Publication Content Organization

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The following is an industry standard structure for a book publication, which should not be confused with manuscript format of textual content for publication.

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

There are five major divisions—Lead, Front, Main, Back, and End Matter—though many publications have only the first three. Each has required and/or optional content. They are presented here in proper order vs. what is seen in general self-published works.

Items in red are required when seeking professional formatting and organization. All others are optional. Those in green are optional positioning now common through mispositioning by self-publishers—noted content should not appear in both positions.

Lead Matter


  • No page headers, footers or page numbers; this intentionally excludes Lead Matter from automated compiling in the Table of Contents.
  • Font face/family and size should be the same as for Main Matter.
    1. Title
    2. Subtitle
    3. Author(s)
    4. Publisher Logo and/or Name; sometimes state/province and country.
    5. NOTES:

      • RECOMMENDED: A hi-res title page graphic [PNG, text only] is sometimes used to more closely match cover text [only] layout; this works better [best] in an ebook to maintain design. Textual title pages in ebooks look terrible. Speak with your cover designer (not cover artist) about this option.

      • WARNING: Some self-publishers use a grayscaled / muted cover art as a title page background; not recommended and not done by professionals.

    1. Copyright © [Year] Author(s)
    2. Rights Claim (typically “ALL RIGHTS RESERVED”)
    3. ISBN-13 (ISBN-10 optional)
    4. [BLANK LINE]
    5. Copyright Statement


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

      • NOTE: NDAS uses a copyright statement amalgamated from those of the top 5 USA publishers distributing internationally. It was reviewed by legal counsel.

    6. SEPARATOR; to separate rights claimed above (by author) from entities listed below; typically 3 or 5 middots
    7. Publisher Name (Logo, State/Province and Country optional)

      WARNING: Do not attempt to fake your own publisher. This is easy to verify through a global online search [in minutes if not seconds]. If you do not have a publisher, then leave this information out of your copyright page.

    8. Edition Notice(s)
    9. Printings (for current Edition only)
    10. Cover Artist/Designer
    11. Illustrator/Photographer (for internal content only)
    12. Publishing Servicers (NDAS or other)
    13. Disclaimers, Warranties, Safety Notices, etc.
  3. HALF-TITLE PAGE [optional, text only, body text font] not typically used anymore.

Front Matter


    • No page headers; footers only. Lower roman numerals for page numbers standard. With footers present, content may thereby be included in auto-compiled Table of Contents.

    • Body font face and size same as for Main Matter content.

  1. OTHER PUBLISHED WORKS; now more commonly placed in Back Matter instead.
  2. FOREWORD by other, not by author(s).
  3. PREFACE by author(s) only; information that must come before the main text as a frame of reference; if preface by other, then it should be (part of) the FOREWORD.
  5. INTRODUCTION by author OR other; focused to the purpose of main content only; placement is now more commonly in Main Matter before all other content.
  6. PROLOGUE, as in what is needed by the reader to understand the main content and thereby precedes engaging the main content.
  8. TABLE OF CONTENTS; traditionally for Main Matter only but can also include other sections in Front and Back Matter that have footers/page numbers. It cannot include reference to pages in Lead / End Matter, which do not have footers.

    WARNING: Never include a Table of Contents in a manuscript; is not applicable to this type of document.

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. AFTERWORD by other, not by author(s).
  4. ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S) or capsule biography; typically no more than one page.
  5. OTHER PUBLISHED WORKS; alternative position now more common than placement in Front Matter.
  6. ENDNOTES; not to be confused with Footnotes; used as an alternative to (extensive) Footnotes that interfere with block / page styling of Main Content.
  10. INDEX

End Matter


  • No page headers or footers, therefore not included in Table of Contents.

  • Body font/size as for Main Matter.

End Matter is not commonly used anymore. It can include blank pages to fill out standard page registrations, lined pages for reader notes and other writings, and then advertisements for other publications from the publisher (not other publications by the author(s)).

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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