Guidelines and Tips

The following information may be helpful when setting up your book and deciding on the order of various components.

Books are usually divided into three sections:

  • Front matter
  • Body
  • Back matter

The list below will assist you to ensure you have your content in the right area of your book and that all the elements appear in the common sequence expected by readers.

Unless otherwise specified, each of the items listed below should start on a right hand page.

Front Matter

The front matter refers to the pages at the beginning of the book presented before the main body of text. Traditionally these pages are numbered with lower case roman numerals but it is up to the individual.

Half title Page

At times labelled the Bastard Title.  This page contain will only contain the title of the book and it is the first page you see when opening the cover.

Title Page

Will feature the book title, subtitle, author and the publisher of the book.

Copyright Page

Is usually located on the reverse side of the Title Page, and contains the Copyright Notice, Publisher information, the ISBN number, Library of Congress number and the printing information.

Legal notices, attribution for illustrations or artists cover designs are also listed on this page.


Although not every book features a dedication, for those that do, it is located opposite the copyright page. Dedications are always quite personal. Any kind of professional acknowledgement should go on the Acknowledgements page or in the Preface.


This introductory essay written by someone other than the author is always signed with the Foreword author’s name, and title. (Foreword means “the word before” so should never be spelled as “Forward”)


An introductory essay written by the author that describes how the book came to be, followed by any acknowledgements or thanks to those who were helpful to the author at the time of the writing. The Preface is often signed with the author name, place and date.


The author can express their gratitude for help in the creation of the book by way of an Acknowledgements page. This page is never usually more than one page.  If your Preface includes acknowledgements, then you will not require a separate Acknowledgements page.


This is where the author introduces the type of material that is covered in the work.  Typically, an author invites the reader in with a taste of what willl be revealed in much greater detail if they continue reading.

Table of Contents

Also known as the Contents page, this page will list all the major divisions of the book. This includes parts and chapters plus their page numbers. If the book is lengthy, a greater level of detail may be provided to help the reader navigate the book.

Include all your Front Matter in your Table of Contents except for the Title and Copyright Pages, even though they feature before the Table of Contents.

The Table of Contents should start on a right hand page, unless it requires two pages, in which case it is recommended that it should start on the left hand side.


In fictional works, a Prologue sets the scene for the story and is often told in the voice of a character from the book and not the author’s voice.


The body is the primary portion or main content of the book. These pages traditionally numbered with Arabic numerals beginning with page 1 with the first text of the main body or first page of the first chapter.


Fiction and non-fiction books are usually divided into parts when there is a structural, historical or conceptual logic that suggests such divisions.


Most fiction and nearly all non-fiction books are divided into chapters for the sake of organizing the material and making it easier for the reader.

Back matter

These pages are featured after the body of the work.


This is a short essay which is usually in the voice of the author that brings a close to the work.


This touches on how the book was created, in which case you would not require a Preface. However if it is written by someone other than the author seeking to put the work in some wider context, often if the work is being reissued after a number of years, then it is acceptable to feature both.


The postscript (“PS”) is a final note at the end of a book that provides the reader with additional information that wouldn’t ordinarily fit in as part of the story or main point of the book.


This is a supplement to the main work. An Appendix will typically include referenced documents cited in the text, or perhaps articles related directly to the subject of the book.


This section is for notes made to amplify or document certain passages throughout the text.


An alphabetical list of terms and their definitions which will assist the reader in understanding the terms that are frequently referenced in the book.


This section will list the sources for works used in your book. Ensure you arrange the sources alphabetically usuingby the author’s last name.


This is an alphabetical list of people, places, events and subjects cited along with page numbers.  This is usually done for a scholarly or non-fiction book.

About the Author

This is a brief biography about the author and typically no more than a page in length. It is usually the last page of a book and is on the left hand side.  The author biography should either be on the last page of the book or alternatively on the rear cover of the book but not both.