How should My Publication be Structured for a Professional Look?

There is an industry standard structure for publication content, which should not be confused with manuscript format. But first, you are not composing the publication but rather the textual content for one.

Do not submit a homemade layout to a publisher, layout technician [LT] or other consultant/servicer. Present a proper manuscript format and let professional consultants do the rest.

There are four major sections—Lead, Front, Main, and Back—with required and/or optional content. They are presented here in proper order of appearance.

Items in red are required in print or ebook when seeking professional formatting and organization of content. All others are optional.

Lead Matter

    • 1.1 Title
    • 1.2 Subtitle
    • 1.3 Author(s)
    • 1.4 Illustrator/Photographer (for internal content only)
    • 1.5 Publisher Name and/or Logo
    • NOTES:

      • Where possible, fonts should match those on the cover [packaging] with appropriate re-positioning sans cover art.
      • A hi-res title page graphic [PNG] is sometimes used [in print and/or ebook] to more closely match cover text layout; it works better in both to maintain continuity of internal design. Textual title pages in an ebook never work correctly and look terrible.
      • WARNING: Some self-publishers use a grayscaled / muted cover art as a background; this is not recommended and not done by professionals.
    • 2.1 Copyright © [Year] Author(s)
    • 2.2 Rights Claim (typically “ALL RIGHTS RESERVED”)
    • 2.3 ISBN-13 and/or ISBN-10
    • 2.4 [BLANK LINE]
    • 2.5 Copyright Statement

      WARNING: Do not write your own statement, one of the top five mistakes of self-publishers in this critical area of content. You do not understand how wording is interpreted by law, internationally or within specific countries.

      NDAS uses a copyright statement amalgamated from those of the top five USA professional publishers distributing internationally. It was reviewed by legal counsel.

    • 2.6 [SEPARATOR]

      To separate rights claimed above from entities listed below.

    • 2.7 Publisher Name/Address
    • 2.8 Edition Notice(s)
    • 2.9 Publication Date
    • 2.10 Printings
    • 2.11 Cover Artist/Designer
    • 2.12 Disclaimers, Warranties, Safety Notices, etc.

Front Matter

  • 4. OTHER PUBLISHED WORKS; may be placed in Back Matter [beginning or end] instead.
  • 5. DEDICATION; may be placed at the end of Lead Matter instead.
  • 6. FOREWORD by other, not author(s)
  • 7. PREFACE by author(s) or other
  • 9. INTRODUCTION; may be placed in front of Main Matter instead.
  • 10. PROLOGUE; may be placed in front of Main Matter (after Introduction) instead.
  • 12. TABLE OF CONTENTS; traditionally for Main Matter only, it can include other headings in Front and Back Matter; it cannot include reference to pages in Lead Matter, which do not have page numbers.

Main [Body] Matter

Main matter is separated in the following descending order reflected [in part or full] within the Table of Contents: Parts, Chapters, Sections, and Sub-Sections. Some self-publishers with complex hierarchical content use these terms incorrectly.

A common misconception is to think that Sections are the same as Parts, as in sections of the whole text. Sections are always used as subparts of a Chapter. When Parts are used, they should begin on a separate right-face page listing “Part” plus Number. Part Title and/or brief summary of its enclosed content are optional (25 words or less preferred).

Sections and Sub-Sections within a Chapter are indicated by hierarchical headings. When formatted / linked correctly within the layout's style sheet, the number levels of (Sub)Sections can be chosen to show some or all within the Table of Contents.

Back Matter

Back Matter can differ radically from one publication to the next as well as between fiction, non-fiction and even creative [narrative] non-fiction. All are optional. When blended together in any manner, the following order is recommended.

  • 1. EPILOGUE; may be placed in back of Main Matter instead.
  • 3. ENDNOTES; not to be confused with Footnotes; typically used as an alternative to (extensive) Footnotes.
  • 5. ADVERTISEMENTS not to be confused with “Other Published Works” in Front Matter.
  • 8. INDEX

In Conclusion

Providing your readers [customers] with a standardized structure can have a psychological impact. It gives certainty and eliminates frustration that may jar them out of the mindset needed to engage only your content.

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