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Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir

The three primary formats of a memory book , used to tell a life story, are a biography, an autobiography, and a memoir. Distinguishing between the three can feel a bit confusing since they all share several similarities. But there are some distinct differences.

Simply put, a biography is the life history of an individual, written by someone else. An autobiography is the story of a person’s life, written by that person. And a  memoir  is a collection of memories written by the person themselves.

Tell a life story

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:

  • His Excellency: George Washington  by Joseph J. Ellis
  • Einstein: The Life and Times  by Ronald William Clark
  • Princess Diana – A Biography of The Princess of Wales  by Drew L. Crichton

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:

  • The Story of My Life  by Helen Keller
  • The Diary of a Young Girl  by Anne Frank
  • Losing My Virginity  by Richard Branson

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:

  • Angela’s Ashes  by Frank McCourt
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings  by Maya Angelou
  • Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S.  Grant by Ulysses S. Grant

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir Comparison Chart

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

  • What is a memoir?
  • 5 tips for writing a memoir
  • Your memoir is your legacy

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

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Answered By: Jeffrey Orrico Last Updated: Jul 18, 2023     Views: 44434

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:

  • Gale In Context: Biography
  • American National Biography
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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

  • Wolfreys , Julian.  Critical keywords in literary and cultural theory.  New York :  Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. [ PN44.5.W64 2004 ]
  • Cuddon , J.A.  ; Preston, C.E..  (rev.)   A dictionary of literary terms and literary theory . Malden, Mass. : Blackwell, 1998. [ REF  PN41 .C83 1998 ]
  • Turco , Lewis.  The book of literary terms : the genres of fiction, drama, nonfiction, literary criticism, and scholarship.  Hanover, NH : University Press of New England,  c1999. [ PN44.5.T87 1999 ]
  • Spengemann , William C.  The forms of autobiography : episodes in the history of a literary genre.  New Haven : Yale University Press, 1980. [ CT25.S63 1980 ]
  • Memories are made of this - and that
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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

  • Biographies and Memoirs
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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 vs Autobiography

Biography Vs Autobiography

In the biography vs. autobiography debate, there is often confusion between these two stories as they are both the tale of a person’s life. There is, however, one key difference between the two stories. A biography is the story of a specific person’s life but told through another writer’s words. An autobiography is the story of a specific person’s life, told in their own words.

This means biographies are typically written in a third-person voice, while an autobiography will be written in a first-person voice.

What Is the Definition of a Biography?

Biographies are an elaborate method of conveying specific factual information about a person. This often includes the time and place of birth, family background information, a work history, and a look at their personal relationship. If the individual has passed away, then details about their death may also be included in the narrative.

In a biography, there may also be opinionated items included within the narrative with the facts. The individual’s personality may be analyzed, for example, or the author may speculate about the reasons why specific choices were made. What is unique about the biography is that it can be offered in several different formats, including film, music, or literature.

What Is the Definition of an Autobiography?

An autobiography is the story of a person’s life through their own eyes. It is the ultimate expression of “self.” Even though many autobiographies tend to be written with other writers’ help, the story is told as if the person is telling it directly to you in person.

Anyone can write an autobiography. Many people journal about what has happened to them during their day, which is actually an autobiography. Any narrative that comes from the first-person and involves personal circumstances qualifies as an autobiography. Most narratives are offered through literature in this format, but theater and music are sometimes autobiography opportunities.

What Are the Key Differences Between Biographies and Autobiographies?

Biographies are typically based on researched facts about the person who is the subject material for the book. They may or may not include personal interviews of the individual involved. This means a biography may be an authorized work, meaning the person at the center of the story has given permission for the work to proceed or maybe unauthorized.

An autobiography is also written based on a person’s life, but there is more depth to these facts because emotions and thoughts can also be included with the narrative. The approach is more personal because personal stories, memories, and actions may only be known to the person involved that can be included, which may not be available to a third-party author.

What makes the autobiography unique is that the perspective can be as narrow or as biased as the writer wants because it is their perspective that is being offered. A biography cannot necessarily take this approach because if the perspective is not correct, the estate of the individual or the individual on their own can take issue with the publication.

An unauthorized biography can still be published as long as it is based on verifiable facts. If the facts are proven to be untrue, then the person at the center of the unauthorized biography may be able to take legal action against the author of the work.

Which Option Is Best For Telling a Story?

Choosing either a biography or an autobiography to tell the story of a person’s life. Much of it has to do with the personal preferences of the individual involved. If that person doesn’t want to write their own story and doesn’t want to hire ghostwriters to do it for them, then a biography is the best option. Biographies are also typically the only option for stories about historical figures.

Autobiographies are the best choice for those who wish to make a personal connection to their readers. The use of the first-person voice in the narrative makes the story much more intimate, making the story more memorable to the reader. Personal expressions tend to be offered more frequently in this format, which may help the reader gain new insights into their own life through the tales of a life lived by another.

So in the biography vs. autobiography debate, one is meant to inform readers of a person’s life experiences. The other is to express those life experiences by deciding what format creates the best possible dialogue.

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This 47-page mini-ebook gives you everything you need to start writing your own autobiography, including:

–Developing an overall theme

–Outlining your autobiography

–Choosing a winning title

–Best autobiography layouts

–Autobiography marketing strategy and more!

Your guide is on its way! Check your inbox.

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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:

  • Biography is a detailed account of a person’s life written by someone else, while an autobiography is written by the subject themselves.
  • Biography can be written with (authorised) or without permission (unauthorised) from the person/heir’s concerned. Therefore, there are chances of factual mistakes in the information. On the other hand, autobiographies are self-written and therefore doesn’t require any authorization.
  • Biographies contain information that is collected over a period of time from different sources and thus, it projects a different outlook to the readers. On the other hand, autobiographies are written by the subject themselves, therefore, the writer presents the facts and his thinking in his own way, thus providing an overall narrow and biased perspective to the readers.
  • In an Autobiography, the author uses the first narrative like I, me, we, he, she, etc. This, in turn, makes an intimate connection between the author and the reader since the reader experience various aspects as if he/she is in that time period. As opposed a biography is from a third person’s view and is much less intimate.
  • The purpose of writing a biography is to introduce and inform the readers about the person and his life whereas an autobiography is written in order to express, the life experiences and achievements of the narrator.

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.

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How To Write An Autobiography

Autobiography Vs Biography

Last updated on: May 29, 2023

Autobiography vs. Biography - What are the Differences?

By: Cordon J.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Mar 22, 2023

Autobiography vs Biography

Have you ever wondered about the differences between an autobiography and a biography?

You may have heard of these two terms before, but do you know how they are different from each other? Unfortunately, many people think that both could be used interchangeably, and that both are the same.

Well, you're in luck, because in this blog, we'll explore autobiographies and biographies and their unique perspectives on people's lives. This blog will go over the key differences between biographies and autobiographies so you can make a decision easily.

So without further delay let’s get started!

Autobiography vs Biography

On this Page

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a book written by someone about their life. Autobiographies are written in the first person throughout because the writer is the protagonist and the main character of the story.

The purpose of writing an autobiography is to provide a detailed account of the narrator's accomplishments and life events.

The autobiography style generally begins with early childhood and proceeds chronologically, listing all of a person's experiences throughout their life.

Autobiographies include information about where someone grew up, their career, life choices, accomplishments, and challenges they overcame.

Related Blog: Click here to discover the various types of autobiography .

Elements of an Autobiography

Let's explore these key components of an autobiography:

  • First-person narrative: An autobiography is written in the first person, which means that the author tells their story using the pronoun "I."
  • Personal tone: As the author is writing about their own experiences and insights, autobiographies often have a more personal and introspective tone.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Autobiographies aim to cover the entire life story of the author, from their childhood to the present. This can include pivotal events such as the author's birth, family life, education, relationships, etc.
  • Life experiences and motivations: Autobiography informs the audience about the author's life experiences, motivations, and perspectives. This can include the author's beliefs, values, and goals. 
  • ‘The Story of My Life’ by Helen Keller
  • ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank

Here's a short sample autobiography:

Follow the link to uncover the secrets to writing an astonishing autobiography, with this “ how to write an autobiography ” guide.

What is a Biography?

A biography is a history of a person's life written by someone else. Biographies are often written about famous individuals and personalities like sportsmen, motivational speakers, inspirational figures, etc.

Biographies also cover the subject's entire life. Therefore, it is crucial to include important information about the person's place of birth, education, childhood experiences, partnerships, and so on.

Elements of a Biography

Here are some key components of biography:

  • Third-person perspective: Biographies are written in the third-person perspective. That means that the author tells the subject's story using pronouns such as "he," "she," or "they." 
  • Chronological order: Biographies are typically organized in chronological order. It means that biographies are structured according to the timeline of the subject's life. 
  • Formal and impersonal tone: Biographies are often more formal and impersonal in tone than autobiographies. The author may use a more scholarly writing style and avoid revealing personal thoughts and feelings. 
  • Comprehensive coverage: Biographies are meant to provide a comprehensive account of the subject's life. It covers all of the important events and milestones in their life, from their childhood to their achievements, and legacy. 
  • Accuracy: Biographies are often used as historical or educational resources. Therefore, it is important that the information presented is accurate and well-researched. 
  • ‘His Excellency: George Washington’ by Joseph J. Ellis
  • ‘Einstein: The Life and Times’ by Ronald William Clark

Here is a short biography sample:

Looking for an exceptional biography to read? Click on the link to read one for inspiration!

Autobiography vs. Biography - Key Differences

There are a few significant distinctions between biographies and autobiographies, despite the fact that they may appear to be similar.

Let’s take a look at some significant and key differences between the two.

Watch the video below to gain a more profound comprehension of autobiography vs biography.

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Similarities between an Autobiography and a Biography

Although they are distinct genres, biographies and autobiographies do have some things in common.

  • Primary and Main Goal - The main goal of both types of books is to tell the story and life events of a person's life.
  • Non-fiction Works - Autobiographies and biographies are nonfiction works that document significant events in a person's life. You can safely say that that is a kind of nonfiction novel that presents the facts.
  • Prominent Figures as Subjects - Biography or autobiography is typically used to tell the stories of well-known people who have made remarkable achievements. Based on these similarities, many people wrongly think that they are the same.

Based on these similarities, many people wrongly think that they are the same.

Get a closer look at this autobiography vs biography worksheet we've designed for you!

Autobiography vs Biography Worksheet

Are Autobiography and Memoir the Same?

A biography includes the life of an individual, whereas a memoir is not necessarily an autobiography.

An autobiography, as the name implies, is a book that includes details like the person’s life story in chronological order. A formal, non-fiction style is employed.

A memoir focuses on a specific incident or component of someone's life rather than the complete narrative. Writing a memoir is more casual and emotional in nature.

Autobiography vs. Biography vs. Memoir

Here is a complete comparison chart that displays the key differences between all three kinds of works.

Curious to learn the differences between autobiographies and memoirs in detail? If so, click on this link to get your questions answered!

To sum up, in an autobiography, the subject is telling a story about their own life. In a biography, someone else tells the story of someone's life. Both are important and interesting, but they both have different perspectives to offer. 

With so many options out there, we hope this blog helps narrow your search for one that best suits your interests!

Still, feeling unsure about how to start your autobiography or biography? can help! 

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which is better: biography or autobiography.

Both of these works are different from each other so no one could say for sure which one is better. Both are written for the same purpose and, therefore, besides the usual differences, both of them serve an important purpose.

What are the 4 types of biography?

Here are the 4 types of biography;

  • Historical fiction
  • Academic biography
  • Fictional academic
  • Prophetic biography

All 4 are different from each other and have different purposes also.

What is the difference between an autobiography and an autobiographical narrative?

An autobiography is a complete account of a person’s life, written and told in the person’s own words. However, when only a few events are narrated, it becomes an autobiographical narrative.

Is autobiography a narrative?

An autobiography is a nonfiction narrative. It means that though the stories and events are true it is told in a storytelling format.

How long is an autobiography?

Usually, an autobiography is between 200 to 400 pages long.

Can a book be both biography and autobiography?

No, a book cannot be both biography and an autobiography at the same time. A biography is a written account of someone's life as written by someone else. In contrast, an autobiography is a written account of someone's life written by the person themselves.

Cordon J.

Law, Education

Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

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Biography Vs Autobiography: Best Similarities and Differences 2023

Biography Vs Autobiography: Best Comparison

  • MatthewDusQues

The three primary formats used to tell the life story include autobiography, biography and memoir. Many think that the two writing forms are one and the same thing, but there are noticeable differences between the two.

The article is about the key difference between a biography and an autobiography. It discusses two significant differences: how much control the author has in deciding what to include and whether it’s written by someone who knows they will die soon.

For anyone who has ever wondered what the difference is between a biography and an autobiography, Penn Book will provide readers with a detailed explanation of the different types of Biography Vs Autobiography that exist along with their benefits/drawbacks to ensure you’re writing within the correct scope.

What is Autobiography?

What is a autobiography

Autobiographies are authored by the author. Because the author is the main character, autobiographies are first-person.

An autobiography recounts the writer’s life. An autobiography is a life tale, hence it’s usually written later in life.

These autobiographies start in childhood and cover their entire life. The author’s birth, upbringing, education, work history, life experiences, and achievements are frequently included in an autobiography.

An autobiography is more subjective than a biography. Autobiographies are based on the subject’s memories of the event. It’s also biased. Your autobiography reveals your thoughts and feelings.

Here are some examples of autobiographies that are well-known:

  • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson

The following are the key trails of an autobiography.

  • Written in the first person POV of the author’s life. Sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator
  • Formal and objectively more formal than memoirs but subjectively more than biographies
  • Wide in scope and timeline, often covering the author’s entire lifetime up to the present
  • More on facts than emotions
  • This requires more research and fact-checking than memoirs, but less so than biographies.

What is Biography?

What is a biography?

Biographies are life stories, like autobiographies. Biographies (bios) are non-fiction accounts of a person’s life written by someone else. Biographies are not autobiographies. Historical figures are usually biographied. You can write them without author permission.

Biographies cover the subject’s education, profession, and connections. Biographers use letters, diaries, photographs, interviews, newspapers, and reference books. Biographies are written. Music and film can also produce it.

Authors sequence events. The book’s fundamental premise determines whether they categorise by themes, achievements, or topics.

Here are some examples of famous biographies:

  • His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
  • Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald William Clark
  • Princess Diana – A Biography of The Princess of Wales by Drew L. Crichton
  • Churchill: A Life by Martin Gilbert: Through years of in-depth research, Gilbert offers a detailed and honest look into the man’s life who led Britain to victory in the Second World War.

The following are the key trails of a biography.

  • A story about another person’s life, usually a celebrity or public figure, is told from the third person point of view.
  • Formal and more objective than autobiographies and memoirs
  • Wide in scope and timeline, often covering all aspects of the subject’s life until the present
  • Only the facts are important
  • To ensure accuracy, it is necessary to do thorough research and fact checking.

What Is The Difference Between Biography And Autobiography?

Key Different Between Biography vs Autobiography

There are many similarities between autobiographies and biographies. However, there are also some notable differences between biography and autobiography although both describe the person’s character sketch and their life story.

Autobiographies resemble biographies. Biography and autobiography both depict a person’s character and life, but there are important variances.

Autobiography vs. biography : Authorship. The author autobiographs the book. Biographies are written by others.

Since autobiographies are about the author’s life , they’re written from his perspective (my, my). Biographies are written in the third person (she/her, his, etc.) to share someone else’s experience.

Authorized vs. Unauthorized : Unauthorized biographies exist. Autobiographies are permissible.

Biographies are more objective than autobiographies. Biographers use journalistic research. Interviews and historical research are included. Autobiographies are based on the author’s memories, not others’.

Autobiographies and biographical essays tell the author’s story , whereas biographies inform.

Autobiographies use first-person storytelling , such as “I, me,” to connect with readers. Biographies, on the other hand, are third-person and less personal.

Similar Elements in Autobiography vs Biography

Similar Elements in Autobiography vs Biography

Autobiographies and biographies share elements.

Both books tell a life story.

Nonfiction: Biographies and autobiographies depict life experiences.

Notable subjects: Biographies and autobiographies often feature famous athletes, politicians, business leaders, and others.

Children’s Biographies And Autobiographies

Children's Biographies And Autobiographies

Florence Nightingale : Y2 Information Texts: Sample biography.

This Snow White biography from our Y3 Information Texts will transport you: Snow White’s biography is here.

Mary Mackillop Our Mary MacKillop Biography Factual Recount Writing Sample can teach you about biography features before August 8th.


Our The Diary of Anne Frank Autobiography Reading Comprehension can help your students understand autobiographical writing by focusing on a famous example.

You: Autobiographical writing is best taught by doing it. Help your pupils write memoirs using this brief template.

Is a Memoir the Same as an Autobiography?

Is a Memoir the Same as an Autobiography

Memoirs are not autobiographies, yet the author writes them.

Autobiographies recount the author’s life from childhood till publication. Formal, fact-based writing.

Memoirs are shorter than autobiographies and focus on one event or aspect of the author’s life. Memoirs are more romantic and casual.

Example of a Memoir: Born a Crime

Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime shows readers another side of his life. This book covers Noah’s childhood as a biracial child of a black mother and a white father in apartheid South Africa.

Noah was unlawful since his country forbade interracial marriages. The author’s difficult childhood is revealed in this book. It’s emotional and humorous.

Unique Insights Into Life Stories

Nonfiction books on intriguing people can be informative. These pieces can be sad, inspiring, or funny. They always teach. To extend your perspectives, read biographies, motivational autobiographies, and moving memoirs.

FAQs about Autobiography vs Biography


What are the 4 types of biography?

A biography is a specialized form of life history. A biography is a narrative of events that is based on the life of one person. There are four types of biography: academic, fictional, historical, and prophetic.

How long is an autobiography?

Although there are no set length guidelines for autobiographies, a good guideline is 200-400 pages. This will ensure that your book is in line with readers’ expectations and help you get your book published traditionally or market your self-published work.

Does an autobiography have chapters?

A biography’s contents page will provide a good indication of the structure used by the author. Biographies usually have approximately 68,000 words long chapters, but there aren’t any hard and fast rules. A few chapters can add variety to the book’s pace.

How long is a short autobiography?

Nonfiction books usually have between 5 to 20 chapters. If you have less than five chapters, your book may run out of space or contain too many ideas.

How do facts in a memoir differ?

In a memoir, the facts are equivalent to the views. Compared to other forms of nonfiction, facts in memoirs are substantially lengthier. A list of facts is presented in a memoir’s conclusion. In a memoir, the author’s perspective shapes the facts.

How to identify an autobiography?

To identify an autobiography, look for a first-person account of someone’s life written by the subject themselves. Pay attention to clues in the text that suggest the author is writing about their own experiences, such as using the pronoun “I” or referring to events in the past tense. You can also look for information about the author on the book’s cover or in the introduction.

Why is autobiography more authentic?

An autobiography is a person’s story of their own life, written by them. It is more authentic than other types of biography because it comes directly from the person’s experiences and memories.

Biographies are usually more objective and unbiased than autobiographies because they rely on outside sources to inform their writing. Autobiography can be rawer as it relies solely on the author for information about themselves.

Both types have their advantages and disadvantages in their own way depending on what you’re researching or interested in reading about, so we hope this article has been helpful!

Read more: Memoir Vs Autobiography 2023: Which is better?

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