Parts of a Book

Books are traditionally organized into three main parts: front matter, the body, and the back matter. The front matter can include: the book title, publisher, copyright, table of contents, introduction, and it gives the reader an overall tone of the story. The main body is your narrative, or in nonfiction it can be your arguments, data, and other valuable information. Your back matter contains source notes, appendixes, about the author and other resourceful information. These elements should appear in specific order, unless the author has a good reason to deviate from the order.

Below is a list to get you started. Not all books will contain all of this information, and some may contain additional information not listed. This list should help you organize your book into the correct sequence. This outline follows The Chicago Manual of Style 1.4 outline with a few additions. The indication of recto (right-hand page) or verso (left-hand page) only applies to print-and-bound books since most eBooks do not have left/right pages.

Front Matter

Traditionally, the pages at the beginning of the book are numbered in lowercase roman numerals.

Praise – If your book, or series, has received a lot of valuable praise, it can be a good addition to your book. The font is typically smaller than the body text and is limited to one page, front and back.

Half-title – This page contains only the title of the book, and if no praise page is included, it would be the first page of your book. However, this page and it’s verso (the back page), are not included to help control the length of the finished book.

Series title, frontispiece, or blank – On the back of the half-title page, or verso facing the title page, you can list your series title, have an illustration (frontispiece), or you can leave it blank. If you opt to remove the half-title page, this page would be removed as well.

Title page – This contains the title, subtitle, author and publisher information. Other information can include the publisher’s location, year of publication, descriptive text about the book, or illustrations.

Copyright page – Typically on the back of the title page, this page can contain the copyright notice, publication information, cataloging data, edition, legal notices, the ISBN, credits for design, production, editing and illustration, along with rows of numbers indicating the year and number of the printing.

Dedication – Located on the recto page of the copyright.

Epigraph – If an author chooses to include an epigraph – a quotation – it would be located on the verso side, or back, of the dedication page. It can also be located facing the table of contents, or facing the first chapter of the text. Another location can be at the head of each chapter.

Table of Contents – This page lists all of the major parts of the book (parts, chapters, subchapters, etc) and can help a reader navigate the book. The TOC should also start on a right-hand page. (recto)

List of Illustrations – If your book contains a lot of illustrations or figures, you can list their titles and the page numbers to help readers find them more quickly.  This list can be located in the back matter instead. (recto or verso)

List of Tables – Similar to the list of Illustrations above, you can list the tables that appear in your book. This list can be located in the back matter instead. (recto or verso)

Foreword – Typically written by someone other than the author, the Foreword is a short piece that provides a context for the main work. Reminder to always have the Foreword signed with the author’s name, place and date. (recto)

Preface – This piece is written by the author and often lets the readers know how the book came to be and is often signed with the name, place and date, although isn’t required. (recto)

Acknowledgments – This is where the author can express their gratitude for help in the different stages of the book. The Acknowledgments can be located in the back matter instead. (recto)

Introduction – Here, the author explains the purposes and goals of the work, talks about the organization of the book and places the work in a context. (recto)

Prologue – In fiction, the Prologue is told in the voice of a character from the book, not the author’s voice, and it sets the scene for the story. (recto)


This is the main portion of the book and typically starts at page 1. If you include the second half title page, that would be page 1.

Second half title – If the front matter is quite long, you can include a second half title page that is identical to the first. The back of this page is typically blank, but can include an illustration or epigraph. If your book calls for a double-page chapter opening spread, then you can use the second half title page to force the chapter opening to a left-hand page.

Part Opening page – If your book is divided into parts, you would start this on the right-hand page, unless your book has double-page spreads for these openings.

Chapter Opening page – Almost all fiction and nonfiction books are divided into chapters, even if the chapters aren’t labeled. The first chapter should always start on a right-hand page, unless you’re working with a double-spread. Throughout the book, chapters can be located on left or right pages, unless the author wants each chapter to start on a right-hand page. In that case, there will be chapters that have a blank left page and it will be up to the author and designer to determine if they want to leave those pages blank or add something to them.

Epilogue – This piece typically brings closure to the story and can be written either in the author’s voice or as a continuation of the main narrative.

Afterword –  The Afterword may be written by the author or another, and could seek to give broader meaning to the work or might explain the origin of the book.

Conclusion – A brief summary of the important arguments of the main text that tries to give a sense of completeness to the work.

Back Matter

The end of the book contains various notes, references, and information to support the main body and are usually included in the pagination of the body.

Acknowledgments – This is where the author can express their gratitude for help in the different stages of the book. The Acknowledgments can be located in the back matter instead. (recto)

Appendix – Typically a supplement to the main work. An example would be source documents cited in the text. There can be multiple appendixes. (recto) Subsequent appendixes (recto or verso)

Chronology – In some works a chronological list of events may be helpful. (recto)

Abbreviations – If your book contains a lot of abbreviations, it might be best to list them for easy accessibility. (rect0)

Notes – Endnotes are typically divided by chapter. (recto)

Glossary – An alphabetical list of terms and their definitions. (recto)

Bibliography – A systematic list of books, articles, or other works that have been cited in the main body of the text, but not limited to those works. (recto)

List of Contributors / About the Author – If the work was written by many authors, you may want a page that showcases each author. The page would be listed alphabetically by last name, but appear in the form of “First Name Last Name”. If there is only one author, this is where the information would be included. Information could include biographical notes, academic affiliations, or previous publications. (recto mainly, but can be verso in fiction books)

Illustration credits – If your book contains illustrations by multiple illustrators, you can list the credits here. (recto)

Index – An alphabetical listing of places, events, people, concepts, and works cited along with page numbers indicating their location within the text.

Fiction Example

Here’s a quick example of page numbering/location for a typical fiction book.

i                              Praise
ii                             Praise page two or blank
iii                           Title page
iv                            Copyright page
v                             Dedication
vi                            Blank or Epigraph
vii                           Table of Contents
recto                      Acknowledgments

1                             First text page (chapter one, Part one, etc)

recto                      About the Author

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3 thoughts on “Parts of a Book

  1. It can be really confusing to know everything that can be included in your book. This article was very useful and I’ll definitely bookmark it as a reference. I recently read another article that included an infographic outlining the parts of a book. It’s another good reference for authors. Check it out here:


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