There are writers who begin with the end in mind. This practice has the same appeal as taking a break to do your chores in the middle of a writing session. A story can be a long journey without an apparent destination, while a chore just ends at some point.
Then again, ending a book is more than just writing “the end.” It can even become a chore too, what with all the parts you have to figure out. Let us help you with that.
Some time ago, we covered the basic difference between an epilogue and an afterword, but here we’ll list and define all the things that readers can expect to find at the end of a professionally written book.
|Part of a book||Fiction||Nonfiction||Definition|
|Epilogue||Yes||No||Takes place within the story. Frequently serves to tie up loose ends, jumping a bit ahead in time to show how things turned out. May also hint at things to come in the sequel.|
|Conclusion||No||Yes||Sums up the text. A good place to make parting inferences, predictions, and thought-provoking questions.|
|Postscript||Yes||Yes||Adds brief new info after a narrative has come to an end.|
|Afterword||Yes||Yes||Provides commentary on the book’s development, relevance, etc. Often written by an authority other than the author. Usually found in reprints.|
|Endnotes||Yes||Yes||Notes relating to passages (denoted in the body by superscript numbers). Listed numerically.|
|Bibliography||No||Yes||Lists references that were cited in the body. Usually follows APA, MLA, or CMS style.|
|Glossary||Yes||Yes||A list of specialized vocabulary or terms and their definitions. Listed alphabetically.|
|Appendix||No||Yes||Tables, diagrams, maps, charts, photographs, and illustrations appear here.|
|Index||No||Yes||Similar to a glossary but without definitions. Also points to the pages where the terms can be found.|
|Copyright permissions||Yes||Yes||Lists copyrighted materials with attribution and credit.|
|Discussion questions||Yes||Yes||Lists questions about the book meant to guide discussions in a class or book club.|
|Further reading||No||Yes||Lists additional references that may be of interest to the reader.|