shadowybookFront Matter is one of the last sections of a book manuscript for an author to complete. But it’s the first thing a reader sees. Before page 1, there are several items that appear in the front pages of any book. Some pages are mandatory: title, copyright, and table of contents. Others are optional. Every page before the first one in Chapter 1 is paginated using lower case roman numerals beginning with the Title Page is i.

Except for the Copyright Page, all sections of the front matter begin on a recto page. Verso pages are those on the left hand side of an open book; recto pages are on the right. In the body of the book manuscript, every new chapter begins on a recto page. This means if your chapter ends on an odd-numbered page, you will have one blank page between the end of the chapter and the start of the next one.

Because printed books are bound together in signatures – 32 pages constitutes a signature – the total number of book pages is always divisible by eight. This is why you often find blank pages or additional front matter at the beginning or end of a book.

Title Page – [required] The title and author’s name appear centered on the page. This is always the first printed page.

Copyright Page – [required] This page contains copyright information (title, subtitle, author, publisher, date of publication, subject headings, Library of Congress and/or Dewey decimal designation, ISBN number, and Library of Congress Cataloging Information).

Dedication Page -[optional] A personal consecration by the author appears on a single page, centered.

Epigraph – [optional] A quote or saying to suggest the theme of the book.

Foreword – [optional] A short essay typically written by someone other than the author. An opening statement by a well-known author or expert lends credibility and a stamp of approval.

Preface – [optional] Written by the author, a Preface explains to the reader why the author wrote the book or how they came to write it. It is an essay written about the writing of the book.

Author’s Introduction – [optional] Provides an overview of what will be covered in the book. Sometimes it establishes definitions or methodologies that are used throughout the book. This short essay should convey to a reader how to use this book.

Note to Readers or Author’s Note – [optional] Inform your readers at the outset of what they need to know about how to read what you have written. It may involve an explanation of how the author attributes sources, took literary liberties, referenced materials, or organized the content.

Prologue – [optional] The story before the story is offered to a reader to establish setting and provides necessary background information.

Acknowledgements – This is the opportunity for an author to acknowledge those who contributed to your publication efforts and show your appreciation for their assistance and support. Some put the Acknowledgements before the Table of Contents and others put it after. Or it may appear in the back matter.

Table of Contents – This outline of chapters usually is the last item of front matter before page 1 of the manuscript. Pagination is included.

The preparation of front matter is the author’s responsibility when submitting the final digital version of a manuscript for publication.


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.

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.

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. Or it could be called a Coda.

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.

glassesbookBibliography – 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.

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.

Appendices  – 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.

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.

book-aAbout 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.

4 thoughts on “Front and Back Matter: An Overview

  1. I’m coming closer to that ‘one day’ the book is finished. This portion is involved, but is well described in how to do it. Thank you.

  2. I’ve noticed that some authors include a page in the front matter listing previous books that they’ve published. Would it be appropriate/professional to include that in the front matter along with QR codes in the back matter to purchase previous works?

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