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1. Parts of a Book
2. Book Page Numbering

1. Parts of a Book

From Jacci Howard Bear, Guide

Most books will have at least a front and back cover, title page, and body text but usually there will be many more parts of a book design. Explore the physical components of hardcover and softcover books as well as the design elements that make of the text portion of most books.

A book consists of the Text Block and a Cover.

The Text Block is everything between the covers of the book including the endpapers. It is composed of pages, leaves, sheets, and signatures. One sheet of paper, folded in half is two leaves and four pages. One half of each sheet of folded paper is a leaf. Each side of each leaf is a page. A signature is two or more sheets of paper (2 leaves/4 pages) stacked and folded as a group. Several signatures are bound together with adhesive or stitching to form most books.

Each printed page of the text block contains an area known as the type page - the area of a printed page excluding non-printing areas (margins, gutter) as well as some printed areas including headers, footers, and page numbers.

The Text Block consists of three parts:

  1. Front Matter
  2. Body of the Book
  3. Back Matter

Front Matter

So called because it is all the material that appears at the front of the book, before you reach the actual body content, the front matter may be as simple as a single title page or table of contents or it could be comprised of multiple title pages, a detailed table of contents, and several pages for the preface and foreword.

Title Page(s)

Some books may have a half title page, the first page of the book containing title only. This page does not include a byline or subtitle. As a minimum the title page would normally have the title of the book and the name of the author and illustrator.


Also called a frontis, this is an illustration typically found opposite the title page or elsewhere in the front of the book.

Copyright page

Other information may depend on the type of publication. Technical or software manuals may include more information on the specific products covered, safety notices, and warranties, while a book of poetry may have only copyright and publisher information.

  • Publisher Name and Address
  • Copyright information
  • ISBN
  • Library of Congress number
  • Edition Notice
  • Date of publication
  • Number of printings
  • Disclaimers
  • Warranties
  • Safety Notices

More detailed information for the copyright page can be found at Copyright

Table of Contents

A table of contents may be as simple as listing all the main chapter titles and the page they start on or be multi-level with sub-chapters and descriptions.

List of Figures / Illustrations

Some books have a separate table of contents for the illustrations, photos, chartes, and graphs that might give the name or source of the illustration (if there are mulitple contributors / sources), a title or description of the illustration, and the page number.


The preface gets the reader to read the book by briefly describing the contents, purpose of the book, and explaining who the book targets. For example, a software manual may be aimed at beginners or power users. The preface might describe the terminology or special conventions used in the book, such as symbols used for warnings, tips, and trivia.


Often written by an acknowledged expert in the field or genre covered by the book, the foreword is something of a testimonial for the author or the book itself.


A dedication section is a separate page that briefly names one or more persons of special significance to the author, often a loved one or someone else the author holds in high esteem.


An acknowledgment page is where the author acknowledges the contributions of organizations and individuals who he or she feels helped with the book.


The errata is a list of corrections that describes the error, where it occurs, and what the correct text or illustration should be. Generally added as a separate slip of paper somewhere in the front matter, it might be bound into the book.

Body of the Book

The body of the book is where you'll find the story, the description, the main text of the book. This is the main portion of the publication. In longer books and manuals the body is often sub-divided into chapters or sections


The first chapter of the book may serve as an introduction or it can be a separate section that precedes chapter 1. Often shorter than other chapters of the book, the introduction is similiar to or may replace the preface that describes the contents and purpose of the book.

Body Chapters

Chapters divide the action or the subject matter of the book into smaller sections. The length can vary but each chapter usually follows the same general format in terms of the style and layout of the page elements.

Chapter Heads

Titles that identify each chapter, the chapter head may appear on a page preceding the body text or the text of the chapter may start on the same page.


Subheads within each chapter divide the chapter into smaller sections.

Header / Footer

Headers and footers, also known as running heads, are repeating text - often the title of the book or the specific chapter within the book - that appears at the top (header) or bottom (footer) of each page or every other page in a book design.
The page number is sometimes incorporated with the running headline or footer.


When the book has multiple authors, such as a compilation of short stories, the byline is a short phrase or paragraph that indicates the name of the author for an individual story or chapter.
The byline commonly appears between the chapter head and start of the chapter.

Page Numbers

Arabic numbering may start with the front matter on the first (half- title) page and carry on to the end. This practice is becoming more common. Books with this numbering method indicate more pages than those using Roman and Arabic. In the second case, Roman numerals are used for the front matter, then Arabic page numbering starting with the first chapter page. The latter method is preferred for scientific, technical and business books. Occasionally, material at the end of the book, such as an appendix, may have a separate numbering system such as A-1, A-2, etc. for Appendix A.
Blank pages, title pages and occasionally some other front matter pages do not show the page number.


Outside the main text, notices may take the form of tips, alerts, or trivia related to the main discussion. These are generally small chunks of text set apart by font, color, or position and are often identified with a distinctive header or icon.

Notices may be placed within the body of the text or the layout may include an extra column (such as a wide outer page margin) where such notices appear.

Photos / Illustrations

A book design layout may contain photographs, drawings, charts, graphs, or clip art. Software manuals typically contain screen shots, charts, and icons. Illustrations may appear on their own page or be integrated into the text.

To save money, a book design may be printed in black and white but include a section of pages in the middle or at the end of the book that groups all full color photos together.


The caption is a phrase, sentence, or paragraph describing the contents of an illustration such as a photograph or chart. The caption is usually placed directly above, below, or to the side of the picture it describes.


Often found in scholarly publications or textbooks, footnotes are notes usually found at the bottom of a page of a book that cites a reference or provides additional explanations for a designated part of the text. Subscript numbers adjacent to the designated text coincide with the same notations found in the footnotes. Footnotes can appear at the end of a page (before the footer), end of a chapter, or may be consolidated into a section of pages at the end of the book, where they are called endnotes.


Also called an afterword, the epilogue is a short section following the last chapter that tells about what happened to the characters in the future, after the conclusion of the main story. Computer books, manuals, and other types of books that don't involve a storyline and actual characters (real or fictional) won't normally have an epilogue.

Back Matter

The number and type of sections that follow the final chapter vary by the type of book. Technical publications generally have more of these end-of-the-book components including an index and an appendix.


Material that doesn't fit within the body of the book is often included in an appendix. In a software manual, a table of shortcuts might appear in an appendix. A craft book might have an appendix listing names, addresses, and other contact information for craft supplies and other resources mentioned in the book. A technical manual that must include lengthy warranty information might put it in an appendix instead of in the title page.

Bibliography or References

The bibliography or references section is a list of resources related to the subject of the book. It may list other books, magazines or specific articles, and Web sites. Be sure to arrange the sources alphabetically by the author's last name.


When footnotes (see Text Block elements) are consolidated at the end of a chapter or at the end of the book, they are called endnotes.


The glossary lists acronyms, words, and phrases relevant to the subject of the book along with a brief definition. The format may vary but two typical glossary formats are:

1 column: The glossary term in bold followed by the definition.

2 column: The glossary term in one column with the definition across from it in the second column.


Arranged alphabetically and by subject with page numbers, the index breaks the book down into all the many sub-topics and ideas covered in the body of the book. Desktop publishing software can often handle the creation of simple index pages. More complex indexing is often accomplished with third-party software and the services of a professional indexer. Most self-published authorscreate their own index in Word.

List of Contributors

A list of contributors is useful for a multiauthor work where only the volume editor’s name appears on the title page. You should arrange entries alphabetically by last name, but do not invert them (“John H. Doe,” not “Doe, John H.”). If it’s necessary, you may also add brief biographical notes and academic affiliations for each entry.

About the Author

A brief biography of the author at the end of the book; a shorter version may be used for the back cover and other marketing purposes. The About the Author entry usualloy consists of a paragraph or two describing what you are doing now professionally; significant degrees and licenses; significant jobs, projects, or work experiences; and perhaps a sentence of personal information. You may also include a photograph.


Sometimes found in the front matter and most often found in older books, the colophon is a list or description of typefaces, type of paper, printing method, and possibly software used to produce the book.

Reader-response Form

Could be an actual page bound into the book or it may be a separate page or postcard slipped into the book that asks the reader to respond with comments or questions about the book.

Teasers / Excerpts

Fiction books especially may have pages that look like ads describing other books by the same author or the same publisher, sometimes with ordering information. Excerpts or the first chapter from the author's next book or the next book in a series may appear at the end of the book.

2. Book Page Numbering

Traditionally, page numbering starts on the first page (half-title page, or title page if no half-title) with the Roman numeral i. Roman numeral page numbering ends on the left (verso) page just before the first text or chapter page. Page numbering then starts again on the first text or chapter page(recto or right) with the Arabic number 1 and continues through to the end of the book.

There has been a growing trend, particularly in novels, for numbering to start on the fist page with Arabic number 1 and continuing through to the end, without using Roman numberal at all.

Page numbers are generally ommited from blank pages as well as some of the front matter pages.

Page Sequence and Numbering a books pages

Front Matter (Preliminaries)

Book half title (Not required)     i
Series title, list of contributors, testimonials, frontispiece, or blank    ii
Title page    iii
Copyright notice, publisher’s agencies, printing history,
       country where printed, ISBN, CIP     iv
Dedication (or epigraph)     v
Blank     vi
(Table of) Contents     v     or     vii
(List of) Illustrations     recto or verso
Foreword     recto or verso
Preface     recto or verso
Acknowledgements (if not part of preface)     recto or verso
Introduction (if not part of text)     recto or verso
(List of) Abbreviations or chronology     recto or verso


First text page (introduction or chapter 1)     1
        Second book half-title or first part title 1
        Blank     2
        First text page     3

Subsequent chapters usually start on right pages, but may also start on left pages.

Back Matter

Appendix(es)     recto or verso
Notes     recto or verso
Glossary     recto or verso
Bibliography     recto or verso
(List of) Contributors     recto or verso
Index(es)     recto or verso

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