Numbering Pages of a Prologue

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Q: I’ve written a novel and am now working on the technical aspects. What’s the proper way to number pages of a prologue? If the prologue is five pages long, would that make the first page of Chapter 1 Page 6?
—Gretchen Courtright

A: Most front-matter elements, such as a prologue or preface, don’t get numbered as part of the manuscript. They’re best introduced with a slug: a very short description in the upper-left corner to help organize the book. For a prologue, include the name of the section and the name of your book—e.g., Prologue: My Life as a Tango Dancer. Using a specialized slug for these sections erases the need for page numbers, so you can leave the upper-right corner blank. When you hit your first chapter, start numbering with Page 1.

If you feel uncomfortable leaving off page numbers in the prologue or you really enjoy toying with Roman numerals, feel free to include all the Is, Vs and Xs you want in your front-matter elements. It’s really your call.

Brian A. Klems is the online managing editor of Writer’s Digest magazine.

Have a question for me? Feel free to post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at WritersDig@fwpubs.com with “Q&Q” in the subject line. Come back each Tuesday as I try to give you more insight into the writing life.