How to Create a Front Matter Chapter for your iBooks Author Ebook

A nicer way to handle it.

One of the things that bugs me about the way iBooks Author handles front matter pages such as the Copyright, Dedication, and Foreword pages is that they kind of hang out there by themselves at the front of the book, without any sort of “wrapper” that can give them identity.

Copyright Page
The first page of the table of contents in Landscape view. The next two pages look just as unattractive.

This became quite apparent in the sample book readers create while following along in iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook. In the final book, in Landscape view — which is how the book is most likely to be read — each front matter page has its own table of contents page with an ugly gray background that’s just … well, ugly.

In playing around with iBooks Author, I soon realized that the only difference between these pages and the rest on the book is that they were not part of any chapter. It followed that if they were part of a chapter, they’d be handled differently. So I created a new chapter at the beginning of the book, added the three pages to it, and was very happy with the results.

Here’s a quick overview of how you can do the same.

  1. In the Book pane, select the very first page of your book. This is likely to be the Copyright page.
  2. Added ChapterUse the Add Pages menu on the toolbar to add a Chapter page. It should appear in the Book pane right beneath the page that was selected.
  3. In the Book pane, drag the new Chapter page above the first page of the book.
  4. Numbering OptionsWith the new Chapter page selected, display the Layout inspector’s Numbering panel and choose None from the Section Numbers pop-up menu. This removes the Chapter number from the new Chapter and restores the Chapter 1 number to the original Chapter 1.
  5. Indented pagesIn the Book pane, drag each of the front matter pages beneath the new Chapter page so they’re indented beneath it. You’ll need to drag each page up a little and to the right. A green line indicates placement as you drag. The indentation indicates that each of these pages is now part of the chapter they’re indented beneath.
  6. In the Book pane, select the new Chapter page. Then make changes as desired to set it up as a first page of your book’s Front Matter. In my example, I removed the chapter number placeholder text, changed the chapter name to Front Matter, removed the intro placeholder text, and replaced the placeholder image to match my book’s cover. (You can find instructions for doing all of these things in my book.)

    Front Matter Page

That’s about all there is to it. When you preview the book, you’ll find a nice table of contents page that gathers all of your front matter pages together.

Front Matter

Learn More!

Want to learn more about using iBooks Author to create ebooks? Check out iBooks Author: Publishing Your First Ebook, available now in iBooks, Kindle, and NOOK formats.

And keep checking in here at Maria’s Guides for more articles like this one.

17 thoughts on “How to Create a Front Matter Chapter for your iBooks Author Ebook

  1. Thanks for the wonderful guide to ibooks author. It’s gotten me past several hurdles. Do you have any idea what could cause a blank entry in my TOC? In portrait mode I”m seeing section 1.1 and then a list of unnumbered “Heading 1″ topics but there is a blank space between two of them. I can’t find anything in my document that would account for it. Could it have been created by a page that has since been deleted?

    • The only thing I can think of is that you might have an empty paragraph that has a Heading 1 style applied to it. Make sure there aren’t any empty paragraphs in your document — I’m referring to a place where you might have pressed Return twice in a row. If you do, make sure all empty paragraphs have the Body style applied.

      Let me know if that helps you.

      • Thank you!! Problem solved. I’m not very good at managing linked text boxes yet. I used Pages for years without ever using them. When I began the ibook project nothing was working properly because I was just using blank pages and adding my own text boxes.
        On another subject, I’ve noticed that my delete key doesn’t always work while using this program. I have to select delete from the menu. Anyone else notice this?

        • Glad I could help!

          Oddly enough, the first time I started playing around with iBA, I also created my own text boxes on blank pages. Much better to use template text boxes, though. You can use the Layout inspector to customize them on a page-by-page basis. This is something I didn’t cover in the book, but will likely cover in an article here soon.

          Haven’t noticed delete key issues. Will be looking out for them.

          • Is there a way to delete images dropped onto labels when using the “Review” widget? The “undo drop” option is available as long as you haven’t made further changes, but I’ve found that there doesn’t seem to be a way to go back and delete a label image once you’ve added another label for instance. I tried reducing the number of labels for the question but when I added a new label it came with the old image included. I’ve had to simply erase the whole question and begin over- very tedious.
            I continue to have issues with several key commands: copy and paste in addition to delete.
            Thanks for your help,

          • I’m not exactly sure what you’re referring to here. The Review widget was not covered in this blog post. Are you referring to the Review Widget exercise in my iBooks Author book?

  2. Just want to thank you for the article. This solved some of the questions I have about front matter pages. I am planning to produce 2 ibooks 2 books in a tight schedule. So, this is very helpful. Also, I ran across a situation after importing a Word document, the first chapter is not editable or the text is not selectable. I can’t make any style changes to them…Do you have any idea why?


    • Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Regarding that Word document import: I haven’t seen this at all. Was the Word document protected with a password? Or set to read-only? It seems pretty strange to me!

  3. Thanks for this info!

    Have you heard any word yet about being able to dig a bit deeper and customize a little more? I am referring to things such as styles for the pagination numbers on the TOC page, label styles on the Interactive Image widget, and etc. The generic iBook styles are so limiting, and clash with the dark theme I am currently creating.

    Thank you in advance for any help.

    • This is covered to a certain extent in my book. It’s a matter of modifying the styles in use on layouts. There are no real limitations at all — at least not as far as I’ve seen. Not sure what limitations you’re referring to.

      • I am referring to more fine tuning type things. Labels on the interactive image widget are currently disabled for manipulation. You can see the styles applied to the labels, but you are unable to change the rounded corners, the white to grey gradient background, etc. The pagination numbers on the TOC thumbnails are bound by the same restrictions. Sadly, for designers, these little things make a world of a difference. I hope they allow this sort of customization in the next version of iBooks Author.

        • Ah, I see what you mean. Although you can control the appearance of the text, you can’t change the appearance of the callout boxes. Seems odd, given that the settings appear in the Inspector and format bar. Must be a reason they’re locked down; I can only assume they’ll be unlocked in the future.

          I’m still pretty darn impressed with the flexibility and customization options in this version 1.0 product.

  4. When you click a link to a figure, bookmark,.. that resides in an other chapter, many pages away, how can you easily come back to where you originally were ?

    • I don’t know an easy way to do this, other than to include a link back to the source at the destination. If multiple sources refer to the destination, that wouldn’t be very practical, though. Sorry!

  5. Hi!
    Thanks for explaining this, I got everything right I believe. But I’m confused can you kindly brief me how did you do the table of contents?

    I had the default one but when I edit it, the TOC for Chapter 1 will be deleted. Im getting crazy..

    Thanks in advance

  6. I too have that front matter problem, but my difficulty is getting the front matter to the front! iBooks Author seems to assume that one is going to generate the front matter first but, in fact, in putting together a collection of chapters, the Introduction is actually going to be written last, but when I rename Foreward, having created it, I find that it is at the end of the book, but with the required Roman numerals. Needless to say, I’m using one of the standard templates – Modern. How does one re-order parts of the book in Author? Any help most welcome!

  7. I recently bought your author book trying to find a specific answer to a problem but no luck. When I hyperlink to a destination bookmark there is a background yellow highlighter appear momentarily, how do i adjust this annoying color, i cant seem to get an answer from apple or the discussion forums on this at all.
    Also hyperlinks are incredibly slow compared to normal epub hyperlinks, is there a better way why is that?
    hyperlinks are an essential part of navigating through a book i notice you didn’t include a hyperlink table of contents in your ebook as well, it makes it difficult to navigate almost impossible, is there a reason for that? I would appreciate any answer you may have because its driving me crazy, tks Ron RItter

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