Render Asciidoc to docx (MS Word)

docToolchain is currently able to render your documents as HTML and PDF. But sometimes you just need a different format. The best solution I’ve found so far is pandoc - the universal document converter. It is a command line tool which takes one format as input and another as output. The quality of the conversion depends on the features of the input format.

I got best results with docbook as input format, so let’s add it to the docToolchain build. This is easy with the last fix I applied to the build:

task generateDocbook (
        type: AsciidoctorTask,
        description: 'use docbook as asciidoc backend') {
        backends = ['docbook']

What`s cool about this conversion is, that I already creates the plantUML images and we don’t have to take care of this in the next steps.

Now, since pandoc is a command line tool, we can simply use the exec-task to start pandoc:

task convertToDocx (
        dependsOn: [generateDocbook ],
        type: Exec
) {
    workingDir 'build/docs/docbook'
    executable = "pandoc"
    new File('build/docs/docx/').mkdirs()
    args = ['-r','docbook',

et voila, we have a quite good looking .docx file with all images already included. The workingDir ensures that pandoc will find the image folder.

Not looking as good as you expected? Need different styles or a cover page?

Pandoc has a lot of setting to change styles etc., but I found them hard to apply and found a IMHO better solution:

  • Create a word file with the cover page you want to add.
  • Include the generated .docx file as reference
  • Change styles of the main document
  • save it

The styles of the main document should now also change the styles of the generated document. But now you have two documents. To solve this, just write a .vbs script to save your document with inlined references - sorry, no example code for that :-(

First appeared May 4, 2017 on