Autobiography vs. Biography - What are the Differences?

autobiography vs. biography

Do you know that both an autobiography and biography are different from each other? Unfortunately, many people think that both could be used interchangeably, and both are the same.

Biography and autobiography are two different types of writing. They tell a story about an individual’s life. But there are some important differences between the two forms.

This blog will go over the key differences between biographies and autobiographies so you can make a decision easily.

Let’s get started!

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.

Elements of an Autobiography

  • The narrative is written in the first person.
  • It is more personal than a biography.
  • The entire story of a person up to the present is covered.
  • Informs the audience about the author or subject’s life experiences and his motives.


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

(back to top)

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

  • The narrative is written in the third-person perspective.
  • It is in chronological order.
  • They are more formal and impersonal than an autobiography.
  • Cover the author’s life in full; birthplace, education, achievement, etc.
  • More work is needed to ensure that all of the information given in it is accurate.


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

(back to top)

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.

Here are some significant and key differences between the two.

Authorship - Who Writes It?

The difference between an autobiography and a biography is who writes the book. The autobiography is always written by that person himself.

In the case of a biography, it is NEVER written by the subject or the main character of the book.

Point of View of the Work

A book in the first-person point of view is generally an autobiography since it is about the author's own experiences.

Because the author is describing someone else's events, a biography is usually written in the third person.

Authorized vs. Unauthorized

An authorized biography documents the life of someone who has given his or her approval and cooperation for the book's publication. Unauthorized biographies, on the other hand, do not have such consent and cooperation.

An autobiography is always legal, regardless of its status.

Degree of Objectivity

A biography is more objective than an autobiography. Biography writers collect information, including reading records of events and interviews with the book's subject and other individuals.

An autobiography author generally relies on his or her personal recollections of events rather than incorporating input from other sources.

(back to top)

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.

(back to top)

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.

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

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 need help? Contact and get your work done in time.

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.

How long is an autobiography?

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

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.


Subscribe to Free Essay Writer writing blog. Get email updates

Paper Due? Why Suffer?
That's our Job

student essay