what’s the difference between a preface, an introduction, and a foreword?

Photo Dec 18, 10 15 19 AM I’m doing a presentation for faculty in January at the annual Faculty Colloquium at the college where I work, and this time I’m not presenting in my role of instructional technologist, but just as another scholar. The colloquium theme this year is Imagine the Future: Inspired by the Present, Informed by the Past, so this project fits in nicely. My presentation is titled “The Letters Project: Documenting and Preserving the Past with Mobile and Web-Based Technologies.”

I knew I wouldn’t be done with the project–HA–not even nearly done, but I wanted to have some pieces of all the eventual parts to demonstrate how technology can aid in a task that began with dusty, yellowed, seventy year old letters. I’ll be showing how a blog can be used to document a project, whether a faculty research project, a collaborative course project, or an individual student research project. Then I’ll be showing how database software, in my case Bento, on both the iPad and computer can help organize and make sense of all the pertinent facts of each letter, from basic information like dates and postmarks, to letter topics and keywords. And I’ll be showing how Dropbox lets me access my files anywhere–I’m sure you could similarly work with Google Drive to store images and scans of letters, as well as transcriptions that could be performed right in Google. I’m scanning to high quality PDFs and transcribing in Microsoft Word.

Finally, I want to show how it can all be put together in book form with iBooks Author, so even though I am still scanning, I have a few letters transcribed and a lot of ideas for putting a book together. I’ve had to learn about parts of a book, hence this post’s title, as well as about the limitations in the iBooks Author software to name parts. I find that some things can be rearranged, like chapters and sections, but not pages; pages are attached to chapters or sections for good. So, my current scheme looks like it has too many sections, but it is all starting to make sense as I get used to it. I will probably make a mind map of my organization to keep me on track, and the ability to preview your book in iBooks is a big help in seeing what others will see. I hope some faculty in attendance are inspired to try their own hand at bookmaking.

So what’s the difference between a preface, an introduction, and a foreword? Most agree that a foreword is written by someone else (preferably well-known) to tell people why they should read the book. The preface is similar, but written by the author and talks about how the book came into being. An introduction, like an introduction in an essay, is part of the text of the book, part of the subject matter and where you draw the reader in and present your argument or purpose. Here are a few sources:

Writers and Editors: Preface, foreword, or introduction

Kunz on Publishing: Foreword Vs. Preface Vs. Introduction

One thought on “what’s the difference between a preface, an introduction, and a foreword?

  1. Pingback: Foreword Vs. Preface Vs. Introduction: A Guide For Self-Publishers |

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