Elements of a Book
Before we actually meet the production team and watch them slowly turn text into a bound book, you need to fully understand all the elements of a book so you can better appreciate how much thought and hard work goes into each completed product. Let's start with the inside and work our way out.
Grab the nearest children's book and open it up. What you will usually see first is the other side of the front cover with paper pasted down on it and a facing blank page. Publishers will decorate these with illustrations or colored paper or just keep them blank.
Now turn the page. This next spread (two facing pages) will usually have a blank verso (left-hand page). The recto (right-hand page) is the title page. The title page includes — you guessed it — the title of the book, the author's name, the illustrator's name, and the publisher's name.
When you turn this page, you'll see the copyright page (verso). This page includes important information, such as who holds the copyright to the book and the illustrations, the copyright dates, the name and address of the publisher, where the book was printed, the publishing history of the book, the ISBN, and the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. The copyright page may also include other information, such as acknowledgments of permissions or a disclaimer.
What is the Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data?
This is usually referred to as CIP. The publisher must send in a form with the book's information to the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress then classifies the book and creates a record of the information. Libraries nationwide will use this information in their cataloging systems.
The publisher may also have separate pages for a dedication, acknowledgments, preface, or foreword, or the publisher may choose to combine some of these elements onto one page. If the book has chapters, a table of contents will be included in the front matter.
Following the front matter is the text, usually on a recto. If the book has chapters, a chapter title or number (or both) will begin the text. Each chapter normally starts on a new page. Some publishers open each new chapter on a right-hand page, and others start a new chapter on whichever page comes next. Some publishers decide to begin the chapter at the top of the page, while others begin halfway down the page.
If the book doesn't have chapters, the publisher will sometimes add a drop cap to the first letter of the text. The drop cap makes that first letter larger than the rest of the text and sometimes takes up two lines or more in height. Or the publisher may just choose to start the text right away without any fancy elements.
The body of the book will likely have page numbers. It may also include running heads or feet. A running head (or foot) is the information that is printed across the top (or bottom) of each page of the body. The running head or foot may include the author's name, the title of the book, the title or number of the chapter, or a combination of these. Chapter opening pages can sometimes lack page numbers, running heads, or feet.
Several decisions have to be made about the text itself, but we'll get to that in a moment.
A publishing company may choose to lay out the insides of a book in any number of ways. For instance, the copyright page may be the verso, while the title page is the recto of the spread. Board books may not have any front matter, and picture books may not have any back matter. Several factors go into the company's decisions regarding the design and layout of each book, all in an effort to make the book the best it can be.
The back matter follows the body of the text. The back matter could include a number of things, depending on the type of book you have written. Some common elements of back matter include: appendix, index, glossary, colophon (information about the production of the book, such as the name of the designer or what medium the illustrator used), and bibliography.
Following the back matter information, the very last spread will often copy that of the very first spread with the same design or color of paper used. And that's it! As you can see, a lot goes into the innards of a book. Now let's take a look at the outside.