The History of The Lord of the Rings
- The Return of the Shadow (1988) begins with the initial composition, and goes through to the Mines of Moria.
- The Treason of Isengard (1989) continues to the meeting with Théoden.
- The War of the Ring (1990) continues to the opening of the Black Gate.
- The End of the Third Age (2000) finishes the story. This is significantly shorter than its The History of Middle-earth counterpart, Sauron Defeated (1992), as it omits The Notion Club Papers and The Drowning of Anadûnê.
In general, the books are organized as chapters corresponding to the chapters in the final The Lord of the Rings, with additional chapters describing the "First Map", the "Second Map", and other matters. Each chapter begins with some context, then the text of a first or second draft, possibly some alternate drafts if there were especially large changes, and interspersed with extended discussion of confusing or contradictory situations. The end of each chapter includes a set of notes about points of interest, such as words that were used originally and then partially erased or struck out.