Anatomy of Book Content: Focus on Back Matter — Print and eBooks


With the formatting of eBooks, many back cover elements are missing when compared to traditional print paperback and hardcover books with jackets. . Some of these areas include jacket copy where a publisher would provide a description “About the Author” to establish the person as an authority on the subject matter one of the the inner portions of the jacket flap. The other jacket flap traditionally included a listing of other resources by this author or relating to this topic. Some printed paperback books provide this information on the back cover.

However, there are no jacket flaps or back covers with eBooks.

These prime areas of content are now often placed in the back matter prior to the appendices of ebook formatted titles.

Back matter consists of items that are often found in books after the body matter (chapters and sections) end.

Many commercial publishers are including a prologue, “About Author”/ in case of Federal publishers — “About Agency Office” content, and a page listing of “Other books by the author or Agency” or “Titles Relating to this Topic” in back matter of eBooks. The Glossary of Terms and Index are also treated differently now with eBook format(s)

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Multiple Appendices are the main portions of back matter materials found in printed books. Some items that are generally contained in appendices include the following items:

  • Extensive Bibliography
  • Additional Contact Organizations, such as nonprofit associations, Federal or State websites, etc.
  • Numerous Timelines to establish significant milestones within a century that research may have taken place on XYZ topic
  • Extensive Tables of data
  • Survey Questionnaires and completed tabulated Results

Indexes are not usually placed within an Appendix of print books, but are included with large textbooks and reference works and are usually near the end of the text. There are two common Index types for commercial publishers:

  • Cross-referenced Index
  • Subject or topical categorical index (this index is often provided in addition to a comprehensive cross-referenced index with large reference works)

Back Matter eBook formatting Tips

Remember to link your Table of Contents directly to your back matter content pages and provide back links from these pages to your Table of Contents.

Editors that previously produced Traditional (Print) Indexed content should now provide a list of those terms and location in body matter to be cross-referenced with links and furnished to their book designers.

Large use of data tables and timelines should be referenced in an Appendix and linked from chapter body text to Appendix for more table data examples.

Editors that have previously produced Back Matter Traditional (Print) Glossaries should now provide definitions within body matter text

– Instruct book designers to include a pop-up screen when the word or acronym is touched to showcase term or acronym and definition.

If including a prologue, ABOUT AUTHOR or ABOUT AGENCY in Back Matter, be sure to include links to author website or Agency/office website and backlinks to the Table of Contents. ( If you change these links on your website, you may need to update your eBook to reflect the link changes as well).

eBooks can include extensive bibliographies, but it is more common to reference a footnote within the body text. More commercial publishers are using the pop-up footnote as a reference within the body matter content, rather than including links to an extensive bibliography within an appendix.

In eBooks, commercial publishers are designing their back matter to mostly include a placement for a large number of tables, timelines and as an area to provide more information about the author to showcase the author’s expertise with the subject matter of the text .

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Maureen Whelan, Senior Marketing Team Leader for GPO’s Publication & Information Sales division program office in Washington, DC. Maureen oversees print and digital content dissemination strategy and manages third party free and paid content distribution platforms and vendors such as Apple iBookstore, Google Play eBookstore, EBSCOhost, Overdrive, and more. Additionally, Maureen’s commercial publishing industry experience with publishing requirements, copyrights, product formats and content metadata and search optimization have helped Federal agencies publications be more discoverable through these consumer channels. A few examples of commercially popular Federal print books that were successfully migrated to digital include The Healthy Woman and The Basic Guide to Exporting.

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