Adding Photos and Creating PDFs in Microsoft Word

by | Feb 27, 2013

It’s amazing how often we can be surprised. How easy it is to miss the big thing that’s happening right under our noses. You get so wrapped up trying to build one thing that you miss the treasure you’re quietly amassing just out of sight.

For instance, when we started the monthly ebook cover design awards, it was to educate do-it-yourselfers and encourage professional designers to look at the ebook cover differently.

What I didn’t realize was that the accumulated posts would create both a short course in cover design, and a shopping mall for the designers themselves to show their wares.

Formatting in Microsoft Word

This week I’m thinking about book formatting, since we’re still in our launch for our new site, where indie authors have been downloading print and ebook templates since we opened last week.

bookdesigntemplates.comBut what I never noticed was that our Formatting Guide, which started out as a 10-page “getting started” guide to template use, was gradually becoming quite a helpful publication in its own right.

To illustrate, here are two topics from the most recent version (3.4) of the guide. The first is on creating PDFs.

This next section covers adding photos or other graphics.

bookdesigntemplates.comThe Formatting Guide is now 27 pages of instructional content that will help you get up to speed with our templates, or just teach you a lot of practical lessons in Word, from Styles to editing symbols.

And it’s free, along with our Book Construction Blueprint, a 32-page PDF that provides a reference for anyone making books.

All our ebook templates are now available as stand-alone downloads, and nonfiction and large format book templates will be along shortly.

Even if you don’t need templates for your book project, I hope you’ll head over there and take advantage of these two great free resources.

tbd advanced publishing starter kit


  1. Carol Brill

    Joel, I cannot thank you enough for the tools and guidance you provide. You do a great job anticipating what we need. You have demystified so many complex topics for me.
    thanks, carol

  2. Sandy Jones

    Excellent information, Joel! Thank you very much. Exactly the pointers we are all looking for. The book cover design contest was a fabulous idea as well!

  3. chris

    I noticed in your formatting guide there was no mention of image sizing, specifically pixel/dpi count. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but here’s what I’ve learned;

    1. For books, 300dpi images, fit to the specific page size as appropriate.
    2. For kindle, max width and height for a non-cover image is roughly 520 x 635 and should be set at 96dpi.

    As it relates to resizing images, it’s best to do that within the graphics program. Resizing in Word can be done but it can cause a host of problems. At most, you could shrink within word but not grow the image. But even if you did shrink the image, the Word file still carries the full file size of the original.

    • Tracy R. Atkins

      Great comment Chris, and spot on.

      For best image quality, you are absolutely correct. An author should input the highest quality, (300dpi) images into their print book as possible, and scale them prior to import.

      The resize engine in the latest versions of Word is quite good, and does work if you don’t have any image editing software installed, or you are not comfortable editing photos. So, it comes down to ease of use vs. going for the highest definition. It’s great information for an author to have to make an informed decision.

      (Note, when saving to PDF with Word’s built-in PDF engine, images will down-sample slightly,which still look great on POD printers. However, if you want the best possible, razor-sharp, images that are ultra-detailed, you will want a 3rd party PDF engine, like Acrobat. For novels and non-fiction, it’s not such a big deal, but for anyone doing photo books or graphic novels, it is worth the investment for Adobe Acrobat.)

      For the Kindle, the 96dpi, with your specs will work for Kindle platform and the majority of eBook readers, though many will do a resize if it is too large of an image.

      I will incorporate some instruction on the next revision of the Format Guide!



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