Printed Books 101: the components of a book (and where they go)

book design

A cheat sheet for self-published authors making print books

This is an excerpt from ‘Printed Book Design 101,’ written by Joel Friedlander of The Book Designer.

For quick reference, here’s a cheat sheet of common components used in book design. Remember, most books don’t have all of these, so use this glossary to get the parts you DO have in the right place.

Half title — This page contains only the title of the book and is typically the first page you see when opening the cover.

Frontispiece — An illustration on the page facing the title page.

Title page — Announces the title, subtitle, author and publisher of the book.

Copyright page — Usually the back of the title page, this page carries the copyright notice, edition information, publication information, printing history, cataloging data, legal notices and the books ISBN or identification number.

Dedication — Not every book carries a dedication but, for those that do, it follows the copyright page.

Epigraph — An author may wish to include an epigraph (a quotation) near the front of the book.

Table of Contents — Also known as the Contents page, this page lists all the major divisions of the book including parts, if used, and chapters.

List of Figures — In books with numerous figures (or illustrations) it can be helpful to include a list of all figures, their titles and the page numbers on which they occur.

List of Tables — Similar to the List of Figures, a list of tables occurring in the book may be helpful for readers.

Foreword — Usually a short piece written by someone other than the author. Remember that the Foreword is always signed, usually with the author’s name, place and date.

Preface — Written by the author, the Preface often tells how the book came into being, and is often signed with the name, place and date, although this is not always the case.

Acknowledgments — The author expresses their gratitude for help in the creation of the book.

Introduction — The author explains the purposes and the goals of the work, and may also place the work in a context, as well as spell out the organization and scope of the book.

Prologue — In a work of fiction, the prologue sets the scene for the story and is told in the voice of a character from the book, not the author’s voice.

Second Half Title — If the front matter is particularly extensive, a second half title (identical to the first) can be added before the beginning of the text.

Body — This is the main portion of the book.

Epilogue — An ending piece, either in the voice of the author or as a continuation of the main narrative, meant to bring closure of some kind to the work.

Afterword — May be written by the author or another, and might deal with the origin of the book or seek to situate the work in some wider context.

Conclusion — A brief summary of the salient arguments of the main work that attempts to give a sense of completeness to the work.

Postscript — From the Latin post scriptum, “after the writing” meaning anything added as an addition or afterthought to the main body of the work.

Appendix or Addendum — A supplement, of some sort, to the main work. An appendix might include source documents cited in the text, material that arose too late to be included in the main body of the work, or any of a number of other insertions.

Chronology — In some works, particularly histories, a chronological list of events may be helpful for the reader. It may appear as an appendix, but can also appear in the front matter if the author considers it critical to the reader’s understanding of the work.

Notes — Endnotes come after any appendices and before the bibliography or list of references.

Glossary — An alphabetical list of terms and their definitions, usually restricted to some specific area.

Bibliography — A systematic list of books or other works such as articles in periodicals, usually used as a list of works that have been cited in the main body of the work, although not necessarily limited to those works.

List of Contributors — A work by many authors may demand a list of contributors, which should appear immediately before the index, although it is sometimes moved to the front matter.

Index — An alphabetical listing of people, places, events, concepts and works cited along with page numbers indicating where they can be found within the main body of the work.

Errata — A notice from the publisher of an error in the book, usually caused in the production process.

Colophon — A brief notice at the end of a book usually describing the text typography and identifying the typeface by name along with a brief history. It may also credit the book’s designer and other persons or companies involved in its physical production.

Whew, that’s quite a list! Just remember, you only need to be concerned with the parts that actually occur in your book.

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  1. Oh great

    It is informative to anyone who wants to know more about Book-printing and general reader as well
    Thank You
    Vaikom Madhu

  2. This is a great list for first-time authors! One small addendum: a second relevant meaning to the word “colophon” is a publisher’s emblem or imprint, especially one on the title page or spine of a book.
    Thanks for sharing this helpful list! I’ll be sure to link to it in my clients’ resource list :)

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