Acknowledgments Page: How to Format This Often Overlooked Element

There’s something special about seeing your name in a book. Particularly if it’s there because you did something good. And that’s just what the acknowledgments page is all about. It’s a section where you get to thank those of you who helped—whether directly or indirectly—to get your book done.

But since you’re thanking those close to you, it’s a good idea to get this section right. Read on to find out all about writing and formatting your acknowledgments page. 

In this article, you will learn:
  1. What to include in the acknowledgments page.
  2. How to format the page (and where it goes). 

Why You Should Trust Me

So I've been writing and formatting books for a long time. 10+ years as of this writing.

But I actually found formatting to be a huge pain, which is why I actually created my own formatting software that solved all my problems. I called it Atticus.

But this isn't meant to be a sales pitch. I just want to make sure it's clear that I know what I'm talking about. The amount of research that went into not only formatting my own books, but also creating a formatting software is huge.

I researched everything, from tiny margin requirements, to the specific type of quotes to use (curly or straight, it makes a difference).

And yes, of course, that includes how to format an acknowledgment page.

So if all that makes sense, hopefully you'll come along with me as show you everything I've learned.

What is an Acknowledgments Page?

Just as the name suggests, the acknowledgments page is the place where you, as the author, can thank all those people who’ve helped you get the book out into the world. Although some of your readers will probably skip the page, it’s a place for you to address directly those people you’d like to thank. 

Note: Both “acknowledgement” and “acknowledgment” are acceptable spellings, although the former is more often used in British English and the latter in American English. 

Where To Put Your Acknowledgments Page 

In most books, you'll find the acknowledgments section in the back matter, often directly after the end of the main body of the work. However, some publishers/authors prefer to put this section in the front matter of the publication. In this case, it usually comes after the title page and the copyright page, but before things like the foreword, prologue, or introduction.   

It's really up to you where you put your acknowledgments section. You won't be breaking any rules if you decide to put it in the back instead of the front, or vice versa. 

Acknowledgment vs Dedication

At a glance, the acknowledgments page and the dedication page may seem similar. While it's true that there are definite similarities, there are different conventions that are generally followed for each section. 

The acknowledgment section is usually used to thank people who were in some way involved in the book publishing process. This is the place for the author to thank the editor, proofreaders, cover designer, researcher, or anyone who gave feedback on the book. 

The dedication page, on the other hand, is often limited to thanking one person to whom the book is dedicated. This can be someone who was involved in the book's creation, or not. Often, you'll see authors dedicate their book to a family member, spouse, or close friend. 

You don't have to have either of these sections in your book. Or you can have both. It's completely up to you! 

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Tips for Making the Most of Your Acknowledgments Section

Whether you're writing acknowledgments for a nonfiction book, a novel, a dissertation, or a textbook, the following tips can help you determine what to include in the section. 

Start With the Most Important/Impactful

If you're not sure who exactly to include in your acknowledgments, jot down a list of people you'd like to thank. At first, just write down these people as they come to mind. Then, once you have them all down, put them in order based on the impact they've had on the book. 

By starting with the most important or impactful person and working your way down, you can make sure everyone gets their well-deserved gratitude. Many authors thank their editor or agent early in the acknowledgment page, and then move on to other people. 

If you're an indie author, you may want to thank your cover designer or anyone who gave you feedback. You may also want to thank your partner or spouse for taking care of the kids or the pets while you spent hours writing the book. If they're an important figure in your life, then consider adding them to the section.

Keep Length in Mind

While you're considering who to thank in the section, keep in mind that most acknowledgment sections are no more than two pages long. There's no rule against going over that length if you feel you need to. But the more people you thank, the longer the section will become. And the longer the section, the less impact it will have on those who are in it. 

You can thank everyone in your life—the barista at the coffee shop who kept you caffeinated, the babysitter who watched the kids while you were off doing research, the guy at the office who said something that helped you break through your writer's block. There's certainly nothing wrong with spreading the gratitude around. But it does somehow make it less of an honor for those who really helped you along during the process. 

Also, many readers are likely to skip the section—especially if it's long. Granted, the section is not for them—it's for the people you're thanking. But part of the magic of the acknowledgments section is that other people will read it, and they will see the impact those important people had on you and your book. 

Get Personal, But Not Overly So

To make the most out of your acknowledgments page, write from the heart and get personal. A simple thank-you is nice, but it's not nearly as nice as telling the person why you're thanking them. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate what I mean here. 

Example 1: Thank you, Jerry, for your encouragement. 

Example 2: Special thanks to you, Jerry, for your encouragement. When I was doubtful, fearful, and downright insane with worry, you were there for me. I couldn't have written this book without you.

Put yourself in Jerry's shoes. Which would you rather read? Which would mean more to you?

But use your judgment when it comes to how personal you're going to get. If your heartfelt thank-you includes a potentially embarrassing anecdote about a friend or loved one, think twice about putting it in. Or perhaps ask the person if it's okay to share something they might not want out in the world. The idea is to thank them for their important role in the process, not embarrass them, even if unintentionally. 

Formatting Your Acknowledgments Section

When writing your manuscript, formatting is not at top of mind. But when you're done with the book and doing things like adding the acknowledgments, it's time to think about formatting. If you're traditionally published, this isn't something you'll need to worry about. But for a self-published book, you'll need to either pay someone to format for you or do it yourself. Luckily, formatting the entire book is easy with a tool like Atticus.

Format Yourself 

If you want to add an acknowledgments section, all you have to do is use the Add Chapter function. Simply select the Acknowledgements page from the menu. The section will automatically appear in the back matter, but you can drag it anywhere you like. Once there, simply add your text and Atticus will do the rest. 

Acknowledgements in Atticus

Using the formatting preview option, you can see how the acknowledgments section will look in print or on various e-reader devices. You can choose from over a dozen pre-made formatting templates or create your own custom template. Once you're happy with everything, you can export an EPUB file for ebooks and a print-ready PDF file for print-on-demand. 

Print Previewer Atticus

Check out Atticus here to learn more about this all-in-one writing and formatting tool. 

But what if you want to format your section in Microsoft Word? You can simply format the acknowledgments section like any other chapter in your manuscript. Then, when it comes time to format it for ebook and/or print, you will have the basic elements already in place. Check out my article on writing a book in Microsoft Word for more information. 

Acknowledgments Page: Conclusion

Authorship involves more than just writing a book, short story, or article. Thankfully, writing the bulk of the text is the hard part (well, aside from editing, anyway). The other things, like writing an acknowledgments page, can be done in relatively short order if you have an idea of how to do it. 

There are no strict rules to follow in this case, but hopefully the tips shared above will help you draft an acknowledgments section you're proud of. One that conveys your gratitude to those important figures in your life in a personal and heartfelt manner.

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