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Import a Word document into Web Manuals

This guide covers the following:

Web Manuals has developed a convenient function that allows the users to import/convert existing Microsoft Word documents (“.doc/.docx”) into the Web Manuals environment. This is a quick guide on how to edit pre-existing documents before converting the Word documents into a web-based format. The import function interprets the original document and based on these interpretations, it creates a strikingly similar copy of the document in the Web Manuals system.

The purpose of pre-editing the Word documents before commencing the import is to save time for the post-import editing. This guide will set guidelines on how the Word document should be set up before importing. Note that it is possible to import documents that do not follow the exact standards presented below.

Requirements

It is required that the user performing the import has a proper level of access to the Web Manuals system (the user needs to either be an Editor or Admin). 

Import Process Chart

Pre-Editing
Start off by editing the Word document according to the recommended format settings by reading this manual. The goal is to minimize the time spent at the Post-Editing stage.

Import
When the document is as close as possible to the recommended settings, the document is ready for import. 

Post-Editing
After each import, it will always take a bit of time to edit pages in order to make final adjustments. Most of the issues you might encounter are covered here in this manual.

Control
The final stage of the import procedure is to verify that each module is up-to-date and then check for simple errors.  

Supported Formats

The import function aims to support the following formats in a Word document:

  • Headings
  • Text formatting bold, italic, underline
  • Bulleted lists
  • Numbered lists
  • Images (but not all options on positioning the image)
  • Simple tables

The following formatting options in a Word document may not be properly imported:

  • Tables with complex layouts
  • Contents in Headings / footers
  • Footnotes
  • Fonts (Will be replaced by predefined defaults)
  • Indents (Better to apply these manually)
  • Dotted tabs
  • Hyperlinks (Add manually after the import)
  • Track changes

File Format

The file formats that are supported by this function are currently .doc (2003 and older Word documents) and the newer .docx (2007 and newer Word documents). First, you should open the document that is to be imported and then “Save as” to create a new identical document with a new name. This is mainly to avoid accidentally deleting the original file.

Web Manuals’ plan for the future is to also support import in other file formats, such as Adobe InDesign formats.

Set correct headings in Word before importing

The single most important matter to consider when you start to configure the Word documents for import is to set the correct title headings.


This is a screenshot from the default headings of Word 2013.

Note that these headings must be named exactly as Word defaults, Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. Otherwise they will be imported incorrectly. Since these heading names are included in the default styles for Word, it should not be difficult to find these heading style sheets. If the manuals are using other custom-made headings, please change all the heading instances to the corresponding headings that you see on the screenshot above.

The list below is the most important things to think about:

  • Heading 1:
    This is the most important heading, since it will set the basic page structure in the system. All pages under this heading will be subpages of the page that contains the Heading 1. Set this heading on the first page of each chapter. The Headings 1 title that you type on the first chapter page will also disappear as text and be placed in the chapter title Headings, which is at the top of each chapter’s page. The first Heading 1 will become Chapter 1-0… and the second Heading 1 will become Chapter 2-0…, assuming 0-n as page numbering format.
  • Headings 2, 3, etc:
    Using the other heading styles, will place them as subpages to its’ preceding Heading 1 chapter page. Until the next chapter starts, the next pages will become sub pages to that chapter. The numbering on the imported manual will be like the familiar format 2.1 (Headings 2), 2.1.1 (Headings 3), 2.1.1.1 (Headings 4). 

This is an example on how the Page Structure can look like after the import, assuming that 0-n is the numbering format in use.

In the example above, the second chapter of this manual was called Limitations and used Heading 1 and therefore the page 2-1 Limitations was created. The next page 2-2 Limitations did not start with a new Headings level and therefore it is named the same again. The reason for this can be that there is some kind of module on that page, such as the Table of Content. But the following pages contain other subheadings, for example 2.1 General on page 2-3 General. When the next chapter begins Normal Procedures, it creates a new tree of sub pages, just like the previous one.

Remove numbers in headings

Remove all numbers in the headings and numbered lists on the document that are supposed to be imported. The Web Manuals import function does not need those numbers, so unless the heading numbers are removed, they will be included in the import and headings will be numbered twice.

If Word is automatically generating heading numbers, right click on the heading style in the Styles box in Word, select Modify and remove the numbering.

General information

The text format will not be imported into Web Manuals. The text format will be the predefined format that the customer sets for their site. This means that not much consideration has to be taken into account when setting the text format in the Word document. 

Hyperlinks need to be edited manually afterwards. Remove footnotes, since they can be imported, but not as such.

Indentation and numbering

Please consider removing unnecessary indents, both in the text and in the headings, before importing. The import function does support indentation, to a certain extent, but it is not as reliable as it should be right now. We therefore advise that you manually apply indent where needed after the import.

Some customers use numbered/bulleted lists to create artificial indents inside the manual, these should also be removed due to the same reasons stated above.

Images in your Word document

There are a number of reasons why the import can’t handle certain types of images. When this happens, do as follows:

  1. Screenshot the page and use a program like GIMP (or other image editors) to crop the image correctly and save it.
  2. Go to the correct page in the document and upload the image, using the tool in the text section to add the picture. Here you find detailed instructions of how to upload an image.

Dotted/decimal tabs

Dotted underlines are not suitable for web-based environments. Before importing, remove any dotted/decimal tabs. 

Comments in Word Document

Word has a built-in function to allow the editor to create revisionary comments on each change, much like Web Manuals, however, these comments must be removed before commencing the import. The import function will include all hidden revision comments in the import, which means that all comments should be removed to decrease the post-import editing.

Creating a template table in Web Manuals

One of the main challenges with document import from Word is the matter of advanced/complex tables. 

One solution is to create a revised form of that type of table and use it as a template. It may be slightly tricky to adjust these tables as it does require some time and effort to create a good template to use for revising multiple complex tables of the same kind. Extensive experience with Word and Web Manuals will help the importer to understand and get a better result eventually. Below you will find an example describing common Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL):

  1. Leave the table unchanged in the Word document and just import them as they are. The purpose of this is just to get the correct number of pages when importing the document.
  2. After the import, delete the sections with imported tables, but keep the pages.
  3. Then create a template of the table in MS Word, based on the original table.
  • Firstly, show every border of the table (the current editor for tables cannot hide specific borders of cells).
  • Secondly, right click on the table in Word and select width to 100%. Then copy the table into the page in the Web Manuals application, the width will automatically be correct.
  • After creating the template, select the whole table and copy it (Ctrl+C) from Word and then paste it (Ctrl+V) into the text editor at the manual page. Check that it looks good and tweak some minor things if needed.
     

Another benefit of having a template is that it’s possible to re-use the template for other complex tables in Word. Additionally the user can use the template to all complex tables by copying and pasting the information for each table into the template and then copying the table into the manual page.

Look at the example below; compare the original to the template, to see how a template can look like:

The left picture is the original and the right picture is the table of that very same table.

Built-in MEL tables in Web Manuals

Instead of creating the MELs yourself (which can be a tedious task) you can use the template MELs that are built-in for Web Manuals. At the time of writing there are about 100 pieces of MELs in different categories to choose from.

To add a MEL do the following:

  1. Click the icon Add MEL in the menu.
  1. Choose MEL Style (Portrait, Portrait Compact, Landscape or Landscape Compact).
  2. Type in the number of rows the table should display.
  3. Choose an ATA Chapter.
  4. Click on OK to add the MEL to the page.
  5. Fill in the data in the fields and Save the page. 

Adding a MEL from the text section menu.

Convert Multi-column Lists into tables

There are some situations when importing text lists that do not work very well, one such example is the advanced multi-column lists.

One solution to this is to convert multi-column lists into tables before importing. There are functionalities in MS Word that are helpful to the user with that specific conversion, called Insert table, usually found under the Insert tab.

To use this table conversion, do the following:

  1. Select the area of the list.
  2. Click the Insert table function.
  3. Adjust table borders to get the desired look.
  4. Import the document, be ready for some post-editing as well.

If this is done properly, then it will save time, but if it’s too complicated or the list-to-table conversion is not working properly, then look at the second solution down below. It is possible to hide borders inside Web Manuals.

Manually create Multi-column Lists with tables

Another solution is to manually create the table with our easy-to-use table tools in the text section module. 

Regardless of which solution you choose to use, please leave the table just as it is, since it will create a page for it anyway, which has to be done regardless and it is easy to delete the content afterwards if you choose to start over.

This list is an example of what type of list that would benefit from making into a table before importing.

The table above should most likely become a six column table. Since it can be tricky to convert this type of lists into tables, it would be beneficial if the editor was quite Word-savvy.

Creating Checklists

Checklist is a feature you find in the text module that lets you create checklists. These lists use dotted lines to make them easy to read.

To create a checklist you do the following:

  1. Click at the checklist icon in the menu.

  1. Choose Checklist Style (Plain, Bullets, Numbered).
  2. Type number of rows.
  3. Click OK to add the checklist to the page.
  4. Fill in the data in the fields and Save the page.

Adding a checklist from the text section menu

An example of a checklist.

​​​When the Word document is ready for import and modified according to these recommendations, continue with this step. There are two possible ways to import the manual, either by importing the whole manual all at once or by importing each chapter one at a time. Either way you need to start with creating a new document with the appropriate settings (no predefined page structure, the document should only have one page) or open up a document you want to add imported content to.

Complete the Word document import

The first option is to import one complete Word document, this is the easiest and most straight-forward option. However, it comes with a few risks as well, since there will be more to verify and import at the same time, which takes longer and there is a risk that one forgets smaller tasks within the big document. Once the target manual is

ready for import, then you can start the import.

  1. Click Upload and select the Word document to be imported.
  2. Select Use Heading 1 as chapter dividers.
  3. Select whether or not to include table borders. If complex tables are not created correctly try this, which will create the tables with a different processing tool. It will however prolong the import time.
  4. Click Import to start the import.

Importing parts of a document into Web Manuals

The second option is to split each chapter into its own Word document and import each chapter one at a time. Each chapter/document should start with “Heading 1” on the first page to ensure that the page structure after the import will still be correct.

Follow the steps under Complete document import but select Import file as a new chapter instead, and give the chapter a name. It is easier to work with one chapter at a time, and the editor gets the chance to apply new insights, tips and tricks to change to the following documents before importing them as well. It is also beneficial if the editor accidently imported the wrong chapter, then it just has to delete that chapter and not the whole manual.

However, be careful so that you don’t import a full manual as a chapter, as the page structure will be troublesome to restore.

Importing Status

After you have started the import of your word document a progress bar will be displayed. Once the import is finished the system will inform you and give you instructions on how to proceed.

​Copy from document

Instead of importing content from a Word document you can import content from another Web document. To do this click Copy from document, choose Document and Page (not mandatory). Click Import to copy/import the content from the document.

Remember that not all of these considerations might be suitable or needed for your specific document. The purpose of this guide is to save time and in some cases, it might be faster to adjust post-import than pre-import. Creating solutions for advanced tables for instance can save a lot of time if the target document consists of many of its type, but if it is only one advanced document, then it might be faster to just create one manually within the system itself. The key is to be systematic and consider the trade-offs of risks and benefits when editing documents before and after import.

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