It’s a Foreword!
This morning I opened a digital book that was sent to me, expecting to browse its genius. The genius will have to wait, because two words on the cover and repeated in the book’s front-matter derailed me: “Forward by…”
NO! Nothing screams “your editor needs a stronger cup of coffee” louder than “Forward by…”
Let’s talk homophones, shall we? Homophones are words that are pronounced the same way but differ in meaning, and may differ in spelling.
Look: forward and foreword. You notice one has an ‘a’ in it. The other doesn’t. You’ll notice one has an “e’ in it. The other doesn’t. With me so far?
Forward relates to movement. Someone can pull forward. They can go forward. They can even be forward. Why there is even a way that forward is used as a noun–a position on a basketball team near and dear to Charles Barkley’s heart–power forward. (And I suspect you’d understood the relative meaning of that term if you got in front of Barkley as he was moving towards the hoop.) See? Movement!
Then there is foreword. What you have here is a prefix ‘fore’ added to ‘word.’ So what does that give you? A ‘before word.’ This, my friends, is the section of a book that comes before the book’s main words.
If you’re writing a book (or any document, for that matter) that will have a foreword, make sure it’s a foreword and not a forward. And I mean, really–would you want Charles Barkley to welcome people to your literary gem?