These three terms have become virtually interchangeable. One can encounter all or none of these three features in any given book, and all or none of them might be written by the author.Traditionally, however, there has been a distinction between the introduction and the other two elements. While a prefacer foreword usually tells the reader what to expect , the introduction typically starts the process of orienting the reader to the subject matter itself.
In a preface or foreword , an author might explain what burst of inspiration ignited the masterpiece you are reading. He might talk about how this book should totally change your life and about how, although his book will make you a perfect person, he is not legally or morally responsible for that transformation . He will also wittily acknowledge all of the little people whom he trampled upon in order to purvey his deathless prose.
In the introduction, the author dips into the actual subject matter, supplementing what is in the book and ensuring that the reader adopts the properly respectful attitude towards his material.
Although most publishers observe the above distinction , they have varying policies about just how interchangeable the foreword and preface are. Some publishers arbitrarily title remarks by the author as the foreword ad those by editors or outside endorsers as the preface. Nowhere has imponderables found any legitimate distinction between the contents of a foreword and a preface.