“foreword” versus “forward”

I’m currently working on my fifth nonfiction book and starting is always the hardest part. There are just so many options. Should I write a preface? A prologue? An introduction? Should I find someone to write a foreword? Should I just start at chapter one?

If you’ve ever found yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone! And you’re in luck! I’ve asked these questions too and found some answers.

Let’s talk about the difference between each these and figure out which is best for you.


An introduction is used to (surprise) introduce the topic of the book.

The most important part of the introduction is the why. It’s in this section that the author (you) explains why you wrote this book, why this story needs to be told, and why you were the right person to tell it.

For example, if I were writing a book about why everyone should drink only black coffee, I would use the introduction to briefly explain how important my argument was and why I was the person to tell you about it. I might even tell you a story about how I drank coffee that had sugar in it one time and it ruined my life. (Don’t worry; this didn’t actually happen.)

In my opinion, the perfect introduction length is anywhere between 1,200 and 2,200 words. You want to keep it brief but long enough to justify a completely separate chapter.

Introductions are best for nonfiction books that have deep subject matter and may need more explanation to prepare the reader with all the information they need to understand the full story.


A preface may look similar to an introduction, but the goals of the two are very different. The main goal of the preface is to tell the reader any and all information that precedes the facts and events of the book.

A preface is perfect for explaining to the reader how you came to write the book, how long you’ve been working on it, what the reader can expect, etc.

Here’s the thing with a preface, though: most readers don’t read them. (What?!) I know, I’m sorry, but it’s true.

That being said, don’t put any extremely critical information in the preface.

Write a preface if you have interesting insight and information to share with your readers that’s important to the background of the story.

Foreword vs. Forward – How to Use Each Correctly

What is the Difference Between Foreword and Forward?

Foreword and forward are a pair of homophones, which means the two words have the same pronunciation but different meanings. Therefore, in writing, you cannot interchange the two words.

A foreward is an introduction to a book. Usually someone other than the book’s author writes the foreward.

  • Some editions of The Autobiography of Malcolm X have a foreword written by his daughter, Attallah Shabazz.

Forward relates to position and directions and refers to the front rather than the back.

  • After ending a relationship, some people find it helpful to think about what caused the breakup. Others prefer to move forward in their lives and never look back.

The most common error with these words is confusing the spelling of one for the other. Besides confusing the two spellings with each other, some writers mix the words together to create non-existent spellings such as forword or foreward.

Now, let’s look at the specific ways to use these words, as well as how to avoid common mistakes.

Using Foreword in a Sentence

When to use foreword: Foreword is a part of a book or other text. It appears at the beginning and introduces the content.

For example,

  • The first edition of this book comes without a foreword. However, later editions include different forewords that attempt to give context to the story.
  • It was a great honor to be asked to write the foreword for this important textbook.

There are not any notable idioms with foreword. However, preface and introduction are similar words used to describe this part of a book.

Using Forward in a Sentence

When to use forward: Forward can be many different parts of speech, including an adverb, adjective, noun, or verb. It relates to the front position.

  • As an adverb, it describes movement towards the front.
  • As an adjective, it describes a thing that is in the front position.
  • As a noun, it means a player on an athletic team that plays in front of the other players.
  • Finally, as a verb, it describes the action of moving or sending something onward.

For example,

  • The dancers moved forward towards the audience. (adverb)
  • The soccer player made a forward pass to her teammate. (adjective)
  • My position on the soccer team is a forward because I’m fast and can make goals easily. (noun)
  • Please forward this email on to the client after proofreading it. (verb)

There are several expressions with forward:

  • from this day forward: from today and into the future
    • From this day forward, I swear to always protect you.
  • one step forwards, two steps backwards: a little progress followed by losing that progress, and being worse off than before
    • The man proclaimed “one step forward and two steps backwards,” after he fixed his car engine but in the process destroyed several key, expensive car components.
  • to come forward: to offer evidence about a crime
    • At first the police believed that there were no witnesses to the murder, but finally someone came forward.
  • to look forward to: to anticipate something eagerly
    • The students looked forward to their graduation and summer vacation.
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Remembering Foreword vs. Forward

It is possible to use the spelling of these words to remember the meanings.

Foreword vs. Forward – How to Use Each Correctly

Both of these words point to something directional. What makes them different is that one is stationary, and the other word has movement.

Foreword is a noun that means introductory remarks of either a speaker or, more commonly, a writer, which helps the listening or reading audience get prepared for the major work that follows. The foreword is fixed spot found at the beginning of the work, making it stationary.

Forward, on the other hand, acts as a modifier suggesting being at the beginning or making progress; or move toward what is ahead. Forward shows progression, making it fluid.

  • Foreword is always a noun.
  • Forward is either an adjective, meaning advancement; or an adverb, suggesting onward momentum.

How to Use Foreword in a Sentence

Foreword definition: Since foreword is always a noun for the introductory remarks found in a book, it will be simple to remember.

For example:

  • The author wrote a moving foreword for his new book. (Noun)
  • In addition to the foreword, the book included a dedication page, an acknowledgment section, and background information in the preliminary pages. (Noun)

Foreword is a synonym for the word preface, which may be a more familiar term.

How to Use Forward in a Sentence

Forward definition: As an adjective, forward shows being near to the front, or it has a suggestion of readiness. Furthermore, as a substantive modifier, it has a negative connotation, meaning the lack of reserve or being brash.

For example:

  • The company was making forward progress with its ad campaign. (Adjective)
  • Her frank approach and brash manner were construed as being forward. (Adjective)
  • The warriors moved slowly forward toward the frontline. (Adverb)

Forward acts as a modifier, as an adjective telling which one and as an adverb telling where.

Outside Examples of Foreword vs. Forward

  • Actor Rainn Wilson invited Dwight Schrute to write the foreward [sic] to his memoir, “The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy,” and if you’re not in on the joke, you might think he made a big mistake. –Orange County Register
  • The historic Palisades Amusement Park opened in 1898 and was a sprawling family entertainment center covering 30 acres in Cliffside Park and Fort Lee. “Anybody who has played, visited, or been touched by this magical kingdom retains the glow from a very special relationship,” wrote Cousin Bruce Morrow in a foreward [sic] to “Palisades Amusement Park: A Century of Fond Memories.” In addition to carnival rides, the park contained the world’s largest outdoor saltwater pool. –The Star Ledger
  • “There is still tremendous fear that exists within the community,” Gonzales said. “That’s why we continue to move forward. At the end of the day, I really do believe that Coloradans believe in fairness and that Coloradans believe in justice.” –The Denver Post
  • Bloomberg also suggests reining in high-speed trading, cracking down on payday lenders, and discouraging deals by the Justice Department with financial firms where they are fined but not prosecuted. The plan also addresses forward-looking regulatory questions around financial technology, including support for allowing startups more flexibility to experiment with new methods of providing services without facing penalties from regulators. –Politico

Phrases That Use Foreword and Forward

Because of the narrow definition of the word foreword, there are not any common phrases using the term. However, there are several phrases that use the word forward, including:

Looking forward: Anticipating something pleasant that is happening in the future.

  • After planning their wedding for twelve months, the couple was looking forward to the special day.

Fast forward: Moving quickly through something.

  • Bored looks from the students caused the teacher to fast forward through the banal instructions.

Put your best foot forward: To look or act in the finest way possible.

  • Putting her best foot forward, the political candidate tried to persuade the audience that her policies were the best ones.

Moving forward: Trying to reposition after a personal challenge or setback in life.

  • The widower tried to move forward after the death of his spouse by attending the activities at the senior center.

How to Remember These Words

Once you know that foreword is always a noun for the opening remarks found in a book, you’ll be able to keep it straight from the modifier forward.

One way to help you remember is the letter e in foreword corresponds with the letter e in stationery, which is paper, and books are made from paper. That being said, the mnemonic device may be more complicated that just remembering the noun itself.

Forward, on the other hand, is a bit more complicated. It functions as either an adjective, describing progress, being near to the forefront, lacking reserve, or as an adverb, describing something that is toward the head.

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For example:

  • In the foreword for his new book, the author revealed the lengthy researching process.
  • His forward development encouraged the other athletes to work hard.
  • The toddler’s forward manner caused the mother some consternation.
  • Go forward 500 feet and turn left at the red barn.

Article Summary

Is foreword or forward correct? Think about the function in a sentence. If it is a noun, choose foreword; if it is modifier, pick forward. Chances are that you’ll want the word forward.

  • Foreword is a noun.
  • Forward is an adjective or adverb.

Pat McNees

SPELLING ALERT: Many people misspell foreword, as foreward or even forward! It is a “word” be”fore” the book itself. Remember: The foreword is usually written by someone other than the author.

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The difference between a preface, foreword, and introduction The order of a book's front matter The order of a book's back matterFurther reading and Q&A about parts of a book

Should the parts of a book be in a certain order? Yes, and there's a reason: so readers, librarians, teachers, and booksellers can easily turn to the page in the book to find a particular type of information.

Understanding the order in which they should appear may help you remember the difference between a preface, a foreword, and an introduction.

There is considerable confusion about the difference between the three, and judging from what the Chicago Manual of Style says, I mixed the two up myself in my history of the NIH Clinical Center, where an editor made my Introduction a Foreword, which I then changed to a Preface. It should have remained an Introduction.

Words into Type succinctly characterizes the differences between a preface and intro: “A preface or foreword deals with the genesis, purpose, limitations, and scope of the book and may include acknowledgments of indebtedness; an introduction deals with the subject of the book, supplementing and introducing the text and indicating a point of view to be adopted by the reader. The introduction usually forms a part of the text [and the text numbering system]; the preface does not.”

NOTE ON SPELLING: Do not misspell foreword as foreward or even forward! It is a “word” be”fore” the book itself. The foreword is usually written by someone other than the author.Go here for a fuller discussion of how a memoir differs from an autobiography (or memoirs). .

The foreword, says the Chicago Manual of Style, is usually written by someone other than the author or editor, usually someone eminent (to lend credibility to the book), and although the title page may say “Foreword by X,” if the foreword is only one or two pages (which is normal), the name of the foreword writer normally appears at the end of the foreword. (The title or affiliation of the author of the foreword may also appear there.) For details on positioning of these elements, and what kind of type to use, refer to one of those two manuals, if your publisher doesn't handle the formatting.

 What are the purposes of a preface/intro? Here are some purposes members mentioned at a meeting of the Washington Biography Group:• To talk about how you came to write the book, especially if that will help draw the reader into the book. Perhaps best in the preface.

• To sell the book to the potential reader/buyer (lure them, hook them, make them want to read more). In the case of Ruth Selig writing about the death of her twin, providing the personal details up front would be important, for example).

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• To answer the question: why this book? why now? why this person? why by this author?• To talk about how you got the information — what your main sources were (and how they differ from other books on the subject, if this is book #189 on the Kennedys, for example)• To provide a framework for what's to follow — the hooks on which to hang the pegs of story details

• To provide, in brief, your main argument or point of view about the subject. The alternative is to not express your position clearly up front but instead to weave it into the fabric of the biography so that the reader has to read the book to find it. Critics may object to this.

My impression is that you want to suggest your conclusions or viewpoint clearly up front but express them more fully and strongly in the concluding chapter, if there are conclusions to be made.

What you want to draw your reader in with is the story — tell them just enough to hook them, make them curious, and keep them reading.

What about prologues? Linda Lear wrote a prologue (a term from dramaturgy) to start her biography of Rachel Carson.

A prologue starts the action and is PART of the action, though it could take place in the middle of the action — it often focuses on a pivotal moment.

And if you have a prologue, you must also have an epilogue, says WBG's guru, Marc Pachter.

Some people feel nobody reads the introduction


A foreword is a brief introductory piece in a book that is usually written by someone other than then author (but can be written by the author himself).

It provides some sort of insight about both the author and the book itself, either through the writer’s personal or professional relationship with the author; or, through the writer’s connection to the topic or field. By writing a foreword, a person gives their endorsement, or support, of the book and its author.

So, when choosing the writer for a foreword, an author tries to get the “best” person he or she can to introduce them and their work.

The term foreword comes from the prefix fore, meaning “before” or “in front,” combined with word—so, it literally means “before the word” or “in front of the word.

” That makes it easy to remember its purpose: it comes before the main words of a book or other piece of literature! Forewords are found across all genres of literature and for both fiction and nonfiction works; but, a foreword itself is always nonfictional, as it presents real information that reflects upon the author, his work, and the writer of the foreword.

II. Example of a Foreword

Here’s an example of a passage from a foreword for a memoir:

From the first time I met Anna in the first grade, I knew she was going to be a star.

She had all the qualities of a high-flying, glamorous celebrity—every story she told was a performance, every outfit was complete with glittering accessories, and every time we parted ways she blew me a lip-smacking kiss accompanied by a supermodel wave.

She embodied the superstar image with class, charisma, and most importantly, genuineness. Today, as I write this foreword to her captivating memoir, I share words that I always hoped—and in many ways knew—I would have the chance to write.

Here, the writer introduces the memoir’s author and speaks to their personal relationship. She gives the readers an insightful look at her perception of her famous friend, endorsing the work by sharing that it is something she always knew would be written, and should definitely be read.

III. Importance of Forewords

‘Forward’ or ‘Foreword’- Which do I use?

Jun 25, 2018 · 1 min read

‘Forward’ and ‘foreword’ are words that sound the same, but are spelled differently. Let’s understand how to use them.


‘Forward’ is used to refer to some form of movement towards the front of something or someone. It can be used as different parts of speech. The examples below explain the different meanings and usages of ‘forward’.

  • Tina moved forward to talk to the lady at the counter. (adverb, to the front of)
  • Trade negotiations between the countries is a big step forward. (adverb, towards progress)
  • The driver’s forward view was blocked by the bushes. (adjective, to the front of)
  • I didn’t talk to him in front of everyone because I’m not a forward type of person. (adjective, bold in nature)
  • Please forward these mails to your supervisor. (verb, send on to someone else)
  • The team lacks an experienced forward. (noun, a player who has an attacking position on the team)


This is a short introductory passage in a book. It is usually written by someone who is not the author of the book. If the introductory passage were written by the author of the book, it would be called a ‘preface’.

It’s difficult to get well-known authors to write the foreword of a book.

Watch the video below to recap the differences between ‘forward’ and ‘foreword’.

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