Book Editing – The Front Matter

When I finished editing my book and decided it was time to get everything ready for publishing, I discovered something called front matter. Now, I “knew” what front matter was. I’ve seen it in every book I’ve read, but I didn’t know it had a name.

Figuring out what I needed to add and what I didn’t, proved to be a pain. Not hard, per say, just annoying. For all of you that are looking to publish a book, you may find this information helpful.

BTW, there’s also back matter, but we’ll discuss that in another post.

Front matter is the first part of a book and is typically the smallest section of the book. This is sometimes referred to as preliminary matter. It can be as simple as a title page, or it can have a bunch of other stuff like a preface, forward, and much more.

  • Half Title – This is the page that shows only the title of the book. The subtitle and authors name is not listed here.
  • Title Page – A title page at the very least should have the full title, the subtitle, and author name. If you have an illustrator, it would go here too.

The other things that would go in the front matter will depend on what type of book that you have. You could have:

  • Publisher’s name and address, Copyright information, Edition Notice, Date of Publication, Number of Printings, and ISBN would all go on the copyright page.
  • Disclaimer
  • Warranties
  • Safety Notices
  • Dedication
  • Epigraph – This is just a quote that the author adds that is relevant, but not essential to the text. Some authors will put one at the beginning of every chapter.
  • Table of Contents – This is normally located in the middle of the front matter.
  • Errata – This is a correction to the document, and is normally added shortly after the first publication.
  • Forward – This is a short essay that is normally written by another person.
  • Preface – This is an introduction to the story. It normally covers how the story came to be.
  • Acknowledgments – This acknowledges the people who have helped the author in some.
  • Introduction – This lists the purpose and goals of the book.
  • Prologue – This normally provides background information for the story and sets the scene.

You may also find endpapers, list of contributors, frontispiece, list of abbreviations, or lists of tables, illustrations, or figures in the book. An author who has a publisher won’t have to worry too much about these things because the publisher normally handles them. If you are a self-published author, then you will have to do them by yourself.

That’s the front matter of a book. Whether you have paid attention to it before or not, I’m sure you will now. I’ll publish a blog about what goes in the back matter soon, so be on the look out for that.


“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

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