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Your Book's Back Matter: What You Need to Know

Created on: Oct 6, 2011 10:25 AM by CreateSpaceResources - Last Modified:  Oct 6, 2011 10:38 AM by CreateSpaceResources Friedlander.jpg

Your Book's Back Matter

By Joel Friedlander

We earlier looked at the role played by various elements of the front matter of your book: the parts of the book that are distinct from the body of the work and which are, by tradition or for practical reasons, put before the rest of the book.


At the end of your book, particularly if it's nonfiction, you'll want to gather various citations, notes and other pieces of reference material that are helpful or necessary for the reader's use or appreciation of the book.


Here are the typical things you'll find in the back matter of books. Obviously, most books are not going to have all these parts, but it's good to know how they are used and the order in which they should appear should you decide to feature them in your work.


Elements of Book Back Matter


  • Postscript - From the Latin post scriptum, meaning "after the writing," or anything included as an addition or afterthought to the main body of the work.


  • Appendix or Addendum - A supplement of some kind 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 it also can 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. The notes are typically divided by chapter to make them easier to locate.


  • 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, listing works cited in the main body of the book, 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. Contributors' names should be listed alphabetically by last name, but appear in the form "First Name Last Name." Information about each contributor may include brief biographical notes, academic affiliations, or previous publications.


  • 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.


  • Colophon - A brief notice at the end of a book usually describing the text typography, 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.


And as they say, that's a wrap. Along with the article on front matter, you now have an entire schematic of the construction of your book. Keep this nearby when you're assembling your book to guide you as you put each piece in its proper order.


This article was written exclusively for CreateSpace by Joel Friedlander. Joel is the proprietor of Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, a publishing services company where he's helped launch many self-published authors. He blogs about book design, writing and self-publishing at Joel is also the author of the newly-published A Self-Publisher's Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish.


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