Autobiography vs. Biography | Differences, and Similarities

Written by

Mark Robert

6 mins read
autobiograhy vs biography

People often mistakenly use the words "autobiography" and "biography" interchangeably, when they actually have different meanings. An autobiography is a story of someone's own life, while a biography is a story of someone else's life.

There are two different types of writing: biography and autobiography. They tell a story about somebody's life, but there are some important differences between the two forms.

This blog will list the key differences so you can make an informed decision. To know about autobiography vs. biography you must go through the blog to understand in a better way.

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a non-fictional story about someone's life written in the first person by a subject him/herself. This means that the writer is the main character and tells the story from their own perspective.

The purpose of writing an autobiography is to provide a detailed account of the narrator's life story. This includes highlighting the narrator's accomplishments and any important life events.

The autobiography style tells the story of someone's life. It starts with their early childhood and goes chronologically through each experience they had.

Autobiographies include details about where someone grew up, their career, any life choices they made, as well as their accomplishments and challenges. Autobiographies written by the subject also include birthplace and education.

Elements of an Autobiography

Following are the essential elements of an autobiography:

  • It is written in the first person.
  • It is more private than a biography.
  • A complete story of the subjects’ life is covered in it.
  • It elaborates to the audience about the life experiences of the author and his accomplishments.


  • ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank
  • ‘The Story of My Life’ by Helen Keller

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What is a Biography?

A biography is a story about someone's life. It is usually written by someone who is not that person. Biographies are often written about famous people, like sportsmen, motivational speakers, or inspirational figures.

A biography only includes important information about a person's life. This includes where they were born, what school they went to, their childhood experiences, any partners they have been involved with, and so on.

Elements of a Biography

Following are the essential elements of a biography:

  • It is written in the third-person perspective.
  • It has a chronological order.
  • It is more formal and unbiased than an autobiography.
  • Covers the major events of the authors’ life.
  • Ensure the information provided is accurate through proper research.


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

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Autobiography vs. Biography - The Major Differences

There are a few differences between biographies and autobiographies, even though they may seem similar.

Following are those differences.

Characteristics Autobiography Biography
Authorship Written by the subject him/herself. Never written by the subject him/herself.
Point of View Authors' own point of view Consists of the writers' point of view.
Authorization It is always legal. It is published with the consent of the person whose story is being narrated.
Degree of Objectivity It is less objective as it includes all the life events. It is more objective as it includes specific life events.

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Similarities between an Autobiography and a Biography

Both biographies and autobiographies tell the story of someone's life. However, there are some similarities which are as follows:

  • Primary and Main Goal: The main goal of both types of non-fictional stories is to tell the story and life events of a person's life.
  • Non-fiction Works: Nonfiction novels are books that tell true stories. Autobiographies and biographies tell the story of a person's life, including significant events. So these two are examples of non-fictional novels.
  • Prominent Figures as Subjects: A biography and autobiography is a true story about someone who is well-known and has done something remarkable.

People often think that because these things are similar, they are the same which is not true.

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Autobiography vs. Memoir vs. Biography

This is a chart that compares the differences between three different types of work. Have a look at these for a quick understanding.

Autobiography Memoir Biography
Written by the main character himself An account of a specific timeframe Written by someone else
1st person narrative 1st person narrative 3rd person narrative
Subjective in nature Subjective in nature Objective in nature
Personal facts and account of person Personal experience Researched facts
Written to informant motivate Written to explore and reflect Write to inform and create a context
Personal thoughts and feelings Personal thoughts and feelings It presents the facts
Written later in life Written any time in life Written any time in life

Are Autobiography and Memoir the Same?

A biography is about the life of one person, whereas a memoir is not always about the author's life. The memoir focuses on emotions and feelings.

An autobiography is a book that tells the story of someone's life, in chronological order. It is written in a formal, non-fiction style.

A memoir is a story about a specific incident or a part of someone's life, rather than the entire life story. Writing a memoir is more casual and emotional in tone. Therefore, autobiography and memoir can't be the same they have different perspectives.

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Autobiography vs. Biography - Examples

Here are examples so that you are clear about both types of stories:

Autobiography of Malala Yousafzai
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.
Biography of 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 written life in biography form.

There are two types of biographies: autobiographies and biographies. Autobiographies are stories about someone's own life, while biographies tell the story of someone else's life. Both types of stories can be interesting and important to read, but they offer different perspectives.

We hope this blog will help you choose the right option for you. If you need more help, contact and we will help you get your work done on time!

Frequently Asked Question

Which is better: biography or autobiography?

These two pieces are different from each other, so it's hard to say which one is better. They both serve the same purpose, but they're written in different ways.

What are the 4 types of biography?

Here are the 4 types of biography:

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

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

An autobiography is a story of someone's entire life, written by the person themselves. If only a few selected parts of someone's life are written, then it becomes an autobiographical narrative.

How long is an autobiography?

An autobiography is usually between 200 to 400 pages long.

Is autobiography a narrative?

An autobiography is a nonfiction story that is written in a storytelling narrative. This means that the events and stories are true, but they are written in a way that makes them easier to understand.

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