The Definitive Guide To All Parts Of A Book
Do you know all the different parts of a book?
For instance, what do publishers mean when they refer to the “front matter” or “back matter” of a book?
Also, what is a preface, and how is it different from a prologue, an introduction, or a foreword?
Is that a trick question? And is possible for your book to have all four of these?[Not really. And you’ll soon see why?]
Knowing the anatomy of a book is essential to creating one that looks as professional on the inside as you want your cover to look on the outside. Your readers have certain expectations when it comes to the books they pick out, and your book’s interior should deviate from that as little as possible.
Whether you’re formatting your own book’s interior or paying someone else for professional formatting, the more you know about all the parts that go into it, the sooner you can prepare well-written and organized content for each part.
And the sooner your book will be ready for its readers.
The Definitive Guide to All Parts of A Book
We’ll start with the basic parts of a book and break each of those down further to cover all the things your book could have — depending on its genre, research requirements, and other factors.
Basic Parts of a Book
The basic sections of a book are its front matter, its body, and its back matter.
Not all books have the same front matter or back matter pages, but some — like the title page, copyright page, and the “About the Author” page — are fairly standard.
Front Matter Pages
The following pages belong in your book’s “front matter” section:
- Frontispiece: an optional ornamental illustration, placed opposite the title page
- Title page: inside page with the title and author name displayed as they are on the cover
- Copyright page: contains the copyright date and other relevant information
- Dedication page (optional): contains a dedication to someone or something
- Table of contents: a list of all the parts in your book, including front matter, the body, and back matter. Novels with chapters designated by numbers only might omit this.
- Foreword (optional): a piece written by someone other than the author to both introduce and promote the book
- Preface (optional): an explanatory letter to the reader written by the author
- Epigraph (optional): a quote, poem, or excerpt used as a sort of preface
First Page of a Book
The very first page of your book will either be your title page or an optional page called the frontispiece, which is a decorative illustration relevant to your book. The illustration might take up the whole page or only part of it. It could also be a map of your story’s setting.
You’re more likely to find a frontispiece in a printed novel, but if it’s there, you’ll find it printed on the side facing your title page, where you’ll find the title, author name, and subtitle or tagline printed as it appears on your cover.
If you’re not sure what to put on that cover and title page, check out this article for help in generating unforgettable book title ideas.
The copyright page is on the underside of the title page in a printed book. If your book has any of the following information, you’ll find it on this page:
- Copyright date
- Name of publisher or publishing company
- Name of printer or printing company
- Edition number and the copyright dates of previous editions
- ISBN number (the barcode with this number will be on the back cover of a paperback)
- Statement regarding the use of your book’s content and warning against unlawful copying, pirating, or plagiarism.
The Foreword and Other Introductions
A foreword is an introduction to your book written by someone else — like a well-known author in your genre or an expert on your book’s subject matter. If your book has both a foreword and a preface (written by the author), the foreword will come first.
The preface provides information on why you (the author) wrote the book or what led to its creation, to provide context and lead to the book’s introduction or prologue.
If you’re writing a nonfiction book, you’ll probably write an introduction for it next. This is different from a preface in that it is part of your book. Readers who skip the foreword and the preface probably won’t skip the introduction.
If you’re writing a novel, though, your introductory piece is called a prologue. Unlike a preface, the prologue is part of the actual story and might include crucial details or hint at a climactic event that happens later in the book.
Most of the content of a book will be in its body, which includes the following parts:
- Introduction (non-fiction) or Prologue (fiction): the beginning of your book or story.
- Parts and Chapters: the main block of content for your book or story.
- Conclusion (non-fiction) or Epilogue (fiction): the closing for your book or story.
- Afterword (optional): an author’s note about the book, which may take the place of a preface
- Postscript (optional): an author’s additional note to provide new info on the story after the narrative ends
Back Matter Pages
The following pages belong in your book’s “back matter” section:
- Appendix or Addendum: supplemental information or documentation to support your book’s content
- Acknowledgments and/or List of Contributors: a list of those who contributed to your book in some way or whose help and support you want to publicly acknowledge
- Bibliography or Reference List: a list of the sources cited in your book
- Endnotes / Notes: a list of notes correlating by number to each source citation in your book’s content
- Copyright permissions: proof that you obtained permission from other content creators to use their copyrighted material in your book
- Glossary (optional): an alphabetical list of industry-specific words or jargon defined for the benefit of your readers
- Index (optional): an alphabetical list of keywords used in your book, along with the page numbers where readers will find those words in context
- Teaser (optional): excerpt from an upcoming sequel or related book
- “About the Author” page: a page where you can share some information about yourself with your readers.
- Request for a book review (optional): a gentle but timely call to action for the benefit of your book and its readers
These are all parts of the back of your book and provide supplemental information for your readers. The “About the Author” page can include a brief author bio, a picture, a list of your other books, and links to your website and social media pages.
The last page invites readers who enjoyed your book to leave a review. You can also provide links to bonus content and invite readers to contact you with questions or feedback.
Parts of a Book Cover
Now that we’ve covered your book’s interior, let’s have a look at the outside.
While for an ebook you only have to worry about creating a front cover, a printed book has a front cover, back cover, and spine.
The front cover has the title, author name, and subtitle or tagline. It might also have a testimonial from a famous author or well-known expert. And if your book has won any prestigious awards or appeared on the New York Times or USA Today bestseller list, you might reference that on the front cover, too.
The back cover has a few paragraphs of promotional sales copy to further entice potential customers into buying and reading your book. It also has the barcode and ISBN number and a brief author bio, along with an optional photograph.
The spine — if it’s thick enough for readable text — will have the book’s title and the author name.
Physical Parts of a Book
The physical parts of a printed book include its cover, the pages within, and its binding. It might also include a dust jacket. The parts of bookbinding include the following:
- Book cover or book boards: the outer coverings of your book
- Joint: the exterior part of the book that bends or creases when the book is opened
- Hinge: the interior part of a book’s joint — its inside edge
- Head: the top part of the book
- Tail: the bottom part of a book
- Spine: The edge of the book where all the pages are joined together
- Fore-edge: the edge opposite the spine
- Book block / Text block: the block of internal pages)
- Signatures: stacks of two or more sheets of paper, folded and grouped together for sewing/attaching to the spine)
- End Paper (or End Sheets): the interior end sheets, set between the covers and the printed pages of the text block.
Now you know . . .
If you made it to this point, you already know more about the parts of a book than most new authors do, and you have an edge when it comes to creating a professional book interior.
But there’s so much more to learn. And we love helping authors create books they and their readers will love, so I hope you’ll stay with us and learn all you can to give your next book its best chance at becoming a bestseller.
Check out other posts on Authority Pub for next steps in book marketing, setting up ads, getting reviews, etc.
And may your diligence and creative energy influence everything you do today.