What Is a Preface of a Book?

Updated April 17, 2017

Books contain many essential parts, including the preface. This section includes information for the reader directly from the author.


The preface of a book contains information written by the author to provide the reader with significant information and/or background on the book's contents.


The preface is usually located at the front of the book. The content can take up a single page or a small section of pages.


A book preface typically features some or all of the following features: the book's scope, background, preliminary or historical content, and/or the intentions of the author.


A book preface and a book forward are not one in the same. The preface contains information written by the author of the book. The forward is information written by someone other that the author (usually a well-known person or celebrity) who influenced or was influenced by the author or the book.


"Preface" in its original Latin literally means, "to say beforehand."

Religious Connotations

"Preface" can also be defined in religious terms, meaning a prayer of thanksgiving or (in the Catholic church) the introduction to the cannon of the Mass.

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About the Author

Lindsay Bayer is a freelance lifestyle writer from the Midwest. Her articles, ranging from interior design ideas to beauty product reviews, have been featured on various websites. Bayer holds a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication from Augustana College, where she studied the influences of popular culture in the media and society. She is pursuing a graduate degree in child and adolescent literature.