What is Front Matter for Books?

All pages that appear before the start of your first chapter are called ‘‘front matter.” Traditionally, the start of each front matter section begins on a right-hand (recto) page only. Present practices often use the next-available page. Not all books require all of these pages, but this order is the industry standard.

What to Include in Your Front Matter
  • Title Page Proclaims the title, subtitle, author, and publisher of the book. The title page is always on the right-hand side. A half-title page with a blank reverse side can also appear before the title page (important to use in hardcover books because the very first page of a book is partially glued to the end sheet).
  • Copyright Page This page should be the first left-hand page after the title page. Items that appear on this page include: the copyright verbiage, edition number, ISBN, Library of Congress PCN, and production information. You may also credit your designer, editor, and cover image artist.
  • Dedication A dedication is optional. If included, it should appear after the copyright page on a right-hand page.
  • Contents In former days known as the "table of contents," this is the navigational aid for your readers. All parts of the book should be listed here with easily-read page numbers for reference.
  • List of Figures or Tables Some books may contain figures or tables. If there are only a few, they can be included with the contents. If there are many, a separate page may be necessary
  • Foreword A foreword is generally written about the book by someone other than the author. Note the spelling of "foreword" — think of "before the words."
  • Acknowledgments It takes a village to write a book. This is your chance to thank them all.
  • Preface The preface is written by the author and should explain the development of the work. It is sometimes finished with the author’s name, place, and date.
  • Introduction Here you can introduce the work to the reader. You may want to give an overview or help the reader navigate key points.

What is Back Matter for Books?

All pages that appear after the last chapter or conclusion are called ‘‘back matter.” Traditionally, the start of each back matter section begins on a right-hand (recto) page only. Present practices often use the next-available page. Not all books require all of these pages, but this order is the industry standard.

What to Include in Your Back Matter
  • Appendix An appendix may contain source documents that were cited within the text, as well as lists, charts, tables, or any supplemental item.
  • Endnotes When a notation or explanation is too large for a footnote, it should appear as a numbered endnote at the back. The endnotes should be divided by chapter.
  • Glossary An alphabetical glossary is useful in a work with obscure or technical terms that require explanation.
  • Bibliography A list of books and articles in periodicals that contributed to the work.
  • List of Contributors If several authors have contributed to the work, they should be listed as contributors. This list can also appear in the front matter. Names should be listed in order alphabetically by last name but should appear as: first name, last name. Each brief bio can include their publications, academic affiliations, and their role in the work.
  • Index An alphabetical reference of the places, events, people, or subjects with their corresponding page numbers. See our indexing instructions on page 46.
  • Author Bio If you do not have this on the back cover, you can place it within the back matter.
  • Order Form Though not used as often these days with the prevalence of online ordering, a form can be a useful sales tool. Encourage the reader to either tear out or copy your order form page. List the price, how to purchase, a web address if you have one, and shipping information.
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