What Is An Appendix And How To Write One For Your Book

You’ve got some great content you want to add to your book.

But you’re not sure if including it in the main body of your work is a good idea. 

Though it’s helpful and interesting (at least to you), it would interrupt the flow of the chapter it supports.

Plus, it’s not essential for understanding your book.

But it does add something you think is pretty special. 

So, you’re thinking, “Is this appendix material?”

Read on to find out. 

What is An Appendix in A Book?

An appendix is a section in the back matter of your book (typically nonfiction but not always) that provides extra information about the story or topics covered. 

The appendix of a book isn’t absolutely essential to your reader’s understanding of the book. It’s there to give your readers a more in-depth look at one of the topics you cover.

If it’s textual content, it usually supports what you’ve included in the main body or provides suggestions for further study. Appendices can also include visuals like images, tables, and graphs that support your core content but aren’t essential to your book. 

Why Have a Book Appendix? 

The main reason for creating an appendix (or multiple appendices) is to provide content that explores a particular topic in greater depth but isn’t necessary to your book. 

Some readers won’t bother reading your appendices. They are essentially bonus material. 

If you’re not sure whether to include something as an appendix, ask yourself the following two questions: 

  1. Is this content nonessential but relevant and helpful to the reader?
  2. Is this too long to include as a footnote? 

If you can answer both questions with a “Yes,” the content you’re considering is probably appendix material. To drill down to its purpose and determine if this content would add real value to your book, ask the following: 

  • Will this material help the reader better understand the topic?
  • Does this provide helpful suggestions for further study?
  • Does this provide useful information on my sources or data? 
  • Does this provide original source material referenced in my book?
  • Does this add depth to the data presented in my book?
  • Will this provide additional backup for my message or thesis?

If your answer to all these questions is a no, and you wouldn’t bother referencing this content in the main body of your book, your book is probably better off without it. 

What to Include in the Appendix of a Book

The appendix of a book can include any of these: 

  • Tables, figures, charts, and diagrams — anything that supports the data you include in the main body of your work 
  • Memos — personal or professional memorandum that support your content
  • Detailed technical specs — which may or may not interest your reader
  • Maps — providing a visual reference for the events in your book
  • Drawings — providing a sketch of something pertinent to but not essential to your book
  • Photos — photographic images relevant to your book but not essential to it
  • Glossary — a mini dictionary for terminology used in your book (academic or professional)
  • Index — a list of specific terms used in your book with page numbers where they occur
  • Chronology/timeline — a graphic showing events on a horizontal timeline or a (vertical) list of dates and details about events mentioned in the book
  • Original source material — any copyright-protected content from other authors, used with their permission (if obtainable)

It can also include any supplemental content that’s too long or detailed to include in the main body of your book. 

The purpose of an appendix is to help your reader better understand your work and the research behind it. It can help to look through similar books to see what their authors included. 

We repeat (because it’s important), if this content isn’t important enough to reference in the main body of your work, don’t bother including it as an appendix, either. 

How to Write an Appendix

Any content you add needs formatting, whether you’re writing the appendix yourself or uploading and inserting content from your sources (with permission). And formatting for your appendices should match that of the rest of your book:

  • Same margins
  • Same text formatting (fonts, font sizes, etc.)
  • Same image formatting 

Also, every appendix needs a title (or label) and a subtitle that describes its content. 

Examples: 

  • Appendix A: Recommended Reading
  • Appendix B: Childhood Photos
  • Appendix 1: Timeline
  • Appendix 2: Sample Transcripts

Though letters are more common (Appendix A, B, etc.), Chicago Style allows numbers for your appendix titles. As long as your appendices are in order, it doesn’t much matter whether you prefer letters or numbers. 

Using descriptive subtitles is more important. 

Book Appendix Examples

Appendices are as varied as the books that have them, as you’ll see in each example of an appendix included below. 

We’ve included a few different types to get you thinking of the possibilities. 

Example #1 — Recommended Reading

example 1

Via Techwallacdn


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Example #2 — Tools & Information

example 2

Via Slideserve

Example #3 — Sample Curriculum Guides

example 3

Via Studylib

Where to Find More Appendix Examples

Aside from an image search, one way to find appendix examples is to check out the “Look Inside” feature for Kindle ebooks on Amazon

While you won’t typically see the appendix content in the ebook sample, if it includes the table of contents, you can at least see the types of appendices listed.

Appendices are one of those things that should show up on your book’s TOC. 

Another great way to find a good example of an appendix is by looking through physical books at a bookstore or library. Focus on books in your chosen genre, and look through several, if possible, to see the types of appendix content included. 

For extra credit, look at how the authors reference the appendices and what they include or don’t include in the main bodies of their books. 

Where Is the Appendix in a Book?

Most often, appendices appear in a book’s back matter pages, after the epilogue or conclusion, and before the endnotes. 

That said, The Chicago Manual of Style also allows authors to include appendices at the ends of the specific chapters they support. 

If your goal is to keep your reader moving on to the next chapter, we recommend referring to the appendices in the body of your book and saving the actual content for the back matter pages. 

Now that you’re up to speed on what an appendix is, what it can include, and where it goes, we’re betting you’ve got some ideas for making your book even more of a goldmine to your readers — especially those who, like you, love digging deeper. 

Which idea will you work on this week? 

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