Standard Ebooks

The Structure of an Ebook

Books consist of three major partitions: Front Matter, Body Matter, and Back Matter.

The list below is ordered in the manner in which the items appear in a typical book. Some books may make exceptions to this ordering.

These terms become important when building the Table of Contents (ToC). The Landmarks section of the ToC requires items to be labeled with the appropriate partition identifier. See ToC Patterns for more information about the ToC.

Front matter

Front matter is material that appears before the main content of the work. It includes such items as a dedication, an epigraph, an introduction, and so on.


An image presenting the outer appearance of the book, usually consisting of an image, the title of the book and the author’s name. For Standard Ebooks productions, the cover is an SVG image generated from template that combines the book title and author, and a background image. The se build-images tool generates the cover image used for distribution.

Title page

A page listing the title of the book and the author’s name. For Standard Ebooks productions, the title page contains an SVG image generated by the se create-draft tool, which is then compiled for distribution using the se build-images tool.


A page containing information about the publisher of the book. For Standard Ebooks productions, a template file is provided and the producer modifies it to suit the particular ebook.


An inscription at the start of a work, usually a tribute to some person or persons whom the author wishes to honor.


A quotation or poem at the start of a book which may set the mood or inspire thoughts about the work to come.

If the epigraph is a poem or quotation from poetry, it must follow the standards for verse described in High-Level Structural Patterns.


A list of persons or organizations whom the author wishes to thank, generally for helping with the creation of the book. The acknowledgements can also be part of the back matter of the book, depending on where the author placed them.


A preliminary section containing information about the book, generally written by someone other than the author.


A preliminary section which states the subject of the book and its aims, generally written by the author of the work.


An introduction is typically found in non-fiction works. It is written by the book’s author and sets out the book’s main argument.

Half title

In books which include front matter, the half title page marks the start of the body matter.

  1. The half title lists the title of the book, but not the author.

  2. A half title is required if there is any front matter in the book.

Table of Contents

Also known as the “ToC.” The Table of Contents lists the main headings in the book. In traditionally printed books, the table of contents is part of the front matter of the book.

  1. In Standard Ebooks productions, the table of contents is omitted from the ebook’s spine and is instead presented to the reader via their ereader’s ToC feature.

Body matter

The body matter is the main content of the book. It is typically divided into chapters, or in the case of a collection, individual stories, poems, or articles. It may be structured at the highest level into larger divisions such as volumes or parts. Besides the contents of the book itself, it may also include:


A prologue is generally found only in works of fiction. It may introduce characters, set up background information, or bring forward a critical part of the action to which the story leads.

A prologue is generally part of the body matter, unless the prologue is a fictional element of a frame narrative. In that case, in order to preserve the frame narrative it may be placed in front of the half title and given frontmatter semantic inflection, while also keeping the prologue semantic inflection. For example, see The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket.


An epilogue is generally found only in works of fiction. It typically winds up the action or briefly tells the subsequent history of major characters. An epilogue should therefore have similar structure to the chapters of a book.

Back matter

Back matter is material which follows the main content, but could be separated from the main content. It might include endnotes, an appendix, an afterword, a colophon, and so on.


A concluding section of a book, typically but not necessarily written by the author, which stands outside the main story of a work of fiction, or the main argument of a work of non-fiction. It may add additional information or comment on the book and its production.

List of Illustrations

Also known as the “LoI,” the list of illustrations is an index to the illustrations in a book. The items are included as part of a list and linked to the points in the text where the illustration appears.


A list of notes to the text. Each item is given a unique sequential number and linked to the point in the text to which the note refers. If the text originally has footnotes, they are converted to endnotes.


The colophon contains information about the publisher of the book, the author, the original publication date, the edition, its publication date, the cover artist and other information relevant to the particular release of a book. A Standard Ebooks colophon is standardized and follows a common pattern.

Copyright Page

The copyright page includes information about the copyright status of the work. All Standard Ebooks are in the US Public domain, and use a standardized “copyright” page to explain this.

Copyright pages are usually part of the front matter of a book, but in the case of Standard Ebooks productions they are back matter, and the last item in the book.