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Differences Between Biography and Autobiography Everyone Should Know

biography vs autobiography

While an autobiography and a biography both tell the story of someone’s life, they are not the same thing. When a person writes his or her own life story, the finished work is an autobiography. When an author writes a book about another person’s life, the result is a biography.

Key Biography vs. Autobiography Differences

While there are some similarities between biographies and autobiographies, there are several notable differences between the two types of books.

Similar Elements of Biography and Autobiography

Biographies and autobiographies do share some elements in common.

Is a Memoir the Same as an Autobiography?

While a memoir is written by the individual the book is about, it is not exactly the same as an autobiography.

Biography and Autobiography Examples

There are numerous examples of widely-read biographies, autobiographies, and memoirs.

Biography Example: Steve Jobs

Journalist and author Walter Isaacson shares the life story of one of the most influential figures in the technology industry in his biography of Steve Jobs . To tell this story, Isaacson spent more than two years researching Jobs’ life, interviewing well over 100 people who knew him. By piecing together accounts from those who lived, loved, worked with, competed with, and were influenced by Jobs, the author was able to tell the story of this unique individual’s life in biography form.

Autobiography Example: I Am Malala

In I Am Malala : The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban , Malala Yousafzai shares the story of her extraordinary life. As a child in Pakistan, she became an outspoken advocate for education at a very young age. As a result, at the age of 15, she was shot in the head by members of the Taliban. She recovered, returned to school, and went on to speak about her experiences at the United Nations. In addition to writing her autobiography, she founded the Malala Fund, a nonprofit committed to worldwide access to education for girls, and became the youngest person honored with a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17.

Memoir Example: Born a Crime

Trevor Noah, best known as a stand-up comedian and host of The Daily Show , shares insights into another aspect of his life in Born a Crime . This memoir focuses on Noah’s early days as the multiracial child of a black mother and white father growing up in South Africa during apartheid. During this time, interracial relationships were against the law in his country, so Noah’s very existence was unlawful. Written in a light, storytelling style that is both touching and funny, this memoir provides unique insights into the author’s upbringing in difficult times under extraordinary circumstances.

Unique Insights Into Life Stories

Reading works of nonfiction about the lives and experiences of interesting people can be very educational. Sometimes these books are entertaining, sometimes they are motivating, and sometimes they are heartbreaking. Regardless, they are always informative. Expand your horizons by reading all kinds of books, including biographies , inspiring autobiographies , and powerful memoirs .

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Home » Writing » Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir

biography and autobiography same

What is a Biography?

A biography, also called a bio, is a non-fiction piece of work giving an objective account of a person’s life. The main difference between a biography vs. an autobiography is that the author of a biography is not the subject. A biography could be someone still living today, or it could be the subject of a person who lived years ago.

Biographies include details of key events that shaped the subject’s life, and information about their birthplace, education, work, and relationships. Biographers use a number of research sources, including interviews, letters, diaries, photographs, essays, reference books, and newspapers. While a biography is usually in the written form, it can be produced in other formats such as music composition or film.

If the target person of the biography is not alive, then the storytelling requires an immense amount of research. Interviews might be required to collect information from historical experts, people who knew the person (e.g., friends and family), or reading other older accounts from other people who wrote about the person in previous years. In biographies where the person is still alive, the writer can conduct several interviews with the target person to gain insight on their life.

The goal of a biography is to take the reader through the life story of the person, including their childhood into adolescence and teenage years, and then their early adult life into the rest of their years. The biography tells a story of how the person learned life’s lessons and the ways the person navigated the world. It should give the reader a clear picture of the person’s personality, traits, and their interaction in the world.

Biographies can also be focused on groups of people and not just one person. For example, a biography can be a historical account of a group of people from hundreds of years ago. This group could have the main person who was a part of the group, and the author writes about the group to tell a story of how they shaped the world.

Fictional biographies mix some true historical accounts with events to help improve the story. Think of fictional biographies as movies that display a warning that the story is made of real characters, but some events are fictional to add to the storyline and entertainment value. A lot of research still goes into a fictional biography, but the author has more room to create a storyline instead of sticking to factual events.

Examples of famous biographies include:

Include photos in your autobiography

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is the story of a person’s life written by that person. Because the author is also the main character of the story, autobiographies are written in the first person. Usually, an autobiography is written by the person who is the subject of the book, but sometimes the autobiography is written by another person. Because an autobiography is usually a life story for the author, the theme can be anything from religious to a personal account to pass on to children.

The purpose of an autobiography is to portray the life experiences and achievements of the author. Therefore, most autobiographies are typically written later in the subject’s life. It’s written from the point of view of the author, so it typically uses first person accounts to describe the story.

An autobiography often begins during early childhood and chronologically details key events throughout the author’s life. Autobiographies usually include information about where a person was born and brought up, their education, career, life experiences, the challenges they faced, and their key achievements.

On rare occasions, an autobiography is created from a person’s diary or memoirs. When diaries are used, the author must organize them to create a chronological and cohesive story. The story might have flashbacks or flashforwards to describe a specific event, but the main storyline should follow chronological order from the author’s early life to their current events.

One of the main differences between an autobiography vs. a biography is that autobiographies tend to be more subjective. That’s because they are written by the subject, and present the facts based on their own memories of a specific situation, which can be biased. The story covers the author’s opinions on specific subjects and provides an account of their feelings as they navigate certain situations. These stories are also very personal because it’s a personal account of the author’s life rather than a biography where a third party writes about a specific person.

Examples of famous autobiographies include:

A collection of letters and postcards

What is a Memoir?

Memoir comes from the French word  mémoire , meaning memory or reminiscence. Similar to an autobiography, a memoir is the story of a person’s life written by that person. These life stories are often from diary entries either from a first-person account or from a close family member or friend with access to personal diaries.

The difference between a memoir vs. an autobiography is that a memoir focuses on reflection and establishing an emotional connection, rather than simply presenting the facts about their life. The author uses their personal knowledge to tell an intimate and emotional story about the private or public happenings in their life. The author could be the person in the story, or it can be written by a close family member or friend who knew the subject person intimately. The topic is intentionally focused and does not include biographical or chronological aspects of the author’s life unless they are meaningful and relevant to the story.

Memoirs come in several types, all of which are written as an emotional account of the target person. They usually tell a story of a person who went through great struggles or faced challenges in a unique way. They can also cover confessionals where the memoir tells the story of the author’s account that contradicts another’s account.

This genre of writing is often stories covering famous people’s lives, such as celebrities. In many memoir projects, the celebrity or person of interest needs help with organization, writing the story, and fleshing out ideas from the person’s diaries. It might take several interviews before the story can be fully outlined and written, so it’s not uncommon for a memoir project to last several months.

Memoirs do not usually require as much research as biographies and autobiographies, because you have the personal accounts in diary entries and documents with the person’s thoughts. It might require several interviews, however, before the diary entries can be organized to give an accurate account on the person’s thoughts and emotions. The story does not necessarily need to be in chronological order compared to an autobiography, but it might be to tell a better story.

Examples of famous memoirs include:

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir Comparison Chart

Check out some of our blogs to learn more about memoirs:

Ready to get started on your own memoir, autobiography, or biography? Download our free desktop book-making software, BookWright .

Autobiographies , Biographies , memoirs

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Biographies and Autobiographies: Home

What is the difference between a Biography and an Autobiography?

A biography is an account of a person's life, written by someone else.

An autobiography is an account of a person's life, written by that person.

A memoir is a special type of autobiography in which the person writes about a specific part of their life.

This guide was designed to help you find both biographical and autobiographical information in many different formats through the CCBC libraries. Click on the tabs above to see books, databases, websites, and videos.

What is a Collective Biography or Autobiography?

A collective biography contains biographies about two or more people. It is often a large anthology, like Biographical Dictionary of Psychology , or Encyclopedia of Women's Autobiography . A biography or autobiography which covers the life of one person is an individual biography.

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New York Times Bestseller Featured in the critically acclaimed documentary RBG "It was beyond my wildest imagination that I would one day become the 'Notorious RBG." -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 2019 She was a fierce dissenter with a serious collar game. A legendary, self-described "flaming feminist litigator" who made the world more equal. And an intergenerational icon affectionately known as the Notorious RBG. As the nation mourns the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, discover the story of a remarkable woman and learn how to carry on her legacy. This runaway bestseller, brought to you by the attorney founder of the Notorious RBG Tumblr and an award-winning feminist journalist, is more than just a love letter. It draws on intimate access to Ginsburg's family members, close friends, colleagues, and clerks, as well as an interview with the Justice herself. An original hybrid of reported narrative, annotated dissents, rare archival photos and documents, and illustrations, the book tells a never-before-told story of an unusual and transformative woman who transcended divides and changed the world forever.

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Still Standing reveals how an unlikely governor is sparking a whole new kind of politics--and introduces the exciting possibilities that lie ahead. As the rookie Republican governor of deep-blue Maryland, Larry Hogan had already beaten some daunting odds. A common-sense businessman with a down-to-earth style, he had won a long-shot election the Washington Post called "a stunning upset." He'd worked with cops and neighborhood leaders to quell Baltimore's worst rioting in 47 years. He'd stared down entrenched political bosses to save his state from fiscal catastrophe, winning praise from Democrats, Republicans and independents. But none of that prepared him for the life-threatening challenge he would have to face next: a highly aggressive form of late-stage cancer. Could America's most popular governor beat the odds again? The people of Maryland, with their "Hogan Strong" wristbands, were certainly pulling for him, sending him back to the governor's office in a landslide. As Governor Hogan began his second term cancer-free, his next challenge went far beyond Maryland: bringing our divided country together for a better future. And in 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic changed that future forever, Hogan was once again called to rely upon his bold, open-minded approach to problem-solving to lead and serve in a time of unprecedented turmoil. In his own words and unique, plain-spoken style, Larry Hogan tells the feel-good story of a fresh American leader being touted as the "anti-Trump Republican." A lifelong uniter at a time of sharp divisions. A politician with practical solutions that take the best from all sides. An open-hearted man who has learned important lessons from his own struggles in life. As we face a future full of questions, Hogan offers some surprising answers. Still Standing is a timely reminder that perseverance in the face of unexpected obstacles is at the heart of the American spirit.

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More Myself

An intimate, revealing look at one artist's journey from self-censorship to full expression As one of the most celebrated musicians in the world, Alicia Keys has enraptured the globe with her heartfelt lyrics, extraordinary vocal range, and soul-stirring piano compositions. Yet away from the spotlight, Alicia has grappled with private heartache--over the challenging and complex relationship with her father, the people-pleasing nature that characterized her early career, the loss of privacy surrounding her romantic relationships, and the oppressive expectations of female perfection. Since Alicia rose to fame, her public persona has belied a deep personal truth: she has spent years not fully recognizing or honoring her own worth. After withholding parts of herself for so long, she is at last exploring the questions that live at the heart of her story: Who am I, really? And once I discover that truth, how can I become brave enough to embrace it? More Myself is part autobiography, part narrative documentary. Alicia's journey is revealed not only through her own candid recounting, but also through vivid recollections from those who have walked alongside her. The result is a 360-degree perspective on Alicia's path, from her girlhood in Hell's Kitchen and Harlem to the process of growth and self-discovery that we all must navigate. In More Myself, Alicia shares her quest for truth--about herself, her past, and her shift from sacrificing her spirit to celebrating her worth. With the raw honesty that epitomizes Alicia's artistry, More Myself is at once a riveting account and a clarion call to readers: to define themselves in a world that rarely encourages a true and unique identity.

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Jacqueline Kennedy - a Biography

Every American whose heart went out in sympathy and admiration to a dauntless First Lady during the terrible, unforgettable days of November 1963 will want to read this intimate and touching biography of Jaqueline Kennedy. It revels as never before the stature of the person who has set a shining standard for American womanhood.---from the inside sleeve

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An intimate, powerful, and inspiring memoir by the former First Lady of the United States   #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * WATCH THE EMMY-NOMINATED NETFLIX ORIGINAL DOCUMENTARY * OPRAH'S BOOK CLUB PICK * NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER * ONE OF ESSENCE'S 50 MOST IMPACTFUL BLACK BOOKS OF THE PAST 50 YEARS In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America--the first African American to serve in that role--she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.   In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her--from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world's most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it--in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations--and whose story inspires us to do the same.

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The Truths We Hold

A New York Times bestseller From Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, one of America's most inspiring political leaders, a book about the core truths that unite us, and the long struggle to discern what those truths are and how best to act upon them, in her own life and across the life of our country Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris's commitment to speaking truth is informed by her upbringing. The daughter of immigrants, she was raised in an Oakland, California community that cared deeply about social justice; her parents--an esteemed economist from Jamaica and an admired cancer researcher from India--met as activists in the civil rights movement when they were graduate students at Berkeley. Growing up, Harris herself never hid her passion for justice, and when she became a prosecutor out of law school, a deputy district attorney, she quickly established herself as one of the most innovative change agents in American law enforcement. She progressed rapidly to become the elected District Attorney for San Francisco, and then the chief law enforcement officer of the state of California as a whole. Known for bringing a voice to the voiceless, she took on the big banks during the foreclosure crisis, winning a historic settlement for California's working families. Her hallmarks were applying a holistic, data-driven approach to many of California's thorniest issues, always eschewing stale "tough on crime" rhetoric as presenting a series of false choices. Neither "tough" nor "soft" but smart on crime became her mantra. Being smart means learning the truths that can make us better as a community, and supporting those truths with all our might. That has been the pole star that guided Harris to a transformational career as the top law enforcement official in California, and it is guiding her now as a transformational United States Senator, grappling with an array of complex issues that affect her state, our country, and the world, from health care and the new economy to immigration, national security, the opioid crisis, and accelerating inequality. By reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her, Kamala Harris offers in THE TRUTHS WE HOLD a master class in problem solving, in crisis management, and leadership in challenging times. Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values. In a book rich in many home truths, not least is that a relatively small number of people work very hard to convince a great many of us that we have less in common than we actually do, but it falls to us to look past them and get on with the good work of living our common truth. When we do, our shared effort will continue to sustain us and this great nation, now and in the years to come.

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A Promised Land

A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making--from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post * Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times * NPR * The Guardian * Marie Claire   In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency--a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil. Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation's highest office. Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune's Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden. A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective--the story of one man's bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of "hope and change," and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible. This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama's conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

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A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF 2020 A concise, brilliant, and trenchant examination of Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s successful lifelong quest for the presidency by National Book Award winner Evan Osnos. President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been called both the luckiest man and the unluckiest--fortunate to have sustained a fifty-year political career that reached the White House, but also marked by deep personal losses and disappointments that he has suffered. Yet even as Biden's life has been shaped by drama, it has also been powered by a willingness, rare at the top ranks of politics, to confront his shortcomings, errors, and reversals of fortune. As he says, "Failure at some point in your life is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable." His trials have forged in him a deep empathy for others in hardship--an essential quality as he leads America toward recovery and renewal. Blending up-close journalism and broader context, Evan Osnos, who won the National Book Award in 2014, draws on nearly a decade of reporting for The New Yorker to capture the characters and meaning of 2020's extraordinary presidential election. It is based on lengthy interviews with Biden and on revealing conversations with more than a hundred others, including President Barack Obama, Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, and a range of activists, advisers, opponents, and Biden family members. This portrayal illuminates Biden's long and eventful career in the Senate, his eight years as Obama's vice president, his sojourn in the political wilderness after being passed over for Hillary Clinton in 2016, his decision to challenge Donald Trump for the presidency, and his choice of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate. Osnos ponders the difficulties Biden faces as his presidency begins and weighs how a changing country, a deep well of experiences, and a rigorous approach to the issues, have altered his positions. In this nuanced portrait, Biden emerges as flawed, yet resolute, and tempered by the flame of tragedy--a man who just may be uncannily suited for his moment in history.

Finding Biographies and Autobiographies

In CCBC libraries, there is no specific section for Biographies and Autobiographies. The books are shelved with other books on the topic with which the person being written about is identified. For instance, a biography of Bill Gates will be found with books about the computer industry. A biography of Nelson Mandela will be classed with books about South African politics.

Online Biographies

Know the Differences & Comparisons

Difference between Biography and Autobiography

Last updated on May 11, 2017 by Surbhi S

biography vs autobiography

Both of these two presents the view of, what happened in the past where the author lived. These are non-fiction books, written in chronological order, tells a story about the person who made a significant contribution in a specific field. Many think that the two writing forms are one and the same thing, but there are noticeable difference between the two, that are presented in the given article.

Content: Biography Vs Autobiography

Comparison chart, definition of biography.

A biography also referred as ‘bio’ is a detailed account of a person’s life written or produced by another person. It gives an elaborate information regarding the birthplace, educational background, work, relationships and demise of the person concerned. It presents the subject’s intimate details about life, focusing on the highs and lows and analysing their whole personality.

A biography is usually in the written form but can also be made in other forms of a music composition or literature to film interpretation.

It is the recreation of the life of an individual composed of words by another person. The author collects every single detail about the subject and presents those facts in the biography, which are relevant and interesting, to engross the readers in the story.

Definition of Autobiography

An autobiography is the life sketch of a person written by that person himself or herself. The word auto means ‘self.’ Therefore, autobiography contains all the elements of a biography but composed or narrated by the author himself. He/She may write on their own or may hire ghostwriters to write for them.

An autobiography presents the narrator’s character sketch, the place where he is born and brought up, his education, work, life experiences, challenges, and achievements. This may include events and stories of his childhood, teenage, and adulthood.

Key Differences Between Biography and Autobiography

The difference between biography and autobiography are discussed in detail in the following points:

There are several autobiographies which are worth mentioning like ‘The Story of My Life’ by Helen Keller, ‘An Autobiography’ by Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank, ‘Memoirs of the Second World War’ by Winston Churchill, ‘Wings of Fire’ by A. P. J. Abdul Kalam and much more.

Examples of some famous biographies are- Tolstoy: A Russian Life by Rosamund Bartlett, His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis, Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald William Clark, Biography of Walt Disney: The Inspirational Life Story of Walt Disney – The Man Behind “Disneyland” by Steve Walters, Princess Diana- A Biography Of The Princess Of Wales by Drew L. Crichton.

Related Differences

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How To Write An Autobiography

Autobiography Vs Biography

Barbara P

Autobiography vs Biography: Key Difference & Similarities

Published on: Sep 18, 2019

Last updated on: Feb 27, 2023

Autobiography vs Biography

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Autobiography and biography are the common formats to tell a story.  Writing an autobiography  is different from a biography, although both describe the character of the story of one's life.

Both autobiography and biography have different characteristics. So it is important to understand the difference between them to ensure you are writing within the correct scope.

This blog will discuss autobiography vs. biography to help you understand the key differences and similarities between them.

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a description of a person’s life written by that person. As the writer is the main character, autobiographies use the first person narrative throughout.

The aim of writing an autobiography is to describe the achievements and life experiences of the narrator.

The  autobiography format  typically starts with early childhood and chronologically lists down the life experiences. These include information about a person’s childhood, career, life choices, achievements, and the difficulties they faced.

Key Traits of an Autobiography

Examples of Popular Autobiographies Include

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller and The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

You can also refer to some more  autobiography examples  online if you want to get inspiration and write about your life.

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What is a Biography?

A biography is the story of a person’s life written by someone else. Usually, people write biographies about a famous personalities.

Since the writer is telling the story of someone, that’s why biographies are written in a third-person perspective.

Like an autobiography, biographies also cover the entire subject’s life. So, it is important to include details about birthplace, education, childhood, relationships, etc.

Key Traits of a Biography

Examples of Popular Biographies Include

His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis and Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald William Clark

Key Difference Between Autobiography and Biography

The key differences between autobiography and biography are discussed in more detail in the following points.

How are they Different from a Memoir?

A memoir is similar to an autobiography. It is also the story of a person’s life written by that person.

The main difference between autobiography vs memoir is that a memoir focuses on reflecting and establishing an emotional connection. It not only presents the facts but also provides a personal and intimate story about the major happenings in their life.

The key difference between memoir and biography is that a memoir gives a complete immersion of the subject’s voice. But a biography provides full contextual information that reads like a novel but is non-fiction in nature

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir: Comparison Chart

Want to know more about autobiography vs biography vs memoir meaning and the key difference and similarities? Here is a comparison chart for your help.

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Hopefully, the above guide helps you understand the difference between an autobiography and a biography.

For a successful autobiography, you need to tell your story in a way to make your readers feel in your place.

Writing a captivating autobiography is not an easy task. You need to plan your time, read books for inspiration, and search for information about various writing styles and formats.

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Frequently Asked Question

Why is autobiography more authentic.

An autobiography is authentic because it is written by someone who lived the life. They tell how the person felt. Autobiographies are good because they make you feel like you are there, living your life with them.

What is a self biography called?

Self biography is called an autobiography. It is a written account of your life. It can be an account you write while alive or after death. You can also use autobiographical work to talk about other people's lives, like in a biography.

How to identify an autobiography?

Memoirs are about a specific time in your life. Autobiographies tell us about the whole life of an author. They start when the author was young, and then they cover their entire life. They include events, places, reactions, movements, and other things which happened to them.

How long is an autobiography?

There are no rules for how long an autobiography should be, but it is usually between 200 and 400 pages. This will keep your book in line with what most readers want books to be. And it can help you get traditionally published or help with marketing for your self-published book.

How many paragraphs should be there in the biography?

The biography follows a five-paragraph structure. You are supposed to have an introduction, two body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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The Differences between Memoir, Autobiography, and Biography - article

Creative nonfiction: memoir vs. autobiography vs. biography.

Writing any type of nonfiction story can be a daunting task. As the author, you have the responsibility to tell a true story and share the facts as accurately as you can—while also making the experience enjoyable for the reader.

There are three primary formats to tell a creative nonfiction story: memoir, autobiography, and biography. Each has its own distinct characteristics, so it’s important to understand the differences between them to ensure you’re writing within the correct scope.

A memoir is a collection of personal memories related to specific moments or experiences in the author’s life. Told from the perspective of the author, memoirs are written in first person point of view.

The defining characteristic that sets memoirs apart from autobiographies and biographies is its scope. While the other genres focus on the entire timeline of a person’s life, memoirs structure themselves on one aspect, such as addiction, parenting, adolescence, disease, faith, etc.

They may tell stories from various moments in the author’s life, but they should read like a cohesive story—not just a re-telling of facts.

“You don’t want a voice that simply relates facts to the reader. You want a voice that shows the reader what’s going on and puts him or her in the room with the people you’re writing about.” – Kevan Lyon in Writing a Memoir

Unlike autobiographies and biographies, memoirs focus more on the author’s relationship to and feelings about his or her own memories. Memoirs tend to read more like a fiction novel than a factual account, and should include things like dialogue , setting, character descriptions, and more.

Authors looking to write a memoir can glean insight from both fiction and nonfiction genres. Although memoirs tell a true story, they focus on telling an engaging narrative, just like a novel. This gives memoir authors a little more flexibility to improve upon the story slightly for narrative effect.

However, you should represent dialogue and scenarios as accurately as you can, especially if you’re worried about libel and defamation lawsuits .

Examples of popular memoirs include Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.

Key traits of a memoir:

- Written in 1 st person POV from the perspective of the author - Less formal compared to autobiographies and biographies - Narrow in scope or timeline - Focused more on feelings and memories than facts - More flexibility to change the story for effect


Like a memoir, an autobiography is the author’s retelling of his or her life and told in first person point of view, making the author the main character of the story.

Autobiographies are also narrative nonfiction, so the stories are true but also include storytelling elements such as a protagonist (the author), a central conflict, and a cast of intriguing characters.

Unlike memoirs, autobiographies focus more on facts than emotions. Because of this, a collaborator often joins the project to help the author tell the most factual, objective story possible.

While a memoir is limited in scope, an autobiography details the author’s entire life up to the present. An autobiography often begins when the author is young and includes detailed chronology, events, places, reactions, movements and other relevant happenings throughout the author’s life.

“In many people’s memoir, they do start when they’re younger, but it isn’t an, ‘I got a dog, then we got a fish, and then I learned to tie my shoes’…it isn’t that kind of detail.” – Linda Joy Meyers in Memoir vs. Autobiography

The chronology of an autobiography is organized but not necessarily in date order. For instance, the author may start from current time and employ flashbacks or he/she may organize events thematically.

Autobiographers use many sources of information to develop the story such as letters, photographs, and other personal memorabilia. However, like a memoir, the author’s personal memory is the primary resource. Any other sources simply enrich the story and relay accurate and engaging experiences.

A good autobiography includes specific details that only the author knows and provides context by connecting those details to larger issues, themes, or events. This allows the reader to relate more personally to the author’s experience. 

Examples of popular autobiographies include The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

Key traits of an autobiography:

- Written in 1 st person POV from the perspective of the author, occasionally with the help of a collaborator - More formal and objective than memoirs, but more subjective than biographies - Broad in scope or timeline, often covering the author’s entire life up to the present - Focused more on facts than emotions - Requires more extensive fact-checking and research than memoirs, but less than biographies

A biography is the story of events and circumstances of a person’s life, written by someone other than that person. Usually, people write biographies about a  historical  or  public figure . They can be written with or without the subject’s authorization.

Since the author is telling the account of someone else, biographies are always in third person point of view and carry a more formal and objective tone than both memoirs and autobiographies.

Like an autobiography, biographies cover the entire scope of the subject’s life, so it should include details about his or her birthplace, educational background, work history, relationships, death and more.

Good biographers will research and study a person’s life to collect facts and present the most historically accurate, multi-faceted picture of an individual’s experiences as possible. A biography should include intricate details—so in-depth research is necessary to ensure accuracy.

“If you’re dealing principally with historical figures who are long dead, there are very few legal problems…if you’re dealing with a more sensitive issue…then the lawyers will be crawling all over the story.” – David Margolick in Legal Issues with Biographies

However, biographies are still considered creative nonfiction, so the author has the ability to analyze and interpret events in the subject’s life, looking for meaning in their actions, uncovering mistakes, solving mysteries, connecting details, and highlighting the significance of the person's accomplishments or life activities.

Authors often organize events in chronological order, but can sometimes organize by themes or specific accomplishments or topics, depending on their book’s key idea.

Examples of popular biographies include Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.

Key traits of a biography:

- Written about another person, often a celebrity or public figure, and told in 3 rd person point of view - More formal and objective than both memoirs and autobiographies - Broad in scope or timeline, often covering the subject’s entire life up to the present - Focused solely on facts - Requires meticulous research and fact-checking to ensure accuracy


Met you this morning briefly and just bought your book on Amazon. Congratulations. 

Very helpful. I think I am heading down the path of a memoir.

Thank you explaining the differences between the three writing styles!

Very useful article. Well done. Please can we have more. Doctor's Orders !!!

My first book, "Tales of a Meandering Medic" is definitely a Memoir.

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biography and autobiography same


biography and autobiography same


Biography Versus Autobiography: 5 Lessons To Your Best Story

Posted on Mar 5, 2023

by Sarah Rexford

The confusion between understanding the difference between a biography versus autobiography is a simple fix. However, understanding the difference is just the start of deciding which one is right for you. 

Both biographies and autobiographies are stories about an individual. Both follow an individual from birth to present day.  But they differ in who is writing what.

If your personal life story is incredible and you see the benefit of sharing it with the world, you’ve come to the right place. 

If you know someone who has an incredible life story and the world needs to hear it, you’ve come to the right place. 

First, let’s talk about biographies and autobiographies. 

Biography Versus Autobiography: Differences and Which To Write

1.  biography versus autobiography: what’s the difference.

A biography is a life story of an individual from birth to present day. An autobiography is the story of an individual, written by the individual himself. Often, individuals who write their life story are doing so not because they’re famous for their writing, but because they’re well known in other respects. 

Perhaps they are famous sports players, celebrities, or well-known for breakthroughs they’ve made in technology or medicine.

Maybe they are philanthropists and have dedicated their lives to bettering the lives of others. Or maybe they are an inventor and their story needs to be told.

Whatever the case of the individual’s story, a biography is that person’s story written by somebody else, and an autobiography is that person’s story written by themselves.

When deciding which route to take, it’s important to adequately assess your writing capabilities. 

If you are the individual whose story should be written, are you capable of writing it in the way it deserves to be told? If not, you may want to consider hiring a writer to help you write your story in the best way possible.

Perhaps you are a writer and you’ve dedicated your life to the craft of writing. You know someone whose story must be told and you want to help them get it onto the page. In this case, you would be writing an autobiography. You would be the one writing the book. This means you are responsible to run every single word past the individual whose story you are writing.

Regardless, both biographies and autobiographies should be written with the focus on the reader. Writing succeeds because of readers. Whether you’re covering your life from birth to now, or sharing specific stories of someone else’s life, keep the reader at the forefront of your mind at all times. 

The more you think “reader first” the better your biography or autobiography will be. 

Question: Were you also wondering how memoirs fit into this equation? You can learn about memoirs in the video below and learn more about how a memoir is different from an autobiography .

2. What’s In A Biography?

A biography is all the major life events of a particular person included in one book.

A biography is not a novel, but a well-crafted biography will employ many fiction storytelling techniques in order to create a riveting story.

While fiction techniques can and should be used when writing a biography, creative liberties should not be taken. 

For example, if you’re writing the story of someone who hiked seven miles through the jungle to get medicine to a particular village, don’t round up. While in fiction, the story might be more engaging to say your protagonist fought through ten miles of jungle before reaching their destination, a biography is reality. Don’t bend the facts. 

That said, names, places, and events can be changed to protect individuals. If you take this route, make a note at the beginning of the book.

One of the great benefits of a biography is that they are fact. Biographies are the real life stories of real life people that really happened.

While fiction can often feel like you’re reading about a real person instead of a character, biographies take real individuals and share their stories. A biography is the life story of an individual without any creative liberties added to the story. 

Writing someone’s biography can be a powerful way to take the story to the masses. Just remember, every word that you write in someone’s biography needs to be approved by the individual. This is their story, not yours, and you are simply helping them share their story with the world.

A biography also needs to include life events. While memoirs focus on a theme and only include real life events that contribute to that specific theme, biographies are the life of an individual from birth to present day (or death), and include all major life events regardless of theme.

As you begin doing your research and collecting your notes, keep this in mind, then begin the writing itself. 

Stories that you may think won’t be applicable will likely be necessary later on.

3. What’s Included In An Autobiography?

Just as a biography includes all major life events of an individual, an autobiography includes all major life events of an individual.

When writing an autobiography, you are the writer of your own life story. 

This can be extremely helpful because you know yourself best. You will not need to spend time explaining yourself to a writer and trying to communicate the emotions you felt during certain life events. When writing your own autobiography, you can make full use of the five senses and employ them to create an engaging read for your target audience.

If any particular life events feel important to you, they likely will be important for your autobiography. 

As mentioned above, a memoir focuses on a theme and uses an individual’s life events to contribute to that theme.

Example: Check out this memoir story centralized on theme from Self-Publishing School students Justin and Alexis Black. Their memoir theme? How to overcome adversity while growing up in the foster system. Elements of their story, including timelines, weave back and forth through the story using this theme as a guiding point to keep the story on track.

Memoir Theme Sample Self Publishing School Students Redefining Normal Book

An autobiography should include all major life events–an autobiography is more about the person who is writing the biography than about any particular theme.

Of course, a well-written autobiography will likely draw attention to specific themes, but the purpose of an autobiography is to share your life story via book form.

Think of your autobiography as a written documentary on your life. Documentaries are told in a linear fashion. They start at a single point in time and work their way to the end of a time period or to the present day.

Autobiographies are the same. 

The purpose of an autobiography is to communicate your life story. 

4. Examples Of Biographies

Biographies are the life stories of an individual written by someone else. Below are some popular examples. Read them, take notes, apply what works, ignore what doesn’t, and then plunge into your own writing of that biography: 

As you decide the best method for helping someone write your story, or writing someone else’s, remember writing is a journey. Don’t get overwhelmed with how many details there are to remember. Condensing an entire life into one book can be difficult. Take your time, enjoy the process, and slowly work toward the finished result. 

5. Examples Of Autobiographies

If, on the other hand, you decide to write your autobiography, you’ll likely want to brush up on both autobiographies and biographies. 

Autobiographies are written by the subject being written about. Often, famous individuals employ a writer to write their story rather than attempt to write it themselves. Unless they’ve garnered fame because of their incredible writing, it’s usually best to have a writer write their story. This helps do justice to their story and better ensure it is communicated well.

Whether you pick up an autobiography or a biography, the same lessons can be learned: 

As you write your autobiography, remember that although it is about you, you should still think reader first. Write in a way that readers will be able to easily understand and follow. Starting at birth and moving forward chronologically will likely work well.


While biographies and autobiographies are about an individual’s life, interactions, achievements, goals, failures, etc., it’s impossible to remember every word of dialogue you have spoken or others have spoken. 

Especially if you are writing someone’s biography, it can be difficult to get dialogue right. 

Readers understand that exact wording has been written to the best of your memory, but is not exact. Be careful to write in a way that reflects the attitudes and intentions of the moment, to the best of your ability. 

If you’re writing your own autobiography, do your best to remember, and write the rest as true to the moment as possible.

If you’re writing an individual’s autobiography, do your best to encapsulate their story and write the dialogue the way you think it would have been spoken.  

Whether you’re writing your autobiography, writing someone’s biography, or having your own story written with the help of a professional writer, protect yourself by changing names, locations, and any other detail as necessary. 

As briefly mentioned above, you can make a simple note at the front of your book explaining how some details have been changed to protect individuals. The last thing you want is to be accused of libel or slander the week your book comes out. 

Biographies and autobiographies have the power to influence in unique ways because they are fact, not fiction.

Of Alexander Hamilton’s biography, David McCullough says, “Grand-scale biography at its best—thorough, insightful, consistently fair, and superbly written . . . A genuinely great book.”

And of Anne Frank’s autobiography, Newsday says, “How brilliantly Anne Frank captures the self-conscious alienation and naïve self-absorption of adolescence.”

Biographies and autobiographies provide a unique niché in which to communicate stories and themes in a way fiction can’t.  

As you journey into biography and autobiography writing, respect this special genre and write in a way that honors the stories of the individual.

Sharing one’s story is a difficult and vulnerable undertaking, but doing so can impact hundreds, thousands, and millions of readers. To share a story is to share a life, and that is a powerful thing.

As you begin writing, don’t forget to employ fiction writing techniques, while refusing to take creative liberties. 

Biographies and autobiographies are the factual life events of real people. Take the time you need to write them well. Brainstorm, draft, rewrite, and when you finally publish, sit back and enjoy the masterpiece that is this story. 

Whether it’s your own story you’re writing or having written, or the story of someone else that you’re writing, finishing a book in this genre is a task well-done. 


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Sarah Rexford

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biography and autobiography same

Q. What's the difference between an autobiography, biography or a memoir?

Answered By: Jeffrey Orrico Last Updated: Jan 03, 2023     Views: 42954

While each of these forms of writing illuminates the life, work, and worldview of an individual, they are differentiated by the degree of objectivity and factual content, as well stylistic approaches and perspectives.

Note: The below definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary [electronic resource.] 

Autobiography, n. – 

Typically in book form, an autobiography is an account of a person’s life told by the himself or herself. An autobiography tends to be a more general history, while a memoir focuses on a specific piece of the author's life.    

Biography, n. –

A biography is a written account (although it may come in other forms such as recorded or visual media) of events and circumstances of another person’s life. Most commonly written about a historical or public figure, it profiles a person’s life or life’s work.

Diary, n. – 

A daily record of personal matters, transactions or events affecting the writer personally or the result of the author’s observations. 

Journal, adj. AND  n. – 

Often referring to a more detailed account than that of a diary, a journal contains events or matters of personal interest, kept for one’s own use. Either in the form of daily accounts or entries for when events occur. 

Memoir, n. – 

A record of events or history from the personal knowledge, experience, perspective or special source information of the author. Frequently include autobiographic reminiscences. Memoirs tend to cover in detail a specific aspect of an author's life, while an autobiography is a more general history. 

Narrative, n. – 

When writing a narrative essay, one might think of it as telling a story. These essays are often anecdotal, experiential, and personal—allowing students to express themselves in a creative and, quite often, moving ways. 

  Purdue Online Writing Lab

Expository, n. –

The expository essay is a genre of essay that requires the student to investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc.

Purdue Online Writing Lab

Oral history, n. – 

A story or collection of stories or past events that have been passed down by word of mouth. Sometimes including record oral histories, this form of history relies on compiling recollections from people who were told these histories or whom lived these stories.  

Conducting Oral Histories with Veterans

In recent years, publishers have avoided classifying life stories as “autobiographies”, with the attendant expectation of editorial fact-checking.  By using  a classification such as  “memoir” or “personal essay” or “narrative”, a number of works later determined to be mostly or entirely fictional have been initially presented as nonfiction (e.g.  A Thousand Little Pieces by James Frey).  As when evaluating other research materials, it is important to consider whether the author is objective and complete in his or her writing.

In addition, only a biographer writing after the subject’s death is able to relate the events surrounding the death and the post-death consensus as to the individual’s significance.

Nonetheless, the personal narrative, even if subjective or incomplete, may add to one’s understanding of the individual’s values and viewpoint.

For briefer articles on individuals, try the biographies contained in print and online reference works, including:

Below are some library resources on interpreting the various forms of life writing.

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