I have a hard time determining when to use "annex" and when to use "appendix" for information added at the end of a document. I have checked the respective definitions in a number of dictionaries, and I have also googled the difference between the two, but I still find it hard to draw the line sometimes. The following are examples of situations where I find it hard to know which one to use:

  1. John has a year's probationary employment at a company. Added to his employment contract, there is a document in which his boss writes a short progress report at four months, eight months and at the end of the probationary period. Is this document an annex or an appendix to the employment contract?

  2. A company has an operational plan. Added to this plan are a number of excerpts from different policy documents and laws (one document for each excerpt). Are these documents annexes or appendices to the operational plan?

  3. A school has a document detailing procedures for taking in exchange students. Added to this document is a checklist for processing applications and a welcome letter template. Are these annexes or appendices to the procedures document?

I'd be very grateful for any help I could get here...

1 Answer 1


An annex is an additional document that can stand alone, and contains material that cannot be placed in the main document. Generally (but not always), the author of an annex is different from the author of the main document.

An appendix cannot be supplied without the main document, and contains material which is intended to add greater detail, such as diagrams, notes, examples, etc, to assist understanding of the main document.

Using these, your examples would seem to be:

  1. An annex. At the end of the employee's probationary period, the progress report can be read independently, and could be supplied to stakeholders within the company such as HR staff, to use e.g. when determining performance-related issues such as promotion, termination of employment, or increase of salary.

  2. This sounds like an appendix. It contains excerpts from other documents which cannot stand alone and are intended to aid understanding of the main document.

  3. Also an appendix. It is added to the main document and contains additional material to aid understanding, and use, of the main document.

if you repeatedly find yourself creating material which you cannot easily divide into appendices and annexes, consider whether editing can help them fit into one or other category.

Having very thoroughly considered all of the material, and made any re-arrangements that seem necessary, name and number them appropriately. Where I work, when we create reports and policy documents, we use the convention of naming appendices with letters of the alphabet, e.g. Appendix A, Appendix B. etc, and annexes have numbers starting at 1. You could look at material prepared by others to discover if there is a 'house style', and if you are writing in an academic setting, there is almost certain to be a style guide covering things like numbering of paragraphs, labelling of diagrams and charts, naming of annexes and appendices.

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    @Helen - see added final paragraph. Commented Aug 22, 2022 at 22:06
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    @helen - A document can have both appendices and annexes. I was part of a team that maintained a document known as the 'Financial Policy for XXXX' where XXX is a certain class of official paid by my organisation. It had sections describing policy for various areas of finance activity, and Appendices A to F with extra information referred in in the main document, such as tables of expense amounts, lists of situations in which payments could be made, etc. It had one Annex, number 1, which was an application form for the reader to use to enrol in an online system for hotel and travel booking. Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 7:20
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    @WS2 - the convention I follow is that an epilogue appears in fiction, an afterword can be used for fiction and non-fiction, and an appendix is usually reserved for non-fiction, to add resources or definitions. Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 7:22
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    @MichaelHarvey Pasternak in Dr Zhivago - which I've recently read, has a final chapter called "Conclusion" and then an "Epilogue" - which describes supposed later events. I've no idea about the original Russian, but it seems to fit the OED sense 3a (one of two main current senses) of A speech or short poem addressed to the spectators by one of the actors after the conclusion of the play. The other main OED sense is of "an appendix".
    – WS2
    Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 8:20
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    @WS2 - well, in a sense, epilogues, afterwords, conclusions, etc, are all appendices of one sort or another. Commented Aug 23, 2022 at 8:33

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