I have this novel I'm formatting. It has 37 images, most of them greyscale. They are all under 100 kb each. Most of them are under 50 kb. So I already know it's NOT the images. It's. Not. The. Images. I know what I'm doing when compressing images. It's not the images. :-)

In .doc format, it insists on staying at a level of 5,600 or so KB when I need it to be 4,999 or smaller.

I've done the following:

  • Copied and pasted into a new document, leaving out the final mark up
  • Removed hidden data
  • Changed my page sizes
  • Ctrl - A then Ctrl + Shift + F9 (this removed about 100 KB at least)
  • Removed excess styles, headers, footers, and all things that won't be used anyway
  • Converted it to .docx, where it went smaller but made me lose much of my important formatting (links and stuff).
  • Changed that to zip to look at what's so hulking big. Document XML is over 50,000 KB.

If I remove all formatting entirely and have a plain text document without paragraph formatting of any kind and no images, I can get the document to 1,666 kbKB

But I really need to keep that formatting. That's a hulking lot of italics and bold I'd have to find and put back in one by one otherwise.

  • May I ask why you need it to be smaller than 5000 KB? – slhck Mar 21 '12 at 15:35
  • Does your novel have to be written in Word? Does splitting by chapters solve your problem? Where's the 4999KB limit come from? What's the wordcount? – RedGrittyBrick Mar 21 '12 at 15:37
  • See also: Minimize file size of Microsoft Word documents – slhck Mar 21 '12 at 17:24
  1. Try cropping images
  2. If not, then try to compress them from within word
  3. Save it as other formats like .docx, .pdf etc.

The problem could also be with the fonts, if you have selected the option where Word keeps the font of the document with itself and even if it sent to any other pc it will open in that font only. So also check your font and font settings.


There are other things suggested by Microsoft that you can try: Ways to reduce file size

  • Turn off fast saves Using fast saves to save a document requires more disk space while your document is open than using a full save. You may be able to save disk space by clearing the Allow fast saves option.
  • Embed only the TrueType font styles used in your document Embedding TrueType fonts in a document increases its size. If you embed TrueType fonts, you may be able to reduce document size by selecting the Embed characters in use only option. This option embeds only the font styles used in your document. Also, if you used 32 or fewer characters of a font — for example, a few symbols or a headline — Microsoft Word embeds only those characters.
  • Delete one or more versions of a document Creating multiple versions of a document using the Versioning feature may increase file size. To check whether a document contains other versions, click Versions on the File menu. If other versions exist, you may be able to reduce the file size by deleting the oldest versions.
  • Convert embedded objects into graphics Adding embedded objects to a document can increase its size. If you don't need to update an embedded object contained in a document, you may be able to reduce the file size of that document by converting the embedded object to a graphic. After converting the object, you can edit it just as you would edit any other Word graphic. After an embedded object is converted to a graphic, it can't be changed back to an embedded object.

Don't know if it works in Word, but "Save As" a new file (even the same type) often reduces file size.


If I remove all formatting entirely and have a plain txt document without paragraph formatting of any kind and no images, I can get the document to 1,666.

But I really need to keep that formatting.

Reading between the lines a bit, it kinda sounds like you could work with plain text if it somehow retained your formatting (and images, and links) …

  • markdown is almost plain text but can include the formatting you mention (italic, bold, links, images).

  • pandoc can convert from HTML to markdown

  • Word can produce HTML that (I think) retains the formatting you mentioned.

I don't know whether this combination of tools will produce a sufficiently clean result for your Word document though.

  • Was gonna suggest that as well, but it's not clear whether the OP actually needs Word-compatible output. – slhck Mar 21 '12 at 15:46
  • @slhck: Yes, if OP is contracted to deliver a .DOC file < 5MB then markdown might not help (though I imagine generating DOCX file from markdown using Pandoc might produce a DOCX file fairly uncluttered by versions, fonts and other baggage) – RedGrittyBrick Mar 21 '12 at 16:06

Havz you checked yet whether Word is configured to include all used fonts? That usually makes the document files quite big.

Click the office button, go to options. Then go to the save options. Somewhere in that dialog there should be a checkbox to include used fonts inside the file. If it's checked, uncheck it.

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