Table of Contents: “Front matter” vs. “back matter”


I’m in the middle of 4 books right now, and tonight I’m focusing on one that goes to print tomorrow.. I’m super excited about it! Miracles always happen at the last minute 😉
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My topic today is the Table of Contents.

What goes into a Table of Contents?

The short answer is: everything that follows it and nothing that precedes it.

The Table of Contents lists all the major divisions in the document: sections and chapters and perhaps the main headings within the chapters.

What I want to focus on today, however, is the other material in the document—which may appear either before or after the text. This includes such things as: a list of illustrations, an appendix, and an index—to name just some.

If you have any of those items in your document, where do you fit them in? Here are some guidelines on their proper placement. Whether you’re composing your own book or editing someone else’s document, this will be helpful information to know.

This “extra” material is called the front or back matter (depending on whether it comes before or…

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