Understanding the parts of a book

Understanding the parts of a book

Depending on a book’s genre and content, it may include a variety of content types. Let’s learn about the most common parts of a book and how to use them in your publishing journey. Books can have some or most of these different parts; some are required while others are optional. They must appear in the correct order and formatted to standard.

Unless otherwise noted, each of these items begins on a right-hand page.

Frontmatter
These are the pages at the beginning of a book before the book’s main section. These are sometimes without page numbers or numbered with lowercase roman numerals.

Half-title Page—This page contains only the title of the book. It is the first page after opening the cover.

Title Page—This page includes the title, subtitle, author, and publisher of the book.

Copyright Page—This page appears on the back of the Title Page. It lists important bibliographic data for your book, including the copyright notice, publisher information, the ISBN, Library of Congress number. Additionally, design credits and legal notices are also listed.

Dedication—This optional page is a personal note from the author and typically only 5 – 10 words.

Foreword—The foreword is written and signed by someone other than the author. The signature includes the Foreword author’s name and title.

Preface—Authors can include an introductory essay with information on how the book came about or offering thanks and acknowledgments. It is usually signed with the author’s name, date, and place.

Acknowledgments—This page presents a list of people recognized for their help in creating the book. This page should not be more than 1 page. If your Preface page includes acknowledgments, then skip a separate Acknowledgements page.

Introduction—Common in non-fiction works, this section introduces the material and summarizes what will be revealed in further reading.

Table of Contents—This page lists the book’s major divisions, including sections and chapters and their page numbers. Non-fiction books of all types typically contain a TOC, along with short stories and other collections.

Prologue—Common in works of fiction, the Prologue helps set the scene for the story. It is told in the voice of a character from the book.

Body
The Body is the main content of the book. These pages sometimes have different headers and page number treatments than the front and back matter.

Parts—A book can be divided into parts when there is a large structural or historical differentiation between sections. Parts are marked by a single page, appearing on the right hand side.

Chapters—Most fiction and almost all non-fiction books are divided into chapters for the sake of organizing the material.

Backmatter
The Backmatter consists of the pages appearing after the main body of the book.

Epilogue—This essay is typically in the author’s voice and offers closure to the main body of the work.

Afterword—The Afterword is similar to a Preface in that it covers how the book was created. It can also be written by someone other than the author, who helps put work in context.

Postscript— For authors with more to say that doesn’t fit into the book’s story or main points, the postscript serves as a final “PS” note at the end.

Appendix — An Appendix typically includes articles related to the book’s subject or cited referenced materials.

Bibliography—When a book references other books and materials as sources, they are listed in the Bibliography alphabetically by the author’s last name.

Index—A non-fiction book may require an alphabetical listing of topics, locations, and people and along with page numbers.

About the Author—It’s your time to shine! This brief biography is typically no more than 1 page and appears on the book’s last page. We recommend including a biography either within the book or on the back cover—but not both.

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