Front and Back Matter for a Book - they Matter! - WRITE | PUBLISH | SELL

Jul 31, 2019 | Publish

Front and Back Matter for a Book – they Matter!

Front and Back Matter

Do you know and understand what you need for the front and back matter of your book? What are the different elements that you need to include and where?

What you have in the front and back matter of your book are important. If you’re hoping to publish a book that looks professional and within industry standards, then, you need to make sure you’re following industry standards.

What does this mean, anyway?

Industry standards are those things that the book publishing industry have decided are important. They are the “norms” if you will. So, it’s how your book looks on the inside and outside. How it’s formatted. What’s included and NOT included. And for anyone who knows books, if you deviate from these norms, it will be noticed. That kind of notice is NOT a good thing.

Many authors overlook very key items that are required for their book, book cover, and publishing a book that follows industry standards.

If you’re planning on submitting your book for awards or trying to get it in bookstores and libraries, or are even seeking reviews from major book reviewers or people who know what to look for in a good book (beyond good content) it’s really critical that your book meet the industry standards.

IBPA (the Independent Book Publisher’s Association) put together this checklist of standards. Also, at this link you’ll find sample book covers, interior spreads, copyright pages, etc. Get the checklist and examples here: the IBPA Industry Standards Checklist

What is included in the front and back matter of a book?

These are the parts of the book before and after the content of your book and will vary based on whether it is a fiction or nonfiction book.

Front matter is at the front and is sometimes called the prelims or preliminary matter.

Examples of front matter

Half title: A half title is a page that has only the main title of the publication. Generally, the subtitle and author’s name are omitted on this page, although the IBPA checklist says you include the subtitle. It can be done either way. The font should match the front cover.

Title page(s):  This includes the full title of the work, including the subtitle (if any), and the name of the author and—if applicable—illustrator.

Copyright Page: 

  • Publisher’s name and address
  • Copyright information
  • ISBN
  • Edition notice
  • Date of publication
  • Number of printings
  • Disclaimers
  • Warranties
  • CIP Data block
  • Safety notices

What is CIP Data?

“CIP data” in its broadest sense refers to the bibliographic record created by the Library of Congress for a book prior to its publication. Strictly speaking, however, “CIP data” is the bibliographic record that appears printed on the verso of the book’s title page. It is an abbreviated version of the machine-readable cataloging (or MARC) record that resides in the Library’s database and which is distributed to libraries and book vendors. The full MARC version contains additional information such as codes that indicate the language in which the book is written, the date when the book was cataloged, etc. – Library of Congress.

Dedication: This is written by the author and includes the names of the person/persons for whom the publication was written. They are usually very simple. To my greatest loves, John, Krista, and Michelle.  or For My husband, for pushing me along the way.

Epigraph: An epigraph is a quotation included by the author that is relevant but not essential to the text.

Table of Contents: The Table of Contents may be a simple listing of what is in the book, or sometimes very detailed and include descriptions of each chapter or section. A Table of Contents is pretty much always included in nonfiction and sometimes in fiction. You will find them in children’s chapter books but not in picture books.

Foreword: Note that it is spelled FOREWORD, NOT FORWARD. This is a short essay or introduction, written by someone other than the author. The relationship between the writer of the foreword and either the author or the story being told is usually explained, and more depth into the matter in the book is explained too.

Preface: This is an introduction to the book that is written by the author. It usually covers how the publication came into being, where the idea for the book came from, etc.

Acknowledgements/Acknowledgments: (Both spellings are accepted, but generally the E after the G is excluded in US English.) Another part of front matter is an acknowledgment, written by the author to credit those who have helped him/her in the writing and publication of the book. It’s also sometimes included at the back of the book, in the back matter

Introduction: Lists the goals of the book and what you’ll find, sometimes broken down chapter by chapter or by sections.

Prologue: Usually located right before the first chapter of the book (and generally only in fiction books), this opens the story, provides some background details and the setting of the story.

Also sometimes included in front or back matter:

  • list of the figures, illustrations, or tables in the book
  • list of abbreviations
  • list of contributors

If you are being published through a publisher, usually the publisher will handle most of the front matter and the organization of it. However, the author still writes the content for the preface, acknowledgment, introduction, dedication, and prologue.

If you’re self-publishing, you’re responsible for all of it, unless you hire someone to put it together for you.

Back Matter

The back matter is everything that is included after the conclusion of the main content.

Usually in the back of the book you’ll find:

  • the references or bibliography – the list of works cited throughout the book
  • End Notes
  • About the Author
  • indexes, appendices, and other content that further explains the content
  • PostScript
  • Afterword
  • Epilogue (generally only in fiction books)
  • Glossary – explanation of key terms

If you’ve completed writing your book, make sure you spend time creating all of these additional pieces!


Do you want to get weekly updates on tips, tools, resources, etc related to writing, publishing, and selling your book?

Be sure to join our weekly newsletter below! Get a free book launch checklist when you do!



front and back matter of your book

Posts You’ll Love

6 Book Launch Strategies

6 Book Launch Strategies

Your book launch strategy matters! There are 6 Launch Strategies we focus on at Write|Publish|Sell. It's surprising to see authors spend so much time on the writing and...

read more