How to Prepare Your Word Document for Upload

If you’ve ever felt the thrill of completing a manuscript, only to be met with the challenge of formatting it correctly for publication, you’re not alone. One of the first steps in mastering Atticus and getting your completed manuscript ready to publish is importing it from a Word file into the Atticus app.

This tutorial is designed to guide you through the essential steps of preparing your Word document for Atticus. We’ll focus on straightforward techniques to ensure your book is segmented into chapters accurately and your chapter titles are imported just as you intended. I’ll share some additional tips to make sure your subheadings (or paragraph styles), scene breaks, and endnotes are all properly recognized by Atticus.

I’ll even throw in some basic Word tips and tricks that will bring your Word mastery to the next level as well!

By the end of this guide, you’ll have the know-how to make your manuscript Atticus-ready, paving the way for a smooth transition from work-in-progress to published masterpiece.

Importing vs Copy and Pasting

Whenever possible, we recommend importing your finished, final manuscript from .docx format rather than copy and pasting individual chapters, pages, or sections. This is because pasting from other programs will often bring foreign coding with it, causing the odd formatting issues and sometimes preventing export capabilities.

If you do find yourself needing to paste a section into Atticus, we recommend pasting without formatting

  • Windows Keyboard Shortcut: Press CTRL+ SHIFT + V
  • Mac Keyboard Shortcut: Press CMD + SHIFT + V
  • Right Click: choose “paste as plain text” or “paste without formatting”

This should clear up the formatting issues but you will have to go back and reapply any special formatting you may want, such as URLs, italicized or bolded text, etc.

Formatting in Word: Initial Steps

There are ways to completely format your manuscript from within Atticus itself, but that is material for another tutorial. If you prefer to use Google Docs rather than Microsoft Word, you’ll want to check out the tutorial linked in the description below. 

Before we look at a document, I want to share with you a few Word features that really help to prepare your document before importing into Atticus.

Utilizing Word’s Navigation and Formatting Features

First, I always recommend you turn on the Navigation panel, especially if you are using Chapter Titles in your book. 

To turn on the Navigation panel, click View from the top menu, and then make sure there is a check mark beside “Navigation Pane”. This allows you to navigate within your book quickly and easily, jumping to designated chapters. 

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The second feature in Word that is extremely useful is the Show Formatting Marks feature. Having this feature  turned on will show you where you have paragraph breaks, page breaks, and more formatting elements used within your manuscript. 

If you click Home from the top menu, you’ll see the Show/Hide Paragraph Marks button right beside the Styles panel. 

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Preparing Your Manuscript for Import

Before we get started with the few formatting recommendations, there are a few important things you should know about importing your book into Atticus. 

First, it’s important to delete any Table of Contents you may have in your original manuscript. If it’s linked within the Word document, it will create internal coding issues when the format is converted in Atticus. But don’t worry – Atticus automatically creates a Contents page for every book that is properly formatted for both ePub and Print, and automatically updates with any changes you make.

Next, it’s important to understand that your entire manuscript will import into the Body section of Atticus. Don’t panic if your chapter numbering is off to start – it’s very easy and intuitive to adjust your pages. 

Front Matter

Atticus automatically creates a Title Page, Copyright Page, and Contents page. It’s easiest to remove these pages from your Word document before importing.

If you have a dedication page, introduction, or any other front matter content, you can leave that in your Word document and simply drag and drop them into place in the Front Matter section after importing. Your chapters will re-number in the body section automatically.

Handling Chapter Breaks

Making sure your chapters separate properly once imported into Atticus is one of the most important steps to saving time and energy in the formatting process. There are four ways you can tell Atticus to start a new chapter:

  1. Label your Chapter Title text as Word default Heading 1. 
  2. Ensure each new Chapter Title is 20 points or larger.
  3. Insert a page break between chapters
  4. Press Enter or Return 4 times after your last piece of body text.

Setting Chapter Titles

If your book includes Chapter Titles, we highly recommend you format your chapters using one of the first two above options. If you ensure all your Chapter Titles are either tagged as a Heading 1 or are in font that is at least 20 points in size, not only will Atticus know where to start a new chapter, but it will also import your Title into the appropriate Chapter title location.

This will also automatically include your chapter title in the left navigation menu of Atticus as well as the auto-generated table of contents.

If you use the Heading 1 style, you’ll also see them show up in the Navigation pane inside Word, making it easier to navigate through your original manuscript. This is my personal preference.

If you don’t use chapter titles, a simple page break or four paragraph breaks between chapters will work perfectly well for your book.

This is one of the ways seeing formatting marks comes in handy. If you notice your document isn’t properly adding breaks between your chapters, you may find that you’ve accidentally inserted a section break instead of a page break, and you’ll be able to find and fix that quickly if you can see the formatting marks.

On the other hand, if you notice Atticus is starting new chapters where you hadn’t planned them, you may find that you’ve used multiple paragraph breaks in a section of your book, and Atticus understood this to mean “start a new chapter.” This will be obvious with formatting marks showing. 

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Subheadings and Special Paragraph Styles

If you have subheadings in your book, you can apply Word default Heading 2 through Heading 6, and they will import as unique subheading formats to Atticus. Once imported, you can set the style for this subheading in your custom theme settings. 

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You can also use Subheadings to create special paragraph styles for your text. For example, if one of your characters loves to write notes, you can set their notes as Heading 3 in your Word document. Once imported into Atticus, you can set the Heading 3 style to be a script font.

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Don’t worry about what your subheadings look like in Word – you will format them in Atticus. Always use Word default styles. If you create a custom style in Word, Atticus will not be able to interpret it. 

Scene Breaks

Another element you may want to make sure is properly set in your Word document before importing into Atticus is your scene breaks. 

If you use three asterisks, with no spacing or any other formatting applied to them between your scenes, Atticus will automatically convert those to placeholder scene breaks when imported. This will allow you to quickly customize the break to an ornamental design element with a single click, and apply this design to all scene breaks in your entire book.

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Footnotes and Endnotes

Finally, if you plan on having footnotes or endnotes in your final book, you’ll want to set those up in Word as Footnotes. Atticus will import them easily and you can add your preferences in your theme settings. 

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If you’ve already set up your notes in Word as endnotes, unfortunately, they won’t translate over to Atticus.

It’s super easy to convert them to footnotes, though.

  1. Make a copy of your Word document (if you don’t want to alter the original).
  2. Open this file in Word and click the References Tab. Click the expand menu icon in the Footnote/Endnote Section.
  3. Click Convert, then select ‘Convert all endnotes to footnotes’ and click OK.
  4. When you upload this version to Atticus, all notes will be recognized and added to the text, you can then select their location on the Formatting Tab.
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Importing and Customizing in Atticus

Beyond these simple formatting settings, it doesn’t matter too much how your manuscript is set in Word. You’ll be able to set your font styles, paragraph settings, line spacing, and much more within Atticus. 

downloadable reference sheet to guide authors through preparing their manuscript for importing into Atticus. Click to download pdf version

Docx File Won’t Import?

If you’ve gone through this tutorial and are having trouble getting your manuscript to import into Atticus, here are a few extra steps to check:

  1. URLs – If you have added hyperlinks to your manuscript, they may not be formatted in a way that Atticus can import them without breaking them. We recommend clearing all hyperlinks from your docx file before you import, and set all links from directly inside Atticus to ensure they work properly
  2. Images – If you have a lot of images, or even a few large images, your document may be timing out before it can be imported. We recommend saving all your images into a separate folder and removing them from your docx file for most efficient importing. Once your book is in Atticus, you have the flexibility to import and format each image individually, ensuring they align perfectly with your vision.
  3. File Type – have you made sure that you’re importing a .docx file (the x at the end is very important!). If not, try resaving as this file type and it should import more successfully.

What Next

Now that your manuscript is successfully inside Atticus, it’s time to start adjusting the look and feel but creating a custom theme that is unique to your book. If you’d like to see how I created the script style paragraph settings or the custom image for my scene break, check out our tutorial, Create a Custom Theme, next!

Last Updated: 05/30/2024

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