Introduction vs. Foreword—Which Does Your Nonfiction Book Need?

If you’re a new author confused about the spelling of Foreword, you’ve got a lot of company. If you’re confused about its meaning, you’ve got even more. The word is written Foreword, not Forward. An Introduction is different entirely, though many people think it’s the same thing. This article will explain the meaning and correct use of each of these two pieces of front matter and will help you answer the question: Introduction vs Foreword —which, if either, does your nonfiction book need?

A Foreword is a beginning essay, several pages in length, that someone else writes for the start of your nonfiction book. An Introduction is a beginning essay that you, the author, write.

 Introduction vs ForewordSee the distinction? Most nonfiction books that aren’t academic in nature don’t have and don’t need a Foreword, but most nonfiction books do need an Introduction. A Foreword is valuable if you’re trying to establish credibility, if you want to prove you’re qualified to write on the subject of the book. A Foreword should be written by someone well-known in your particular field. Their message serves as a stamp of approval on your book, and their credibility helps to establish your own. A Foreword written by anyone not an expert in your field is virtually worthless.

An Introduction is something you write. Most new authors don’t understand what should go in an Introduction and include all kinds of material there that actually belongs in the first chapter. And they tend to leave out information that the reader expects to find in the Introduction, like how the author came to write the book. (To find out what goes into an Introduction, read my article Does Your Book Need an Introduction, Preface, or Foreword?)

Bottom line: move forward on that Introduction, not on that Foreword, unless you know an authority in your field whose essay about your book and subject will elevate your reputation. In that case, you can include both items in your book.

Introduction vs. Foreword: it’s really not a dilemma after all.

Jessi Rita Hoffman … book editing by an industry professional