The Components of a Book’s Interior

A book’s interior is comprised of three basic elements: front matter, the body, and back matter. Each element may differ slightly depending on the type of book being published. For example, a non-fiction book will contain an index in its back matter where a fictional novel will not. This article will briefly touch on each component while focusing on the interior design of a fictional novel.

Front Matter

The front matter of a book contains some or all of the following components:

  • Primary title page: This is usually the very first page of the book in which the title appears on an otherwise blank right-hand page.
  • Secondary title page: The secondary title page repeats the book title along with the author and/or publisher’s name on the next right-hand page.
  • Copyright page: Typically, the publishing company will insert the copyright page into the book’s front matter on behalf of the author/self-publisher. In anticipation of this, the author/self-publisher should leave room in the front matter of their manuscript to accommodate it.The copyright page will contain the book’s ISBN number(s), publication date, copyright owner’s name, and a copyright notice such as: No portion of this book may be duplicated or used in any form, by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval), for any profit-driven enterprise, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. If the author/publisher wishes to credit any of the book’s contributors (such as photographers and designers), that can also be done on this page.
  • Quote page: Sometimes a quote will be placed in the front matter if it sums up the essence of the story quite well.
  • Dedication page: Oftentimes, authors will dedicate their books to their loved ones. That dedication is placed in the beginning of the book.
  • Acknowledgments page: An acknowledgments page allows an author to provide more detail when crediting the book’s various contributors rather than just listing their names on the copyright page. Here, a heartfelt thank you can be expressed in a much more meaningful way.
  • Foreword: Usually, a foreword is written by someone other than the author. Its purpose is to provide a history leading up to the story being told or explain what inspired the publication of the book.
  • Preface: Where a foreword is an introduction to the book written by someone other than the author, a preface is an introduction written by the author for the same purpose. An author may also use a preface to explain what methods of research were used during the creation of the work.
  • Contents: A table of contents lists the various sections (chapters, articles, poems, etc) within the book and what page numbers they each begin at.

Below is a group of visuals to show how the front matter might be arranged in a fictional novel. This is but one example of how it can be done:

The Body

The body of a book usually contains at least the following two components:

  • Title Pages: A title page is used at the beginning of each section within the body of a book. The purpose of the title page is simply to differentiate between the sections, to help organize the flow of the work.
  • Sections:  Sections of a book’s body can be divided up as chapters, poems, articles, etc. It all depends on the type of book being published.

Below are two visuals showing how the body of a novel might be formatted. The second visual contains recommended measurements for your book’s margins. Again, this is but one example of how a book can be formatted and is meant as a guideline only:

Back Matter

The back matter of a book contains some or all of the following components:

  • Appendix: An appendix contains supplementary details that help to further clarify any legal, technical, and/or scientific information within the book.
  • Glossary: A glossary of terms contains a list of specialized words that can be found throughout the book along with their definitions.
  • Index: An alphabetized index is used to help readers pinpoint the exact page(s) where they can find an important name, place, and/or subject throughout the book. Most non-fiction books will have an index.
  • Author Biography: An updated author biography helps personalize your book for readers by giving them a bit more information about the storyteller. It is also a great way to promote past titles thereby increasing the chance of more sales.

Below are two visuals showing how the back matter of a novel could appear:


It is a good idea to use this article as a guideline when deciding how to lay out your book’s interior. Better yet, why not pay your local bookstore a visit and take a look at how some of your favourite titles are formatted? The more information (visuals) you can provide to your graphic designer ahead of time, the better. This will help the process run much more smoothly for both of you.

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