Understanding the Inner Workings of a Reference Book: The Importance of Your Foreword and Preface

By Jared Peterman on Jun 26, 2019

Researchers compile their academic life’s work into scholarly publications, but many may not fully understand each of the components needed to create a viable reference book project. eContent Pro International presents the blog series “Understanding the Inner Workings of a Reference Book” to explain the importance of each part of a reference book and some tips on how to effectively secure them. The blog series will include pieces on Titles, Front Matters, Keywords, Abstracts, Citations, Figures, Indices, and Back Cover Text. To discover the importance of a foreword and a preface, read the following article:

Besides the title, the first introductions to a reader are a book’s foreword and preface. The foreword and preface play off each other and strive to establish credibility for the book, but in different ways. Many people confuse the contents and purpose of these two front features in a reference book, but both are equally valuable to any book, especially a scholarly book. eContent Pro International will explain the importance, similarities, and differences of the foreword and preface.

Foreword

The foreword is the first actual text a reader comes across in a book. The author seeks an expert in the field of their research or a fellow author who has written about a similar topic to write the foreword for their book. The purpose of the foreword is to introduce the author and focus of research within the book to the reader and briefly explain its importance. Including a foreword from an expert in the field or a fellow author is invaluable to the book as it immediately provides credibility within the research field. By writing the foreword, the expert or fellow author essentially gives their stamp of approval on the book and is referring it to the world. Authors should carefully select candidates to write a foreword for their book to ensure their credibility.

Preface

The preface immediately follows the foreword and is written by the author of the book, unlike the foreword. But like the foreword, the author’s purpose of writing a preface is to build credibility. They explain the importance of the research presented in the book and why they felt the need to edit/author a book within the field of research. Authors often provide insights to their experience or profession and the topic of the book within the preface to introduce themselves to the audience while seeking credibility. The author should also explain how and why they elected to edit/author the book to show the audience their commitment and passion for the topic and for accelerating the research within the field. The preface should provide a brief scope of the research, but directly address the purpose and importance of the book. This section can persuade the audience that the editor/author and research is relevant, and must be read.

Both pieces are included in the front matter of a book and provide the reader with glimpses of what the book is about and the qualifications of the author. These contents are essential to scholarly books and should be thoroughly thought out and edited. eContent Pro International can copy edit forewords and prefaces at a competitive price with a quick turnaround. Learn more about our English language copy editing service here.

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