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March 19th, 2014

What Goes Here: The Copyright Page

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by David Rogers

A Copyright Page Example

Throughout our years of printing books, we’ve gotten quite a few questions about what to include on the copyright page. Though you can find the ubiquitous page in just about every book you pick up, we don’t often stop to consider exactly what information the page contains.

The information listed on the copyright page — also called the Edition Notice page — varies from book to book depending on a number of factors. While there is some information that should be included, some is either optional or dependent on those other factors.

Copyright Notice

As you may imagine, the copyright notice is typically included on the copyright page. This is made up of three parts:

1. the © symbol, or the word “Copyright”
2. the year the work was first published
3. the owner of the copyright – generally the name of the author or the publishing company

Though this notice previously was mandatory for any book to be protected, any book published on or after March 1, 1989 is not required to include the notice, as that is the date the U.S. officially became part of the Berne Convention. Still, the Copyright Office recommends including a copyright notice, as it publicly shows who owns the copyright of the book.

We won’t go too deep into copyright law here, but suffice it to say that as soon as you put your work to paper (or screen), you are automatically the copyright owner. That’s why you can include the copyright notice even if you have not registered the work with the Copyright Office. However, registration is still encouraged, as it creates an official legal paper trail in the case of future legal cases. We’ve also produced an article on how to register your copyright.

How Do You Type the Copyright Symbol?

Another question we often get is how to create the copyright symbol on a computer. There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on your hardware and software:

- On a PC: Hold down the ALT and CTRL keys and press C at the same time

- On a Mac: Hold down the Option (ALT) key and press G at the same time

- Microsoft Word: If you are typing your work in Microsoft Word, click “Insert” and “Symbols” to find the marking. Note that this process varies a bit depending on what version of Word you are using.

What Else Can (or Should) be Included?

The following are pieces of information you may want to include on your copyright page. Again, your book may not need all of these.

All Rights Reserved

The reservation of rights specifies that the author (or publisher) owns all rights not contained under fair use. While the line can be as short as “All rights reserved,” it also can be expanded to specify specific rights, such as:

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except where permitted by law.

Though this language is not required as part of copyright law, many authors include the language as an extra precaution or to continue tradition.

Publisher Information

If you are not self-publishing your work, you can list the publishing company on this page, as well. Some books with large print runs may also include the publisher address and reorder information.

ISBN Number

The copyright page is also the space to put your ISBN number. This is a unique identifier for your book and also appears on the outside of the book as part of the barcode (though the barcode is a separate entity and should not be included on the copyright page).

See our in-depth article on ISBN numbers for more information.

LCCN Number

A different kind of identifier, the Library of Congress Control Number (LCCN), also goes on the title page. The Library of Congress assigns these numbers as something akin to a serial number for cataloging purposes.

These numbers are free and can be obtained through the Preassigned Control Number (PCN) program. You can find out more about all of this at our extensive article on the LCCN.

A Numberline (or Printer’s Key)

This is a series of numbers that indicate the edition of the book as well as the year of the printing. You can find out more about that in this article.

The numberline is not required, but it should appear on the copyright page if you choose to include it. Some authors simply choose to just include the print number edition and/or the year of printing (if different than the year of publication).

A Work of Fiction

For fiction books, some authors choose to include a statement that their books are a work of fiction. You’ve probably seen these not only in books but also in movie and television credits.

“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”

Most statements are similar to this generic version, and there is no standard disclaimer. This is used to try and reduce the consequences of any legal action from someone claiming they are portrayed in the book.

Trademarks, Special Permissions, Credits

The copyright page is also something of a catch all for other information, whether required by law or not. These can include trademarks like a publishers logo or special permissions like song lyrics used in the work. Additionally, the page can be used to credit folks like designers and editors that helped make the book possible.

Where Does the Copyright Page Go?

Though there is no official standard for where the copyright page is located in a book, many are found as the page following the title page (e.g. on the back of the title page). The copyright page should always be on a left page in the front matter of a book.