped several pages away from the place where I had been editing the header.

(3) More alarming still, the page numbers displayed when viewing Header and Footer and moving from one header to the next with the button in the toolbar were not the actual page numbers. At first I feared that the pagination of the document had somehow shifted radically, but this was not the case. Closing the Header and Footer view showed that the document pagination was unchanged, with the correct page numbers showing on each page. I have never seen an anomaly of this nature in any previous version of Word. Perhaps it results from the fact that there were 29 pages of front matter, numbered i-xxix, in the first sections of the document, before the Arabic number sequence started with 1 at the opening of Chapter 1. But because of all the jumping of focus just mentioned, I did not take the time to verify whether this was the cause.

(4) A few times the headers proved to be unstable or not really saved in their edited form. That is, when the document had been closed and then later reopened, some edits had been lost, or format changed. Once all the page numbers had become bold. Another time a spacing paragraph had been lost from even-page headers.

(5) At one one point, after copying the text from the next chapter file into the book document, I ended up with a section break that was not of the right type. I wanted Secton Break (new page) but it was Section Break (new right page). In older versions of Word, if my memory is correct, it was easy to change the kind of section break by clicking on the marking in Draft view. Now one needs to open a dialog to do so. My book document started from a Lulu template, and that contained some sections I did not need. I found that deleting an unwanted Section Break often had the unwanted consequence of changing the type of the previous section.

(6) In the last sections of the book, comprising the indexes added at the very last stage of work in Word, a serious problem arose. An index might need two pages, the first being treated as a different first page, and the other as an even or odd page depending on where the first page fell. When shifting to the Header and Footer view, the page numbers changed, as indicated above, and in one case what had been the odd second page of the section was displayed as if it were an even second page with an even-page header. It seemed to be impossible to edit the odd-page header for this section, which was the one that actually displayed (with correct page number) when one returned to Print Layout view. The workaround was to add a blank page at the end of this index by entering a lot of returns or a page break, shift to Header and Footer view, edit the desired header (since there was now an additional page when the page display was incorrect, so one could see both odd and even pages of the section as well as the first page), return to Print Layout view, and finally delete all those extra returns or page break to eliminate the blank page.

Producing the PDF

The design of our series is for a standard 6×9 (inches) print book. Producing a print-ready PDF from InDesign was very simple: use the Export command and apply the Lulu.joboptions. The only issue was that I never found a way to prevent the printing of trimlines all around the 6×9 rectangle, which sometimes showed up in printing because of imprecise trimming. I assumed the trimlines were defined in the Lulu.joboptions settings supplie for InDesign (I now think I could perhaps I have found the setting by using Adobe Distiller).

To produce a comparable print-ready PDF from Word, one uses the settings in a document called Lulu.joboptions, downloaded from the Lulu help page about creating the PDF from Word. After one double-clicks on this file to install, the Adobe Distiller window will open up. If you do no more than this, the PDF produced with these settings will be rejected, because it will have the dimensions of US letter paper (8.5×11 inches). The Lulu help document doesn’t mention this issue, but there are posts on the user forum that indicate what step is the missing if you are doing a 6×9 book. You must revise the joboptions document by double-clicking to open in Adobe Distiller. If you select the Lulu settings at the top of the window in the dropdown menu for Default settings, you will find at the bottom of the screen width and height dimensions. For me, these initially came up in points, but you can change the units to inches. In inches, the dimensions showed 8.5000 by 11.0000 in the downloaded version. You can change these numbers and save, but I found it more helpful instead to use Save as… and rename the file as Lulu6x9.joboptions and then change the dimensions to 6.0000 by 9.0000 and save. In this way it is really clear what options you are selecting.

Back in Word, in the Mac Print dialog, use the PDF dropdown in the lower left to select Save as Adobe PDF. After some processing, a small dialog will open, and this is where you select the Lulu6x9 settings in the dropdown for Adobe PDF Settings. You might think that since your Word document format is for a 6×9 page and the print settings are for a 6×9 page, you would get a 6×9 PDF, and if you printed out the PDF, say with Preview, you could print at actual size centered on 8.5×11 paper or choose to scale it to fit (which is extremely helpful for proofreading; I always did that with the PDFs produced from InDesign, which always came out as 6×9 without any fiddling). But no, by default Word still uses your usual Page Setup for 8.5×11 paper, and the PDF will be 8.5×11 and thus will be rejected when uploaded to Lulu for production of a 6×9 book. I spent a couple of uncomfortable hours tinkering and getting into unintended difficulties before I realized the solution, starting to fear that all the time spent formatting the book in Word might be for naught. Eventually I did use Page Setup in Word to establish a custom size of 6×9. Unfortunately, Word makes the ridiculous choice in the Page Setup dialog of making Apply to this Section the default setting. The default should obviously be Apply to Whole Document, leaving it to a user in the rare situation of using different dimensions for different sections of the same document to change the setting to Apply to this Section. Since I had opened the document to the first page and set the custom size there, the 6×9 setting covered only the first page (the half-title) and all the rest of the book was still 8.5×11 in the PDF. Finally, I noticed the Apply to setting and made the custom size apply to the whole document. The PDF generated was now correctly sized and accepted by Lulu.

Font Anomalies

In our books the Table of Contents is done manually for reasons of style. At nearly the final stage of preparation, when the page numbers for the Bibliography and Indexes were known, I added these lines to the TOC. Under our style, these elements have their names in the TOC in italics, but the flush-right page number is not italic, so that is matches the others above it. When first entered, the pages numbers on those lines were in italics because of the paragraph style. A weird anomaly arose when I selected the page number and changed them from italics to regular style: the figures suddenly became smaller and raised and where changed (224 became 113!); restoring italics returned the figures to the correct ones. After a few other failed attempts to work around this issue, I succeeded by changing the font of the numbers to Cambria, changing from italics to regular, and then changing the font back to Minion Pro. With this sequence of actions each page number remained as intended and maintained the right size and position.

Other Gripes

I append here some miscellaneous features of Word 2016 that I have found particularly weak or disappointing in the process of formatting a scholarly book.

(1) The treatment of styles in Word 2016 is far from optimal for the user. If you have a lot of styles in use, as in this book, the large icons of the Quick Styles view are an obstacle to efficiency, and even the layout of the Styles Pane is inconvenient because of the size of each item. When you first open the Styles Pane or when you modify a style to create a new one tailored to your own project, the program is incredibly sluggish in updating the list in the Styles Pane, and the order in which the items are listed is not alphabetic. Far more efficient was the interface found in Word 5, Word 6, and some other versions from earlier in this millennium: with the customizable toolbar, one could have the font field, the font-size field, and the styles field all conveniently present in one place, taking up minimal room, and all the styles were easily accessible for a dropdown menu (in which the font was small enough to make the list easy to scan or scroll. As I recall, it was also easy to reapply a style to paragraph (that is, remove overrides) because choosing that style on a paragraph already associated with it brought as the default choice Reapply Style. The similar function now in Word 2016 has the default as Redefine Style based on current selection, which can be a very radical action and ought to be deliberately chosen, not presented as a default.

(2) I regularly use the Advanced Find and Replace dialog. This used to have a checkbox to indicate that you wanted the search to include footnotes (or exclude them). Now it has no such box, and using Search Whole Document does not in fact in every case search everything. I never could figure out why some searches proceeded to the footnotes and others did not, and eventually I just got used to separately clicking in a footnote and repeating the search to make sure I did not miss anything. Searching for a specific font also behaved imperfectly, and searching for Greek characters to ensure that the Greek was all in the chosen font similarly failed to locate all instances. And the lack of searching by general expressions (grep) is a major handicap in comparison to working with InDesign.

(3) It ought to be easier to get to the formatting of footnotes and the footnote separators. Simply choosing View Footnotes is not sufficient. You have to be in Draft view for the Footnotes to appear in a window that has the dropdown menu giving access to the separators. Again, I believe this was handled better in Word 5 and 6 and maybe some other versions.

(4) It seemed somewhat unpredictable when the application of a book-tailored style to imported paragraphs would cause the loss of italics and/or the loss of the difference of font for the Greek. The most successful way I found to avoid unwanted losses like these was to click to place the insertion point within an English word in regular style font and then apply the new paragraph style. This means one needs to do this separately for each paragraph and not simply select a range of many paragraphs and apply the style once to all. Though inconvenient, this process is not much different from trying to avoid or undo such losses when applying styles in InDesign to paragraphs imported from Word.

(5) If you want to check the book by paging through with a view of a two-page spread, you can get a two-page spread by making the window large enough and adjusting the zoom percentage to fit two pages side by side. But Word doesn’t have a way to start with a single right-hand page so that the spreads show the facing even and odd pages as they would be in a printed and bound book.

The Upshot for Producing a Complex Scholarly Printed Book from Word 2016

It was indeed possible to work around all annoyances and obstacles and format the complex book, full of Greek passages and a large number of styles, in Word 2106. The process took about the same time as using InDesign. It was stretched out this time by the process of creating the needed styles in Word (as it had been stretched out the first time I worked in InDesign and created the needed styles there), but now those styles can be used for future books, if they are given final formatting in Word. At least some of the process could be turned over to an assistant with less experience, and that assistant would not need to learn InDesign (or to get access to that expensive software).