I'm writing a multi-faceted essay that will fill multiple pages (I suppose that it could be considered a collage of essays that build on each other to support one larger theme). This is something I've undertaken for pleasure, with the intent of eventual circulation if peer review is positive. I placed acknowledgements, dedications, and a preface in front as I feel they complement the theme and help introduce the relatively lengthy piece. Generally, would academic standards permit such in an essay, or do I need to call this something else?

As far as I can tell, the structure of an essay is fairly vague, but is typically small enough not to warrant such paraphernalia; would it seem out of place on an essay?

Edit: I should have mentioned that I did some Google Searches about forewords/prefaces on essays, but what I kept seeing was, '...a foreword is an essay...' or the like.
Note: I originally asked about putting a foreword on this essay, but should have realized that it was really a preface.

4 Answers 4


If you're not submitting this as part of any assignment or for publication in a standardized format, where there are rules about content and structure, I say go for it. Foreword, dedication, acknowledgments, preface, interstitial matter, footnotes, afterword, index, glossary, colophon, reader survey — whatever you want to add.

If you are submitting it for publication or review, then you have to follow whatever the rules are about such submissions.

  • 1
    Love your nom de guerre. Mar 2, 2016 at 17:36
  • @Feralthinker thank you. :) I get about one comment per year on it as people get the joke. Mar 2, 2016 at 18:23

It sounds like you may be getting bogged down with semantics. After all, what is a foreword besides an introduction, really?
There is a a sizeable portion of the academic community that is exploring academic-as-creative writing.
For example, using poetry as part of an essay or find a different way of presenting an idea than the standard MLA-cited article.
In other words: go for it.


Call it a (short?) book because many of the elements you've listed are commonplace in books. You also hint that this project is growing, so it might in the end, fill the space between boards, but either way, many masterpieces have also been notable for their brevity. Good luck.


An essay is an essay is an essay. What I mean by that is, so long as you do not have specified requirements given to you by a professor or a publisher, your essay can reflect anything and everything you want to have included.

If you do choose to put it into circulation- which I will almost always encourage people to try- depending on how you release it, you may have to bend to make certain specifications. However, while some publishers do have these requirements, you can most always find many who only want the work to be the best that it can be. And if your foreword improves the quality of the piece, then you're golden. If you still worry, consider finding a publisher and asking about their requirements for such a piece.

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