old books

Parts Of A Book: Everything You Need To Know

If you consider self-publishing your first book, it is prudent to understand how the various components fit together to form the whole. Understanding the purpose of each element and where you should place it within the manuscript will assist you in adhering to the publishing industry’s guidelines. 

If you want your book to sell more copies, garner more 5-star reviews, and establish yourself as an authority in your field, you must nail down the details. What exactly are the parts of a book? The information below will assist you in completing the book-creation process.

Front matter of a book

The front matter is made of the first parts of a book which are the first few pages that introduce the characters and plot. For some books, this will consist solely of the title and copyright pages, while for others, the front matter will be more comprehensive. The front matter shapes a reader’s first impression of a book, so it must appear professional and appropriate. 

Depending on the genre of the book, the following components may appear in the front matter.

1. Title Page

When you open a book, whether printed or electronic, the title page is one of the parts of a book you see. This plain page contains nothing but a list of your name in bold type in the center. It will be followed by your real name or a pen name.

It’s an excellent place to include the publisher’s name, address, information about the book’s content, and possibly some images. The name and logo of the publishing company appear at the bottom of the title page, regardless of whether it is a traditional publisher or one founded by you.

2. Frontispiece

A frontispiece is a decorative or informative illustration that appears on the left-hand, or verso, parts of a book. The frontispieces of books vary considerably, with some featuring the author’s likeness and others featuring scenes from the work itself. A frontispiece illustration of the book or text was typical in medieval illuminated manuscripts.

As a self-published author, you’re likely to come across a copyright page that is intimidating and confusing but fear not. You’ll find the copyright notice on the copyright page, which includes the publication year and the copyright owner’s name. The author is typically the copyright holder, but it can also be a company or organization.

You may include any or all of the following on your copyright page.

It’s the essential information on the copyrights parts of a book. Copyright notices include the copyright symbol or “copyright,” the year of first copyright, and the copyright owner’s name or identifier. While using a pseudonym may be listed on your copyright page, ensure that your real name and pseudonym are included when registering the work with the US Copyright Office.

Permissions and rights

There is no need for explicit rights and permissions language as long as your copyright notice clarifies that you have reserved the right to restrict the use of the content. It means that others may reproduce, post online, or cite passages from your work when reviewing the book or when using a copy as an example for academic argumentation, among other things. Though both traditional and indie authors frequently include language such as “all rights reserved.” What you include is entirely up to you.

ISBN

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit numeric identifier that is universally accepted by all parties involved in the publishing industry. Bookstores, publishers, and everyone else in the publishing industry use ISBN. If you sell your book in bookstores or online, you should include an ISBN on the copyright page.

Disclaimer

A disclaimer similar to this one may help you avoid a lawsuit if your work of fiction resembles actual people or events. “In other words, it’s all a fabrication. All resemblances to real-world events or people, living or dead, are coincidental.” Disclaimers are acceptable in nonfiction as well. For example, memoirs may contain language implying that you changed certain characters’ names.

Publisher Address 

The copyright pages of traditional publishers will include the publisher’s name, address, and website URL. If you’re self-publishing, you can have your name or an imprint name and your address and URL.

4. Dedications

a woman finally finishing parts of her book

Before beginning the story, a book or novel’s dedication page enables the author to dedicate the work to a specific person. The dedication is typically a few sentences or a page long and serves as a sweet and heartfelt tribute to someone significant in the author’s life. 

When people dedicate their books, they frequently do so to a family member or a friend who influenced their creative process. After deciding who you want to dedicate the book to, choose how you want to address them on the dedication page. It is highly subjective and is highly dependent on your relationship with that person. 

Some dedication pages contain only the individual’s name, while others include additional information. For instance, some dedications include an anecdote or inject fun into the dedication page. While this method is gaining popularity, you should always check to ensure that these parts of a book fit your book’s theme and tone.

5. Table Of Contents

The majority of nonfiction books, as well as a few novels, include a table of contents. It lists the chapter titles and page numbers at the beginning of each chapter. You have various options when making a table of content, such as tabbed charts, dot leaders, and justified alignment. To put it simply, each chapter number, chapter title, and page number should be on a separate line.

Typically, the table of contents parts of a book begins about one-third down the right-hand page. Because comprehensive nonfiction books frequently extend beyond the first page, it is acceptable to place the table of contents on the back of the first page, on the immediately following left-hand page. When creating an ebook, you should include links to the first page of each chapter in the table of contents. As a result, your reader will have a more exact time navigating your book.

You do not always require a table of contents if your book is fiction. If the chapters lack original titles, you can omit the printed version’s table of contents. You may wish to include a table of contents in the ebook version to aid your readers even if the print edition does not.

6. Epigraph

It is a literary device consisting of a quotation, a brief poem, or even a single sentence usually placed at the beginning of a piece of writing but is not written by the author. Epigraphs serve various purposes, including summarizing the work and acquainting the reader with its significant points. 

Additionally, you can use these parts of a book to compare other literary works or establish a context for the piece. Epigraphs are a sophisticated literary device that can do wonders for the polish of a story.

You can use epigraph in various ways. In some cases, epigraphs are necessary to provide context or expository information to your audience. An epigraph can assist readers in grasping the subject matter and period. Consider using a quotation from a work mentioned later in the book or even in the title as an epigraph.

7. Preface

A preface is your opportunity to directly address your readers why you wrote the book, what it is about, and why it is significant. Another advantage is that you can establish your credentials and expertise in the subject matter of your writing. Prefaces are more prevalent in nonfiction titles and should be used sparingly in fiction works.

The preface parts of a book should not exceed a few paragraphs in length for the benefit of your readers. By and large, readers are disinterested in lengthy explanations of a book’s history. By emphasizing the most critical points, give the reader reason to believe that your book will benefit them somehow. As desired, acknowledgments can be placed here or in the front or back-matter.

It’s an assessment of the writing process, its motivations, and the aspects most likely to pique the interest of your target audience. Readers’ opinions of your preface will be shaped by how you feel about it. Unless you treat it as more than a side note, your reader may conclude that boredom 

8. Foreword

A foreword, typically written by someone other than the author or editor of the book, serves to familiarize the reader with the author and subject matter. Additionally, you can view it as a form of endorsement for the book itself. The author may write this section to explain how the book came to be or discuss their relationship with the work. It is always located at the beginning of the book and is rarely longer than a few pages.

Books in the nonfiction genre is more likely to require these parts of a book than a novel is, especially if the subject matter is complex or the author has died. Create a solemn foreword rather than a humorous one, and vice versa. You don’t want to risk upsetting the reader when they turn the page if the writing styles are inconsistent.

Forewords to new editions are common, as is the discussion of what’s new in this edition. If you’re writing a foreword for a newly released classic, a discussion of the book’s historical significance would be ideal. There are no strict guidelines for the foreword, so you can be creative and have fun with it.

9. List of tables and illustrations

In publishing, the ” illustrations ” parts of a book do not always refer to drawings but to images such as photographs, artwork, charts, and maps. When books contain images that captivate the reader and have intrinsic value in and of themselves, a list of illustrations may be appropriate. As with the table of contents, this list includes the work’s title and the page number on which it appears.

Consider creating a page listing all of your book’s essential tables that provide information or otherwise enhance the text. If this material is included solely as a visual aid, a page listing may not be necessary. 

10. Acknowledgments

The acknowledgments parts of a book are an excellent place for an author to express gratitude to those who aided in the book’s writing. The acknowledgments page typically appears immediately before or after the table of contents. It can also appear near the end of the book, immediately before the author’s page. 

Typically, acknowledgments include a list of five to ten individuals or organizations that assisted the author in completing their literary work. For those mentioned in the book’s acknowledgments section, the acknowledgments page carries significant emotional weight. 

These people will cherish your book and their memories of assisting you throughout the process. Recognize their contributions candidly and sincerely, but avoid going overboard to sounding insincere. Gratitude is a learned characteristic. You want to convey genuine appreciation without coming across as excessively syrupy sweet.

Body of a book

The body matter parts of a book refer to its primary content. An anthology of chapters occasionally subdivided into sections is the format in which you present work of writing to readers. The events and locations of a story are determined by the chapters in a work of fiction. Each chapter may be devoted entirely to a single subject if you’re writing non-fiction. Here are the main parts of the body.

Prologue

Certain stories can begin in two ways. A prologue introduces the reader to the protagonist and establishes the context for the remainder of the story. These excerpts parts of a book may be as brief as a single paragraph or as long as several pages. 

However, it is brimming with helpful information. It’s similar to a taster, whetting your appetite for the main course. If you’re looking for information that does not fit anywhere else in the story, a prologue is an excellent place to look.

Chapters

The book’s body contains the book’s actual content, which is typically presented in the form of chapters. A novel’s plot is contained within the main body parts of a book. When it comes to non-fiction works, the body includes the author’s account of events. 

Certain books do not divide their content into chapters, making them easier to read. You can omit the chapter structure in concise children’s books, for example, or short photo books illustrating the same subject.

Epilogue

Utilizing an epilogue after a book is a deft literary device that adds additional, but not necessarily related, information to the main story. The epilogue parts of a book frequently reveal the characters’ fates and tie up any loose ends. 

If the series continues, the epilogue may raise new questions or provide a glimpse into what will happen in the next book. A non-fiction book’s body will contain a conclusion. It is a section in which the book’s central ideas and concepts are summarized. 

Back matter of a book

When a book’s main story ends, all of the back matter parts of a book comes after. Frequently, the book’s contents include additional information to aid the reader in comprehending the book’s overall message. The following is a list of what your back matter can contain.

1. Bibliography

Readers must be able to access the sources you cite in your writing. To avoid accusations of plagiarism, you must make it easy for readers to track down the origin of any lengthy quotations in your paper. The bibliography is the term used to describe this procedure. You’re presenting a comprehensive and easily-understandable list of all the sources you consulted.

Numerous formal referencing styles are used in these parts of a book, but you can use whichever type you prefer for most nonfiction. Even if your bibliography is formatted differently, your references should always be alphabetized by author’s surname.

2. Appendix

The appendix parts of a book contain any additional information that would have slowed the flow of the main text if included elsewhere in the book. If insufficient data exists to warrant a separate section, this section may consist of a bibliography, tables, reports, background research, and sources.

3. Notes

The notes parts of a book can be included in your book as footnotes on specific pages or as endnotes at the book’s conclusion. Endnotes are typically organized alphabetically by chapter for ease of use. The notes for chapter one would be listed first, followed by the notes for chapter two, and so on.

4. Character guide

A character guide is a list of all the characters in a book. These parts of a book frequently emphasize their relationships with one another or their families. Additionally, especially if the character names are made up, they may include a pronunciation guide. Authors use character guides in books with many characters, such as fantasy or historical fiction.

5. Author’s biography

You can include a brief biography of the book’s author at the end parts of a book. Authors frequently list their previous works, best sellers, and upcoming projects in this section of their books.

6. Glossary

This refers to the definitions of words or other textual elements. The glossary may contain entries about characters and settings in works of fiction. Typically, the glossary parts of a book are organized alphabetically.

7. Coming soon section

You may be unconcerned with these parts of a book if you are not creating a series or multiple books. You can use the “coming soon” and “read more” pages to entice readers to buy and read more of your work. As a result, you’ll be able to sell more books and make it easier for your readers to purchase the next one.

8. Accolades

These parts of a book function as a showcase for the author’s other works and any favorable reviews they’ve received. Frequently, each book includes excerpts from at least three of the most popular reviews.

Frequently asked questions 

Here are answers to some of your frequently asked questions about the parts of a book.

What’s the difference between the preface and foreword?

If you’re considering writing an introductory statement for your book, you may want to consider writing a preface. In the preface parts of a book, you can explain why you took on the project and express gratitude to the people in your life who assisted you in making it a reality. The author customarily writes prefaces but doesn’t usually sign them. If your work contains both, the foreword comes first.

What’s the difference between dedication and acknowledgments?

The dedication parts of a book are the author’s personal expression of appreciation and reverence for those who have influenced their lives. It is customary for the dedication to include the names of individuals who have nothing to do with the subject matter of the dissertation. Indeed, it is not required to be academic. 

A significant distinction between the dedication and acknowledgments is that the acknowledgments honor individuals who have aided the writer’s scholarly endeavors in connection with the dissertation or who have contributed to the writer’s academic career in connection with the dissertation’s research.

What are book sizes and margins?

Selecting the appropriate book size is one of the most critical choices you’ll ever make when tackling the parts of a book. A guide is necessary to assist you in determining the optimal size for your project, as there are so many available options. The term “book size” refers to the physical dimensions of a book’s pages. 

Publishers use them to categorize texts according to their genre or type. Thus, when deciding on the size of your book, consider your personal preference or taste and the most cost-effective and efficient method of educating readers. When determining the page count of your book, you should consider several factors including the presence of diagrams, photographs, or illustrations. Margins, font type, size, and line spacing contribute to the final result.

Between the content and the page’s edge, there are margin spaces. Apart from providing a resting place for an open book, margins assist in maintaining the content in the center of the page. Always leave a 15mm margin on all sides of the bounding box, including the top, bottom, outside, and inside (inner margin). The bound is the space between the two pages when a book is opened.

What are the physical parts of the book?

There are external and internal sections in a physical book. Here’s a table to help you get to know some of the parts of a book better.

External Parts Of A Physical BookInternal Parts Of A Physical Book
Dust JacketsLeaves
Book CoverEdges/Fore-Edge
JointFront Matter
TailBody 
HingeBack Matter
Headbands/Tailbands
Spine
Signatures 
End Sheets

Final thoughts

Once you have finished writing your main text, it’s time for the next step in the publishing process. You have to organize the various elements of the front, body, and back parts of a book. While it can be challenging for an inexperienced author to grasp the fundamentals of a book, becoming familiar with its components can help. 

Because readers expect a professional book to take care of all the small details, you must take care of them all to garner attention and persuade readers to purchase your book. Consider hiring a professional if you’re having difficulty putting together your book’s front and back matter after editing your chapters.

Discover the 17 Steps to Creating a Best-selling Business Book

Scroll to Top