Learn Technical Writing – Definition of Appendix, Bibliography, and Glossary

Three common elements in books, especially instruction books, are the appendix, bibliography, and glossary. This week, we'll put them in their places.


Normally, the appendix contains reference material that may be important to the reader, but, because of the amount of content, would interrupt the flow if it were put into the text. It can also contain forms or illustrations that relate to more multiple chapters or modules. In many cases, material that some people might find useful and others would find irrelevant are placed in an appendix.

Appendixes (or appendices) are also frequently used to provide specific information at the end of RFQs and RFPs. Examples are budget details, technical specifications, and legal elements. They're usually located at the back of the book in front of the index.


A bibliography is simply a list of books, articles, web pages, or other sources that are refereed or quoted from in a document. They're usually located at the back of the book ahead of the index. There are a number of styles and formats used for bibliographies. It's important to use the one designated by the client.


Glossaries are something like dictionaries devoted to a specific subject area; an alphabetical list of terms with definitions and explanations of usage.

They can be stand-alone documents such as a Glossary of Computer Terms, and they're often included in a document when a large number of unfamiliar terms are used. They can be simple or intensive depending on the perceived needs of the target audience. They can be located either in the front of a document, after the table of contents and forward or in the back in front of the index – usually before a bibliography or appendix. The exact location will depend on the client's style guide.

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W. Leonard Moore

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