Understanding Prefaces, Forewards and Introductions – The Front Matter / Back Matter

Understanding Prefaces, Forewards and Introductions

There are three different types of front matter – which essential are letters to the reader – that appear in published books. Many people sort of lump them all together without really realizing that there are differences between them. But if you are self-publishing, and you want your book to appear as professional as possible, then you should know the differences and use the correct one for your book. Let’s take a look at three front matter components that you should be aware of.


The preface is often called the author’s note. The preface is written by the author, and it usually includes information on how the book came to be including where the author got the idea for the book, how it was developed and what sort of research was required to write the book. Not every book has a preface, but some authors like to connect with their readers by including some useful information about themselves in the process of writing the story. Stephen King is one of the contemporary authors that include a preface or authors note in almost every single novel that he publishes.


A foreward is an endorsement of a book by someone other than the author. They are written by that person and may include information such as how they know the author, what sorts of things make them endorse the work you are reading, as well as the author themselves. Often, the foreward is written by an expert in the field that the book is based upon. If the book is a work of fiction, then the expert may simply be someone familiar with the subject matter, such as an art expert for a book like The Da Vinci Code. If the book is non-fiction, then it may include an expert endorsement from a professional in the field which demonstrates that the author knows what he or she is talking about.


The introduction doesn’t have much to do with the author or how the book was created. Instead, the introduction often introduces the world to the reader. The introduction is written from the perspective of the author imparting important information about that world. If it is written in narrative form, then it becomes a prologue instead, so the introduction is often the author’s tour of the world inside the book. This is often done in epic fantasy novels, particularly if the books are a series which includes a great deal of history and lots of characters. You should only include an introduction if it is important to the story or if you think that the reader will need the information before they start reading. If you simply want to tell them more about the world, but it isn’t vital that you do so, you should include it at the end instead.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to writing front matter, you can include any of these that you feel are necessary and will make the book better. You should visit Reedsy.com as well if you want to get more great advice on publishing.