Alan's Blog




Guide Books – Do-it-Yourself

Making your own guidebook means that you can include only the information you need, therefore, unlike printed books, no pages are wasted with information you don’t need. They also have the advantage in being FREE!

Now, this may seem obvious, but you first need to plan your tour, and this is where those printed guidebooks can be very useful in providing you with ideas of where to go.

Once you’ve decided on your destination, you can decide on the route to take, and this is where you can get busy on line with Google Maps. The downside with these maps is that they will only allow you to enter 9 destinations along a particular route (although this can be overcome – watch YouTube for some ingenious ways of doing so). Also, the route decided by Google Maps may not be exactly to your liking (which can usually be amended). However, using Google Maps is outside the scope of this piece of text. Using printed maps or even a road atlas can give you a great deal of assistance, depending on the map scale used.

Following the route you’ve decided upon, you can now go on line and search for everything of interest that lies along your route – or not too far from it. Diversions off your original route are frequently worthwhile. By this I mean places of interest, as well as place to stay or eat.

Having decided your route, you can print your route maps from Google maps or wherever they’ve come from. You can either use the print facility within Google Maps or use a program named Snipping Tool to grab a screen-shot of what you want to save. This should be saved as both a .jpg picture and as a .pdf file in your ‘Maps’ folder (see below).

When you come to start building your guidebook you are sure to have a huge number of files to which you’ll need to refer when it comes to compiling your book. Now is a good time to consider how and where you’re going to store these files. I suggest a home folder named something like ‘Tour 2019’ would be a good start, then a folder for each country you’re going to visit under that. A separate folder for ‘Maps’ might be a good idea. Under each country you could list the main regions or even cities you intend visiting. You might also want to have a ‘Maps’ folder for each region or city to contain more detailed maps of specific areas than those covered by your general ‘Maps’ folder.

You now need to decide on the method you’re going to use to compile your guidebook and this will largely depend on the software you have available on your computer, or to what software you decide to obtain for the job.

At the end of the day you need to keep in mind that you may want to read your guidebook on an iPad / tablet / telephone and so your choice of format for the final document is important.

For all-round compatibility, I suggest the .pdf format (Portable Document Format) originally specified by Adobe® provides the best option as it can be read on almost any hardware.

Method 1: Using .pdf files throughout the compilation.
This is the quick and easy way to produce your guide book.

If you don’t have a version Adobe® Acrobat® professional (not reader) on your computer, there are a number of alternatives available on line, some of which are free.

Regardless of what program you’re using, there should be a facility for you to create a PDF from a Web Page. This will bring up a box into which you should paste the URL of the web page you want converting to a .pdf file.

Alternatively, you can sometimes use the ‘Print’ facility to do this for you (Select ‘Save as PDF’ from the printer menu). Do remember that not all web pages convert very well and certainly not as you might see them on the screen or as well as you’d like.

Once you’ve saved your file you may find it useful to edit it, deleting surplus pages before saving it again. Always give your files names that are meaningful or you’ll end up very confused when trying to compile your files into your guidebook.

Once you’ve saved all the files you want to go into your guidebook, you can then put them together. There are many ways of doing this but you may find putting them in order something of a challenge so you can always insert a chapter or page number at the start of the file name in order to get the sequence correct. To make things easier for assembly, copy all these files into one folder with the numbering in the correct sequence.

It is then a matter of letting your software put them altogether as you should find that there will be a ‘Combine Files into a Single PDF’ facility which will very rapidly compile your guidebook ready for use. Save this combined file as your guidebook and you’re ready to go.

Click on 'Add Files, put them in order, then click on 'Combine Files' and the job's done. Easy.

Method 2: Using your word processor or desk top publishing program.
This is the most time consuming but probably the best way to produce your guide book.

Using this method, you can, dependant on your artistic and software skills, produce a guidebook that is presented as well as anything you can buy in a book shop. However, be aware that this is extremely time consuming and may well take longer to produce than the time you have available for doing the tour!

Once you've got your 'writing' program open, you can go on line to whatever site you need to use to get the information you need, select the text / illustrations you need, then copy and paste this into your 'writing' program.

Note: If you don't have some sort of 'writing' or 'office' program, you can download Open Office FREE from URL:

That's the easy part. To do the job properly, you'll need to format and layout everything to make your guide book look attractive. You may want to produce your book with a table of contents and an index, for example. You'll probably want to use a consistent font for most of the text. All this takes time – lots of it.

Method 3: A combination of Method's 1 and 2.
A compromise.

In this method you can use Method 1 for most web pages and use Method 2 for those that don't convert well or for those where you don't need all the information contained on the web page.

The methodology is much the same with the exception that when using parts of Method 2, you save each page separately, instead of in one 'book', and convert each page, or chapter, individually into a .pdf file for later combining with all the other .pdf files into your guide book.

Copyright (©) – Very important.

Do remember that every web page has been put together by someone else. This means that everything you copy from a web page is copyrighted to that person – not you! The consequences of forgetting or abusing this can be very serious indeed. Whilst copying this information for your own personal use is fine, you must never, ever, pass your guidebook on to anyone else or try to sell it or use it for any commercial or business purpose.


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