Authoring Tool

, Jul 16, 2008

I'm looking for an authoring tool (for a book project - don't ask for more details just yet). It needs to work on a Mac.

The end goal is to create a Word document that makes use of styles only. No manual formatting, font changing etc.

Surely Word itself (and similar monstrosities, such as OpenOffice) can't be the only option?

I took a look at Scrivener, which seems nice, but exports really bad Word docs. I would love to use Pages, but it doesn't do outlines (WTF?). MultiMarkdown sounds perfect, but doesn't export to (real) Word docs. Mellel seems nice, too - but again, the Word export just creates formatted text (no styles).

John Bergmayer's comment on 43folders sums up my requirements perfectly:

The dream program for me would be a standard word processor, but one that REQUIRES the use of styles for all text. No free-form. No manually applying and formatting, ever. Add a mode for easier drafting/rearranging/outlining and good full-screen, and I’d be very happy.

On July 17, 2008 12:13 AM, said:

I agree… I haven’t found anything that comes close. XXE (a docbook editor: with the FO Converter ( might work, although I haven’t tried that combination personally


On July 17, 2008 7:29 AM, Oliver Gierke said:

Hey Stefan,

have you thought about Docbook yet? We use XmlMind XmlEditor for “almost WYSIWYG” editing using the Docbook structuring elements. There are a lot of XSLT stylesheets available to transform it into Word, PDF or the like.

Regards, Ollie

On July 17, 2008 8:03 AM, Stefan Tilkov Author Profile Page said:

I’ve used Docbook before, together with Emacs and nXML – but there the goal was to explicitly create multiple output formats. Considering an XML editor is probably a good idea, but I still need to generate the “styled” Word output. I’m not aware of a DocBook converter that does this.

On July 17, 2008 8:50 AM, Martin Probst said:

You could probably simply convert your DocBook to very trivial WordML, no? If you only want to use styles and do not have any inline formatting, that shouldn’t be so difficult.

Apart from that, I think there is a DocBook -> WordML converter.

On July 17, 2008 9:29 AM, Michael Mahlberg said:

For the writing process I very much like scrivener, but you’re right - the word-output could be “optimized”. Last time I endes up writing in scrivener with a few extra tags (yes, old fashioned, I know) and a couple of macros in word to convert the output according to the publishers guidelines.

Cheers MM

On July 17, 2008 11:54 AM, said:

Have you checked out LyX yet?

“LyX combines the power and flexibility of TeX/LaTeX with the ease of use of a graphical interface.” (

Very nice to work with, produces superb results. No word export, though.

On July 17, 2008 12:18 PM, said:

Maybe this format

On July 17, 2008 12:22 PM, said:

Maybe you could use this

Word 2003 Template

On July 18, 2008 12:37 AM, said:

I am not sure if there is a ‘good’ Word export but Ulysses from The Bluet Technologies Group is maybe worth a try.

If I recall correctly you can set Word Styles based on tags but I am not quite sure.

A tryout is available. URL is


On July 18, 2008 9:49 PM, Stefan Tilkov Author Profile Page said:

I’ve checked out Word’s XML format, and actually the commenters are right –- it’s trivial to create a Word document in this format.

So I’m going with Scrivener for now, with the idea of exporting to plain text or Markdown, and then finally applying a little scripting and XSLT to produce WordML. Thanks for your input.

On July 19, 2008 1:58 PM, Jacek said:

Hi Stefan, please publish your process and XSLT when you’re done, I think it might get popular. 8-)