As a technical writer, I’ve used a lot of different programs to create books. For years, FrameMaker has been the standard for technical publications, as well as a variety of other types of books. One the opposite end, Microsoft Word has a reputation for being the least loved solution for anything more complicated than a novel. It gets used because everyone has it, not because everyone wants it.
In many ways, this reputation is deserved. I’ve used Word since version 4 for the Mac back in 1989. In the old days, it had so many problems with glossaries and footnoting that it made you want to pull your hair out. Its table of contents feature seemed to have a mind of its own and adding graphics was a recipe for disaster.
Believe it or not, Microsoft Word has come a long way in the past few years. I still wouldn’t use it for the thousand page monsters I used to build for Intel, but frankly those beasts even made FrameMaker have fits. More importantly, FrameMaker is powerful, but nobody ever bothered to make it easy to use. The learning curve for FrameMaker is ridiculous. Frankly, they could learn a few lessons from Word 2010, which has done an excellent job ofÂ putting powerful tools at your fingertips.
That doesn’t mean you won’t have a lot to learn if you want to do a book properly. I suggest you start with How to Format Books in MS Word, a nice introduction to the concepts over at the Technical Communication Center.