I was wondering the other day exactly what the difference between a Prologue and a Preface was. I thought they were basically regional terms for the same concept; as in a Ketchup/Catsup, Tomato,Tamaughto type deal. Yet, once again I was completely wrong. Here’s an article I found that breaks down the two terms and explains them very nicely.
Difference Between Prologue and Preface
Prologue vs Preface
Prologue and Preface are two terms that are often heard in literature. They have to be understood distinctly though. It is important to know that both these words form part of the terminology used in English literature, especially in the fields of dramaturgy and novel or book writing respectively.
Prologue is predominantly a term used in dramaturgy. It is a kind of dialogue that appears in the beginning of an act of a play or drama wherein two or three characters converse about the plot of the play and concerned matters. The purpose of a prologue is to enable the audience to get to know about the plot and the chief characters of the play.
Prologue is sometimes employed in prose writing too such as a novel. It comes in the very beginning of a novel and gives an idea about the story of the novel and such other details. Prologue is written in an attempt to introduce the novel to the readers and to make them understand the plot of the novel.
On the other hand preface is a kind of introduction written by the author of a book. It contains matters related to the idea behind the writing of the book, the people who have helped him in the completion of the book, in matters related to typing, proof reading and the like and finally his acknowledgements to such of those who have helped him in the completion of the project.
In the case of research works such as thesis and dissertation writing, preface is very useful in the sense that it gives an idea about facts such as what made the researcher choose the particular subject for research, people he has consulted for the study, information about the author of the primary book upon which the researcher has decided to write a thesis.