Demystifying Front and Back Matter

Have you heard the terms Front and Back Matter and been wondering what they mean?

Front matter refers to all the pages in a book that come in front of the manuscript. Common components of the front matter include the title page, legal or copyright page, a foreword, dedication, table of contents, acknowledgements and introduction.

Conversely, the back matter includes all the pages that follow the manuscript. Back matter varies from book to book but most non-fiction books include an About the Author Page, a list of References or Recommended Resources, Index, and perhaps a Marketing page that lists products and services the Author offers which are related to the book.

This list breaks down each component of the front and back matter by purpose:

  • Title page – lists the title, author, and city of publication
  • Legal or Copyright page – contains the copyright information, ISBN, and other publishing details. Your publisher will create this page for you.
  • Dedication – a short statement of love and gratitude to a special someone. Many dedicate their books to spouses, children, parents, or dear friends.
  • Acknowledgements – formal thanks to all the people who assisted in writing the book. Include your editors, cover designers, coaches, clients, and any others who helped you bring the book into the world.
  • Foreword – a written introduction to the book by a celebrity or authority figure. These can be useful marketing tools but are not required.
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction – a note to the readers from the author that sets the stage for an enjoyable reading experience.
  • About the Author – a biography of the author with a professional photo. This page is very important as it is used by members of the media when they want to introduce you or write about your background.
  • References/Recommended Resources – gives credit to any sources used in the book and may also list some of the services/products provided by the author.
  • Index – listing of all the key topics in the book along with the pages where each topic is discussed. This is optional but expected in any non-fiction books sold to academic markets or the library trade. There are professional indexers who will be delighted to go through your book after it is typeset and create the index for you.
  • Marketing page – If you have information products like a workbook, audio program, or other material that serves your reader, you can include it at the back of the book along with a compelling invitation for readers to visit your website and download a free gift.

Front and back matter is written after the manuscript is created. You’ll find that it is fairly easy to write, especially after you’ve completed your manuscript. The pages are short and follow a standard pattern.

If you have questions, just review the front and back matter of a few of the books you have at home and you’ll start to see the patterns.

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