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Old 06-20-2010, 03:24 AM   #1
Eclipse
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Converting complex MS-word documents

Hi all,

I just got my first e-reader and now I'm faced with a delicate problem. I would like to use it for reading technical documentations. They are done in MS-word and contain pictures, tables etc. I have tried Calibre, Sigil and seem to get a decent result, but, either it takes way to long time to convert (manually fixing all the styles in Word etc or the result is poor on my reader).

I saw some posts about eScape/Open Office but it doesn't support pictures.

Anyone who can give tips or hints on this problem?
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:52 AM   #2
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Why not just export them to PDF right from Word?

Yeah, yeah, everyone says that PDFs don't work well on your reader. This is untrue if you actually create the PDF properly sized for your reader. Sony gives very good instructions for how to do that in this document.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipse View Post
Hi all,

I just got my first e-reader and now I'm faced with a delicate problem. I would like to use it for reading technical documentations. They are done in MS-word and contain pictures, tables etc. I have tried Calibre, Sigil and seem to get a decent result, but, either it takes way to long time to convert (manually fixing all the styles in Word etc or the result is poor on my reader).

I saw some posts about eScape/Open Office but it doesn't support pictures.

Anyone who can give tips or hints on this problem?
Quote:
Originally Posted by frabjous View Post
Why not just export them to PDF right from Word?

Yeah, yeah, everyone says that PDFs don't work well on your reader. This is untrue if you actually create the PDF properly sized for your reader. Sony gives very good instructions for how to do that in this document.
I will second Frabjous' statement. I make PDFs with StarOffice (the proprietary version of OpenOffice.org) for my ereader, sized for the ereader's screen, and they render perfectly, including the pictures.

The PDFs that are a problem for an ereader tend to be ones not formatted for the ereader's screen, especially ones formatted for a large page size. As an example, when I put a PDF formatted for standard typing paper (8.5 inches by 11 inches) on my ereader, it shrinks the entire page so that it fits on my screen with text too small to read. Although reflow is available with my ereader, the results are less that satisfactory.

As far as making PDF ebooks with OpenOffice.org, what I do is make them as OpenDocument files and then export them as PDFs. If you set the document's page size the same as your ereader's screen, when you page preview the document and/or set the view to "Print Layout" you will see exactly what the PDF ebook will look like on your ereader. This makes it easy to locate and correct formatting problems.
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Old 06-20-2010, 01:17 PM   #4
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My choice costs money. I use Nitro PDF Professional. It is a standalone program that puts a plugin in Word. You can go from Word to Nitro. It can handle scans, Word docs to altering existing PDF's to creating links and TOC's. It is a great package and worth the expense if you have the money.
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:22 PM   #5
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Thanks for the answers,

I've tried PDFs and sure you are right, if it was I who wrote the documents and could control the formatting. But it isn't and reformatting several 100 pages of document to fit my Reader is what I am hoping to avoid.

Just going over all pictures and making the width "relative" took me a couple of hours. Otherwise Office complains about that pictures wont fit the new "page-settings". Then there is the cleaning up of all Styles and Paragraphs (usually more than 50 used in a document).

When I have tried the PDF on a small section of a document it works fine in "small" view, but if I change view size (zoom) all the layout get distorted.

I have read Sony's guide and I have read several other guides on the Web. The usual shortcoming is that it would take me days to convert the original to some useful format that I then can convert.

Or am I missing some magic tricks in MS-Office or Open Office that takes a text and make a "clever" thing with it, or a way to do batch-like jobs on paragraphs and objects? As you can tell, I'm not a word-processing guru ;-)
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Old 06-20-2010, 08:37 PM   #6
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Can you just do "Save As" in Word and save the file as rich text format? I don't know how it will handle the pictures but it might be worth a try. I've done it with just text tons of times.
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipse View Post

When I have tried the PDF on a small section of a document it works fine in "small" view, but if I change view size (zoom) all the layout get distorted.
"Zoom" on a PDF activates "reflow", which really never works very well.

If you want a larger font size, just use a larger font size when you create the PDF. (The advice in Sony's guide is way off on this one; I'll admit. I stick with 12 point fonts, even if it means not very much text fits on a page.)


Quote:
Or am I missing some magic tricks in MS-Office or Open Office that takes a text and make a "clever" thing with it, or a way to do batch-like jobs on paragraphs and objects? As you can tell, I'm not a word-processing guru ;-)
If you had used styles from the beginning, then yes. But probably you didn't.

One of the many reasons I think Word Processors are Stupid and Inefficient , and use LaTeX instead.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:08 PM   #8
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The reason for me choosing epub is that it looks really nice even when re-flowing the text. Problem with PDF is that the formatting is done by the author, not by the reader software. If it looks correct on my reader, there is no guarantee it will work on another. But hey, my first interest is to get it working for me.

As I mantioned, I didn't create the documents, others did. I'm facing documents that are well formatted, but many aren't. I know how to reformat them, at least what formatting I must use, but it is too time consuming (maybe due to my poor wordprocessing skills). Chances of a change in author-behaviour is small, we are a huge global company with thousands of writers and unless Microsoft (or Open Office) gets native support for automatised-one-klick epub output, I'm facing the task of doing the job myself somehow.

It not so much what I shall do technically, it's more how to do it quick or automatised. Just the trouble of setting all pictures and tables (usually over a hundred in a singel document) to "relative" is a time-consuming job.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:11 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by banjobama View Post
Can you just do "Save As" in Word and save the file as rich text format? I don't know how it will handle the pictures but it might be worth a try. I've done it with just text tons of times.
You are right, my problem is that RTF doesn't handle pictures (as far as I know).
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Old 06-21-2010, 12:18 AM   #10
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You are right, my problem is that RTF doesn't handle pictures (as far as I know).
You're probably right. No way the solution could be that easy, anyway.
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Old 06-21-2010, 04:13 AM   #11
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RTF certainly does handle pictures - save a DOC file containing pictures as RTF, and then load it back into Word, and you'll see this. The problem is that, because RTF was created to be a file interchange format, rather than a storage format, it deliberately encodes things in a very simplistic manner. In particular it stores pictures with each pixel represented as ASCII text, which bloats the file enormously. I've encountered situations where a 2MB DOC file containing a few pictures turns into a 25MB RTF file. RTF is not a good choice for files containing a lot of pictures!
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Old 06-21-2010, 10:33 AM   #12
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In particular it stores pictures with each pixel represented as ASCII text, which bloats the file enormously.
That is true if the images in the RTF file are created in BMP format because BMP is a very inefficient image storage format. Maybe M$ Word does that as default ? However, RTF does have the capability to contain images in JPG format, and then the BASE64 encoding will only expand the JPG images by about 4/3 when stored as visible ASCII characters. RTF sometimes makes a nice intermediate format when doing conversions, as long as it's more limited formating capability is adequate for the project it is being used for.
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Old 06-22-2010, 03:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipse View Post
Hi all,

I just got my first e-reader and now I'm faced with a delicate problem. I would like to use it for reading technical documentations. They are done in MS-word and contain pictures, tables etc. I have tried Calibre, Sigil and seem to get a decent result, but, either it takes way to long time to convert (manually fixing all the styles in Word etc or the result is poor on my reader).

I saw some posts about eScape/Open Office but it doesn't support pictures.

Anyone who can give tips or hints on this problem?
There are two solutions I can think of that are free.

You can try BookCreator,(download link) a macro/template for MS word that is optimized for formatting word documents. It uses calibre to create an eBook format such as MOBI, ePUB, PDF, etc...


1) Double click on the template and hit the "Import..." to import a Word document/text.
2) Do whatever formatting you need.
3) Press the <Create eBook...> button to create an eBook


Another good option is to use MobiReader or MobiCreator. The MobiReader will automatically create an MOBI file from a word document w/o any user interaction.

MobiCreator has more control over how the eBook is created. It uses a wizard based method to help one gerneate an eBook.

Once you have the deired MOBI you can quickly convert the book to ePUB.


The latter tools do require an extra step since the output is in MOBI format, but the conversion process of this tool is pretty good and this will save you a good amount of time.

My experience is converting MOBI to ePUB is pretty trival and consumes no time compared to time lost formatting a document.


RTF is not a good solution for the SONY readers, while RFT do support images, SONY's implementation does not. Nor does it support TOC and hyperlinks which makes it difficult to navigate documents.
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Old 06-22-2010, 04:22 PM   #14
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=X= wrote as part of a post:

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RTF is not a good solution for the SONY readers, while RFT do support images, SONY's implementation does not. Nor does it support TOC and hyperlinks which makes it difficult to navigate documents.
I've used RTF on my Sony Reader in the past, and the main issue I had with it is the lack of consistent font rendering. With RTF, I've not been able to get to consistently render a general typeface (serif, sans-serif, and monospace).

With some RTF ebooks a specific typeface renders as sans-serif, while on others the same typeface renders as serif. I'm not too concerned about the specific typeface, but I do need it to render the general typeface consistently. But for that limitation, RTF would be a good general purpose ebook format for my ereader.

In addition to the above issue, Table Of Contents is one of the reasons that I use PDF for my ebooks. Since the pages are basically locked (unless I reflow the ebook), I'm able to autogenerate a table of contents and insert it at the beginning of my ebooks. By using styles, I can mark text in my ebooks and have it appear as an entry in the table of contents.
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Old 06-22-2010, 04:57 PM   #15
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Eclipse wrote as part of a post:

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Originally Posted by Eclipse View Post
Or am I missing some magic tricks in MS-Office or Open Office that takes a text and make a "clever" thing with it, or a way to do batch-like jobs on paragraphs and objects? As you can tell, I'm not a word-processing guru ;-)
When using StarOffice/OpenOffice.org to make PDF ebooks, I've found that using paragraph styles is the key to easy and consistent ebook formatting. It also makes it easy to achieve formatting that would be a great deal of work to do manually.

What styles basically do is allow you to indirectly format your text by applying a style to it, rather than by directly formatting the text (where you mark the text and then format it). Any text marked with a style will reflect the formatting contained in the style. If you change the style, the text marked with the style throughout your document will be updated to reflect the change.

To provide an illustration, when I make an ebook I use paragraph styles to do the following formatting:

- Set the Main Body style to Georgia 14pt with 12 points of space after the paragraph, no first-line indent, and widow & orphen protection (no paragraph of less than five lines is split between two pages).

- Set the chapter headings to Calibri 24pt, center the text, and insert a page break before all of the chapter headings.

- Set the chapter subheadings to Calibri 20pt, center the text, and ensure that the entire chapter subheading stays with the chapter heading.

- Set the text for documents (such as letters and diary entries written by the characters within the story) to Cumberland (a typeface similar to Courier) 14pt, indent the text 0.5 inches on both sides, and surround all of the paragraphs with a thin border (to simulate the edges of paper).

It is possible to do all of the above by manually formatting the paragraphs, but it would be much more work. But the real power of styles comes when you want to make mass changes to your ebooks. In the above example, if I wanted to change the font in the main body to Times New Roman all if have to do is change the font in the Main Body style and all paragraphs marked with that style will reflect the font change.

I hope this helps.
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