Front matters

Inasmuch as many style guides and books on book design include a list of their one, true sequence for the pieces making up the front matter of a book, it can be instructive to see how some of these sequences differ.

The table below shows the lists from the first three books that came to hand. (With a fourth column, the table crashes into the too-wide sidebar. Thanks WP!)

  • The text in each entry is as it appears in the original list, with any upper-case letters changed to lower-case.
  • An entry that appeared in only one list is shown in bold text.
  • An item that appears in different places in the sequences from two or more lists is shown in italic text. Each item is shown in a different colour to make it a bit easier to match things up.
  • When a list does not contain an item that is in one of the other lists, its column contains “–” to indicate an absence. When the other lists have the same item in different places, there’s a “–” in both rows.
Penguin Classics Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition Book Typography
half-title page half-title half-title
series title, other works, frontispiece, or blank frontispiece
title page title page title page
title verso/imprint details copyright page publishing details and other legally required information
dedication dedication
epigraph quotation or epigraph
contents list table of contents contents
list of illustrations
list of tables
acknowledgements acknowledgements (if not part of preface) acknowledgements
list of illustrations
introduction (if not part of text)
abbreviations abbreviations (if not in back matter)
chronology chronology (if not in back matter)
preface or author’s note
introduction introduction
note on the text
maps, plans, and genealogical diagrams
list of abbreviations, notes on pronunciation

Penguin Classics

The list comes from the Backwards and in High Heels: The Glamorous Work of Book Design extended essay by Andrew Baker (a former design manager at Penguin Books) in Aspects of Contemporary Book Design by Richard Hendel (University of Iowa Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-60938-175-2).

Given the narrower focus of Penguin Classics, it’s probably not surprising both that it has fewer parts in its front matter and that its list includes a chronology.

Chicago Manual of Style

I don’t find it surprising that the Chicago Manual of Style has the longest list (if only by one item). It’s also not surprising that it allows that some items might be in other parts of the book instead.

Book Typography

I was surprised that the list in Book Typography: A Designer’s Manual by Michael Mitchell and Susan Wightman (Libanus Press, 2005, ISBN 0-948021-66-7) places ‘introduction’ between ‘contents’ and ‘list of illustrations’. Obviously it works for them, but I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a book with that (not even in their book, since it doesn’t have a list of illustrations).

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