front matter of a book

What’s in the Front Matter of a Book?

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The front matter of a book is the first section and it is also sometimes called preliminary matter. This is generally the shortest section of a book. It can be as simple as a single title page and copyright page, or more elaborate, including things like a dedication page, acknowledgements, and table of contents. The front matter includes everything before the actual start of the book (i.e., the first chapter).

Independent publishers (self-published authors) can benefit from learning the different parts of the book to ensure they are on par with book industry standards, and learn how and when to best utilize each section in the front matter of a book.

What are the 3 Main Parts of a Book?

A book’s interior file is divided into three main parts:

-the front matter (or preliminary matter)

-the body (or the main text)

In this blog post, we’ll be covering just the components of the front matter.

What Goes in the Front Matter? 

The front matter can include some or all of the following sections: half title page, title page, copyright page, dedication page, table of content, foreword, preface, acknowledgements, and introduction. Other items than can be included in the front matter, that are not mentioned below include endorsements, a prologue (fiction only), or specialty pages, such as a list of book characters (fiction only).

What is the Order of the Front Matter of a Book? 

The order of the front matter of a book is listed below. However, not all of the pages are required. The only ones you must have are the title page and copyright page. The others depend on your preference, what type of book you are writing, and the page length you are striving for.

Half Title Page

This section only contains the title of the book. It’s often the first page when you open up the book. This page is optional and is often eliminated to cut page length. No page numbers are included on this page. This page is found on the right-hand page (recto).

Full Title Page 

This section includes the title, subtitle, author, and publisher of the book. Do not include “by” before the author’s name, even if contained in manuscript. Illustrations or logos may be included on this page. No page numbers are included on this page. This page is found on the right-hand page (recto). This is a required page.

Copyright Page 

Dedication Page 

The dedication page immediately follows the copyright page on the right-hand page (recto). This is an optional page where you can indicate who the book was written for.

Epigraph

This section contains a short quote or saying at the beginning of a book (or at the beginning of each section or chapter in a book), intended to suggest its theme.

Table of Contents 

This section lists all the major components of the book. Needed for all ebooks, and many nonfiction books. Not common in fiction books. Here you can also add a List of Tables or List of Figures, if appropriate. The table of contents always begins on the right-hand page (recto). Rule of thumb: Just write “Contents” on this page; not “Table of Contents.”

Foreword

The foreword provides general context for the main copy of the book and is written by someone other than the author. It’s typically signed with the foreword author’s name, city of residence, and date. This part can vary. Sometimes the signature is the person’s name, company name, and website. It depends on the person writing the foreword. This page is found on the right-hand page (recto).

Preface

The preface brings to light the origin of the book and how it came to be. This section is written by the author. This is also typically signed with the author’s name, place, and date; or name company name, and website. There is some flexibility here. This page is found on the right-hand page (recto).

Acknowledgements

In this section, the author thanks those who helped with creating the book and bringing it to life. This section is usually found in the front matter, but it’s not uncommon to see it in the back matter of books as well. It’s your preference. This page is found on the right-hand page (recto).

Introduction 

The introduction of the book, written by the author, helps to introduce the reader to the content of the book, its purpose, and the way the book is organized so readers know what to expect. This page is found on the right-hand page (recto).

Paginating the Front Matter of a Book 

The front matter of a book uses a different numbering system than the rest of the book. The front matter uses Roman numerals (i.e., i, ii, iii, iv, v), while the rest of the book uses Arabic numbers (i.e., 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).


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