Front matters last

Inasmuch as good things come in threes, here’s a third three of how style guides and books on book design list the pieces making up the front matter of a book, 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.

Printing Design and Layout Designing Books The Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography
the bastard title (often miscalled the half title) half-title half-title, or ‘bastard’ title
the advertisement
the frontispiece frontispiece blank or frontispiece or list of other books by the same author
the title page title title page (or double title-page)
the copyright notice and imprint imprint or date of publication verso of title (credits, imprint, copyright, ISBN, etc.)
the dedication dedication dedication
  acknowledgements acknowledgements
the preface   preface (or forward, usually not written by the author)
the contents contents contents
the list of illustrations list of illustrations list of illustrations
list of abbreviations list of abbreviations
the introduction introduction
the half title
errata errata

Printing Design and Layout

The preliminary matter may consist of all or part of the following and is here given in its correct sequence :—

Printing Design and Layout, 2nd Edition, by Vincent Steer (Virtue and Company Limited, 1948, pre-ISBN) is quite forthright in its opinions, so it’s unsurprising that its sequence is stated to be ‘correct.’

Its take on ‘bastard title’ versus ‘half-title’ is:

The Bastard Title – This invariably precedes the title page and consists of one or two lines taken from the latter. It is often miscalled the half title, which, in a really complete book, appears just before the commencement of the text. The presence of the bastard title in front of the full title is really a device to prevent the latter from becoming soiled or otherwise damaged through constant handling, the first page of a book being the most likely to become detached from the volume.

The HalfTitle – This should consist of no more than the title of the book and should appear on the first right-hand page immediately preceding the first page of text… The half title should be set in a similar style to the bastard title and should occupy the same position on the page.

Designing Books

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

Designing Books by Jan Tschichold (Wittenborn, Schultz, Inc., 1955?, pre-ISBN) is by Jan Tschichold, so it must be correct. (Maybe one day I’ll do a blog post about how Designing Books feels like someone cashing in by making a compilation book.)

The Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography

All these items are traditional components of the preliminary pages of a book, but they are also functional; if not functional, they should not be there. The designer should always question the purpose and usefulness of every item and see if any better solution can be offered.

Have you ever wondered why I would be a fan of Ruari McLean? The Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography by Ruari McLean (Thames and Hudson, 1980, ISBN 0-500-68022-1) also has an alternative formulation for the content of front matter in a format that I can’t reproduce with my table:

List(s) of contents of front matter from The Thames and Hudson Manual of Typography.

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