- an introduction or preface.
A preface is an introduction to a book written by
the author of the book. An introductory essay written by a
different person is a foreword
and precedes an
author's preface. The preface often closes with acknowledgements of
those who assisted in the project.
A preface generally covers the story of how the
book came into being, or how the idea for the book was developed;
this is often followed by thanks and acknowledgments to people who
were helpful to the author during the time of writing.
A preface is usually signed (and the date and
place of writing often follow the typeset signature); a foreword by
another person is always signed. Information essential to the main
text is generally placed in a set of explanatory notes, or perhaps
in an "Introduction" that may be paginated with Arabic
, rather than in the preface. The term preface can also
mean any preliminary or introductory statement. It is sometimes
Similarly, a prologue
is typically an
introduction to a novel, fitting in with the genre and storyline of
the main text, rather than a section in the author's voice.
Preface comes from the Latin, meaning either
"spoken before" (prae + fatia) or "made before" (prae + factum).
While the former source of the word could have preface meaning the
same as prologue, the latter strongly implies an introduction
written before the body of the book. With this meaning of stated
intention, British publishing up to at least the middle of the
twentieth century distinguished between preface and
- A history of the preface in several languages is contained in
Tötösy de Zepetnek, Steven. The Social Dimensions of Fiction: On
the Rhetoric and Function of Prefacing Novels in the
Nineteenth-Century Canadas. Braunschweig-Wiesbaden: Westdeutscher
(Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn), 1993.
proem in French: Préface (littérature)
proem in Hebrew: הקדמה
proem in Portuguese: Prefácio
proem in Turkish: Ön söz