Reading Time: 4 minutesVellum is one of the best friends an indie author can have. It can take your edited Microsoft Word document and transform it into ePub, Mobi, or PDF formats. The magic starts with you importing a Word file. In this article we’ll show how to easily import a Word file into Vellum. Unfortunately, Vellum is not available for Windows, so we’ll be discussing Vellum on a Mac.
Can Vellum import my file if I don’t write in MS Word?
I’ll start by saying that I am a Vellum user who paid full price for my own copy of the Vellum Press version to help me quickly format my books into eBook and print versions. I am extremely happy with it and I use to do what it was designed to do.
If you happen to be writing in another app such as Scrivener or Apple Pages, don’t worry. As long as the software you used to write your book can export or save as a Word file, you’re in luck. Vellum can import a Word file, regardless which app created the file.
I’ve heard of people writing entire books solely in Vellum, but I wouldn’t recommend that, since editing and other writing-related tools are limited in Vellum. A writer can edit within Vellum, but it’s a better practice to do the bulk of your editing within your writing software. Vellum is an excellent formatting and layout tool, not a long-form writing tool.
Vellum does not export to proprietary Word .docx or .pages formats that are designed for writing. It does export to .RTF, which can then be opened in Word. Still, I would recommend writing your book in Scrivener, Word, or another app which can export to MS Word format, then using ProWritingAid to help you edit. When that is completed, import the Word file into Vellum. You certainly can make minor edits in Vellum such as correcting misspelled words, rewording sentences, etc.. I do that myself. (Note: Use the ProWritingAid link in this paragraph for a 20% discount.)
How to import a Word file into Vellum
Importing Word files into Vellum is very simple. Open Vellum. Near the bottom of the opening panel, you’ll see a button that says, “Import Word File.” Click that button and locate the file you wish to import.
Other ways to import a Word file into Vellum
There are also a couple other ways to import files into Vellum. You can drag your file onto the Vellum flower icon in the Dock on your Mac. You can also import your document using Import Word File command in the File Menu (File > Import Word File>.
Try to avoid inserting extra returns in your word file just to move text down the page.
How does Vellum know where chapters start?
Vellum uses the formatting that it sees in your Word document to create your book files. It will have an easier time of it if you do some basic formatting prior to importing the file into Vellum. There are several formatting tricks that you can use to help Vellum along, but these two are most important:
- Use Word’s Styles feature to set your chapter heading as “Heading 1”. For example, if you use numbers in your chapter titles, you might select (hi-lite) your heading Chapter 1 or Chapter One, then click Heading 1 in the styles area of the ribbon in Word. Use whatever styles which the software you are using to write your book has available to style the headings. But be consistent with them. Vellum will try to understand your intent and start new chapters accordingly.
- Insert a page break immediately at the end of a chapter. Vellum looks for page breaks as a hint that this is the end of one chapter and the beginning of another.
How Vellum sees extra lines
Hint: Try to avoid inserting extra returns to move text down the page. If Vellum finds more than two or three lines without content, it may take that as a break in your content and assume it is the beginning of a new chapter. This can be fixed in Vellum, but it is simpler to just avoid it in the first place by not using empty lines in your Word file to move text on the page. You can learn more about adding line breaks and page breaks in your original document here and here.
Vellum will try to figure out where chapters start and stop even if you don’t use these hints. But if you’ll do these two simple things, when Vellum Ebooks version imports your book file, you’ll quickly see it magically laid out in eBook formats that can be read in ePub, Kindle, Kobo, Apple Books, and more.
If you have purchased the Vellum Press version, you’ll see your manuscript formatted for print as well as eBook. The print version will be provided as a PDF that is ready to send to Amazon KDP. Ingram Spark and Lulu.com will also accept the file.
Note: If your book contains several photos, some tweaking may be necessary. You can control certain parts of the formatting such as page size, font, and embellishments, but that is a subject for another article.