Chapter by Chapter

The ultimate companion to Microsoft Word for novel writers

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Download for Windows (version history)

Requires Word 97 or later (including Word 2007) - CbC is freeware!

Update : CbC does not work with Windows 8

more screenshots

Chapter by Chapter ("CbC") is a software for novel writers who use Microsoft Word intensively. It allows managing and organizing chapters within a book far easier than in Word just because it deals with one doc file per chapter rather than one big file containing the whole book. When the book is finished (or whenever the writer wants), CbC generates that big file.

CbC was developed because the Master Document feature of Word was too complex and very buggy (it corrupts documents). So, the idea was to mimic this feature from out of Word with another application running independently and driving Word.

Some writers also used Office Binder in Word 97 and Word 2000 to merge their doc files, but Microsoft dropped this application in later versions of Word...

Note: CbC is not a manuscript formatting tool. That means it doesn't change the content of your Word doc files, except the act/chapter numbers (which are automatically handled) and for search/replace text in all doc files (which are opened in Word, modified, and waiting to be saved manually by the user).

Quick documentation

Using CbC is pretty straight forward: a few menus, drag'n drop in the treeview, right-click on treeview items (act or chapter) to show their contextual menu, and double-click on a chapter to open it in Word. The only thing you should know: add the '#' symbol at the beginning of your chapters (in the .doc files) where the chapter number should appear, CbC will replace it with the correct chapter number.

So, begin with creating a new book with the Book>New menu (you choose a book folder where the CbC file and all .doc chapter files will take place) and right-click on the first act item to add a chapter. Choose a name for this chapter, the belonging doc file will then be created in the book folder. What you see in CbC = the book folder content + your act structure, chapter numbers and summary (the bottom view). Double-click on your newly added chapter to open it in Word, enter 'Chapter #' on the top of the blank page and start writing your next best seller!


Why is it so useful?

Dealing with dozens or hundreds of pages in Word is often a pain because:

  • you can't easily navigate in the document from chapters to chapters (you have to go page by page) unless you use the Document Map feature of Word (some people like it, others - including me - do not).
  • you can't easily reorder the chapters without renumbering all of them, unless you use heading styles for numbers and cut/paste large portion of text (which can lead to mistakes).

These are the first reasons why many writers prefer to have one doc file per chapter. Here are two additional ones:

  • you can have many revisions of a chapter if this chapter is already extracted from the rest of the book.
  • you can quickly print a chapter, for reading, without looking for the belonging page numbers in Word.

So, it’s more productive to split a book in several doc file, each one representing a separate chapter. But this method introduces three new and huge tasks for the writer:

  • he has to renumber the chapters by hand if their order changes
  • he has to manually merge all chapter files to make the whole book (with page numbers, etc).
  • when he wants to change the name of a character, he has to search/replace it in all chapter files one by one.

=> CbC automates these tasks!

Moreover, it gives an outline view of their book structure in a better way than the Windows Explorer does, and it stores a summary for each act/chapter. Hence, CbC is not only a productivity tool for writers but also a helpful story and idea organizer.


Complementary Tools

There are other tools which can be used in conjunction with CbC while they are not dedicated to Word:


Reviews and discussions

Review by Debra Broughton

Review by Whyy

Review on Open Book

Review on The Writer’s Technology Companion

Review on the Editorium Update

CbC is recommended on Yahoo answers.

An interesting article: A look at software for writers

Threads on the Absolute Write Forum (interesting to read):



There are many tools and Word Processors dedicated to writers (like Book Writer, Power Writer, LeftMargin Pro (abandoned), Liquid Story Binder, WriteItNow, WriteWay Pro and PageFour but many writers just prefer to use Word because:

  • they use it for a long time
  • the spell checking and thesaurus are powerful and well integrated in the user interface
  • everyone can read doc files (despite the existence of the PDF format)
  • ... many other reasons why Word is the standard of Word Processors today.

For those "Word writers", they can try to handle the complex and buggy Master Document feature of Word, or they may also use Office Binder (in Word 97 and 2002, but still usable with later versions) or they can use three kinds of possible tools:

  • external tools, like CbC or yWriter (both free), which do not use any macro inside Word documents, but rather use the Automation technology from Microsoft to control the Word workflow (unfortunately, yWriter2 has dropped support for Word files).
  • Word add-ins controlling and simplifying the Outline feature of Word and therefore working with one big doc file, like OIW (free, abandoned) or BookWright ($129.95).
  • Word add-ins structuring a document using many other doc files from within Word, like Book Writer (a component of The Wizard of Words, $75), DocBuilder ($49.95, this one is not really targeted to writers but it can do the job), and this incredible new software from Edwin Yip: Writing Outliner.

I encourage you to try out some of these tools, because everyone has his own approach to software, just like everyone has his own writing style. I developed CbC because other tools didn't match my wills, and I didn't want to install anything into Word (which is buggy enough!). Now, I just can’t write without CbC and I hope other people will like it as much as I do.

Thanks to Simon Haynes, a novel writer and software developer, author of yWriter, from which CbC is greatly inspired...


Sébastien Berthet


HOMEPAGE (french)

Sebastien Berthet,
28 oct. 2009 à 03:48
Sebastien Berthet,
28 oct. 2009 à 03:49