Designing for Print Book

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Designing for Print Book

Unread postby Dave Schwartz » Wed Jan 21, 2009 7:16 pm

I am just beginning a writing project that will result in a print book. Having written several manuals in H&M over the years, I am thinking that there is no reason why I cannot use it instead of MS Word. I would really appreciate your feedback.

Am I incorrect in this assumption?

Are there reasons why H&M is just not a good tool for the job?

Has anyone else ever done this?

Are there any "print book" templates available?

Regards,
Dave Schwartz
Dave Schwartz
 
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Unread postby Tim Green » Thu Jan 22, 2009 10:05 am

Hi Dave,

This depends to a very great extent on what exactly you mean by a print book. The key questions are:
  1. How do you plan to publish and/or distribute the book?
  2. Does your publishing medium have any special requirements for the format?

If you are publishing through an external publisher you need to check very carefully what format requirements they have. Some specify a Word file, for example, and only very few will accept a PDF as a source for typesetting because it's almost impossible to export anything from a PDF to a typesetting program. On the other hand, some small offset presses can actually publish directly from PDFs -- then the PDF is the finish product containing all the typesetting. Most online self-publishing and publishing on demand services also use PDF and Help & Manual is also a good option there.

If the requirement is a Word file Help & Manual may not be a good option because your formatting and output capabilities in Word are quite limited. However, if the typesetting is going to be done by the publisher it should be OK -- you just need to check your output and make sure that it contains everything you want to include.

If you are publishing yourself, for example via your own website, Help & Manual can be a very good option. You can use Webhelp to generate a version of your book that can be read directly online and you can now also publish directly in the universal ePub eBook format that is quickly becoming a standard. It is supported by the Sony Reader, the iPhone and iPod Touch and many other hardware devices and software readers, but not yet by the Amazon Kindle, which uses its own special format but can import PDF files.

There are no specific templates for book publishing available as such, but it should be relatively easy to modify the standard PDF templates provided with HM for this purpose.
Regards,
Tim (EC Software Documentation & User Support)

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