Autobiography and Biography Differences, Similarities and Definition

Biographies and autobiographies are two classic styles of writing that showcase a person’s character description and life experience. Biography is an individual’s life history recorded by one or two different authors, whereas an autobiography is an expression of a person’s life written by themselves.

These two forms of literature offer a glimpse into someone’s life by giving the readers a perspective of the author’s life at home, in school, or in general, thus, becoming a collection of their past and life experiences. These are usually non-fiction anecdotes, usually written in chronological order, narrating the story of a person who has gained significance during their life or career; e.g. a famous actor or philanthropist.

Many consider both writing styles as interchangeable, however, there are stark differences between an autobiography and a biography, which are discussed in this article, so read on and find out for yourself.

Definition of an Autobiography

Definition of an Autobiography

An autobiography is a biography written by a person about his or her own life. The term ‘auto’ comes from the Latin word for ‘self.’ As a result, an autobiography comprises all of the features of a biography but is written or narrated by the author, who may pen the manuscript alone or engage ghostwriters to do it for them.

An autobiography describes the narrator’s character, their birth, and upbringing, what they learned besides their education, what lessons their career taught them, and various life events, problems, and accomplishments. This might contain firsthand memories and anecdotes from the author’s infancy, adolescence, and adulthood, or to the point of writing.

One of the most important autobiographies in the world is Anne Frank’s Diary, which is still popular among readers today.

Definition of a Biography

Definition of a Biography

A biography, sometimes referred to as a “bio” in short, is a thorough account of a person’s life written or published by someone else. It can contain detailed material on the person’s birthplace, education, employment, relationships, and death. It examines the subject’s persona and gives intimate facts about their life, concentrating on their highs and lows.

A biography is often written down in the form of a book, but it may also take the shape of a musical composition, or a literary or cinema adaptation. It is the recreating of an individual’s life with the use of words written by someone else.

To engross the readers in the tale, the author collects every piece of information available on the subject and includes those facts that are significant and responsible for the fame that the individual attained during or after their lifetime.

Key Differences Between an Autobiography and Biography

Though admittedly, the subject matter is similar, there are many differences between autobiography and biography creation. These range from the creator to other important factors that contribute to making an impactful story to present to the audience.

This blog lists down and explains the difference between autobiography and biography, so you have a better idea of how you can differentiate the two.

1. Who Wrote it?

A biography is a thorough account of a person’s life written by someone other than the subject, whereas an autobiography is written by the subject. This is the main difference between autobiography and biography, and the rest are built upon it.

2. How are they Authorized and Authenticated?

Biographies can be written with the permission of the subject, and are often labeled as authorized, or without that permission and labeled as unauthorized. As a result, there is a potential for misinformation and the material may contain factual errors.

Autobiographies, on the other hand, are written by the subject, do not require permission, and do not have a possibility of mistakes or misinformation, which is an important distinction for the biography vs. autobiography arguments.

3. What are the Sources?

Biographies contain material that has been gathered over time from many sources, and as a result, presents a varied perspective for the readers.

Since autobiographies are written by the subject themselves, the writer provides comparatively better and more authentic facts. Their thoughts are also written in their own style and the information given is controlled. This results in a slightly restricted and biased viewpoint for the readers to enjoy.

4. How Impactful are the Narratives?

The author of an autobiography employs first-person narratives such as I, me, us, he, she, and so on. As a result, the author and reader form an intimate bond. Since the reader experiences the stories in the autobiography as if he or she were in that historical period, or sharing an important accomplishment with the author, this form of a biography can have a profound effect on the audience.

A biography, on the other hand, is written in the third person and is far less personal. It is similar to any other story, dictated through the eyes of another person, and when compared, a little less impactful, when it comes to the variance in the biography vs. autobiography debate.

5. Why are They Written?

When it comes to the purpose of why a biography and an autobiography are written, the intent is another major difference. A biography is written to introduce and enlighten readers about a person and their life, whereas an autobiography is meant to express the narrator’s life experiences and achievements.

6. How Does a Biography Stand out?

Another main difference is that a biography can be written and presented as a book, song, or movie after the subject has passed away. This also leaves biographies in the hands of the person who created them and gives them a bit of artistic liberty, which an autobiography does not lend to the author.

The differences between autobiography and biography all stem from who wrote it and how it is presented. An amalgamation of memories from birth to their current life written by the author is a way to communicate valuable life lessons and anecdotes that they, as influential people, wish to share with their audience.

Biographies are also considered an art form, something that has won multiple awards and nominations over the years but is created by someone other than who they are based on.

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Biography Vs. Autobiography: The Similarities

Both these forms of expression are similar, which means that even though they are separate genres, biographies and autobiographies share some characteristics.

In addition to being popular forms of literature and the arts, and the differences between autobiography and biography, here are similarities that sometimes add a bit of ambiguity about which is which.

1. What is their Primary Goal?

The primary goal of both forms of literature is to describe the stories and important events in a famous and influential person’s life.

As mentioned earlier, these can be written as books, songs, or even scripts for films, which have proven to be a popular genre among readers. Relaying the life of a person, whether through their own words or another author’s, is what makes these two writing forms similar at their core.

2. They are Both Nonfiction Works

Autobiographies and biographies are nonfiction publications that chronicle major events in a person’s life. That is, without a doubt, a type of factual narrative that prefers facts over fiction or long-drawn stories.

Everything communicated through an autobiography or a biography is either researched by an author or told from the point of view of the person, giving their audience a glimpse into their lives.

3. Who are they Written About?

Usually, both biographies and autobiographies are often written for famous and influential people. They highlight their extraordinary accomplishments which make them both famous and interesting to the public, and adds to their popularity as a medium of information.

4. Are Autobiographies and Memoirs the Same?

No, there is a difference between the two, just as there is a difference between an autobiography and a biography. An autobiography communicates the author’s whole life story, but a memoir focuses on a certain point. Though there are always expressions born out of artistic liberty, an autobiography is generally comprehensive, while memoirs are not.


As firsthand accounts of their lives, autobiographies have become popular with famous people. They already have a large fan following, who are eager to read their work and get a glimpse into their personal and professional lives.

Biographies have made it to the bestsellers list for years as they are personal stories of distinguished people. If you are interested in writing one and want to become a better writer, then with one just click, you can learn by accessing some of the best content creators and resources available on the internet. You can also hire our professional writers to help you write and publish your story!

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