Hannah Gordon is a recent graduate of The University of Michigan, where she studied Communications and Creative Writing. Her creative work can be found in Burrow Press Review, WhiskeyPaper, Synaesthesia Magazine, and more.
For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been doing a blog series on the back matter of a book. (We did a similar one on the front matter) You’ll remember that the front matter is all of the material that comes before the central story – or body text – in a book. This includes the title page, half title, table of contents, foreword, prologue, etc. All of these sections function to introduce the book, the author, and the subjects to be discussed.
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Perhaps one of the simplest aspects of the back matter is the colophon. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not important – quite the opposite, actually. Where the publisher is concerned, the colophon may be the most important part of the back matter. The colophon contains all the technical information pertaining to the book, including the type and publisher or printer. A lot of books use a colophon, in some form or another; it’s not just limited to one specific category or genre.
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Another section of the back matter that may or may not be included in a book is the discussion section. If it seems like many of the sections of the back matter are optional, that’s because they are! There are certain things that find their way into every book’s back matter (such as an about the author section and about the type), however, sections like the epilogue, appendix (or appendices), glossary, and discussion section are entirely optional, and their inclusion depends on the book and the author.
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As a part of the book’s back matter, the bibliography is a crucial section that cites sources used throughout the book. These sources may be used to bolster the author’s credibility, strengthen their argument or cause, or negate certain claims made in other books. Whatever the reason, if an author uses an additional source when writing their book, they absolutely must include a bibliography or works cited page, in some form or another (whether this is realized in an actual page in the back matter or footnotes).
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While the glossary defines specific words found in a book, the index merely tells you where to find them. As a part of the back matter, the index is found in the end pages of a book, and it can be a resourceful tool for readers who may be using the book in their research, or for readers who just want to read up on a certain subject.
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Continuing with our series on back matter, today’s blog is all about the glossary. Sometimes called the idioticon, vocabulary, or clavis, the glossary is essentially a book’s personal dictionary. Utilizing one in your book is a great way to define, list, and expand upon unfamiliar, made up, or intricate terms used in the book.
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You already know that a book’s back matter includes the epilogue and afterword (or postscript), but did you know it also includes an appendix page? An appendix page is a section located at the back of a book that includes any additional or supplementary information on the book’s topic, such as other books on the subject, references, citations, etc.
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Just like the foreword comes before the story within a novel or a book, the afterword comes after and is included in the back matter of the book. The afterword is often confused with the postscript.
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For the last few weeks, DiggyPOD’s blog has been discussing the various elements of a book’s front matter – that is, all the different pieces that fit together and introduce the author, the story, the themes, and its importance. The front matter, and all its components, is a seriously important part of the book. It’s a smooth way of opening a story without immediately dropping the reader into it. How do all of the pieces of the front matter fit together, though?
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Probably the most basic aspect of the front matter is the book title page and the half title. This is one of the aspects of front matter that is in every book, no matter the type or genre. It’s there in poetry collections, memoirs, biographies, historical books, novels, comics, children’s books, short story collections, etc. And though it may seem simple, it’s definitely necessary to start off a book.
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