Skip to main content Responsive banner image

Welcome to the SVC Library!

One-stop shopping for library basics.

What's in a book?

Do you know what to use a glossary for? And what the heck is a glossary anyway? This description of the various parts of a book should help you navigate textbooks and reference sources. Make the books work for you!

Table of Contents

What is it? 
A list of the sections and/or chapters in the book.

Where is it?
At the front of the book.

How is it organized?
Listed in the order in which they appear.

Example of how to use it:
Use the table of contents when you are looking for a broad subject area. For example, you have a general book on criminal justice, and want to find the chapter on community policing.

Index

What is it?
A list of subjects, names, events, places, etc. that are discussed in the book.

Where is it?
At the back of the book.

How is it organized?
Words are listed in alphabetical order, and tell you what page numbers you can use to find them.

Example of how to use it:
Use the index when you want to look up a specific subject. For example, you have a book on medical conditions, and you want to find the pages that mention skin cancer.

Notes

What is it?
A collection of notes (usually numbered) that the author refers to throughout the book. These are similar in concept to the in-text citations you create in your papers. (But they are not exactly the same. See examples below for further explanation.)

Where is it?
Throughout the text of the book, you may see numbers after a word, sentence, or paragraph. These numbers refer to the notes. You may find notes in one of the following places:

  • Newer books tend to list all “endnotes” at the back of the book.
  • Older books tend to have “footnotes” at the bottom of individual pages.

How is it organized?

  • Endnotes will be grouped by chapter, and ordered by number, in the order in which they appear in the book.
  • Footnotes are numbered the same way but appear at the bottom (or “foot”) of the page where they are cited.

Example of how to use it:
You are reading a book where the author cites a research study. The number in the paragraph you are reading will help you find the note, which will give you the citation information for the study. It may also give you background or other information about the study.

As another example, you may be reading a novel that was written 100 years ago, and the author mentions events and people that are no longer popular. In a newer printing or edition of the book, the editor may add notes to explain these references.

 

Creative Commons License
Southern Vermont College Library by SVC Library Staff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.