Word processor with good type handling for book layout?
October 22, 2012 10:26 AM   Subscribe

Is there a word processor with better type handling than Microsoft Word for a CreateSpace book?

I've read that Microsoft Word doesn't do a good job with "modern" fonts with tricky hinting features like Minion Pro and if one must do a book in it, it's better to stick with Times New Roman.

An example. [though now I can't find a reference to using Times to keep Word looking better]

So, without going all the way to Adobe InDesign, is there something that works with body text better than Word? I'm not worried about the cost (I'd do the "no commitment" Creative Cloud for a month or two), but the learning curve of InDesign. I have access to Mac OS and Win, but I prefer Mac OS. I'll be submitting to CreateSpace in PDF.

I have Pages (part of iWork), wouldn't mind buying Scrivener, but does anyone rate "ability to make consistent 'color' " for word processors?

I'm not opening a book design shop and the Kindle version will be the primary one for my dad's novel, but my mother is insisting that it be made available to the techno-peasants. The book might deserve better than my abilities, but after dealing with 2-3 year publishing cycles with previous, work, the author is impatient to just get this out there.

I'm not interesting in manually manipulating leading, kerning, etc. I just want something that won't make designers wretch.
posted by morganw to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would try LaTeX
posted by nightwood at 10:37 AM on October 22, 2012

Seconding LaTeX. It has a bit of a learning curve if you've never done markup-based formatting before, but the default styles it comes with are very professional looking. For OS X you can get TexShop which provides a GUI front end for the processing tools. You still have to use markup, but you can typeset your document with menu items instead of the terminal. Caveat: there doesn't seem to be a direct LaTeX > epub workflow, but some searching turns up a couple of how-tos like this one.
posted by usonian at 11:16 AM on October 22, 2012

Response by poster: I'm OK with markup and Python programming and was hoping for an automate-able solution for kindlegen-ready markup (.opf, .html, .ncx) to ePub and PDF, so command-line LaTeX would work fine.

But how is LaTeX's ability generating "smooth type color"?

type color is a function of the typeface, but also of how the glyphs are laid out.
posted by morganw at 12:56 PM on October 22, 2012

Have you perused Typography for Lawyers? Some good suggestions there for fonts that play nice with word processing.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 1:00 PM on October 22, 2012

Best answer: This comparison of Word, LaTeX, and InDesign output may be of interest.

You could save a LaTeX document as a pdf and batch convert it to Kindle format. That's a Windows program, but I'm sure Mac options are available.

Scrivener is not a typesetting program, but you can compile to LaTex using MultiMarkdown. Relevant: Using Multi-Markdown with Scrivener.
posted by xyzzy at 1:42 PM on October 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

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