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The Anatomy of a Book

January 10, 2022 (Last Updated January 12, 2022)

Marcy G.

As a self-publishing author, it’s Important to know the different parts of a book, where they live, and how to include them in your book. If you’re new to writing and you’re not sure where to start, this breakdown will help inform your book outline, allowing you to map out which sections you would like to include or not include.


Let’s break down the different sections:


Front Matter

The “front matter” of a book includes the title page, copyright page, dedication, table of contents, foreword or preface, and introduction. Your book can contain as much or as little preliminary information as you want. Depending on the genre, you may only choose to include a few of these pages, or even just a title page. It’s your book, so it’s up to you!  


·      Title page: This is normally the first official page of your book. It includes the title, subtitle if applicable, and the author’s name. If there were any major collaborators, such as an illustrator, this person’s name would be listed as well.


·      Copyright page: This page will contain your copyright information, which includes the book title, year of publication, the author or publisher, disclaimers, and ISBN number.  Here is an example of how this page is displayed.


Copyright page example


·      Dedication/Acknowledgments: The dedication lists who you are dedicating your book to and why. You can opt to keep this page simple, without elaborating on the reasons for your dedications. Many authors have written as little as, “For Mom.”


An acknowledgments page is similar to a dedication, but purely acknowledges the people who have aided in the publication process.


·      Table of Contents: The table of contents is a page or section at the front of your book that lists the chapters or sections of the book and their corresponding page numbers. The table of contents helps readers to find specific chapters and sections quickly, Click here for more in-depth information on the table of contents.

Table of Contents example


·      Foreword: A foreword is written by someone other than the author, who has a personal connection to the author or the contents of the book. The Foreword usually reads like a short essay.


·      Preface: The preface is similar to the foreword but is written by the author.  Your book can contain both a foreword and preface. The preface sheds light on the conception of the book and its journey to publication.


·      Introduction: This page outlines the purpose or goals of your book – kind of like a mission statement. What do you hope the reader will take away from your writing? You would outline this in your introduction.


Body Matter

The “body matter” is simply the contents of your book. In addition to your main content, your body matter may also include:


·      Chapter titles: Chapter titles act as the headings leading into the next chapter. You can choose to create pages devoted exclusively to the chapter number with the title underneath, or you can simply incorporate your chapter titles where they naturally fall within your book. We recommend looking at different books to see what formatting options you like best.


·      Headers & Footers: A header is the top margin of each page, and a footer is the bottom margin of each page. Headers and footers are useful for including material that you want to appear on every page of a document such as your name, the title of the document, or page numbers.


Header example


·      Footnotes (if applicable): Footnotes are not included in every book and are most commonly found in academic, historical, or scientific texts. They are used to cite source material. If you need to cite a source or explain a date or event in more detail, you can put a number next to the word in the body text, then the reader will reference the number in the footer at the bottom of the page for reference. 


Back Matter/ End Matter

The “back matter” or end matter of a book is the pages or sections that follow the end of your main content.  These pages can include, the epilogue, afterword, about the author, index, appendix, glossary, and bibliography.  You may choose not to include any of these pages in the back of your book, depending on the genre and content.  Once again, this is your book, so you can choose which sections you want to include.


·      Epilogue: This page is written by the author as the narrator or character from the book to bring closure to the story. 


·      Afterword: The afterword is written by the author and wraps up anything else they wish to share about the development of the book.  If most of this is explained in the foreword in the front matter, then you may choose to not include an afterword.


·      About the Author: This page may appear in other parts of your book, but is commonly placed in the back matter, on the back cover, or on a dust jacket flap.  The about the author section may include an author photo and a brief bio. This would be a good page to include an “also by” section that lists any other books you have written that the reader can discover and purchase.


·      Index: An index helps a reader locate key terms, concepts, and ideas that were referenced in the contents of your book. Each term of concept has a corresponding page number. When the reader wants to access that information, they simply refer to that page from the index. For a more in-depth look at the index, click here.


·      Appendix: This page provides supplemental information to certain parts of your book that may have required updating or more elaboration to explain any inconsistencies.


·      Glossary: Here you would find a list of definitions that are important to your book, such as places or characters.  The definitions are often alphabetized.


·      Bibliography: This page cites any works you may have used to aid in your research for your content.


Self-publishing your book doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Especially if you partner with 48 Hour Books. Our free book templates are a great place to start when writing your book. Simply select the size you want your printed book to be from the list of downloadable templates, then start typing. The templates will already have suggestions for your basic layout, so you can take the guesswork out of starting your manuscript. For other resources, we recommend exploring our book design services and book formatting services. We hope to be a one-stop shop to launch your self-published book.


As always, we’re here to help. Our customer service is ready to help answer any questions you may have. We can also connect you with one of our expert pre-press technicians for any technical formatting questions concerning your book. Contact us today!

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