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Key words:, Internal Structure, book, self-publishing, front matter, title, copyright, table of contents, introduction, chapter, section, back matter, epilogue, conclusion, index, Ron Kurtus, School for Champions. Copyright © Restrictions

Internal Structure of a Book

by Ron Kurtus (revised 3 January 2014)

The internal structure of most books are laid out in a specific sequence. In self-publishing, it is important to follow the standard, accepted structure for your book.

The major divisions of a book are the front matter, body matter and back matter. Front matter usually consists of half title, title, copyright and dedication pages, as well as the table of contents, forward, preface, introduction and prologue. The body consists of parts, chapters and sections. The back matter has different items for fiction and non-fiction.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Front matter

The front matter of a book typically consists of number of subdivisions, which may be single pages or a series of pages. The voice of the writing can be the publisher, author or other person, depending on the type of pages.

Half title page

The half title is a page carrying nothing but the title of the book. The other side of the page is usually blank.

Sometimes this page and several following it list praise from well-known authorities.

Title page

The title page repeats the title and lists the subtitle, author and publisher.

Copyright page

The back side of the title page is the copyright page, containing information about the current edition, copyright notice, legal notices, publication information, printing history, library cataloguing information, and the ISBN that uniquely identifies the work.

Dedication page

The dedication page either states the dedication to someone important to the author or include a relevant quotation. The back side of this page is usually blank.

Contents and lists

The next several pages include the table of contents. If applicable, the contents can be followed by a list of figures and list of tables.


The foreword consists of several pages about the book or author, usually written be some authority other than author.


The preface is an introduction to a book, written by the author. It often ends with acknowledgements of those who assisted in the project.

Introduction (in nonfiction books)

The introduction states the purpose and goals of the book. It should be written as to interest the reader in the book.

Prologue (in fiction books)

The prologue is used in fiction books to open the story, establishing the setting, background details and often some earlier story that ties into the main one. It usually is the voice of one of the book's characters.

Body matter

Although the body matter is the largest division of a book, it also has the simplest structure. A book can be divided into parts, chapters, sections and often sub-sections.


The part of a book consists of related chapters. The designation of the part may be a single page or several pages. Often the page lists the chapters to follow. Parts are usually numbered.


Chapters are at least several pages long and can be quite long. They consist of material on a single topic. In fiction, a chapter may be one event or one point of view in the action.

Each chapter can be divided into sections.


Sections are subdivisions on chapters. Each section can then be divided into subsections.

Back matter

The back matter is usually different in fiction as compared to non-fiction.

Fiction back matter

Items in the back matter of a fiction work include an epilogue, afterword,


An epilogue is a piece of writing toward the end of the book that is usually used to bring closure to the story.


An afterword is sometimes used to describe a time well after the time-frame of the main story.

Non-fiction back matter

Non-fiction back matter usually includes a summary or conclusion, bibliography and index. Sometimes it may also include a postscript, appendix or addendum and glossary. They are listed below in the order seen in the book.

Summary or conclusion

A summary or conclusion gives a final overview of the material or ideas and perhaps draws conclusions to arguments or premises.


An afterword is written in response to critical remarks concerning the previous edition of the book, if applicable.

Appendix or addendum

An appendix or addendum is a supplemental addition to a given main work. It may correct errors, explain inconsistencies or otherwise detail or update the information found in the main work.


The glossary consists of a set of definitions of words of importance to the work. They are normally alphabetized.


The bibliography cites other books or author when their material is used in the book.


An index is a list of words or phrases and associated pages or paragraph numbers where useful material relating to that heading can be found in the book. It may include names of people, places, events and concepts that may be relevant and of interest to a reader.

For more information about indexes and their importance see the American Society of Indexer’s website or read John Culleton's/ Wexford Press' excellent webpage. 


The structure of a book consists of the front matter, body matter and back matter. The front matter usually consists of half title, title, copyright and dedication pages, as well as the table of contents, forward, preface, introduction and prologue. The body consists of parts, chapters and sections. The back matter has different items for fiction and non-fiction.

Be logical in your approach

Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials


Publishing Resources


Top-rated books on Self-Publishing

Questions and comments

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Internal Structure of a Book

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