Inside a Book: What’s in the Front Matter, Body, and Back Matter?
Unless you have experience in the publishing industry, you’ve likely never heard the terms “front matter” and “back matter” before. The truth is, all books must contain specific components. Thus, if you want to publish your work, you must understand what is required.
Read on to learn about the most common parts of a book, and don’t forget to check out the professional services available for authors.
We’re flipping open the cover and examining the first few pages inside the book: the front matter.
This displays the title and the author’s name.
It lists the publisher’s name and address, the copyright notice, the ISBN, the edition, the date of publication, legal notices, and any credits (e.g., cover design, illustrations, etc.).
Though not required, the author may choose to dedicate their book to someone. They normally do it in one or two sentences.
An author can include a quotation that is relevant to the book.
Table of contents
Some books list the chapters and other sections inside, along with the page where they start. This may be useful if your book is particularly long. Although few books seem to include a table of contents these days, many readers still appreciate them.
This is a short piece penned by a person other than the author, typically a friend or someone deeply familiar with the author’s output. The contributor should sign their name and include the date and place.
This is written by the author to provide additional context for the book. Generally, you find prefaces in nonfiction books, where they present the thesis so that readers know what they are getting into. However, prefaces can also appear in fictional works. Overall, they are intended to pique the readers’ interest.
The body is the main text of the book, and it can also be divided into separate sections, as described below.
This appears before the start of the story. A prologue (used in fiction) can describe the setting or earlier events to draw the reader into the story. If there are crucial plot points that occurred prior to the official beginning of the story, then a prologue would be helpful for the readers. Indeed, it would help explain the setting and ensure they are not unnecessarily confused. An introduction (used in nonfiction) gives background and context so the reader can better understand the information presented in the book.
The main story or narrative is divided into chapters or larger sections in most books. Chapters make it easier for readers to get through a book as they are generally good stopping places.
This comes after the end of the main story. An epilogue (used in fiction) contains additional scenes after the resolution and can tie up loose ends or offer a glimpse into the characters’ futures. If the ending is ambiguous or open, the author may use an epilogue to provide proper closure for invested readers. A conclusion (used in nonfiction) summarizes the ideas presented in the book and helps package the information into key points.
These are additional thoughts about the story or information presented in the book. The afterword may be written by the author or someone else.
The back matter includes notes, additional information about the author, and a guide to further reading.
The author can thank anyone who helped with the development and publication of the book.
About the author
This section provides details about the author’s life and background and usually lists the titles of previously published books. It may also include a link to the author’s website.
If the book contains any lyrics, book excerpts, art, or trademarked names, permission from the copyright holder is needed and will be provided here.
These are additional notes for specific passages. They are similar to footnotes but come at the end of the book rather than at the bottom of a page.
Appendices contain additional details that are important to understanding the information or story (e.g., maps, diagrams, charts, and photographs).
This section defines terms used in the book and describes concepts or specific characters and locations.
This lists specific terms in the text and what page they are found on.
This is a complete list of works referred to in the book.
Not every book will have all of the above, and some may have additional sections not mentioned here, but this overview should help you get your book ready for the final stages of publication. Need more guidance? Check out our typesetting package and other services for authors.