Recently, a reader took exception to our blog about book design. This raised a good point: Why not just design your book yourself, in MSWord? He said,
"While not everyone has the time, knowledge or talent to format a book, it can definitely be done with Microsoft Word, not only with more specialized software. It's very easy to convert a Word file to PDF for printing, and takes just a few minutes of mouse clicking. A great many books are formatted with Word. Some of them look terrible, but that's usually due to the limitations of the person doing the formatting, not limitations of Word. I've used it for eight books, so far."
He may be right, particularly as he is self-publishing ebooks. But what is best for writers of memoirs and family histories?
We certainly value MSWord for word processing, and if your book contains text only, Word might be sufficient. (A little design know-how never hurts in Word, either.) However, the design of memoir and family history books usually features many images: precious family photographs, scanned artifacts, and other illustrations. The quality of the images is crucial to the success of the book.
If you have ever tried formatting images together with text in Word, you know how frustrating it can be, and how awful the results inevitably look. That's why we design books in Adobe InDesign. It offers many superior options to control the quality of images and page layout.