Author Handbook

4: The Components of Your Manuscript

Each author writes with his or her own writing style, or voice, and our editorial staff makes every attempt not to change it. However, there are some standards related to manuscript preparation and organization that you should adhere to when writing your book. These include the organization and inclusion of basic manuscript elements (a few will vary, depending on whether the book is authored or edited) and the proper use of SIAM's book macros. This chapter addresses the elements of the manuscript and the next chapter will address SIAM's macro.

We also have a SIAM Style Manual that provides information on structure, grammar, and syntax, and our copy editing style. The guidelines are geared toward improving your book's readability and usability and we ask authors to follow it to the extent possible.

SIAM publishes edited books in a range of topics. It is the editor's responsibility to set a consistent style of notation and format for references for all contributors and work closely with the contributors and SIAM to create a cohesive volume.

The Elements of a Manuscript

A complete book typically contains front matter, main text, and back matter. The elements of these sections are explained below.

Front Matter

The front matter is the material that precedes the main text. It generally contains some or all of the following elements.

Half-Title Page
This page, created by SIAM, contains only the main title of the book. Subtitles and author or editor names are omitted.

Title Page
This page, also created by SIAM, contains the full title of the book, including the subtitle. The names and affiliations of all authors or editors are included as well.

Copyright Page
The copyright page is created by SIAM and always includes the following information:

The following are optional elements that appear on the copyright page when applicable:

Series Page
If your book is part of a SIAM series, SIAM creates a page that includes the names of the editor-in-chief and editorial board members. It will also list all the previously published books in the series.

The dedication is an optional element and is created by SIAM. If you wish to dedicate your book to someone (family members or a mentor, for example), you should supply the appropriate text when submitting your final manuscript.

List of Contributors
Edited volumes include an alphabetical listing of the exact names and affiliations of all contributors to the volume. The book's editor must supply this information at the time the manuscript is submitted to SIAM.

Acknowledgments to researchers, typists, and other support personnel who aided in the production of your manuscript should be included at the end of the preface. Any grant support received toward work on the book should be acknowledged at the end of the preface.

Table of Contents
An exact listing of chapter titles in the order they appear in the book should be included with your manuscript. SIAM's book macros will create the table of contents, which will be finalized by the production editor.

Notation and Other Lists
It is helpful to include a list of notation. Some authors include lists of abbreviations or acronyms, tables, figures, and/or algorithms.

A foreword is a statement about the book by someone other than the author or editor, often an eminent person in the field, a colleague, or mentor. This is an optional element, and you should discuss potential authors for a foreword with your acquisitions editor prior to contacting anyone about preparing one.

The preface is one of the most important parts of your book because it explains your intentions in writing the book, which is important for post-publication reviewers and potential buyers. It outlines the book's purpose, objectives, structure, and the audience for whom it was written. Because the marketing department uses the preface to prepare promotional copy and readers use it to decide whether to purchase the book, it should be reader friendly and clearly written.

You should write the preface in the first person and use a reader-friendly tone. As you are writing, keep in mind that you want to make your book sound so appealing to readers that they will want to purchase and use it. It's often useful to think of your preface as the "elevator pitch" for potential buyers and readers.

In the preface, clearly identify your primary audience and note what they can hope to gain by reading your book. Tell why you choose to write the book and why you feel the topic is important. If you are writing on a new topic or if your book takes an unconventional or emerging perspective, explain it in simple terms. If you purposefully omitted topics, explain why. Describe the book's special features and material that cannot be found elsewhere. This is also the place to mention supplementary material that is available electronically.

If your book can be used as a textbook, use part of the preface to indicate specific courses it is meant for and how it could be used. Be sure to list prerequisites.

At the end of your preface you may include grant information and/or acknowledgments.


Some books contain an introductory chapter (for example, textbooks). The primary purpose of the introduction is to explain what material will be covered and how it is organized, and the author usually takes a chapter-by-chapter approach. If the book does not have an introduction, this material can appear in the preface.

At the start of the introduction, you should explain the central topic of your book and give background information on it. It is important to relate the topic to other mathematical areas and to mention recent trends as well as new methods or techniques that you have used. Remember also to include the limitations of these methods or techniques.

Then provide an overview of the book's main features, how it is organized, and how readers can use it most effectively. Give the rationale for the selection of content and choice of organizational style, and provide a one-sentence description of each chapter's contents.

Mention to your readers if you have provided real-life applications of the material in your book or if you have included problems, exercises, and the like. Discuss the hardware and software systems issues that you address or that are used in conjunction with your book.

Main Text

The main text of a book consists of many elements that help organize and give structure to your book, including headings and subheadings, mathematical items (e.g., theorems and lemmas), equations, illustrations, tables, and references. SIAM's book macros take care of numbering and formatting these items for you.

As you prepare to begin writing, please keep in mind there are many good books that contain tips on effective writing. One we highly recommend is Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, Second Edition by Nicholas J. Higham (SIAM, 1998).

Before you begin and while you are writing it is important to:

The SIAM copy editors will check your text for typos, grammatical errors, mathematical and grammatical inconsistencies (hyphenation, abbreviations, punctuation, etc.), and misspellings. They will try not to change your writing style.

Back Matter

Back matter is material that follows the main text, and all back matter should be submitted with the final manuscript. Back matter consists of some or all of the following elements.

References should be listed after the last chapter of an authored book and at the end of each chapter in an edited volume. SIAM's recommended reference styles are explained in References in the next chapter (5: The Book Macro). However, it is also acceptable for you to pick a style that is accepted in your field and use it consistently throughout your book. Your references should be as complete and as up to date as possible.

Supplemental Readings
Suggestions for additional reading are an asset to any publication—they can provide readers with a wealth of information. As with references, the information you provide about each source should be as complete as possible. Readers often find annotation of supplemental readings helpful.

Material considered supplementary to the main text should be placed in an appendix. This material is essential but does not fit comfortably within the main part of the text so it does not break the flow of the text for readers. The most common use of an appendix is to present a detailed analysis that would distract the reader if it were given at the point where the results of the analysis were needed. You could also include the following in an appendix: detailed proofs, tables, code, or detailed numerical results.

The glossary is an alphabetical list of key specialized or technical terms in your field. Definitions should be clear and concise.

An index is an essential part of your book because it provides a quick reference for readers seeking a particular topic or key term. A good index greatly enhances the value of a book and is an important aid to the reader. We strongly encourage you to read the SIAM Indexing Guidelines before beginning the index. The key point to remember is that while a search is mechanical, a good index is inferential and requires content expertise. Your readers will rely on your index to guide them not only to important topics but to related ones.

Supplemental Electronic Material

SIAM can accommodate supplemental electronic material for your book. Software, data sets, solutions manuals, image banks, etc., enhance the value of your book and can be put on an affiliated website. This material is important to your overall vision, and you should discuss any questions or concerns with your acquisitions editor. Files for such material should be submitted with your manuscript or shortly thereafter.

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