How to Write a Preface to an Autobiography

By Karen Silvestri
I Stock International

It is a good idea to include a preface in your autobiography because the preface serves as an introduction to your life history. The preface is generally one to two pages that tell your reader the history behind your autobiography: why you wrote the book, the problems and adventures you encountered in the writing process, and who you have to thank for helping you along the way.

Start out by telling your readers how you came to write an autobiography. Did you stumble upon old letters from an ancestor that sparked your interest? Did your children bug you to write your history down for them? Perhaps you just wanted to preserve your history for future generations.

Tell the readers in the preface what the autobiography is about. Use the preface to give a brief overview of any key points in the book. This paragraph should leave the reader wanting more. Include a brief look at the places you have been and provide a glimpse of the autobiography's theme.

Record the mishaps and adventures that you encountered as you researched and wrote your autobiography. The journey to a completed autobiography is often full of challenging adventures and self-revelations. The preface is the perfect place to introduce your readers to such a journey.

Thank the people who helped you. Undoubtedly, you had many people's assistance while you were researching your autobiography. In the preface, add a paragraph or two acknowledging those people who went out of their way for you.

Write a bit about the research process involved in undertaking the writing of autobiography. Readers who are thinking about writing their own autobiography will be interested to know the details of your research journey.

About the Author

Karen Silvestri is an English professor at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, Fla., and has been writing professionally since 1997. She also leads workshops on memoir writing, journaling, creative writing and poetry in her community and online. Silvestri holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, and studied business and education at the graduate level.