Making a book out of AskMeFi?
June 26, 2009 3:37 AM   Subscribe

I want to make a book out of AskMeFi threads. Any free programs that can help me do this?

My brother and his wife are going to be first-time parents in around 6 months and I've compiled a list of 35 askme questions that may be relevant to them. I want to find some way to organize them on my computer using any kind of program, something with more book-like structure than Word, so that I can then print it out and bind it myself.
posted by alon to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen this: Best way to print threads.
posted by Houstonian at 5:08 AM on June 26, 2009

Best answer: For what it's worth, Word can be customised pretty easily to produce book-like documents. It's very easy to make Word handle page numbers, chapters and give you alternating page formats (so the layouts of left and right pages automatically mirror each other like a real book). It'll also generate a table of contents for you if you ask. I was once also told that it has an Index creation tool, but I've never needed this so haven't checked.

Most of this depends on a basic understanding of using styles in Word. It's basically a way for you to tell word "this text is a chapter title", "this text is a subheading" and "this text is just ordinary text". As well as automatically keeping everything in the same style looking the same, it makes handling chapters and sub-sections very easy (try putting "section break"s between chapters; you can make it only start new chapters on the next left-hand page). Word is clever enough to use these to make a table of contents automatically. There's loads of info scattered about the web; have a look at this overview.

Also, if you have a look in Format>Document you can decide how big the page is and how big the margins are. It gives you the option to mirror margins, so you can have the margins closest to the spine wider than the outer margins on left and right pages. Also like a book, you can have the page numbers automatically swap position between pages so they're always at e.g. the outer margin.

It's easy to do when you know what options you're looking for, and once you've set it once you can forget about it. Have a look around for universities' guides to writing theses in Word (e.g. - just the first one I found) or, better yet, "So you want to write a book in Word".

(I don't have any great love for Word, but I'm guessing you already have a copy so it might save you from buying dedicated book software)
posted by metaBugs at 5:59 AM on June 26, 2009 Writer can do all that stuff too, plus it doesn't mysteriously trash your work and die when working on a long document such as a book.
posted by flabdablet at 6:12 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]

Have you looked at Scribus? I haven't looked at it in depth, but for the club newsletter I publish, I turn to the closed-source version, Adobe InDesign.
posted by Alterscape at 6:55 AM on June 26, 2009

Once you're extracted your MeFi pages, you're going to have to organize and layout your book, which is where the "fun" comes in. The more you plan and setup your word processing styles/templates ahead of time, the more real enjoyment you'll get from the actual compilation and editing process. 2nding flabdablet's comment re. OpenOffice for this project. Here are a couple of good resources:

Creating a Book Template with OO Writer.

If you want more detail than that, here's what I go to: a book about writing a book with OpenOffice. The workflow portions may be helpful to you, too.
posted by webhund at 8:10 AM on June 26, 2009

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