Converting .doc, .pdf, and .html

In 2014, I was trying to make a webapp that could save documents as .pdf and .doc files. These are a series of notes, only loosely edited, of the findings I had along the way:

Option 1: Use unoconv

  1. Install Libreoffice 4.3.x on the server
  2. Install unoconv from master on the server
  3. Use bash to convert documents (see unoconv docs)


There’s a special page style for HTML documents. You have to change that page style in order to have the changes reflected when converting from HTML to other document types.

Create Libreoffice Templates! (.ott) files

  • Open up the Styles and Formatting pane (wrench icon on top left, of F11)
  • Go to the Page Styles tab
  • Change the HTML style to reflect what the page should look like with HTML
  • Save as a template (.ott) file

Option 2: Use soffice

  1. Install Libreoffice 4.3.x on the server (where the app is running)
  2. Point to libreoffice-install/program/soffice (either exe for Windows, or the executable soffice for unix) via the PATH or your .bashrc file
  3. Use bash to convert documents

Bash commands:

soffice --headless --convert-to [document type] --output-dir [output directory] [file to convert]
  • document type the file format to convert to. pdf, doc, docx, html, etc. are all fair game.
  • output directory the directory to output to. If left blank, will output to the current working directory.
  • file to convert the file to convert. TODO: figure out how to convert from a stdin buffer

As an example:

soffice --headless --convert-to docx --output-dir /doc index.html