Famous Last Word Post

We’re here! Which is to say, we’re done with Microsoft Word, and we can now start doing stuff directly related to making E-books for EPUB and Kindle.

If you’re an old pro text editor who skipped the first four tutorials because they were too Word-y, welcome back! I’ll ask your indulgence for just one more paragraph:

Word people, now that you’ve used Microsoft Word’s Styles to define all parts of your document, now that you’ve proofread it, now that you’ve sent drafts out to your contributing poets for their input, all you need to do to join us in Web world is save your Word document as .html. Go to the File menu, select Save As, and then select “Format: Web Page (.htm)” and select “Save only display information into HTML.” Give your file a name without spaces, such as “YBR_MSWord_Style_Formatted.htm.”


That’s it! Done with Microsoft Word. Now you’ve got ONE .htm file.

Quick question: What’s the difference between anthology.htm and anthology.html?

Simple: anthology.html has an “L” at the end of it! The two files are exactly the same; there is no difference in terms of format, functionality, size, or anything else. Even the dialog box above uses both HTML and .htm. You’d have to go back to Windows 95 (maybe earlier) to find a computer that cared about the difference. However, that added “L” at the end does matter when it comes to links. If you named your file “anthology.html” and then linked to it with <a href="/anthology.htm">, you’d get a broken link. Think of it this way: you can name your daughter Rachel or Rachael. It’s the same name, same meaning, same pronunciation. But once you’ve picked a spelling, you’ll need to stick with it her whole life. One birthday cake iced up with the wrong spelling and it’ll be trouble.

So, what do we have? We have one .html file. It’s a lot bigger, a bit sloppier, and a bit more rigid than we’d like. This document has an internal style sheet. It also has all the poems (and the introduction and editor’s notes) in one big document. But look again at our workflow:

diagram of steps 2 and 3, making html&css

Saving an MS Word file into an HTML file with a separate Cascading Style Sheet

Eventually, we’ll slice this document up into five or six smaller HTML files, all linked to one external Cascading Style Sheet. We’ll slice the HTML file into sections to adhere to file-size limits in older EPUB devices, and to help Kindle devices navigate among chapters. Once we have those multiple HTML files, we’ll want all our styling info to be in an external CSS, so that we can modify one file and see the changes across all chapters.

For now, though, let’s look at what Word (or the text editor of your choice) has given us. (You can download all the sample files for The Yellow Buick Review if you didn’t get them last time.) Open up “YBR_MSWord_Style_Formatted.html” in any Web browser; I’m using Firefox. Look around:

Yellow Buick Review in Web browser

File looks okay in Firefox.

For something we wrote and formatted in MS Word, that looks pretty decent, right? Okay, but for a better test, make your browser window narrow. E-readers tend to be only about 600-800 pixels wide, which is far narrower than most laptops and desktop monitors. Narrow, the document looks like:

narrow view Web browser

Use a narrow view for a better sense of indents and line lengths.

Now, it’s (surprisingly) great that the file looks okay in a Web browser, but Web browsers are far more forgiving than most Kindles, Nooks, Kobos, and other E-readers out there. So to really make a good impression we’ll need to pop the hood and look at the HTML/CSS underneath.


1 Comment

Filed under Look and Feel, Manuscript Preparation

One response to “Famous Last Word Post

  1. Pingback: A Word About…Word. | The Yellow Buick Review

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