"The Chicago Manual of Style," for Writers, Editors, and Publishers
The Chicago Manual of Style
Self publishing has taken over the industry of book writing and making it easy for anyone to write a novel. But how does a writer find out the proper format for publishing and arranging not only the text but the information that comes before and after the story?
- Why are there blank pages at the beginning of a book?
- Does a writer need a prologue or preface?
- How about a dedication?
- Where does the copyright statement go?
- How about the author's name?
- Should the title have its own page?
- What about the table of contents?
Answers to those questions and more can be found in "The Chicago Manual of Style," now in its Seventeenth Edition. They've been advising writers since their first edition came out in 1906.
"For more than one hundred years, The Chicago Manual of Style has remained the definitive guide for anyone who works with words."
What are the Parts of a Book?
Some of the Most Important Parts of a Book
- Title page
- Copyright notations
- Table of contents
"The front of the leaf, the side that lies to the right in an open book is called the recto."— The University of Chicago Press, from The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
Why Do People Read Books?
The Parts of a Book
According to The Chicago Manual, "publishers refer to the sheets of paper that you turn in a printed-and-bound book as leaves, and a page is one side of a leaf."
Chapter 1 of the manual, The Parts of a Book, explains the difference between a right facing page and a left facing page.
- "Recto" is the right side of an open book
- "Verso" is the left side page.
There are actual guidelines as to where the printing goes in the front matter or the pages that come before the first chapter begins.
Essential Writing Guides
Determining the proper format for a book may seem an easy task with the help of word processing software and grammar guides available. However, these guides may lead the writer astray. Grammar checkers have been known to be wrong on occasion.
Books From the Past
You can open any printed book in your house and find a variety of styles used over the years. For the most part, the format is consistent. The first chapter of a book usually begins on the right (recto) page with a blank verso page to its left. Chapter one traditionally begins with an odd numbered page, such as 1, or in the case where a long prologue is numbered, on the next recto page that follows, an odd numbered page.
Stephen King's Chapter 1 begins on the recto side with page 17 after three Forewords. In the third Foreword, he states, "The editor is always right." And then he adds, "The corollary is that no writer will take all of his or her editor's advice; for all have sinned and fallen short of editorial perfection." After all, it is your book and you do have choices.
Modern Books and Their Front Matter
Crichton Follows the Chicago Manual
For example, consider the modern writer, Michael Crichton, author of Micro, whose format follows The Chicago Manual for the most part. In this hard cover book a map of the island of Oahu appears on the recto and verso sides of the inner cover followed by a blank verso page and a half title on the recto side.
Next is another blank verso page (left) and a list of other novels by the author on the recto. The next page includes a nearly blank page on the verso with the Harper Collins Publishers logo, then, the full title page on the right (recto) with both authors' names.
On the reverse side of the full title page is the copyright information where the wording appears: "This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues are products of the author's imagination. . ." on the verso side before a dedication page on the right.
The back of the dedication page is blank on the left side of the open book with a poignant quote on the recto or right hand side of the open book.
Again, the verso, or left side of the following page is left blank with the Introduction starting on the recto (right) side of the open book.
There were 8 blank verso pages leading up to Chapter One text which began on the right hand side of the open book with no page number noted. The second page of chapter 1 is where the page numbering sequence started with the number 2.
There is a note in the back matter about the author having sold over 200 million books, which have been translated into thirty-six languages with thirteen of them made into films.
Examples From the Past
From an author of an earlier generation, the book, The Silver Chalice, starts with an inner cover map on verso and recto sides as well.
The left (verso) side of the first leaf is blank with a half-title on the right (recto) side without the author's name.
Next, there is a color drawing of a chalice on the recto side with the full title and author and publisher's name and date of publication following another blank left side page.
Next on the left is the copyright information and on the right page, another half title.
Again, there's a blank verso page, followed by the Prologue with the text starting halfway down on the recto side. Page numbering starts on page two and continues for twenty-six pages until a blank verso page ends the Prologue.
On the right facing page there is a half title that says, "Book One" with the back side of the leaf blank (verso).
Chapter 1, indicated by a Roman numeral, begins on the recto side halfway down the page with page numbering continuing on the verso side with page number 30.
How To Publish a Book
"APE, How to Publish a Book"
The reference book, APE, Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Kawasaki and Welch addresses the formatting techniques for modern authors. Their front matter is concise beginning with a full title page on the recto side on the first page after the cover.
On the verso side is their copyright information, Published in the United States by Nononina Press along with the ISBN number, the version and a note, Printed by CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC.
The next recto page lists other books by Guy Kawasaki. The back of that page is blank, followed by another half title page and a note about following the author on social networks.
In this book, the table of contents ends on a right facing page with the back (verso) of that page left blank.
Next comes the [Preface] on the recto side (right) with a quote by Benjamin Disraeli who states, "The best way to become acquainted with a subject is to write a book about it." There are seven (7) blank verso pages before chapter one begins.
Guy Kawasaki emphasizes the importance of the way the finished book looks saying in Chapter 9, "Appearance is everything." He recommends referring to The Chicago Manual of Style to ensure that the front matter of the self-published book is correct.
The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
Best Advice Ever
Rules or Guidelines?
No rule remains absolute but there are guidelines to help govern the formatting of publications that have the most acceptance among readers.
One key to self-publishing is to pick a method that you feel comfortable with and follow the template of a successful author.
Other Useful Guides on Writing
Other guidelines and examples on the content of a book are found in the excellent writings of author, Stephen King, in his book, On Writing.
The reference book by Janet Burroway, called Writing Fiction shares examples of exercises designed to develop writing style.
In The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, copyright 1935, updated in 2000, the authors share key advice about writing, namely, "Omit Needless Words."
This leads to the purpose of this article which was for my own education more than for any other reason. I took the advice of my editor and opened a dozen books in my home and studied their format. This was a valuable exercise in discovering a pleasing book setup style for my second novel. That is a key factor. The author must be pleased with the finished product and so must the reader. It's a delicate balance.
Important Tips from Stephen King in 1 Minute
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2018 Peg Cole