How To Write a Book in 30 Days


13. Front matter and Back matter

Front matter and back matter describe some elements included in a book, either in the front of the book, before the main body or in the back of the book, after the main body. Front and back matter serve to introduce the book, organize or frame it for the reader, acknowledge those who have been helpful or meaningful to the author, or tell the reader a little more about the author.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Saint Augustine

Unless you are self-publishing, your publisher will provide some of these items. In this lesson, we’ll learn what should be included and where it should go.

Module 13: Front Matter & Back Matter

by Steve Spillman | How to Write a Book in 30 Days

Front Matter For You

Front matter that you should be responsible for include:

  • Endorsements: This is an important one that’s often overlooked. That’s probably because asking for endorsements before your book is published can be a  little scary. Once you have a clean manuscript ask a few friends or colleagues to review it for endorsement. Ask them to be honest and let them know that you plan to include their endorsement in the book. Somewhere between three and eight endorsements is fine. 
  • Foreword (not forward): We covered this in our last lesson. It’s important enough for a lesson of its own.
  • Preface: A preface is like a Foreword, but it is usually shorter and a little more personal. You may want to tell the reader why you chose to write the book or how some event or person in your life precipitated the idea behind the book.
  • Dedication: This is where you dedicate the book to someone special. This may be a spouse, a parent or parents, or a mentor. A dedication is usually to a single person or maybe a few, like your parents or children. Your dedication is specific.
  • Acknowledgments: This is where you express gratitude to people or organizations who contributed to the creation of the book. Maybe your editor, or if you’re a pastor, the people of your church, and anyone or group that may have played a role in making the book possible. You can include as many people as you like in the acknowledgments section. Some authors have even been thoughtful enough to include their publisher!
  • Epigraph: This is usually a quote or a poem that you find meaningful in the context of what you’ve written. It’s completely optional, but some authors include an epigraph to help set the emotional, philosophical, or spiritual tone of the book.

Front Matter For Your Publisher

Unless you’re self-publishing your book, your publisher should create and include these pieces. (*Note: If your publisher doesn’t include this as their responsibility, find a new publisher.)

  • Title Page: This page typically contains the book’s title, subtitle (if any), author’s name, and sometimes the publisher’s name or logo. We like to design the title page in the same font as the book’s front cover and often add a grayscale image from the front cover. The title page creates the transition from the book’s cover to its interior.
  • Copyright Page: This page includes your copyright information, such as the copyright notice, publication date, edition information, ISBN (International Standard Book Number), Library of Congress Catalog number, and information about permissions, disclaimers, or credits.
  • Table of Contents: This is a list of the book’s chapters or sections, along with their page numbers. Professional layout software (the program publishers use to move the manuscript format to the interior book format) will automatically generate the Table of Contents. The reason for this is that your manuscript pages are usually standard 8.5″ x 11″ and your book’s pages are usually 6″ x 9″ or a size other than 8.5″ x 11″. There will be fewer words per page on a smaller page. Your text flows from one page to the next, so if Chapter Three is on page 56 of your manuscript it may be on page 71 in your book. If you are self-publishing and not using software that automatically assigns Table of Contents page numbers, be sure that the chapter pages listed in the Table of Contents actually match those pages in the book.

    Back Matter

    Back Matter typically includes:

    • Author Bio and Headshot: This page offers a brief biography of the author focusing on why the author may be qualified to write this book. The latter part of the bio usually includes a little personal history or information like “the author lives in Boston with his wife and dog,” etc. If you mention children or grandchildren, don’t give their ages. They won’t be that age next year. Right under the bio, add how and where readers can contact you or learn more: your website, Social Media profiles, etc. I like to offer a little something extra, like a link to a short video or and extra chapter, to increase value for the reader. Note: occasionally, you may see an author’s headshot and short bio on the book’s back cover. My rule: unless it’s going to sell more books, keep the author bio and headshot inside the book.
    • Appendix: Additional information or supplementary material related to the content of the book, often including charts, tables, or extended explanations. More scholarly type books usually have an appendix. If the content of the book doesn’t require an appendix, there’s no need to have one.
    • End Notes: Explanatory or supplementary notes referenced within the main text.If you have only a few footnotes, it’s fine to add them as footnotes on the same page as the text. If you have a lot of footnotes it’s better to have them at the end of the book where they won’t interrupt the flow of the book for those not interested in every note or reference. Some authors or publishers place end notes ath the end of each chapter. Personally, I think it tends to look clumsy and interrupt the flow between chapters. *Steve Rule: Anything that interrupts the flow of the book for the reader is a sin. Please try to avoid getting in the reader’s way if they’re really enjoying your book. 
    • Glossary: This is a list of terms and their definitions that you have used in the text that the reader may not be familiar with. Again, you generally see glossaries in more scholarly books or books that cover a lot of ground that may be unfamiliar to the reader.
    • Bibliography: This is a list of sources consulted or referenced by the author, often arranged alphabetically or by category. A bibliography is kind of old-school. Unless your book is scholarly or your research has cover a lot of other books or traditional print resources like magazines or newspapers, this kind of information is easily handled in the foot notes or end notes
    • Index: This is an alphabetical list of topics, names, or concepts mentioned in the book, along with the page numbers where they can be found. Again, usually more scholarly, technical, or historical. This may be useful in some big, non-fiction print books. I’ve published several big books where indices were important (indices are the plural form of index, but most people are fine with just saying indexes). Indices/Indexes are useless in ebooks due to the search function.

    Where do all these Matters go in the book?

    Here’s a generally accepted list of where to put your front matter and back matter.

    Front Matter:

    • Endorsements: first page(s) inside the front cover.
    • Title Page: on the first right-hand page after the endorsements.
    • Copyright Page: on the left-hand page right after the Title Page.
    • Dedication (Optional): on the right-hand page opposite the Copyright Page.
    • Epigraph (Optional): this can go on the left-hand or right-hand page after the Dedication.
    • Table of Contents: on the right-hand page after the Epigraph (if you have one).
    • Foreword (Optional): on the right-hand page after the Table of Contents.
    • Preface: on the right-hand page after the Foreword.
    • Acknowledgments: on the right-hand page after the Preface.

    *note: it’s okay to have a blank left-hand page between elements.

    Back Matter:

    Here’s the order the backmatter should be in:

    1. Appendix or Appendices
    2. Notes or Endnotes
    3. Glossary
    4. Bibliography or References
    5. Index
    6. Author Bio

    This order is generally accepted but it can vary depending on the type of book, publisher’s style, or author’s preferences.


    1. Endorsements: Create a list of 10 – 12 friends or colleagues who might be willing to endorse your book. Ask them ahead of time if they would be willing to look at your manuscript with the option of endorsing the book.  When your manuscript is finished (or even semi-finished) and presentable (check and correct your spelling, grammar, wording, etc.) send them a copy with a nice, friendly, grateful note asking them to review and give them a reasonable target date to send you an endorsement if they think the manuscript deserves one.
    2. Acknowledgment: Begin writing down all the people and organizations who were important to the creation of this book. Remember those who gave time, attention, and money to the project. Also remember those who had to give up time with you or make sacrifices so you could spend more time on your book.
    3. Bio and Headshot: Write a short author bio that will relate to your reader. They want to know about your qualifications regarding the book and maybe a little personal info. Not too much personal info: Unless your book is about trains, there is no need to mention your train collection. Your headshot should be a headshot, not a photo of you waterskiing. It doesn’t have to be a formal suit-and-tie studio shot, just something friendly; no mugshots.

    Next: Putting it All Together

    Click here to visit module 14 “Putting it All Together”