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Ever Notice that Text Books Have a Specific Order to Them?

Text books differ from novels in other ways besides plot and story line. Text books are typically organized in a useful manner with different sections or parts that serve varying purposes, all of which can be of use to you if you know what they are and what the benefits are to you of those sections being there. Each text book will normally contain most of the following sections:

  • Table of Contents: Usually found right after the title page, the table of contents is a listing of all the chapters in the book. You may also find listed under each chapter heading a list of all the major topics covered within that chapter. Studying the table of contents can tell you where to find information on a general topic and reading through the entire table of contents gives you a fairly good idea of what is going to be contained in the course and what the most important topics will be.
  • Preface: Following the table of contents there may be a preface, which tells you something about the information in the book and maybe what might make the book a bit unique versus other texts on the same subject.
  • Introduction: There may or may not be a preface and introduction or the introduction may take the place of the preface. Usually introductions are a more detailed overview of the book and may be written by some noted person other than the author to add to the perceived value of the book.
  • Footnotes: Footnotes show up throughout the text as small numbers beside a word within or at the end of a sentence. Their explanation is found at the bottom of the page or in a separate section in the back of the book. Footnotes are used to inform as to where the information quoted came from, to go a little further in explaining a point, or to present additional information.
  • Glossary: If a text book contains numerous terms which may be troublesome to some people to understand, the author may include a glossary, which is basically a dictionary that defines the various terms and is found in the back of the book.
  • Bibliography: This section is usually found in the back of the book and is used by the author to validate his sources used in writing the book and may also contain a list of recommended additional readings. This information is typically arranged alphabetically by subject.
  • Appendices: A text may or may not have this section which allows the author to include additional information or examples about various topics covered in the text. It will be found in the back of the book.
  • Index: This section is usually the last section of the book and is a reference section which lists in alphabetical order every name or topic item in the book and gives the corresponding page or pages on which any mention of it appears.

Understanding how your text is organized and what information is available to you in each of these sections can assist you in making your study of its topics more effective and faster.


Last Updated: 08/20/2013

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