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How to Write an Acknowledgments Page: 5 Quick Pointers

  
  

Thank You

Recently one of our blog readers posed a question about writing the acknowledgments section of her book. In response, here are five pointers that may help authors get to grips with their own acknowledgments section. If you have any other questions on this topic drop us a line in the comments.

1. Acknowledgment pages are by their very definition personal and therefore are often written less formally than the rest of the book they reside in. However, be careful to thank people in a way that is not too different in tone from the tone of the rest of the book. Readers of what purports to be a serious book may be put off the author's jovial appreciation of friends and family.

2. Be judicious in the number of people you thank. Don't stray too far beyond the people who actually helped you in terms of writing your book. Be parsimonious in your praise of animals, too. (So many authors thank their faithful friends of the quadruped variety.)

3. Find ways to break up the repetitiveness that tends to enter these pages -- "And I'd also like to thank ..." You can do this by categorizing the people you're thanking. For example, you can divide your thanks into expressions of gratitude to those who helped you with research; those who reacted to early drafts of the manuscript; and the support team who kept you sane throughout the process. That's three thank-yous instead of possibly ten. Jim Beqaj, the author of How to Hire the Perfect Employer, cleverly thanks those who helped him get started down the field, those who got him over the goal line, and those who cheered him on throughout the game.

4. Be aware of privacy issues. If your book is an exposé, the people you thank might feel exposed, too.

5. Make sure you spell names correctly. It's more than a little ironic to misspell the name of someone who means so much to you.

Hope this helps!

If you have questions about writing or publishing drop us a line in the comments below.

Don BastianDB

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Photo credit: vistamommy (via flickr.com)

Comments

I was wondering if you need to ask permission from someone to us their name in the acknowledgements. I wrote a historical novel and had so many people help me, and I'd like to surprise them by including them in the acknowledgements, but I'm not sure if it's legal?? please help, thanks!
Posted @ Thursday, July 05, 2012 3:54 PM by E.m
Hi @E.m: Thanks for stopping by. You're absolutely fine thanking people in the way you describe -- go for it. DB
Posted @ Thursday, July 05, 2012 4:00 PM by Donald Bastian
I need tips for dedicating a work. 
 
 
 
Donald
Posted @ Friday, September 14, 2012 7:59 AM by Donald E. Watts
Hi @Donald, 
 
Thanks for your request. Watch this space! 
 
DB
Posted @ Friday, September 14, 2012 12:22 PM by Donald Bastian
Hi @Donald, 
 
As promised, here's a post on how to write a dedication: http://www.bpsbooks.com/BPS-Books-blog/bid/109450/How-to-Write-a-Dedication-A-Few-Pointers 
 
DB
Posted @ Friday, September 21, 2012 11:52 AM by Donald Bastian
Hello, 
How can I write an acknowledgments page when I'm doing the research, writing and self publishing? Please give me some ideas on what I can do. Thank you.
Posted @ Friday, January 11, 2013 4:56 PM by Lisa
@Lisa, 
 
Thanks for your query. 
 
First of all, you do not have to include an Acknowledgments page, if you do not wish to have one.  
 
Second, if you do wish to include one, you might include people who inspired your interest in your topic, or indicate the writers you've researched that were particularly helpful, or those who gave you time to work on the book, etc.  
 
But, again, there is no ironclad rule that a book must have an Acknowledgments page. 
 
DB
Posted @ Monday, January 14, 2013 10:02 AM by Donald Bastian
Gud wrk!
Posted @ Saturday, January 26, 2013 5:55 PM by Nombor
Hi, 
 
I would like to know if a preface or foreword would be more suitable for a book of poetry, and why. 
 
Thank you for your assistance
Posted @ Friday, February 22, 2013 6:40 PM by Sandra
I was assigned the task of writing an acknowledgment for a business report published by a NGO collaborating with an international organization. The report's research was done by several paid consultants with the help of the NGO's staff. Since a large number of people worked on the project we decided to have a 'project team' page listing all contributors (staff & paid outsiders) then use the acknowledgment to thank only volunteers and some paid outsiders who had major contributions to the projects. 
What do you think?
Posted @ Friday, April 12, 2013 1:28 PM by Mohan
hey,,, 
i'am making my school project ..and there i have to make a Acknowledgment page. How should i go on...? 
i mean in tabular form or in para.. 
or in bullets.......=> 
 
 
as i am giving Acknowledgment of some wedsites.... 
 
 
p'l help me ! (p'l give the example so that it can be easy) 
 
 
..........for know i can only say thanks....and i will be pleased to write u'r name in my Acknowledgments page...:) 
 
-=shivesh=-
Posted @ Monday, June 10, 2013 4:03 AM by shivesh
IS IT LEGAL TO WRITE SOMEONES NAME IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT WITHOUT INFORMING THEM? 
PLZZZ HELP 
Posted @ Saturday, June 15, 2013 10:25 AM by un described
Thank you for your note, Shivesh. I find the most helpful way to start, with respect to writing an acknowledgments page, is to break up into categories all of the people or companies you wish to acknowledge. So, for instance: those who inspired you to write the book; those who supported you as you wrote the book (there's an opportunity here for further differentiation, e.g., those who helped with the concept of the book, those who read draft of the manuscript, those who assisted in research, those who gave you a shoulder to cry on, etc); and family members. You could introduce each category of people/companies with a sentence thanking them, and then use bullets to list them; that would work fine. Hope this is helpful. 
Don
Posted @ Monday, June 17, 2013 8:44 AM by Donald G. Bastian
Is it legal to write some ones name in acknowledgment without asking them? 
 
Ania
Posted @ Saturday, June 22, 2013 9:53 AM by rock star
Thanks for your question, Ania. Yes, it is perfectly fine to thank people in your acknowledgments page without asking. The only problem I could see is if you thanked for something they would object to, on grounds of libel (saying something is both untrue and injurious), but I can safely say I've never heard of such a situation before! 
Don
Posted @ Saturday, June 22, 2013 12:45 PM by Donald G. Bastian
Thanks for your comment, Mohan. I think you've come up with a great solution to your "acknowledgments situation." 
Don
Posted @ Saturday, June 22, 2013 1:30 PM by Donald G. Bastian
Great pointers! I'm loving the content on this blog!  
I had a question about the organization of Prefaces, acknowledgements and Introductions; is there a traditional "lineup" that one ought to follow in the front end of the book, or is it a free-for-all, do-what-you-want sort of thing?
Posted @ Tuesday, July 16, 2013 12:08 PM by Allison
please i just finish a book that talks about the youth and the society, i need your help on how to write the acknowledgment and preferences...
Posted @ Wednesday, August 21, 2013 4:19 AM by bright junior
i wrote a christian book about the youths in the society but i d ont know how to go about the acknowledgment.....
Posted @ Wednesday, August 21, 2013 4:38 AM by bright junior
Every little change has an impact in our lives.
Posted @ Friday, September 27, 2013 4:55 PM by Jackson
I am going to write a book on fiction and a game i used to play when i was younger inspired the writing.....How am i supposed to acknowledge that in my book?
Posted @ Wednesday, October 30, 2013 11:31 AM by Matthew
If you are writing a preface that explains the genesis of the book, the purpose of the book, etc., you could include in it a comment that the book was inspired by the game. I see that as more appropriate than including the game in your acknowledgments page (if you have one). 
 
Hope this helps. 
 
Don
Posted @ Wednesday, October 30, 2013 11:36 AM by Donald G. Bastian
Yeah I will have one i'm still in the process of planning the book out actually, I was just wondering how should I of put it when it came to me making it. 
But yes that is exactly what i needed
Posted @ Wednesday, October 30, 2013 12:05 PM by Matthew
Can I include Publisher's name (and Editor's)in the Acknowledgements
Posted @ Friday, December 20, 2013 11:43 AM by Dharani
Your site has been a big help to me in writing my first book. 
(non fiction)I am in need of understanding the difference between the different types of Citations there are. MLA, APA Chicago and how to know which style publishers want? 
Thank you! 
John
Posted @ Tuesday, December 24, 2013 8:03 PM by John Olexa
Thank you for your post, John, and I'm pleased that my site has helped you. About different ways of citing references, etc., most trade books (meaning books in the general book trade) are not doctrinaire about the style of citations; the main thing is to follow a style and follow it consistently. If, however, you are writing a book in the social sciences, say, and the publisher publishes many books of that type, they probably stipulate which style they want followed. (I've heard some horror stories about articles rejected by one journal that followed one style, and accepted by another, which require a different style: I pity the writers and editors involved in such scenarios. I would say that the Chicago Manual of Style would be a good guide for you if you aren't required to follow some other style. Hope this helps. 
Don
Posted @ Thursday, December 26, 2013 9:51 AM by Donald G. Bastian
I am writing a scientifically based book for lay people that draws upon original papers. Particular researchers are used a lot and their papers will be listed in 'References'. I have not met any of these. Is it ok to mention some of them in 'Acknowledgements' without permission say in the form: Dr Jones and Adam Brown for their pioneering work in cybernetics?
Posted @ Wednesday, February 26, 2014 4:21 AM by Alan
Alan, I think it would be better if you made it sound less direct and personal. Perhaps say something more like this: "I am particularly grateful to: Dr. James and Adam Brown for their pioneering work in cybernetics; xxxxx for yyyyy; xxxxxx for yyyyy; and xxxxx for yyyyy."  
 
Hope this is helpful. 
 
Don
Posted @ Wednesday, February 26, 2014 7:50 AM by Donald G. Bastian
I am writing a book that was inspired by my ride down the Mississippi on a steamboat and was also inspired by visiting the historic landmarks on the way. Can I acknowledge the steamboat company and the places I visited on the trip without their permission? Thanks so much for your help.
Posted @ Saturday, June 28, 2014 6:48 AM by Ann Mock
Several have asked about the legality of naming people or companies in acknowledgements. There's no reason not to do so, unless, of course, you are making statements anywhere in the book that would be actionable legally. For a statement to be libellous, it must be untrue and injurious. That doesn't sound to be the case in any of the queries about acknowledgements. Hope this helps. 
Don
Posted @ Monday, June 30, 2014 7:38 AM by Donald G. Bastian
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