The DNA of a Manuscript Part 3: The Back Matter

blank-2503129_1920We are at the end of our 3 Part Series on the DNA of a manuscript. We discussed the front matter of a book and we discussed the body of a book. The final part  of the series  the back matter of the book. Many people won’t  need  all of the items in the  back matter of their book. Right now you may be saying to yourself what is back matter. Well.. Just as front matter is what you find at the beginning of a book, back matter,  is what you find at the end of a book. The back matter  comes directly after the  end of the main story.

The back matter  usually has information for the reader in the event the reader wants to taks some sort of action. If the author referred to a story or a body of work, the reader may want to the read a book that’s listed  in the bibliography. For an educational book, perhaps the author provided a document that the reader could use.  This document would appear in the appendix.  Those are two cases where the reader may want to take some follow up action.

Now let us get into the DNA of the back matter.


The afterword is   a short essay, usually formally written by the author. Sometimes the afterword can be written by another author providing a commentary on the body of work.  sim .


A postscript  is similar to the afterword.  It is written in more informal style, similar to what you would hear in a letter that comes at the the end of the body of work. Many may not know but P.S stands for Postscripts, which means “written after”  or post scriptum in Latin.

Appendix (or addendum)

An appendix is back matter that provides information and resources that can be used alongside the information in the text. In educational books, there may be worksheets or lesson plans housed in the back of the book.  If there are any corrections made to the book then this would be there as well.


A Glossary  is a  list of terms and definitions  from the book that are listed in alphabetical order.  A glossary is a mini-dictionary that houses relevant words from the text.  


An index , unlike the glossary, only lists words. It is used to help the reader find terms in the book. The words are listed in alphabetical order along with page numbers.


A bibliography  is a list of books or sources that have been used  to research the material in the book. It can also be a list of follow up resources  recommended  for the reader. The annotated bibliography, for example, provides publishing information as well as a description of the text and its relevance.


This back matter appears at the end, and provides information on the printing and publishing process of the book, particularly in regard to the technical details. It touches on things like the paper, ink, and binding used. A “Note on the Type” might be included, or be added separately, providing information on the font/typeface selected for the book, as well as its history and characteristics.


An erratum is a  simply a correction added to the book’s content after the first publication. The errata will usually be placed in the back of the book.


The  epilogue is comes right  after the main text, and usually occurs in drama or literature. The epilogue provides a sense of closure for the work. A good example of an epilogue in a movie is when the movie has ended, yet there are images and words flashed across the screen that provide the outcome of characters. It may show a picture of Sally and say she went on to become America’s first female astronaut.

There you have it!  Just remember not all elements are necessary pick and choose which elements you want to include.  The bibliography is necessary.  If you need some assistance not your publishing journey be sure to contact us at



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