An understanding of the following parts of a book will help you properly construct your manuscript.

what parts to include in your bookThree Major Segments of a Book Most books are divided into three general parts:

  • the Front matter,
  • the Body of the book, and
  • the Back matter.

Each part includes certain elements and usually they appear in a specific order. Generally speaking, adhering to the traditional structure enhances the professional appearance and presentation of your book.

You probably won’t need all of the following elements, and indeed there are more elements we’ve left off this list because they are not commonly used.  However, it’s important to pay attention to the kind of information that goes in each section and that the sections or elements appear in the traditional, expected order.

Note: a right side page is called a ‘recto’; a left side page is called a ‘verso’.  Certain elements appear on recto pages; certain elements appear on verso pages.

The sections or elements marked with an asterisk (*) are your responsibility. We’ll take care of the other elements for you.

Front Matter

Front matter may include any of the elements listed here.  The pages of the front matter are usually numbered in lower case Roman numerals.

Half Title: This page has the title of the book only.  No subtitle, no author name, no publisher. The half title is often used to add or reduce page length of a book.

Title Page: This page includes the full title of the work plus the subtitle, the name of the author and, if appropriate, the illustrator. It also includes the name of the publisher and, sometimes, the publisher’s location.  Other information as well as an illustration can be included on the title page, depending on the type of book.

Copyright Page: Usually appearing on the verso of the Title Page, the Copyright Page includes the copyright notice, ISBN, date of publication, publisher information, edition, printing history, LCCN and cataloging data, disclaimers and may include credits for editing, design and illustration.

*Dedication Page:  Written by the author, this page includes the names of the person/persons to whom the author dedicates the work.

*Epigraph: An epigraph is a quotation the author wishes to include which is relevant to the text but not part of it.  Epigraphs can also appear at the beginning of each chapter and/or on the verso page facing the Table of Contents or facing the first page of text.

*Table of Contents: The Table of Contents, or simply Contents, may be brief or detailed, depending on the type and length of book.  It usually includes a listing of all the parts and chapters in the book.

*List of Figures, List of Tables: These are included when relevant and helpful to the reader.  They list figures and/or tables with page numbers to make access easier.

*Foreword: (Note spelling) The foreword is written by someone other than the author, and is usually signed with the writer’s name, date and place.  The foreword is a short essay that explains the relationship of the author (of the foreword) to the author or to the contents of the book or both, providing some context for the book.

*Preface: The preface is written by the author.  It is an introduction to the genesis of the book – how the book came into being – and is often signed with the author’s name, place and date.

*Acknowledgements: The author expresses his or her gratitude to the people who have helped in the writing or preparation of the book.

*Introduction: Written by the author to set out the goals and organization of the book.

*Prologue: (in fiction) An opening to the story which may provide background and setting, told in the character or narrator’s voice, not the author’s.


The body is the main portion of the work.  It can be divided into parts as well as chapters when conceptual, structural or historical logic calls for such segmentation.  The point is to use segmentation to aid the reader when it is helpful.

Parts and Chapter Opening Pages: Parts and chapters often have opening pages, usually recto pages but not always.  The layout of parts and chapters is primarily a design issue.

*Epilogue: An epilogue is often a continuation of the main narrative or is written in the voice of the author, and provides a sense of closure to the work.

*Afterword: Can be written by the author or someone else and is designed to set the work into a larger context.

*Conclusion: The Conclusion is a short summary of the most important arguments of the main work. The wrap-up.

Back Matter

Citations, notes and other ancillary elements are presented at the back of the book and are referred to as the Back matter.

*Postscript: Usually by the author, this would include anything that might be considered an afterthought to the main work.

*Appendix or Addendum: Anything that is supplemental to the main work.

*Chronology: A chronological list of events. This could appear instead as an Appendix.  It can also appear in the front matter, depending on the importance to the reader’s understanding.

*Notes: Endnotes (notes included at the back of the book instead of at the bottom of pages) are positioned after appendices and before bibliography and references. Usually endnotes are presented by chapter.

*Bibliography: List of books or articles cited in the main work as well as other books the author has consulted or recommends. The bibliography follows a specific format for presentation of the information. (We prefer the Chicago Manual of Style). offers automatic formatting.

*List of Contributors: This list can be included as part of the front matter if desired.  The list is alphabetized by last name even if presented in a ‘first name last name” format. Each contributor’s listing may include other information such as title, affiliation, etc.

Index: This is an alphabetical list of key people, institutions, places, events, ideas or concepts and works cited, each with all of the page numbers showing where they appear in the main text. NOTE: The index is prepared AFTER the book has been typeset, and is created by a professional indexer. The author may have input.

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