Friday, May 27, 2011

Check your exported PDF!

Just a word of warning, I’d been creating PDFs from my Word document to send to CreateSpace. If you don’t already know, CreateSpace is a print on demand service that was bought a while ago by Amazon.

If you send CreateSpace your interior and cover documents, a customer can order your book and it is printed on demand and sent to the customer, either through CreateSpace or on Amazon.

So, I’m looking at my Word document and I’m carefully checking it for widows and orphans, a really tedious process where you want to ensure that the first line of a right-hand page isn’t just a few words from the previous paragraph. To fix the problem, you generally either tighten the letter spacing of a previous paragraph to suck up that dangling line, or increase the spacing of a paragraph to force another line to the top of the right-hand page.

But you want to use the bare minimum of letter space fiddling so that type isn’t so scrunched together or spread apart that it becomes unreadable. Everything looked fine and I exported the Word document as a PDF and sent the file to CreateSpace and waited for my proof.

Five days later, I get it back, give it a cursory glance — it is after all the third proof — and approve the proof, meaning people will now be able buy the book on Amazon. But later that day my husband picks up the proof, looks at it and says, “What’s this?”

Darn if he didn’t find an instance where one line of type was superimposed on another. I looked at the Word document and was puzzled because I couldn’t see a problem. But now I know I had made two major  mistakes.

  1. I was not looking at the document in Word’s Print Preview mode.
  2. I did not double check the PDF after exporting.
Word’s Layout mode, I discovered, is not a reliable view of the document. When you really, really want to see what the document will look like printed, use Print Preview. And from Print Preview, save as PDF. On the Mac, that means choosing Print and Save as PDF.

Also, open the exported PDF in Apple Preview or Adobe Acrobat to make sure there are no surprises.

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