book formatting

Newbie here so don’t know if i’m doing it right. Hope it gets there. I wrote my novel in Word on a PC. Wanted to go via self pub and found I had to have it formatted first. Computer too old and limited – got new MAC. Now I can’t use Publisher, which I loved because it let me see how my pages and my chapters laid out… page count, etc. What is out there that is the equivalant of Publisher for book formatting? Thanks, JuicyCrone PS have switched to BookSurge and find them very helpful on all but this question.

Well, there’s always Adobe InDesign or Quark XPress, but they’re not cheap. There’s also Scribus, which is open-source, but I’ve never used it myself so I can’t say how good it is.

Your best bet might be to go to or and do a search for ‘page layout.’ You might find something that suits you there.

If you’re “just” publishing a novel (limited formatting, no footnotes, mathematical formulas, graphics, loads of fonts, etc), then you might do very well with using MultiMarkdown to format a PDF for upload to

I did this with a friend’s PhD thesis (with some graphics, chapters, footnotes, ToC, tables, etc) and for another friend’s poetry collection and it worked beautifully in each case.

For something like a typical novel (chapters, page numbers, text, and that’s about it) it would be quite simple.

Basically, the work flow would be to export from Scrivener as a MultiMarkdown text file, and have an appropriate style using LaTeX to set up your page dimensions etc. If you have never used LaTeX or MMD (MultiMarkdown), this might be a bit difficult depending on your familiarity with computers and willingness to figure things out. You may also be able to get someone to help you out (there are a fair number of Scrivener+MMD users here).

This is what I designed MMD for - to allow you to create high-quality output (PDF) suitable for printing/publication without doing all the formatting your self.

As much of a fan I am of the MMD → LaTeX → PDF process for making easy professionally typeset looking documents, what this may not address is your desire to:

The above process results in a PDF, and is thus limited in what can be done to it at that point. You will have a very nice looking PDF that you can flip through and such, but you will still want to be working in Scrivener at that point, and generating a new PDF once enough revisions have been made. Fortunately, Scrivener makes this process extremely easy to export and use. Just generate a PDF, drop it into Scrivener, and keep it open in a split while you revise in another.

It’s a matter of taste. Some like to have what they are editing look “roughly” like the print copy, and others would rather it not. I happen to fall into the latter camp, and so this method is great. I get good output, and can work in a low-overhead text file (in Scrivener) at the same time. If all you want is to see what it will look like when printed, then if you don’t mind learning some simple syntax like bold and so forth, it’s great. Even if I never use the PDF in the end, it feels nice to have something look that “book-ish” while looking for problems in the text.

Plus, as Fletcher stated, you have the benefit of the 6x9 exporter which will create a book all pre-set for’s requirements.


I’m most experienced with InDesign, and to be quite honest it, or Quark XPress, don’t really have any peers when it comes to any sort of print publishing. The problem with Publisher (and, to a lesser degree, Layout mode in Pages) is that they’re designed to produce reasonable looking documents that you can print out on an Inkjet.

Commercial printing - Lulu included - are a whole different story. Especially if you’re dealing with colour. You’ve got to think about colour profiling, bleed/slug zones, image resolution (300dpi a must), and so on.

However, if you don’t want to go the InDesign route, I’d like to throw my weight behind Scribus ( The price is right (free, and open source), and while it’s definitely no challenge to InDesign in the industry, it will allow you to do what you want, and more. It’s also intuitive enough (and well documented enough) to pick up fairly quickly, especially if you’re mostly laying out text for a novel. Several publications have been produced to quite a high level in Scribus, one a graphic novel (which tested Scribus’ CMYK & commercial printing features to the limit).

There are plenty of nice, intuitive shareware layout apps for OSX, but only Scribus and InDesign/Quark support commercial printing features, as far as I’m aware.

Wouldn’t Apple’s Pages be a good choice to this task? It certainly is WYSIWYP(ublish).

Pages doesn’t set the PDF up properly in regards to fonts, from my previous testing.

Pages is great for first draft, but when I want to formatt so that the pages are the size of a trade paperback and sequencial. I need to know the length of the book when in this format, to be able to add in my pages that cover the copyright and thank yous without adding to the total. Publisher by Windows does it all and I’ve found afew others that work for a PC but so far nothing that will formatt a whole book for a Mac. Juicy Crone

Can’t you simply go to File > Page Setup, and choose a custom page layout? I don’t know if it is available with all printer drivers, but choosing a generic printer should work.


Pages doesn’t seem to allow me to print two up on a page 5x7, and print them back to front in sequence. That’s what I’m looking for. But thanks to all who contributed. I’ll keep on looking. juicy

Is that necessary with Lulu? I thought their whole plan was based around easy, single-page PDFs. To lay stuff out 2-up in a paginated sequence will generally require an app (or plug-in) designed specifically for commercial printing.

Lulu, as I understand it, has templates for formatting your book. I think they are in Rich Text, Word and so on, so if you have a word processing programme it should be very straightforward. Just copy and paste your text in and use the style sheets Lulu provides.

I’m an experienced user of Quark and InDesign. You don’t need them for a Lulu book.

You’re right no doubt. I just found their process too complicated to get into. Went to BookSurge where I got a person to communicate with and feel better. I suppose I could have gone without doing the formatting, but I wanted a feel for my book. Also wanted to edit in book form not manuscript. Publisher had given me that in Windows so I’m seeking a Mac app that will do the same. Hana

The one caveat I would make to this relates to quality. LaTeX (and presumably other professional page layout programs) generates much higher quality output than Word or Rich Text document editors. Pages seems to do a pretty good job, but I am not qualified to really compare it to the others.

If you do some googling on LaTeX and Word, you will find comparisons that demonstrate the quality difference in layout - I could throw out a bunch of terms like kerning, but I don’t truly understand all the nuances. But once you see the difference, Word just won’t suffice.

If you just want to get something printed, Word should be fine. But if you want to take that extra time to make it look like a high quality, professionally laid-out book, then I recommend using something else. A word-processor (e.g. Word, Wordperfect, TextEdit, etc) is great for ease of use. But the output is just not the same caliber as a program designed around “true” typographical beauty.

I admit to being biased (and it’s easy for me to get a customized version of MMD for my projects straight from the author :wink: but I will always use LaTeX (or XeLaTeX if I want more fonts) for anything I send to Lulu. The quality difference is appreciable, even to someone like me with no formal training in typography or page layout. But I also enjoy tinkering in order to get the “perfect” output. Some people don’t enjoy this in the least.

I’ll check it out. Haven’t met it yet. I do like getting my page layouts etc. just the way I want them. My first job was as art director of a fan magazine I do my writing in Pages which I love. But wanted to control the way the book would look. Publisher gave me that, will LaTex? h

I have no idea how scalable it is (i.e. if it can handle a 300 page document or whatever), but Swift Publisher 2 is supposed to be the closest thing to Publisher on the Mac. I also have no idea if it has any concept of professional typesetting like InDesign or LaTeX. Can you tell I know nothing about it? :slight_smile: Who knows, might be a fit for you though.

Maybe this is what you are looking for: … rvice.html


In answer to my own suggestion, that program looks good if you are making a pamphlet, or something small. I tried importing a 200 page work in progress, and while it was fairly easy to create a text box and paste all 200 pages of text into it, there is no way to say “create enough pages using this page design to display all text.” You have to sit there and pound on the Cmd-Opt-L keys until all 200 pages are populated. I just held it down for a while and then did something else while it caught up. It was at 130, and seemed fast enough even with that many pages.

Two other options:


Excellent tool for ~$100 US. I used it for final page layout and set up and PDF creation for a book 18 months ago (~230 pages with 100 photos); Printer used Windows for his system, and had no problems with the PDFs. We are having the third printing done right now (very small numbers), but well received. I will continue using it for other book-type projects.

Ragtime 6

I also use this tool but less extensively (with academic license). High-end word processing and page layout, also with integrated spreadsheet and presentation mode.

Just thought I’d add my two pence on this one.

I’m agree with MarcustheBlacksmith, InDesign and Quark are almost peerless though Framemaker exceeds them both in my opinion. Scribus looks good too but to get it running on an Intel Mac you need to get your hands dirty with the terminal, it’s not hard but if you haven’t done it before it can be a little daunting. If it’s as good as Marcus suggests (and I have no reason to doubt otherwise) then I’d definitely suggest rolling up your sleeves and going for it.

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be anything else that’s between Scribus and the pro apps for Mac. Others have mentioned Pages, Papyrus and Mellel but while I like these apps not one of them serves as a competent layout program for large documents. None of them are capable of easily producing colour separated PDF documents that will survive professional pre-press. Neither do they have the page management tools that really, really help managing 300+ page manuscripts.

Perhaps I need to join the Scribus aqua port…