Book Design Guide: Front Matter


When designing your book, it is easy to get so focused on the design of the main body of the book that you neglect the front matter – the information and pages that precede that main portion. However, since this section will be a second impression of sorts for your book (after the cover), you want to make sure it looks professional to avoid putting off any readers before they even get to the primary material of your book.

There is quite a bit of front matter material that may be included depending on your specific book. Here we’ll explore the most common elements of front matter, though please note that not every element here is included in every book.

One more note: all of these elements will be on right-hand page of the book (also known as a recto page) unless otherwise noted.

Elements of Front Matter for Books

Half Title Page

This page includes the title of the book and nothing else.


A left page (also known as a verso page) illustration that immediately precedes and faces the title page. These days it is not very common, though it is still used from time to time.

Title Page

The title page also can include the title, a subtitle, author, editor, illustrator, publisher and any other similar information not included on other pages.

Copyright Page (or Edition Notice)

Sometimes called the copyright page, this verso page contains technical and legal information about the book, including copyright notice, legal notices, publication info, printing history, catalog information and ISBN number.

Because the copyright page is so important, we’ve devoted an entire in-depth article to it.

Dedication Page

Obviously, this page is only included if you decide to include a dedication.

Table of Contents

The Table of Contents is not included in all books. It can be as simple as listing the page number for the beginning of each chapter of a novel, or can include page numbers for specific sections (a textbook is a good example of when this is often done).

Be sure to check out our article on page numbers for more on how to format this important aspect.


Written by someone besides the author of the book. Generally about a relationship between the author of the book and the author of the foreword.

Preface (or Introduction)

An introduction of the book written by the book’s author.


A list of those that helped the author in the creation of the book through editorial, financial, moral or technical support.


Similar to a preface but written by the author in the voice of a character in the book.