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Preface of the thesis

Date published by Date updated: June 21, 2016

In the preface, you inform the reader about your experiences during the writing of your thesis. You can also use the preface to help the reader get started and to thank people who have helped you with your thesis.

The preface is a part of the thesis that is written only after your thesis is completed. The preface has a strong personal character and is written mainly in the first person (‘I’ or ‘we’).

Parts of the preface

The following items can be included in the preface:

  • Your personal background (in brief)
  • Your personal experiences or the circumstances that motivated you to write your thesis (in brief)
  • The target group for which your thesis was written
  • The division of labor (when the thesis has been written by more than one person)
  • Acknowledgements to individuals and institutions who have helped you in the writing and checking of the thesis

The preface ends with you name,  place name, and date at the time of writing.

Difference between preface and acknowledgements

Acknowledgements are often a part of the preface. You thank those who have helped and supported you during the writing of your thesis. Write a separate acknowledgements section if you need extra space to thank people. This is useful, for example, with a doctoral thesis because the writing of such a document takes a long time and often many people are involved in the process.

We advise you to write only a preface for your thesis rather than both a preface and acknowledgements section.

Checklist for the preface

Get an overview of the complete structure

Example preface

We have written an example of a preface in which we take every item on the checklist into account.

View example

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Article by Bas Swaen

Bas is co-founder of Scribbr. Bas loves to teach and is an experienced thesis writer. He tries to help students with writing clear and easy to comprehend articles about difficult topics.

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