What Goes into a Book’s Front Matter?

By Grace Hamburger on Dec 31, 2019
eContent Pro
What Goes into a Book’s Front Matter?

Researchers compile their academic life’s work into scholarly publications, but many may not fully understand each of the components needed to create a viable reference book project. eContent Pro presents a blog series, “Understanding the Inner Workings of a Reference Book”, to explain the importance of each part of a reference book and to give some tips on how to effectively secure them. The blog series will include pieces on: Titles, Front Matter, Keywords, Abstracts, Citations, Figures, Indices, and Back Cover Text. To discover the importance of properly utilizing the front matter in your scholarly book, read the following article.

The front matter of a book can be constructed and arranged in a lot of different ways. Some authors take their time and include a lot of material to precede their book, while others jump right into the body of work. Front matter gives the author a chance to expand on their work while providing the reader with valuable information, promotional material, and glimpses of the author’s personality. Front matter can include a dedication, table of contents, acknowledgments, a foreword, and a preface. So, what does this front matter consist of, and how can each part benefit your book?


The dedication is placed at the very beginning of the book. It is a way for you to dedicate the book to someone, be it a family member, a friend, or someone you admire. These are normally only one or two sentences and tend to be sentimental, sweet, and sometimes even funny. Dedications are a great way for an author to thank someone important to them and show the reader a side of the author that makes them relatable, a sort of advertising technique that is also sweet!

Table of Contents

The table of contents lists what the book includes and is located early in the front matter. This is usually presented by chapter titles, followed by the page number(s) where they can be found. For authors who don’t have chapters, the table of contents can also include section topics or discussions. An author can choose to write a brief description of what each chapter contains, which can be especially valuable for an Academic audience who is searching your book for specific information. The table of contents is essentially a blueprint for the book, a key element for the researcher who needs to find pertinent information quickly.


Anyone who directly assisted in the production of book, whether in the creating, writing, or publishing phase, is thanked in the acknowledgments. Not to be confused with the dedication, the acknowledgments are typically placed after the table of contents and are meant to bring attention to a large group of people who helped the book, rather than memorializing one person. It is important for an author to give credit where credit is due, as no great work is created completely alone. Acknowledging all of the helping hands behind your book gives a little light to your valuable team members and informs the reader as much as possible.


Unlike the rest of the book, the foreword is not written by the author. It is an essay put before the preface/introduction in which an outside source discusses the author and the book and gives a stamp of approval for each. This third party is normally a mentor, a colleague, or a friend, who provides the reader an in-depth, positive review of the work they are about to peruse. The foreword serves as both an introduction and a selling point for the book and gives an author even more valuable publicity for their publication.


The preface provides the reader an inside look at the creation of the book. Here, the author has free license to discuss how the book was made, what inspired the work, and anything in between, giving the book context in the real world. Prefaces give a book meaning outside of its contents and the author the chance to provide a personal touch for readers. This special message creates a more well-rounded reading experience, making the author a real person rather than just a name on a book.


After the preface provides background, an introduction provides content, meaning that it is entirely about the subject matter. The author briefly describes what the reader will learn and provides any further information a reader will need to fully understand the book. The introduction comes right before the body of work. Discussing the basics or reviewing previous data in the introduction ensures that a reader is caught up, and an author is providing everything they can for a smooth reading experience.

The front matter of your book can be as creative as you want it to be, and with the ability to mix and match your material, the options are endless. Once everything is ready, eContent Pro is prepared to check your hard work for issues regarding spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting, and flow with our professional English language copy editing service!

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