FOREWORD, PREFACE, INTRODUCTION, PROLOGUE, EPILOGUE, AFTERWORD: Which is What?
FOREWORD, PREFACE, INTRODUCTION, PROLOGUE, EPILOGUE, AFTERWORD:
WHICH IS WHAT?
©Barbara Studham, author
Foreword? Preface? Introduction? Prologue? Epilogue? Afterword? As a writer, do you know which is what? You should. And did you know you could use all in one book? However, using the incorrect title can make an author appear unprofessional, or worse, a careless writer. The following explains each purpose of all, so writers will be less confused and therefore sure to use the correct title for inclusion in their books.
To add authority to an author’s work, the Foreword is typically written by someone eminent in the field of subject contained within the book. Their name should be included on the front cover for readers to see. Often a reader will buy a book based solely on the author of the Foreword. The contents of the Foreword can act like a distinguished review for a lesser-known author. Neither author nor editor of the book should write the Foreword. The length should be one or two pages and pronounce the name, title, and affiliation of the writer at the end of the Foreword.
In the Preface, the author explains why the book was written, and is a more subjective account than the Foreword. The author typically writes the Preface. It can also include acknowledgements regarding support the author received from persons or institutions. The Preface is where the author can name and recognize previously published chapters or versions of the work. This can also be where the author reflects on his credentials, the amount of work, research, learning, and years it took to complete the book. A preface deals with the origin, purpose, confines, and range of the book. The preface is not included in the regular numbering system of the book, but rather included in the Roman Numerals, i, ii, iii, etc.
The Introduction is usually less personal than the Preface, and more linked to the following chapters and presents as crucial to the progress of the book. An introduction gives the reader an idea of what the book is about and includes the topic of the book, a summary of the book’s contents, and should signify a perspective to be assumed by the reader. It is acceptable to write the title, Chapter 1: Introduction. This will more likely encourage the reader not to skip the introduction. The introduction should form part of the text numbering system, e.g. 1, 2, 3, whereas the preface does not.
Prologue & Epilogue.
A Prologue describes pertinent facts that take place outside of the book but are related to the story. For example, a modern day space odyssey might include a Prologue of when man first landed on the moon. An Epilogue states facts that happened after the event. In this case—what happened to the characters or places when the space odyssey ended. Readers often want to know what happened after the main actions in the book have ceased and the Epilogue can provide just that.
If a book has gone through multiple printings, the Afterword can include the author’s explanation of what has happened since the initial printing of the book. It is typically recognized as a closing statement.