Word file to ebook: Two fast and easy methods

Have you ever wanted to make a quick & dirty ebook from a Word file? You could save as PDF, which is readable in most ereaders, but a PDF file isn’t as flexible as a regular ebook. It doesn’t flow and reformat for easy reading.

You probably want an actual ebook file, but Word doesn’t export directly to one of these file types. It’s not hard to do it yourself, though. This post gives you two ways to do it. Both involve additional software, but as long as you know how to download and install an app, and how to use Open and Save As, you don’t have to learn how to do anything else.

Both methods create an EPUB file, which can be read on most phones and tablets. At the end of this post, I’ll tell you how you can convert that EPUB so it can be read on a Kindle.

These methods won’t give you a professional-looking ebook, but with a little more work, you can do that too. That’s beyond the scope of this post though. All we’re looking for here is a way to create a simple ebook file.

And you don’t even have to be an expert computer user to create your ebook in only a few steps.

By the way, all of the apps mentioned in this post are free and are available on either Windows or Mac. I’m writing this on Windows, so some steps might vary slightly if you’re on a Mac.

Method 1: LibreOffice

LibreOffice is a great free alternative to Microsoft Office. You can use it to create a manuscript that is fully compatible with Word. There are even some things, especially when it comes to formatting the manuscript, that I like better in LibreOffice. But even if you’re a dedicated Word user, it’s worth it to install LibreOffice if you want to create an EPUB file.

Creating a perfectly readable EPUB file from a Word file can’t get much easier than this:

  1. Open your Word file in LibreOffice Writer.
  2. Click File > Export As > Export as EPUB.
  3. Fill in the fields in the screen that pops up if you want to, then click OK. You can even add a cover image if you’d like, but it’s not required.

That’s it. You get a quick and readable EPUB file that even splits the book at headings and creates a table of contents (as long as your chapters are defined using the Word heading styles).

Method 2: Word to Sigil

Personally, I like Method 1. It’s how I create my own EPUB files. But maybe you don’t want to install LibreOffice. Maybe you’d prefer to create your EPUB file from Word. You can’t do that directly, but you don’t have to install another office suite. You still need another app to do the conversion, but the app doesn’t have to be as big as LibreOffice.

Sigil is a free EPUB editor that you can use to do all kinds of fancy editing. If you want to, you can use it to create a professional-looking EPUB file, or edit an existing EPUB file, like the one you create using Method 1, so it looks better. All we’re doing here, though, is creating a quick EPUB file for reviewing in your ebook reader, so we won’t go into how to use Sigil. All you have to do is open and save your file.

  1. In Word, click File > Save As, and select the Web Page, Filtered file type. This converts your manuscript into a single HTML file.
  2. In Sigil, click File > Open, and select the HTML file you saved from Word.
  3. Click File > Save to save the HTML file as an EPUB file.

The EPUB file might lose some of your fancy formatting from Word, and it won’t have a TOC, but it is still perfectly readable in your ebook app.

Converting the EPUB file to Kindle

If you want to read your file on a Kindle, you have to convert your EPUB file to a format recognized by Kindle, such as MOBI. There are few apps that can convert your file, but the one I like is Calibre. Calibre is an ebook manager and editor that does a lot more than convert files, but all we’re doing here is a simple conversion.

  1. In Calibre, click Add Books, then add the EPUB file you created using one of the two methods above.
  2. In the Calibre book list, select the book you want to convert, then click Convert Books.
  3. Make sure the input format is EPUB and the output format is MOBI, then fill in the other blanks if you want to. You can add a cover image if you want, but it’s not required.
  4. Click OK.

To find the file, look for Path on the right side of the Calibre screen, then click Click to open. You can copy the MOBI file to another location if you want, such as your project’s working folder.

That’s all there is to it

That’s it. You now have a file you can read in your ereader. It might not be as pretty as the ebooks you buy, or have all the features you expect to find in a commercial ebook, but it’s easily readable. If you want to take the time, you can improve the look of your ebook by more carefully preparing your Word file and learning more about editing an EPUB file in Sigil or Calibre, but you don’t have to do anything extra if all you want to do is get the file to your own ereader.