Last week here, I presented the parts of a book which appear in the front of the book. Today, we look at the elements which make up the back matter.

After the last page of the manuscript’s text, pagination continues in numerical sequence into the back matter. The front matter is paginated using lower roman numerals, however, the back matter is not. The specific elements included at the end of the book should appear in the Table of Contents in the front matter.back matter in toc

The particular parts and their order is more fluid in the back matter compared to front. The front of the book requires first a title page, and copyright page second, and in that order. Some may not include the Acknowledgements in their front matter but decide to put it at the end of the book. These decisions as to what to include and where to put it are made by an author in consultation with the publisher.  Many publishers have guidelines to assist an author in preparing the front matter according to their specifications.

It merits a note here that preparation of your book for distribution as an e-book requires additional formatting. For example, pagination for a print edition is required but removed for the e-book. Such technical editing issues are the subject for another blog on another day.

The purpose here is to explore the common elements of back matter used in book publishing today.

Epilogue – This section provides narrative closure. An epilogue serves as a final chapter to reveal the fate of the characters. Can be used to hint at a sequel or be used to wrap all any loose ends in the plots or subplots.

or Afterword – Generally covers the story of how the book came into being, or of how the idea was developed. It may be written by someone other than the author of the book to provide commentary about its historical or cultural context.

or Postscript – Adds new information about a story that occurs after the narrative has come to an end.

Generally speaking, a book will have only one of these three elements immediately following the final page of the body of the work. Here’s one that is called a Coda. 100_1008

After the epilogue or afterword or postscript, the order and kind of elements included in the back matter is dependent upon the particular book project.

Endnotes – Citations to specific quotations in the body of the work are placed at the end of the manuscript in this section. Endnotes must be listed numerically and consecutively in your manuscript and in your Endnote citations.  Most readers, writers, editors, and publishers prefer Endnotes to Footnotes. Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page on which the work is cited, whereas Endnotes are placed at the end of the manuscript in the back matter.

100_1015Bibliography – A comprehensive list of references cited in the work. The bibliography should only include items that have been attributed in the work. It is not a reading list on your subject. It must follow a Manual of Style, and the three most common are APA (American Psychological Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), and University of Chicago style. The bibliography should follow the same manual of style as the manuscript. A great tool to help you pull your citations into proper format is Citation Machine.


Glossary – An alphabetical list of specialized vocabulary or terms in a particular domain of knowledge used within the book with the definitions of terms provided. Terms and concepts that are relevant to the subject. Commonly used in works on non-fiction, some novels may come with a glossary for unfamiliar terms in a created world.

100_1007Appendices  – Tables, diagrams, maps, charts, photographs, and illustrations do not appear in the body of the work.  All non-textual materials are placed into Appendices. Many authors waste precious time attempting to place these graphic materials in the text files. Publishers expect you to prepare your book’s digital submission in separate electronic files: text separate from images. The layout and design of pages is a separate stage in the production process.  As the author, you indicate where in the body of the text you reference the visual material by placing a marker. Inside brackets, you assign a figure number to the graphic you intend to insert there.  In the back matter, you provide a list of appendices or figures which provides a title, caption, and attribution of source. The appendices (or figures) must be listed in numerical and consecutive order of appearance in the work.100_1010

Copyright permissions – Did you include a song lyric? Piece of artwork? A poem or a long passage excerpted from another book? Trademarked or brand names? Photographs? I often find authors invoking “fair use” as an excuse for not securing copyright permissions. Fair use under the US Copyright Law does not apply because book publishing has a commercial intent. A list of copyrighted material s with attribution and credit noted is required. The terms of copyright permission may specify the conditions under which their work appears and/or may require a fee. A list of the copyright permissions appears in the back matter.

Illustration/Image credits – Photographs and images with attribution and copyright noted. Even if your manuscript is entirely text, you may need to credit the cover image.

For Further Reading or Additional Resources – Optional. Depending on the nature of the book, the author may include a reading list or references of interest to a reader who wants to pursue action or additional investigation.

Index  – There are different kinds of indices and it is best to consider how readers would utilize an index. Arranged alphabetically an index may be organized for names, subjects, or places. Fiction rarely needs an index whereas nonfiction usually does. Prepare a list of index terms. Indexing  – the process of identifying the page on which name, subject, place appears – is a professional service and the publisher may deduct the expense of indexing from the author’s royalty account as stipulated in your publishing contract. It is also one of the last steps in the pre-production process of manufacturing your book.

Acknowledgements – May be added here OR in the front matter; not in both places.

About the Author – Optional. If there is no dust jacket intended for the print edition on which the author’s bio typically appears, it may be included in the back matter. Some authors include a list of their previously published books.

What you include in the back matter of your book depends largely on the editorial contents of your manuscript.


2 thoughts on “What belongs in the back matter of your book?

    • Memoir is much more like fiction than non-fiction when it comes to front and back matter, Elaine. Congratulations on the forthcoming publication of Leaning Into Love: A Spiritual Journey Through Grief from Larson Publications.

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