Monday, April 5, 2010

All About Back Matter

In my last posting, I covered front matter. I'll cover back matter in this one.

Try to hold your applause until the end.

Back matter consists of content that appears after the last page of the core manuscript. The number and type of sections that follow the final chapter vary by the type of book. Technical publications generally have more end-of-the-book components than trade books.

Material that doesn't fit within the body of the book is often included as appendices. 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 might include lengthy warranty information in an appendix.

Often found in scholarly publications, the bibliography is a list of resources related to the subject of the book. The bibliography may list other books, magazines or specific articles, and Web sites.

Similar to a bibliography, a references appendix typically lists resources the reader can check for more information.

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. This kind of glossary takes up more space on the page, which may be a good thing if the book is running short or a bad thing if the book is running long.


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.
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 in particular may have pages that look like advertisements that describe 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.