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Parts of a Book


The most common parts of a book are described here. More detailed information can be obtained from your ASCE Staff Contact or the Chicago Manual of Style.

Front Matter

Front matter includes the materials at the beginning of a book, before the text proper. Front matter is often prepared last of all and the pages are numbered with Roman numerals. The following are the most common components of ASCE books.

Title page (required)
The title page must contain the full title and subtitle of the book, the complete names of all authors (including preferences for middle initials), degrees and professional credentials, and current affiliations. Your names will appear this way in the book and in promotional materials. If the book is a committee report, the title page should include the complete and correct name of the committee and the Institute or TAC that sponsors the committee. For conference proceedings, the title page should include the complete and correct name of the conference, the location, and the date of the conference.

Dedication (optional)
You may include a brief dedication.

Contents (required)
The table of contents is an important reference for readers and a selling feature of your book. It must contain a complete listing of part titles (if any), chapter numbers and titles, chapter authors (if they are different from chapter to chapter). Typeset books may also include the first level of subheads within each chapter. The table of contents should also include appendixes or other materials included at the end of the book.

Foreword (optional)
The foreword is not written by the author of a book, but rather by an expert in the field who is able to commend your work to readers.

Preface (required)
The preface presents the purpose and scope of the book. In it, you should explain why you wrote the book, for whom it is intended, and what makes it different from others on the market. You may also highlight the book’s distinguishing features.

Acknowledgments (optional)
Acknowledgments can be included as a subsection of the preface or as a separate section. In the acknowledgments, it is appropriate to recognize the contributions and support of colleagues, institutions, grants, and so on.

List of Contributors (optional)
Edited books with individual chapter authors may include a list of contributors at the front of the book. The list could be as simple as names and affiliations. For ASCE Press books, the list of contributors could be expanded to consist of a paragraph about each contributor, describing the professional training and achievements of each contributor.


The bulk of your book will be the text and the accompanying elements such as tables and figures. The most common text elements are listed below.

Part titles
You may choose to group your chapters into sections or parts. Parts are numbered with Arabic or Roman numerals. Part titles should be short, no more than six words long. Part titles should be included in your table of contents, and a page with each part title should be placed in its proper order in the hard copy of your manuscript.

Chapters are numbered with Arabic numerals. Chapter titles should be kept brief, no more than 8 to 10 words long. Chapters should be of a reasonable length, generally between 40 and 80 double-spaced pages. If you have a chapter that is running longer than 80 pages, consider breaking it into two or three separate chapters.

Tables are intended to present precise data and are described in more detail elsewhere on this Web site.

Figures are intended to present data visually and are described in more detail elsewhere on this Web site.

The use of footnotes in ASCE books is discouraged; the occasional footnote is better incorporated into the text or eliminated. However, if you have a compelling reason for including notes, they should be given superscript Arabic numbers and gathered at the end of each chapter.

ASCE books and journals use the author–date system of referencing source material. Reference lists may be gathered at the end of chapters (recommended if chapters have different authors) or at the end of the book. More detailed information on author-date references is available elsewhere on this Web site.

Back Matter

Back matter includes the materials at the end of a book, after the text proper. Back matter continues the page numbering from the last chapter of text. The following appear most commonly in ASCE books.

Appendixes should be limited to material designed to supplement the text. They should be prepared like the rest of the manuscript. If you have more than one appendix, each should be assigned a number and title. Secure permissions for any materials included that are from other sources. Each appendix should be referenced somewhere in the main text, and it should appear in the order in which it is referenced.

A glossary is a list of technical terms and their definitions. 

Notation, Symbols, Abbreviations, Acronyms, and other lists
Lists of notation, symbols, abbreviations and acronyms, and so on may be included for the convenience of the reader. However, notation, symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms must be defined the first time they are used in each chapter.

Reference list
For most ASCE books, a reference list will appear at the end of every chapter.

The Production Manager for your project will arrange for your book to be professionally indexed. You are welcome to submit lists of key words or terms that you consider important to be indexed.

About the Author (ASCE Press only)
All ASCE Press books include a brief biography of the author at the end of the book; a shorter version is used for the back cover and other marketing purposes. For an About the Author entry, please submit a paragraph or two describing what you are doing now professionally; significant degrees and licenses; significant jobs, projects, or work experiences; and perhaps a sentence of personal information. You may also include a photograph.