Conquering Word to PDF conversion… Finally!

Well, after years of carefully constructing a Word document within a Create Space template (which isn’t necessary I found… don’t bother with the template, just make sure your page layout conforms to the Create Space book sizes) and then converting that beautiful document to a PDF file using Word/File/Save as Adobe PDF, then realizing that all my beautiful little flourishes and icons ended up at less than 200ppi, which of course meant that I would have to painstakingly re-insert those little images one by one within the final PDF document… and since you can’t just ‘center’ an image in that format, I have to add the grid feature so that the final image is placed appropriately, I have finally found the correct procedure… finally!!!

For most books it didn’t matter because there weren’t but perhaps 2 or 3 images in the final PDF. However, some had literally hundreds of tiny lions as scene change icons, little cameras as chapter heading icons… steer heads, running horses, feathers, arrow points as well as author PR shots. I’ve also included photos of harbors, canals, palaces, beaches; I love images. And of course when I do memoirs, that’s a whole other level of image enhancement.

None of this stuff matters when you’re doing an ebook. There all you’re concerned with is the size of your final file. I try to keep my creations under 1MG. It’s an Amazon thing. So resolution of images usually falls in the 72-96ppi range to get the smallest sized file I can.

But when I’ve finished one of the image-heavy tomes for a client for print on demand, gotten it all tucked into the final PDF (with all the images in the correct resolution, adding them one by one because the resolution got skewed in the conversion), and my client says—wait! I forgot to include a dedication page… or… I need to add a paragraph to chapter 52. And this precious little book has a decorative image under each d#%@ed chapter heading or at each scene change location. These changes mean I have to go back to the original Word document (before PDF conversion) and add that dedication page or that missing paragraph. Do you see where I’m going? PDF is an image and not flowing text… it has very limited editing features, so if you drop in a whole paragraph, weird things begin to happen.

Before my ‘Halleluiah’ moment today, I had to do those changes in Word, save as an Adobe PDF (from the File Menu/Save as Adobe PDF) then eye-strainingly attempt to re-insert all the 300ppi precious little steer heads or feathers or cameras or dancing fairy images into all 20 or 40 or 100 chapters. Hours of work, again, because I re-inserted those little beauties already when I first converted this book to PDF!


Well, here’s the trick:

1. Get that Word.docx file perfect (I use the newest Word extension because it saves faster than Word.doc files)
2. See that ACROBAT heading at the very top of your Word page along with HOME, REVIEW, etc.? Click on that, then click on Preferences (on the left right after Create PDF)
3. When you see the Preference menu, the first choice is PDFMaker setting: Conversion Settings.
4. Change the default setting from Standard to High Quality Print.
5. Then you can check on Advanced Settings and make sure the resolution is 2400 dpi/ppi which is the default on this hi-res setting.
6. Then close that out (it will ask you to save your new setting and if you don’t rename them then it will just give you something like High Quality Print(1). This will be the default setting until you change it again.
7. Now move your finger over to Create PDF, to the left of Preferences and click on that and voilá… you have your perfect PDF file to upload to Create Space.
8. Here’s another choice… you can re-save that PDF/A to PDF/X which I understand is the standard for Ingram Spark. That’s a good thing to know.

So now bring on those embellished print on demand projects. We’ve got them covered!


About athirstyblog

If you're a published author and are sitting on a basement full of backlisted books, then you've found the right blog. Although I formerly filled these pages with book reviews, they will now be filled with tips on eBook formatting, talk about the current technology of eBooks, and other stuff that interests me and hopefully interests you. I'm currently an eBook formatter, formerly a bookseller, archaeologist, illustrator and lover of all things historical and scientific. And I'm now a permanent citizen of DownEast Maine with my own beach and 175 year old house and everything! Come along for the Journey!
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