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The PreTeXt Guide

Section 4.23 Front Matter

A single <frontmatter> element can be placed early in your <book> or <article>, after some metadata, such as the overall <title>. It is optional, but likely highly desirable. The following subsections describe the items that may be employed within the <frontmatter>. Most are optional, and some may be repeated. An <article> differs in that it must contain a <titlepage> and then may only contain an <abstract>. Generally, these will get default titles, localized in the language of your document, but these defaults may also be replaced by giving a <title> element. None of these divisions themselves is numbered, precluding any content within that is numbered. So, for example, no <figure> may be included. But you could choose to include an <image>, perhaps within a <biography>.
If a component of the front matter cannot be numbered, how best to subdivide something like a <preface>? This is a good use of the <paragraphs> element. It allows for a (minimal) title, but cannot be subdivided further. See the later part of Section 4.6 for more about this exceptional element.
These elements must appear in your source in the order given below, and will appear in your ouput in the same order, which is a generally accepted order used in the production of books. So, for example, even if you author an <acknowledgement> between two <preface>, your output may (will?) place the Acknowledgement before the first Preface.
(We have not yet described the contents of these various elements in full detail.)