How to Import a Word document into Web Manuals

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.


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

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.

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

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.

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 also to 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.

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 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), (Headings 4). 

This is an example of what 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 therefore page 2-1 Limitations was created. The next page 2-2 Limitations did not start with a new Headings level and thus 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 on 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.

Complete the Word document import

The first option is to import one complete Word document, this is the easiest and most straightforward 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 targeted 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 accidentally 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.

​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 the 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 types, 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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