Let's say:

  1. John Doe writes a book -- Me and My Dog Spot. On the page after the title, he writes: For Nancy.

  2. My aunt gives this book to me for my birthday, and on the title page, she adds in her penmanship: Dear Jen, this reminds me of you and Fluffy. Love, Aunt Marge

I'd refer to #1 and #2 as a dedication, but are there more appropriate terms?


The printed, authorial kind is definitely a dedication, as you say.

The handwritten personal kind, I would usually call an inscription, though I’ve also heard dedication. See e.g. this flickr group for confirmation of this usage of inscription.

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I've heard and seen dedication used for both. The handwritten kind can be called inscription, as others have said, or an autograph (though this is more used when carrying a signature, possible of someone well-known).

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Inscription is the word I was looking for regarding #2

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