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Autobiography vs Biography: Key Difference & Similarities

Autobiography vs Biography: Key Difference & Similarities

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

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.

In this blog, we will discuss autobiography vs biography to help you understand the key difference and similarities between them.

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is the 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 where a person’s childhood, career, life choices, achievements, and the difficulties they faced.

Key Traits of an Autobiography

  • Written in the first person
  • More subjective than biographies
  • Broad in scope often cover the writer’s entire life up to the present
  • Inform and explains the motive behind the subject’s actions

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 personality.

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

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

  • Written in the third person point of view
  • Follows chronological order
  • More formal than autobiographies
  • Cover the subject’s entire life
  • Requires more research and fact-checking to ensure all the details are correct

Examples of Popular Biographies Include

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

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Key Difference Between Autobiography and Biography

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

  • Biography is a detailed description of the person’s life story by someone else while autobiographies are written by the subject themselves.
  • Biographies can be written with or without the permission of the subject. Autobiographies are self-written stories therefore does not require any permission.
  • The biography contains information from different sources so projects a different perspective to the readers. In autobiographies, writers present the information in their own way thus providing a biased and a more narrowed perspective.
  • In an autobiography, the first-person narrative like I, me, etc is used to make an intimate connection with the readers. On the other hand, a biography is written in the third-person, providing a less intimate connection.
  • Biography aims to inform readers while the purpose of writing an autobiography is to share the life experiences of the author.

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How Are They Different from a Memoir?

A memoir is similar to an autobiography as 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

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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.

Autobiography Biography Memoir
It means an account of the author’s life story It means an account of a person’s life story by someone else It means an account of personal experience or event
As it is a self-written story thus authorization is not required Authorization is not mandatory Authorization is not mandatory
Express or Inform Inform Express
First-person Third-person First-person
It is based on emotions and thoughts It is based on facts from different sources It is based on personal thoughts, feelings, and reactions

Hopefully, the above guide helps you in understanding 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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