After you’ve created your title page, copyright page, and table of contents (as explained in the linked previous blog posts), you may have other pieces that you will need or want to include in the front matter. Here is Chicago Manual of Style’s order of front matter.
- Title page (must have)
- Copyright page (must have)
- Table of Contents (standard in nonfiction; optional if fiction)
- Acknowledgments (if not part of the Preface or in the back matter)
- Introduction (if not part of the text)
In this article I want to focus on everything on this list except title page, copyright page, and table of contents.
If you want to include a dedication, this should be placed after the copyright page and before the table of contents. Create a new page, then center the material vertically and horizontally. Choose your dedication carefully, and word it carefully. Remember that this is an honor to the person or people to whom you are dedicating your book and will remain as a memorial—even long after your book goes out of print. It can be touching or funny, but remember that it is also timeless. You aren’t required to include a dedication. This is totally up to you.
A foreword (not a “forward”) is written by someone else. This person might be a celebrity or someone well known in the field about which you’re writing. This person tells your audience why your book is valuable and worth their time to read. It amounts to an endorsement.
A preface is written by you to acquaint your readers with some interesting information about you, how you came to write the book, or other interesting circumstances surrounding the book’s creation. This could also include information such as “How to Use This Book” if that is necessary. However, realize that many times your readers will skip both the foreword and the preface. Don’t give any significant issues regarding the content. If you need to do that, then do it in the introduction, or do an introduction instead of a preface.
An introduction gets into the content of your book (and may be used instead of a preface). You want readers to read it because it sets them up for what is to come. If your potential reader is standing in the bookstore and has lifted your book from the shelf, he or she is going to look at the cover, read the back cover copy, and then open to the introduction. You want to explain to the reader exactly what the book is offering. The introduction should provide information that leads right into the first chapter.
A prologue is similar to an introduction and can do the same thing as the introduction—except that if you have a prologue at the beginning, you also need an epilogue at the end. So think both ways: If you think your book will include an epilogue to provide information to the story after the official end of the book, then you’ll need to include a prologue in the front matter. The prologue and epilogue are like bookends.
Your editor will thank you if you take the time to both understand and create the front matter material in your manuscript. Stay tuned for more on creating your back matter.