1 The parts of a book

1.3 Text

The text of a work, whether it is in a single volume or multiple volumes, should ideally unfold in a form in which each division is of equivalent scale and consistent construction. As part of marking up the text on-screen or on hard copy, the copy-editor will need to identify the hierarchy of headings that articulate the structure and all displayed elements of the text—those elements such as quotations, lists, notes, text boxes, tables, equations, and so on that need special presentation on the page. The designer specifies an appropriate typographic treatment for the body text and for each displayed element, and the typesetter applies the appropriate design and layout. For digital products, the elements are tagged electronically for later conversion. See 2.1 for further details.

1.3.1 Volumes

It is usual for each volume of a work published in multiple volumes to have its own pagination, index, bibliography, and so on. Even if the numbering of text pages is consecutive from one volume to the next, the preliminary pages of each volume begin with page i. Volumes may be numbered or titled or numbered and titled, as appropriate to the content of the work: each volume in a collection of correspondence or a biography, for instance, may be distinguished by a range of years, the volumes in a complete edition of an author’s works by the names of different genres such as Poems, Plays, Essays.

Large scholarly works, especially those published over many years, are sometimes made available in fascicles (or fascicules) rather than volumes. While fascicles are technically separate works, each with its own ISBN, they are designed to be bound together and are, accordingly, through-paginated. The first fascicle contains preliminary material for the whole publication and the last the index or other end matter; any front matter or end matter included with the intermediate fascicles is discarded when the fascicles are combined into a book or books.

1.3.2 The introduction

The introduction is properly part of the text of the book (except in special contexts such as editions of literary texts, where the editor’s introduction forms part of the prelims). The Arabic pagination begins with the first page of the introduction, which therefore must fall on a recto. The introduction may be treated (and numbered) as the first chapter of the work, or it may be headed simply Introduction, the numbered chapters following thereafter; when an introduction (or conclusion) addresses the work as a whole, it is usually left unnumbered.

1.3.3 Parts

It is useful to arrange a long or complex work in parts when the text falls into logical divisions of similar length. Parts should be numbered and may be titled; although Roman numerals are traditionally used for parts (Part I, Part II), Arabic numerals may be used or numbers spelled out (Part One, Part Two). The part number and title are bestplaced on a recto with a blank verso following; part title pages are included in the Arabic pagination of the book but the page numbers are not shown. Text describing the purpose of the part, or a part table of contents, may appear on the part opening page.

Parts are divided into chapters, which are numbered consecutively throughout the work.

1.3.4 Chapters

Most works in prose are divided into chapters, which usually have a number (customarily in Arabic numerals) and often—especially in non-fiction—a title. The use of the word Chapter before the number is optional (see 1.2.11). Chapter titles should be of similar length and style throughout a work and as succinct as possible—overlong titles cause design difficulties at chapter openings and may need to be cut down for running heads (see 1.5.3). Note numbers and similar cues should not appear in chapter titles but be moved to the text proper.

New chapters are usually allowed to begin on either a verso or a recto (unlike new parts—see above); exceptionally, when chapters are short or economical setting is required, they may run on—start on the same page as the end of the preceding chapter—after a specified number of lines’ space. This is more common in fiction than in non-fiction. The first page of a new chapter lacks a running head, and the folio (page number) is either omitted or appears at the foot of the page (as a drop folio), even when on other pages it falls in the head margin (see 1.5.1).

The first line following the chapter heading is set full out (flush with the left-hand margin), with no paragraph indentation. In some designs large and small capitals are used for the first word or line of a chapter, as in ‘He was gone’. If the first word is a single capital letter (for example I, A), then the second word is printed in small capitals, with no further capital. If the chapter starts with a personal name, then the whole name is in capitals and small capitals, not just the first name or title: ‘Mr Thornton had had some difficulty…’.

1.3.5 Sections and subsections

Chapters may be divided into sections and subsections by the use of subheadings (or subheads). There may be more than one level of subheading, though only complex works such as textbooks will generally need more than three. Too many levels of subheading are difficult to design and may be more confusing than helpful to the reader. Headings should not contain note numbers or similar cues.

Sections, subsections, or even individual paragraphs may be numbered if this will be useful to the reader—as it will when the text contains numerous cross-references. As in the present book, section headings are ‘double-numbered’, with the two numbers closed up either side of a full point; subsection headings are triple-numbered, the number reflecting the different levels of the headings: within Chapter 9 the first A-level heading is numbered 9.1, and the first B-level heading within section 9.1 is numbered 9.1.1, and so on.

The first line after a subheading is set flush with the left-hand margin, with no paragraph indentation. If the first sentence of a new section refers to the subject articulated in the heading it must begin by reiterating the subject rather than referring back to it with a pronoun. Not:

1.3 Text

This should ideally unfold in a form in which each division is of equivalent scale and construction.


1.3 Text

The text of a work should ideally unfold in a form in which each division is of equivalent scale and construction.

1.3.6 Paragraphs

Paragraphs are units of thought reflecting the development of the author’s argument, and no absolute rules control their length. In the most general terms, one-sentence paragraphs are likely to be too short and paragraphs that exceed the length of a page of typeset material are likely to be too long to hold the reader’s attention. However, it is inadvisable for an editor to alter the author’s delivery by running together short paragraphs or splitting long ones without fully considering the effect on the integrity of the text, and the author should normally be consulted about such changes. Different considerations apply to websites, where readability is improved by short paragraphs and frequent headings (shorter and more frequent than would be normal in print). See also Web editing in 2.1.2 and Print versus Web style in 2.3.2.

The first line of text after a chapter, section, or subsection heading is set full out to the left-hand margin, with no paragraph indentation. The first line of every subsequent paragraph is normally indented; the style in which paragraphs are separated by a space and the first line of every paragraph is set full out is characteristic of documents and some reference works, and also of material on the Internet. Infictional dialogue it is conventional (though by no means obligatory) to begin a new paragraph with every change of speaker (see 9.2.4).

Complex works, such as textbooks and practitioner texts, sometimes have numbered paragraphs throughout, the numbers being set against headings or simply at the beginnings of paragraphs; this device facilitates all kinds of internal referencing. In this case the double- and triple-numbering system outlined in 1.3.5 above is applied. Numbered paragraphs may also be used when an author wishes to enumerate long points in an argument. Equations referred to in the text should be numbered and displayed; the numbering is enclosed in parentheses and set full right, aligned with the last line of the equation (see also 14.6.6).

1.3.7 Conclusion, epilogue, afterword

A conclusion sums up the work’s findings and puts them in context. It may be numbered and titled as the final chapter of the work or (as with the introduction) headed simply Conclusion.

An epilogue or an author’s note is nothing more than a short concluding comment on the text. An afterword is much the same, though it is typically written by someone other than the author. Neither of these sections bears a chapter number, though the headings are usually set to the same design as the chapter headings. One would not normally have more than one or two of these concluding sections in any book.

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New Hart's Rules


Preface Editorial team Proofreading marks Glossary of printing and publishing terms