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Citing an Introduction or Afterword in MLA


It’s always best to cite from authoritative sources, no matter what style you’re using for your paper. To verify the information comes from a valid, authoritative source, you can check for the authenticity of the website, the author, the publisher and/or the organization that published it.

Student Citing an Introduction or Afterword in MLA

Establishing Authority in Your School Paper

Many times, you can tell if the source is authoritative by looking at others who contribute to the work in the form of an introduction or preface. For example, if a new author has a book published with a foreword by an established author, you can feel confident in the information provided.

The information you’re seeking for your research paper may be outside of the text, such as:

  • A foreword – Written by someone else, not the author. If an author is new to the publishing world, the publisher may ask a well-known researcher or expert to write a short foreword. This establishes authority to the new author. This is the selling point to the reader.
  • A preface – Same as foreword, except it is written by the author. The author explains how the book came to be. ‘
  • An introduction – Differs from the preface or foreword.Introduces the reader to subject of the book and is included in the numbering of the rest of the book.
  • An afterword – Written by the author. It may explain changes from previous versions.

Note: Make sure you write foreword, not forward and afterword, not afterward.

Citing Prefaces and Afterwords in MLA

If you want to use a quote or paraphrase from an introduction from a different author, to help establish credibility, add a descriptive term after the name of the author, then the name of the book and author. For example:

Lopez, Anna. Preface. Chicana Poetry by Graciela Marquez, edited by Lopez, Random House, 2010, pp. xix-xxxvi.


If the introduction, preface, foreword or afterword has a unique title, put the title in quotation marks.


Lopez, Anna. “Understanding Chicanas in a New Way.” Preface. Chicana Poetry by Graciela Marquez, edited by Lopez, Random House, 2010, pp. xix-xxxvi.


Note: In the in-text citation, use the title of the preface or a short version of it.


Understanding how to find and establish authority in your sources, is an important part of learning to research and write school papers. Using introductions, prefaces, forewords or afterwords by established authors or subject experts in the field contributes to the authority of the author of the article or book.

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About the author

Adrienne Mathewson

Adrienne Mathewson, Editor-in-Chief of Bibliography.com, is an Information Professional with a Master’s in Library, Information & Science from San José State University with an emphasis on information literacy and scholarly publishing. She is a certified librarian through the State of New Mexico.

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