Front matters, too

Inasmuch as the style guides and books on book design that list the pieces making up the front matter of a book do differ in how much wiggle room is allowed for the occurrence or even sequence of the items (unlike what I said previously), here’s three more lists, plus each book’s words about how fixed or flexible the list really is.

The table below shows the lists from the next three books that came to hand. The conventions are the same as the previous blog post.

New Hart’s Rules A type primer Compositor’s Work in Printing
half-title page half-title half-title
half-title verso
frontispiece frontispiece frontispiece
title page title page title
title page verso copyright page
dedication dedication / epigraph / acknowledgements dedication
preface preface
contents table of contents contents
lists of illustrations, figures, and maps list of illustrations
list of tables
list of abbreviations
list of contributors
foreword / introduction / preface introduction
note to the reader

New Hart’s Rules

Prelims will always include some, and may include all of the [list], in this order

New Hart’s Rules (Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 978-0-19-861041-0) “continues to explain the ‘house style’ traditionally used at Oxford University Press” so it, more so than the other books, has a scope in which it can set out the definite order of the items.

A type primer

The content and sequencing of these pages has evolved over the centuries since Gutenberg, and continues to be adjusted to fit particular circumstances… Consider the list here to be suggestive, and, except for pages i–iv (half title through copyright page), not prescriptive.

Either for brevity or out of pragmatism, A type primer, 2nd Edition, by John Kane (Laurence King Publishing, 2011, ISBN 978-1-85669-644-9) twice lumps together sets of three things that might or might not be in any particular book.

Compositor’s Work in Printing

Not only is the traditional order of preliminary and final matter seldom adhered to in its entirety, but the function of certain items is occasionally amended to fit the requirements of the book.

I wasn’t expecting an advertisement to show up in anybody’s list, but it’s in Compositor’s Work in Printing by H. W. Larken (Staples Printers Limited, 1961, pre-ISBN). It could just be that it’s an older tradition. The description of the advertisement is:

The publisher’s advertisement should be placed on the back of the title page and consists of a list of works by the same author or of books in the same series. This page has a variety of purposes in modern bookwork, and in place of the traditional advertisement is sometimes seen the imprint, details of copyright or even a note on the typeface used in the text.

This is also the only book so far to include an errata page. This also may be a throwback from an older tradition, since the book states:

It used to be the custom to include an errata page before the introduction, but improved methods of production and higher standards of proof reading have made this unnecessary as a regular item of preliminary matter.

It does seem to be an older tradition. Errata is also mentioned in The American Printer, 15th Edition, by Thomas MacKellar (MacKellar, Smith & Jordan, 1885, way-way-way-pre-ISBN):

The errata are put immediately before the body of the work, or at the end of it… It is strongly to be wished that works could be produced perfectly free from errors; but this is almost a vain hope while imperfection clings to humanity, and while every form is exposed to accident and every additional proof may be productive of fresh error.

Sounds a lot like fixing bugs in software, doesn’t it?