I've noticed a recent batch of questions about pdfs and producing them -- though not necessarily for reading as ebooks.

Of course, many ebooks are sourced originally as MSWORD, and many PDFs are not intended to be read as ebooks on mobile devices.

This raises the question of whether these kinds of questions are ontopic https://ebooks.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

Should a question about PDF and MS Word be considered ontopic ONLY if the result is a publishable ebook?

I think the on-topic list should acknowledge this fact somehow -- especially because some kinds of commercial publishing (i.e., press releases, technical manuals), don't necessarily result in a commercially published ebook.

I was answering a question about whether PDFs are considered an ebook format and I realized that there are so many PDF readers for mobile devices (and many MS Word readers too) that you could make the argument that all questions about MS Word and PDF are relevant because they could conceivably be read by mobile apps. I'm fairly neutral about that -- though I don't want to exclude too much.

At minimum, IMHO Ebooks SE should explicitly include any questions about converting from MSWord to any of the ebook formats. Also, any PDF questions about ebooks intended for commercial sale would be on-topic. Whether it should be allowed beyond that -- I don't know.

Super User already receives a fair number of questions about MS Word https://superuser.com/questions/tagged/microsoft-word

Writing SE allows questions about writing tools https://writers.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic , but actually they receive very few questions on the matter. they have more questions about general style and formatting and general questions about tools

1 Answer 1


TL;DR In general, yes, questions about these formats are on-topic, as long as they're about ebooks. A question about MS Word docs or PDFs is not necessarily a question about ebooks.

For example, if a user is having problems with basic Word formatting, creating a PDF form, or similar issues, those topics are not good material for this site. Likewise, how to layout a greeting card, create an infographic, or format a letter in one of these file formats would be off-topic.

By contrast, how to format different headings in Word for material that is supposed to be read, rather than viewed, is entirely on-topic. So is creation of internal and external links, font selection, and so on.

The critical question is: what type of material are we producing? Is it an ebook, that is, a document that is intended to be read on an electronic device of some sort? Or is it something else, something that is purely graphical or intended for consumption in print?

Also note that a question may be on-topic on more than one SE site. It can be on-topic at Super User, for example, without being off-topic here. But a question is probably best on one particular site. So, for example, a question about writing VBA routines to automate aspects of ebook creation in Word might be on-topic here, but it's probably a better fit for Stack Overflow. A question about file conversion with pandoc to produce consistent output in PDF, .epub, and .mobi formats might be on-topic at Super User, but it's probably better here.

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