The Basics of Book Design: Backmatter Pages

The backmatter pages come at the end of the book after all of the main text pages, which are generally part or chapter openers followed by regular text pages. If the book has a conclusion or epilogue, it would usually be set as the last pages of the main body text, but it could also be the first page of the backmatter.

The backmatter pages for a book can be quite varied and may include some or all of the following elements: appendixes, notes, references or bibliography, glossary, index, author page, and advertisements.

The basic design for the backmatter pages is the same as the design for the frontmatter pages. All of the front- and backmatter opener pages are based on the layouts for the chapter opener pages, but they are modified to account for missing or additonal text elements, like chapter number which often plays a prominent role in the chapter opener design.

A book can have a single appendix or many appendixes. If the book contains more than one appendix, each can be labeled as Appendix A or Appendix 1, etc.

The design for an appendix opener is often identical to the book’s chapter openers, but the chapter number is replaced with the word “Appendix” followed by it’s number or letter.

The appendix includes material that wouldn’t fit into the flow of the book for one reason or another. It can be reference material, a long extract or table, or just about anything the author wants to add to the book.

Depending on the type of material involved, the appendix can be set as regular body text, or in a smaller type size if it’s an extract or table, or if you need to reduce the page count.

The notes for a book can be set as footnotes as the bottom of the page, or on a notes page in the backmatter. The notes should come before the references or bibliography if there is one.

Notes are generally set about 2 points smaller than the main body text. A typical type size would be 9/11 or 9.5/12. Notes are usually set in the main body text font, which is almost always a serif font such as Times or Garamond.

The first line of the note is usually set with a 1 pica or 1/4 inch indent. If the main body text is left justified then the notes should also be left justified.

If the book is being typeset with footnotes, the type size and indent can be the same, but the first note on each page would be preceded by a short line or rule raised slightly above the text. The line should be a .5 rule and should extend about 3/4 inch fromt he left margin.

There should be some white space between the main text and the line above the footnotes. Most computer layout programs allow you to adjust the space between the main text and the notes if needed.

The references or bibliography generally follows the notes section if there is one. The references text can be set in the same type face and size as the notes, 9/11 or 9.5/12 serif font.

The references are often set ragged right, especially if there are long website addresses that would make it difficult to justify the text without leaving big spaces between words.

To make them easier to read, the references can be set with a small amount of extra space between entries, or with a 1p6 or 1/4 inch hanging indent, where the first line of text is flush left with the text margin and the following lines are indented.

If the book has a glossary, it usually comes after the notes and references sections. The glossary text is usually set in the main body type face and size, but it can be set smaller if the page count is an issue.

The glossary terms are often set off in some way, using a bold or italic font or a second color if the book is printing in more than one color. It is also common to set off the entries with a hanging indent and/or extra space between the terms.

(to be continued)

Thank you! Andrea