Anatomy of a Book: The Contents

How to identify and define the interior parts of a published book, including the Dedication Page, Acknowledgements, Foreword, Preface, Appendix, Index and other matter.

We’ve all read so many books, that perhaps we feel we are well-acquainted with the many elements that go inside them. But are we, really? Let’s identify and define the interior parts of a book.

What’s Inside a Published Book?

Not all of these elements are in all published books, nor are they always in the order presented here.

Starting inside the front cover, let’s take a tour. . .

End Papers:

Also called Leaves, these are the blank pages (perhaps with images) you find at the beginning and end of a book. They function to fill out the Signatures.  Some books, particularly paperbacks, may not have End Papers.

An historical photograph illustrating a setting from the novel appears on the End Papers of The Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton Frank.

Half Title Page:

Only the book title appears on this page; the rest is blank space.

Other Books by the Author Page:

This optional list might appear on the opposite side of the Half Title page, or on its own page following the Half Title page or elsewhere.

Title Page:

The book title and the names of the author(s) and the publisher are found here. Additional information appears on the back side of this page: the copyright notice, the ISBN (the International Standard Book Number) and printing numbers, the publisher’s address, the year the book was published, and the Library of Congress Catalogue information.

Dedication Page:

This optional element allows the author to dedicate the book to someone or something.

Meg Schneider and I chose to dedicate The Everything Guide to Writing a Book Proposal: Insider Advice on how to Get Your Work Published to our readers: “For authors everywhere, we offer these tools to help you in your pursuit of publication. May success attend your quest!”


Here the author thanks people helpful in some way relative to the book: perhaps a writing instructor, the editor at the publishing house, the author’s agent, a supportive spouse, etc.  The Acknowledgements might follow the Dedication, the Table of Contents or even appear in the Back Matter, depending on the publisher’s preference.

Sometimes the author says thanks by cleverly using the book’s theme or images.  For instance, in The New Year’s Quilt, author Jennifer Chiaverini offers symbolic bottles of champagne to publishing professionals, party hats and noisemakers to her nanny, a chorus of “Auld Lang Syne” to family and friends, and a “sky full of fireworks for my husband, Marty, and my sons, Nicholas and Michael, for making every New Year the happiest yet.”

Table of Contents:

Also known in the publishing industry as the TOC, the Table of Contents lists the individual chapters and the other elements found in the book plus the page where each begins. It’s more typically found in nonfiction books than in novels.

List of Charts, Diagrams, Photos or Illustrations:

If included, this might follow the TOC to further detail the book’s contents.


A special kind of introduction that offers supportive information relevant to the book, the Foreword is written by someone other than the book’s author.


Written by the book’s author, the Preface contains important information relating to the book topic, but outside of the book’s contents.

For example, in The Gift, the Preface (here called the Author’s Note) is where Richard Paul Evans reveals that he has Tourette’s syndrome.

Front Matter:

All the pages up to this point are called the Front Matter. The page numbering is done in Roman numerals or some other system that differs from the Body pagination.


The author gives the reader more details about the book in this optional section. In trade nonfiction books, the Introduction may be an informal “Dear Reader” letter getting the reader excited about the information presented, inviting the reader inside the book and giving an overview of the book’s contents. The pagination starts here.

Body or Chapters:

This refers to the text of the book, which is usually broken down into chronologically numbered and named elements called Chapters.

In nonfiction books each chapter may be divided into sub-titled segments which may be included in the TOC.

In fiction, the chapters might contain segments called Scenes; these are separated by blank space within the text. They are usually not referenced in the TOC.

In both fiction and nonfiction, chapters might be grouped together and labeled as Part 1, Part 2, etc.

Back Matter:

All the pages appearing after the body of the book are called the Back Matter; they are usually included in the pagination of the Book Body.


Any additional information for the reader to know after having read the book goes here.

For example, a nonfiction crime book might include an update about how the victims are doing or the result of an appeal.


Nonfiction books may have one or more Appendix listing recommended books, websites, organizations, or other resources relating to the book topic.

Fiction only occasionally has an Appendix. For example, The Christmas Pearl includes recipes for the food mentioned throughout the novel.


Usually found in nonfiction books, this section lists vocabulary words and their definitions as they relate to the book’s subject matter.


Lists the references used in writing the book.


Usually in nonfiction books, the Index is an alphabetical list of significant terms found in the text and the pages they appear on, helpful to someone seeking specific information in the book.

Author Bio or Biography:

A sentence, paragraph or even a page about the author.

End Papers or Leaves(see above.)

Now that you know about the interior parts of a published book, you may be interested in reading Physical Anatomy of a Book, which describes and defines the physical elements of a published book.

Copyright 2006-2007 by Barbara Doyen. All rights reserved.

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