One Professional’s Steps for Writing a Book

This is by the author and editor of several technical books. Clicking on the links will take you to articles with more information about the features in Word that McGhie mentions.

When I am writing a book (all day, every day...) these are the steps I follow:

  1. Define your title and table of contents (with a pencil and paper). How do you know which topics you are going to have before you write? Because you have analysed your requirements and your audience. You know what “purpose” the document has, so now you know what “content areas” it requires. Those are the chapters (level 1 headings). You know what you want the readers to “be able to do” after reading your publication. Those are your subsections (level 2 headings). You know what the audience “already knows” and have a list of what they “need to know” to do the tasks. Those are your level 3 headings.
  2. Start Word, and make sure you have turned off Word’s attempts to be helpful.
  3. Define your paper size.
  4. Decide whether you are going to print double-sided, and if so, whether your headers and footers will be Different Odd and Even, as well as Different First Page.
  5. Switch to Outline View and type in your headings.
  6. Apply Heading 1 to all of them.
  7. Now promote/demote/move headings to set the structure for your book.
  8. Decide whether you will number your headings: if you will, use Shauna Kelly’s technique to set up Outline Numbering on your Heading styles now.
  9. Print the result and have it reviewed.
  10. Go back to Word and move around/apply the changes.
  11. Switch to Normal View and type your text under each heading.
  12. Print this and have it reviewed.
  13. Apply the changes.
  14. Insert your Graphics, if any.
  15. Add your footnotes, if any.
  16. Add your cross-references, if any.
  17. Add your Index tags if you are compiling an index.
  18. Go to View/Header and Footer and add your running header and running footer.
  19. Add a section break after the Title Page, and one after the front matter.
  20. Break the Link To Previous for the section after the title page, then remove the header and footer.
  21. Go into the footer and insert the Page Number.
  22. In Section 2, set the page number format to be lowercase Roman.
  23. In Section 3, set the page numbering to be Arabic.
  24. Now add any other section breaks that you need. Typically, you will need an “Odd Page” section Break immediately before each chapter to force the chapter to start on a recto page. But having gotten your headers and footers correct first, that’s all you need to do: everything else will replicate.
  25. Now switch to Page Layout view and run through the document checking the pagination. If your styles are correctly defined, you should only have to intervene once or twice in a typical 200-page book. If your Keep With Next, Keep Together and Page Break Before properties are NOT correctly defined, fix the styles, not the text.

© 2005 • • daiya at-symbol mvps period-symbol org•

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