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Creating large documents?
March 2, 2005 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm working on a document that will eventually be very large...what's the best way to do this?

Each chapter will probably be 50 or more pages, with 20 or more chapters total. It has to be printable, and downloadable over a creaky old intranet. I want to do each chapter in Word, then convert to seperate .pdf documents, but my boss would really rather have everything in one document. Ideas?
posted by JoanArkham to Technology (15 answers total)
You can use Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional to collate individual PDFs into one final document you can email or "sneakernet" to your boss.
posted by AlexReynolds at 9:55 AM on March 2, 2005

Or, use pdftk to do the same thing.

pdftk chap1.pdf chap2.pdf [etc] cat output allchaps.pdf

There's also a GUI (that I haven't used) for windows. OSX equivalent would be CombinePDFs.

Printing to PDF on windows is another matter though. I think CutePDF can do it. Free too.
posted by easyasy3k at 10:25 AM on March 2, 2005

For my tech docs, which average 70 pages a chapter and 15 chapters per manual, I prefer to use Adobe Framemaker. It has a feature that allows you to tie multiple documents (chapters) together into a master sort of document (manual). The downside is that unless your boss or reviewers have Frame, you're going to have to convert to Word to gather reviews. But really, the features of Framemaker make it worth it; it just handles bigger documents much more elegantly than Word.
posted by j3s at 10:29 AM on March 2, 2005

I'm afraid putting everything into one .pdf will be too large...we can't reliably email anything over 1MB. Oh, and we have no Zip drives or floppies either (yay government work).

Is there some way to really shrink the final file size that I'm unaware of?
posted by JoanArkham at 10:32 AM on March 2, 2005

Try saving your Word document as an rtf. I'd bet that turns out a lot smaller than converting it to a pdf would.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:34 AM on March 2, 2005

MSWord is more than a little risky when it comes to large document publication.

FrameMaker, Ventura (my fave), OpenOffice, and DocUtils with a custom XSL:FO template are all good alternatives.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 AM on March 2, 2005

For the working-on-in-chapters bit, use Word's master document facility (see this question from earlier which has a bit more detail). I'm fairly sure you can bring everything together into one huge doc afterwards to please the boss.
posted by handee at 10:43 AM on March 2, 2005

...thinks... if it's gotta go over the creaky old intranet, why not go for html?
posted by handee at 10:44 AM on March 2, 2005

This sounds like the perfect job for LaTex or Tex. Personally, I use Lyx as a front end for LaTex.
posted by achmorrison at 11:16 AM on March 2, 2005

If they're just text or have small amounts of line art, even thousand-page PDFs can be quite small.
posted by zsazsa at 12:09 PM on March 2, 2005

I can confirm that Word gets very cranky as the pagecount increases, particularly if you have a lot of graphics or tables. Word starts to go seriously wrong at the 30 to 50 page mark if you're working with more that just plain text.

On the other hand, I have done mulit-hundred page documents in WordPerfect, with figure counts of over one per page. The real limitation there seems to be your system's memory---when the document no longer fits in memory, making large jumps in the document can get really slow.
posted by bonehead at 1:32 PM on March 2, 2005

Joan, if you can publish your large PDF file to the intranet web site, Acrobat lets you automatically optimize Adobe PDF files for viewing on the web.

When a Web server delivers a PDF one page at a time, it’s called byte-serving. In order for byte-serving to work, the PDF files must first be optimized. In previous versions of Acrobat, you had to select optimization as an option at the time you saved the file. Acrobat 6.0 lets you set optimization as the default behavior.

To optimize PDF files for byte-serving:

Choose Edit > Preferences (Ctrl-K/ Command-K), to open Acrobat Preferences.

In the list on the left side of the window, select General Optimizing PDF Files for Online Viewing.

Make sure that the Save As optimizes for Fast Web View check box is checked.

Check the Save As optimizes for Fast Web View check box, if it isn’t already checked.

Click OK. Any file you save will now automatically be optimized, and the document will be displayed one page at a time.

Your Web administrator can probably tell you whether your Web site is set up to byte-serve PDF files. If not, explain that you’d like to byte-serve PDF files, and the administrator will probably be able to upgrade the server software or direct you to a Web server that can byte-serve.

In some cases, you may prefer viewers to download an entire document, instead of a page at a time. For example, with the entire document on their systems, viewers will be able to access individual pages much faster than if the pages have to be downloaded individually. To provide this capability, you must create non-optimized files, which you do by simply unchecking the Save As optimizes for Fast Web View check box in the General area of Preferences.
posted by AlexReynolds at 2:14 PM on March 2, 2005

Do not make one big Word doc. You are asking for trouble. Most especially, don't go anywhere near Word's Master Document "feature". I have talked to three people who tried to use that, and it macerated their work.

Framemaker, converted to PDF for reviewing and end users, is pretty standard.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:35 PM on March 2, 2005

Thanks all! At the very least I think I can talk my boss out of doing one massive Word document now.
posted by JoanArkham at 4:21 PM on March 2, 2005

posted by PenDevil at 12:38 AM on March 3, 2005

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