Parts of a book

Decide on parts of your book. These are the options (in order!):

Front Matter – this is the stuff before your story (* denotes optional)

  • Half-Title or Bastard Title Page*
  • Frontispiece*
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication*
  • Table of Contents*
  • List of Figures*
  • List of Tables*
  • Foreword*
  • Preface*
  • Acknowledgements*
  • Introductions*

Main Matter – this is your story – and nothing but

  • Your Story

Back Matter – this is the stuff that comes after your story (all of these are optional)

  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Colophon

Now for some definitions, also in order (many stolen/adapted from Wikipedia):

Half-title or Bastard Title:  a page carrying nothing but the title of a book—as opposed to the title page, which also lists subtitle, author, publisher and edition. The half title is usually counted as the very first page (p. i) in a printed book

Frontispiece: A frontispiece in books generally refers to a decorative or informative illustration facing a book’s title page. This is on the back of the Half-Title page.

Title Page: contains the full title, subtitle, author, and publisher (if any, which includes the city of their main offices). May feature a colophon (a graphic symbol of the publisher’s brand.) The year of publication doesn’t go on this page.

Copyright Page: contains copyright notices, printing edition, legal notices, and (critically) ISBN, which is why you had to get your number before book layout began. I have seen this at the back of a book once (The Book With No Pictures), then it’s referred to as the colophon (see below, not to be confused with the logo of the publisher, also called a colophon.)

Dedication: the author’s dedication of the contents.

Table of Contents: lists the chapter numbers and chapter titles (if any) along with the page numbers where those chapters begin. Future hint: all these numbers will be odd numbers if you layout the book traditionally. Stick with tradition unless you have a very good reason to break it; if you have 153 chapters, all 3 pages long, you’ve got a good reason.

List of Figures: similar to Table of Contents, but listing each figure by number, caption, and the page. Figures are another word for illustrations or art. Listing the artist is a good idea. (And helps to convince them to work with you again.)

List of Tables: similar to Table of Contents, showing each table by number, caption, and page.

Foreword: A foreword is a (usually short) piece of writing sometimes placed at the beginning of a book or other piece of literature. Typically written by someone other than the primary author, it often tells of some interaction between the writer of the foreword and the book’s primary author or the story the book tells. Later editions of a book sometimes have a new foreword prepended (appearing before an older foreword if there was one), which might explain in what respects that edition differs from previous ones. Unlike a preface, a foreword is always signed by the author of the piece. Information essential to the main text is generally placed in a set of explanatory notes, or perhaps in an introduction, rather than in the foreword or preface.

Preface: A preface is an introduction to a book or other literary work written by the work’s author. The preface often closes with acknowledgments of those who assisted in the literary work. A preface generally covers the story of how the book came into being, or how the idea for the book was developed; this is often followed by thanks and acknowledgments to people who were helpful to the author during the time of writing. A preface is usually signed (and the date and place of writing often follow the typeset signature); a foreword by another person is always signed. This is different than a prologue, which is part of the story, but sets up the scene, theme, plot line, or characters.

Acknowledgements:  a statement of gratitude for assistance in producing a work; name names if at all possible. If this section exists, it needs to be as full as possible – people like to see their names in print. Conversely, if they should be listed but aren’t, they may have a legal causus belli. Don’t be that author.

Introductions: a beginning section which states the purpose and goals of the following writing. This is generally followed by the body and conclusion. The introduction typically describes the scope of the document and gives the brief explanation or summary of the document. It may also explain certain elements that are important to the essay if explanations are not part of the main text. The readers can have an idea about the following text before they actually start reading it.

Main matter goes here, possibly begun by a prologue (or three, if you’re Brandon Sanderson.)

Appendix: Generally, any text added to the end of a book or an article, containing information that is relevant to the main subject matter. You can have several, with each one covering a different subject.

Notes: The note can provide an author’s comments on the main text or citations of a reference work in support of the text, or both.

Glossary: an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge with the definitions for those terms. Traditionally, a glossary appears at the end of a book and includes terms within that book that are either newly introduced, uncommon, or specialized (i.e., jargon.) While glossaries are most commonly associated with non-fiction books, in some cases, fiction novels may come with a glossary for unfamiliar terms (foreign language terms or things invented by the author.)

Bibliography: a list of other works that are referenced in the body of the text (main matter.) If the main matter contains short reference to the other works, you can avoid plagiarism and these are considered citations. When in doubt, cite.

Index:  In a traditional back-of-the-book index the headings will include names of people, places and events, and concepts selected by a person as being relevant and of interest to a possible reader of the book. In other words, not everything is indexed; only include those entries that are relevant to the subject of the book.

Colophon: a brief statement containing information about the publication of a book such as the place of publication, the publisher, and the date of publication. A colophon may also be emblematic or pictorial in nature. Colophons were formerly printed at the ends of books, but in modern works they are usually located at the verso of the title-leaf (i.e., they have been superseded by the copyright page.) Can be confused with the trademarked symbol of the publisher (also a colophon), but in this case, we’re talking about a copyright page with publishing information at the back of the book.

Note that most of these items are irrelevant to a work of fiction. Pick the ones you need, and jettison the rest. If you can’t decide, take a look at a printed book that fits your style and genre, and copy their choices. They’re probably right on for your audience. If you’re still in doubt, either look through several more books or consult with me.

Write the text you need for each of those additional pages into your manuscript in the appropriate place. Don’t worry about placing each one on its own page – you just need the text in place. Layout will take care of the placement.


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