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What is an Author’s Note: A Concise Guide

An author’s note is a statement from the author to the readers about a book, providing insights into the making of the book, the story behind writing it, and other relevant information. It can appear in fiction and nonfiction works and serves different purposes depending on the context. In nonfiction, an author’s note is typically used to explain or add context to their decisions, such as how they chose sources, decided what information to include, or why they used particular language.

In fiction, an author’s note may provide background information about the story, including the author’s inspiration, research, or creative process. This type of note is often intended to be shorter than a preface and sometimes replaces it. It is a channel for authors to communicate directly with their readers, telling them the story behind it.

An author’s note may also contain additional information, such as acknowledgments, disclaimers, or statements regarding conflicts of interest and help or funding that supported the research or writing process. Ultimately, an author’s note aims to provide transparency and context while enhancing the reader’s understanding and connection to the work.

Definition of an Author’s Note

An author’s note directly communicates with their readers, providing insights and context about their written work. This element can be found in fiction and nonfiction books, allowing authors to share the story behind it, their motivations, decisions, or even disclaimers and acknowledgments.

Although often shorter than a preface, an author’s note can sometimes replace it, depending on the author’s intent and the note’s content. In nonfiction books, it may be used to explain the author’s choice of sources, the rationale behind including specific information, or their use of particular language. In academic or research papers, the author’s note can include information about study registration, data sharing, funding sources, and conflicts of interest.

In summary, an author’s note is a way for authors to give readers a glimpse into the creative process and background of their written work. This meta-writing helps connect the author and the reader and adds depth to the reading experience.

Purpose of an Author’s Note

Context and Background

An author’s note provides context and background information about the author’s work. This can include details about the writing process, research, and the reasons behind confident stylistic or content choices. In fiction and nonfiction books, an author’s note can help clarify the author’s intentions, convey additional meaning to readers, and resolve possible confusion or unanswered questions in the text.


Another purpose of an author’s note is to acknowledge the people, resources, or funding that supported the book’s creation. This section allows the author to thank individuals who contributed to the work, such as editors, research participants, or mentors. It can also mention any grants, sponsorships, or financial assistance received during the development of the work.


Disclaimers in the author’s note can address potential conflicts of interest, highlight limitations in work, or clarify any misconceptions readers might have. It might include details about the author’s personal experiences, biases, or perspectives that informed the work or highlight the tentative nature of specific findings or conclusions. By including such disclaimers, authors can demonstrate transparency in the research or writing process and maintain credibility with their readers.

Using an author’s note enables authors to engage with their readers while enhancing the overall experience and depth of understanding. Addressing context, acknowledgments, and disclaimers ensures the work is well-rounded and transparent.

Placement and Formatting


An author’s note can typically be found at the beginning or end of a book. Sometimes, it replaces a preface or appears as a separate section entirely. It serves as a direct communication between the author and the reader, providing insights into the making of the book, the author’s decisions, and other relevant information.


The length of an author’s note may vary depending on the content and the author’s intent. However, it is generally intended to be shorter than a preface. The author should aim to keep it brief and focused on the most important points they want to convey to the reader.


The style of an author’s note is usually more informal than the rest of the book. The author can address the reader directly and use a personal tone reflecting their experience with the book’s creation. It allows for more flexibility in expressing emotions, thought processes, and behind-the-scenes details that might not fit within the book’s main body.

Regarding formatting, keeping the author’s note easily readable and well-organized is essential. Suppose additional information needs to be conveyed, such as sources, acknowledgments, or statements of support. In that case, it can be incorporated using appropriate HTML elements like lists, tables, or emphasized text as necessary:

  • <ul> or <ol> for bulleted or numbered lists
  • <table> for organizing data in a table format
  • <em> or <strong> for emphasizing important text

In summary, an author’s note is valuable for providing readers with insights and context about a book’s creation. Its placement, length, and style can vary, but it should always aim to convey critical information clearly and effectively to the reader.

Writing an Effective Author’s Note

An author’s note provides valuable insight into the thought process and decisions behind a piece of writing. If approached carefully, an effective author’s note can help bridge the gap between the writer and the reader. This section will discuss three key elements to consider when writing an effective author’s note: addressing the reader, clarity and brevity, and tone and voice.

Addressing the Reader

Connecting with the reader in an author’s note is essential by speaking directly to them. Address any questions or concerns they might have, and provide insight into the creation process for the book. This can include discussions of research, source selection, and the reasons behind specific content choices. By acknowledging the reader and creating a conversation, an author’s note becomes more engaging and helpful to the audience.

Clarity and Brevity

Keeping an author’s note brief and clear is crucial to maintain the reader’s interest. Focus on essential points that give context to the work or help establish the author’s credibility. Avoid lengthy explanations or digressions, as they can detract from the book’s main content. Use simple language and concise sentences, ensuring the information is easily understood.

Tone and Voice

Striking the right balance between tone and voice is key to an effective author’s note. Use a confident and knowledgeable tone to establish the author’s expertise and reliability, but remain neutral to avoid alienating the reader. Express appreciation for the reader’s time and interest, and maintain a clear and straightforward writing style. By conveying information to the reader in a thoughtful and relatable manner, an author’s note becomes an essential part of the reading experience.

Examples of Author’s Notes

An author’s note is a statement from the author to the readers about the book, providing insights into the making of the book and communicating the story behind its writing.

One common type of author’s note is a disclaimer informing readers that the book is a work of fiction and not intended to represent real people, places, or events. This is often included to avoid potential legal issues or misunderstandings arising from the book’s content.

An author’s note can also address the writing product, such as summarizing the text as an abstract or retelling a poem in prose. This can help readers better understand the work and its structure.

In some cases, the author’s note may provide more details and context about the book’s topic that was not included in the main narrative. For example, in her biography of Isamu Noguchi, Christy Hale uses the author’s note to include dates, places, and additional details about the subject that were omitted from the main story.

Another example of an author’s note can be found in historical fiction or nonfiction books. The author may use the note to explain their research process, and the sources used, and any liberties that were taken with historical facts or events to enhance the narrative.

In summary, the author’s note can serve various purposes, such as providing disclaimers, additional context, details, insights into the writing process, or addressing the structure and content of the book. The format and content of an author’s note will vary depending on the author’s intentions and the specific needs of their work.