I need to prepare a long manuscript that must be submitted in a Microsoft Word document in order to meet the submission criteria. (Please no "Don't use Word" comments.)

I want to use a text editor on my Linux computer (Ubuntu). I will eventually paste the content into a Word document when it is finished. I don't have access to Word just now and I cannot test this.

I will probably use a mixture of different text editors as is usual.

Is there anything I need to watch out for, such as line endings and text encoding, so that I don't need to rework the text when I paste it into the new format and OS?

  • 2
    What about using a markup language like Markdown and convert it with pandoc? You don't even need to copy-paste if you go that route.
    – Marco
    May 24, 2013 at 15:49
  • 6
    Can you use LibreOffice Write, or just plain text editors?
    – manatwork
    May 24, 2013 at 15:49
  • I have been often in that situation. I usually prepare documents with LibreOffice. I have been doing that for some fairly large documents (50 pages in small prints). It works well enough. I did have some problems with internal cross-references, for example when a footnote refers to another footnote. It may have been because I saved in too old a format for word.
    – babou
    May 24, 2013 at 19:51
  • I think that newer versions of Word (Word 2010, IIRC) can read OpenDocument files; in this case you might be able to write in OpenOffice/LibreOffice and then open the resulting file in Word.
    – Renan
    May 29, 2013 at 1:53

4 Answers 4


Install pandoc, then select any of the markup formats it supports as input. Write your manuscript in that format, then convert to .docx.

I'd suggest using:

  • Markdown if you don't need much in the way of formatting. The occasional italicized word, maybe a headline, some bullets. This site uses a variant of Markdown for posts, so you already know it.

  • DocBook if you need a highly-structured document. It is suited to creation of book-sized documents, particularly the sort that don't need fancy formatting, but which have deep structure. (i.e. Most nonfiction.)

  • LaTeX if you happen to know the markup language already.

  • +1 Where have you been all my life?
    – Joseph R.
    May 24, 2013 at 21:44

If it is a text editor à la emacs/vi, make sure you cut lines only at the end of paragraphs, and do not skip lines. There are symbols (quotation signs for example) that will be hard to handle in the text editor. You may have to make global substitutions once in word.
But I usually do that only for the first rough draft of the text. Then I switch for LibreOffice, improve the text and then save for word. It may be wise to save regularly in word format (.doc) in case some incompatibility appears. It is even possible to work with LibreOffice and save files in .doc.


You can write in html, since it can be parsed by Word. It is also handy that collaborators can make edits that you can see as long as they save the doc as an html file.

I do use markdown and pandoc for some more sophisticated work but a lot of things I just write in html when it needs to be compatible across a lot of platforms including Word.


Word Web App is free and you can use it from a browser on Linux. It will output to docx and odt. There is significant code on Codeplex, Sourceforge, et al. that can help with converting an existing something into OpenXML. If the recipients are using Office 2007 SP2 or newer, or they have a Windows 7 or Windows 8 WordPad, they can open your ODT.

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