ANATOMY OF BOOK CONTENT: Focus on Front Matter

Having served 14+ years in the commercial publishing industry and now 9+ years at the GPO Sales Program (Publication & Information Sales division), I have seen thousands of titles in different genres cross my desk (Good thing, I really like to read!)

With this blog post, I showcase the essential components of the anatomy of book content with the focus on front matter (as it applies to print and digital titles). Subsequent blog posts may focus on Tips for Title Naming, Front cover and back covers, Body content, and Back matter content, all play a key role to the anatomy of book content and applies to print and digital titles.

ANATOMY OF BOOK CONTENT: Focus on Front Matter

Front Matter of book content usually consists of the following components:

  • Title Page –{Page length: 1 page}

Main title and subtitle, Author name, Imprint name and Publisher name (usually with logos), and Publisher website

  • Verso Page (back of title page) – {Page length: 1 page}

Main title and subtitle, Author name, Publisher Company name with logos/trademark (Agency logos and seals)

Imprint name with logos and website, For Sale tagline at the bottom of the page.

Middle page usually includes the CIP (Cataloging in Publication) data –see this link for more information: (now CIP data is available for eBook titles too)

Sometimes includes copyright information; otherwise, copyright information can have its own separate single page

Copyrighted material –It is highly recommended to include references to copyrighted material. It should note the original copyright owner, copyright symbol, and copyright year. (Text, graphic images, software programs, music/audio files, films, and videos often hold copyrights). Copyrighted material limits others from taking content to re-purpose without permission(s). Public Domain content is open for all to re-purpose. {Page Length: 1 page, if cannot fit on Verso page; some publishers choose to include “Copyrighted Material” wording at the top of the page to bring attention that the text has copyrighted ownership.}

In-Depth information pertaining to Copyrighted information can be found at the Copyright Clearance Center

Or the Library of Congress website:

  • Table of Contents {Page Length: 1-2 pages; should not exceed 2 pages; “Table of Contents” wording is usually centered or justified left at the top of the page; Second page usually references –“Table of Contents (Cont.) wording}

Recommendation is to rework the manuscript into thematic Sections and list the Sections with page numbers, if Table of Contents with chapters may exceed 2 pages.

Format of Table of Contents should include references to Title page, Copyright Page, Acknowledgements, Foreword (if included), Preface (if included), Introduction (if included), then list Sections by themes with headings; for shorter books that include chapters, list chapters with headings and include, Glossary, Bibliography, Additional Resources, Appendix A, Appendix B, Index, etc. (Rule of Thumb-Index not needed with eBooks since you can link to the other content within the pages of the chapter)

  • Acknowledgements Page –optional {Page Length: 1 page and sometimes back of single page; “Acknowledgements” word is usually centered at the top of the page}

A Special Thank you to those that participated in the research, writing, editing, and production and marketing efforts to promote the book content is usually included in the Acknowledgements

  • Foreword – optional {Page Length: 1-2 pages; “Foreword” word is usually centered at the top of the page}

Normally includes a celebrity or high-ranking person that writes a Foreword to showcase the benefits of the book content and why it is important

  • Preface – optional {Page length: 2-4 pages; “Preface” word is usually centered at the top of the page}

Normally showcases the answer about why this book content was developed and how/why it is important to society.

  • Introduction — {Page length: 2-5 pages; sometimes omitted if Preface is included; “Introduction” word is usually centered at the top of the page}

Often used as an Executive overview of the book’s topical content and sometimes includes a brief description of what can be found in the subsequent chapters, and back matter material (more on back matter material in a future post). The Introduction should provide a “Primer” for readers on what can be found in this book and guidelines on “how to use this book” for the reader.

If book manuscript is lengthy with numerous chapters, it would be best to consider reorganizing the manuscript into sections with main themes of content and describing the main themes within the Introduction.


Background about Author of this Blog post:

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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