A Guide to How to Write a Bio

Have you been thinking about writing an excellent biography?

Stop stressing yourself! All the help you need in writing a successful biography has been researched, compiled, and incorporated into this article. This guide reflects the techniques and bio ideas used to compose the best biographies written by authors with a professional background.

On reading this article, you are going to learn the truth about biography writing, types of biography, the best techniques used in biography writing and the inspirational benefits involved in biography writing. After reading this guide, you will be able to boast of professional skill in biography writing.

Before we venture into the useful techniques, in order to assert our basic competence, it is of high relevance that we study the definition and history of Biography writing.

What is a biography?

A biography, usually shortened as bio, is a thorough report of a person’s lifetime. More than just the fundamental facts for example: education, work, relationships, and death. Biography depicts the experiences of a person during these endeavors.

Opposite to a résumé or profile, a good bio expounds the life story of the subject, thereby drawing attention to these numerous aspects of his/her life. To add spice to the biography, many experts include intimate niceties of experiences, philosophies, most controversial positions on social issue and a good analysis of the subject’s personality.

Usually, biographical works are non-fictional; however, fiction might also be adopted in depicting a person’s life. Aside being a form of writing, biography is also referred to as a genre because of its wide adoption in diverse media works, literary works and film industry. One profound form of biographical reporting is termed legacy writing.


Initially, biographical writings were merely considered as a subdivision of history, which focuses on a specific person of chronological relevance. The autonomous recognition of biography as a genre began around 18th century and attained its modern form at the turn of the 20th century.

Modernization of Biography

The growth of sciences and social sciences, at the turn of the 20th century, brought about the birth of the new century’s biographies. With this sociological shift from the once revered “great man” theory of history to the more factual Darwinian theories, a new approach was adopted in biographical writings.

This new approach conceived man to be a result of his environment, and downplayed individuality at the slightest chance. Also, the expansion of psychoanalysis paved way to a more in-depth and all-encompassing comprehension of biographical subjects, thereby mandating biographers to elucidate more on the subject’s childhood and adolescence. This change dismissed conventional notions of heroes and divine success.

The modern biography is a form that mandates biographers to use psychoanalysis in filtering the subject’s account and sociology to ascertain the truth of his life.

Common existing types of biography

There are basically two types of biography based on permission and acceptance gotten from the subject of subject heirs, id est;

  1. Unauthorized Biography: It is written without the permission of the subject or subject’s heirs.
  2. Authorized biography: It is written with the cooperation, permission, and participation of a subject or a subject’s heirs.
  3. Autobiography: This type of biography is written by the subject although he might collaborate with an expert.
  4. Memoir: When writing a memoir, the subject himself/herself recounts the details of a specific event, which he/she experienced firsthand.If you are interested how to write about yourself, keep reading to get the basic ideas of writing a bio of any kind.

List of forms of biography

These forms are categorized according to their specializations. These are as follows:

  • Popular biography
  • Historical biography
  • Literary biography
  • Reference biography
  • Fictional biography

Functions of biography

  • It provides details regarding the life of a person
  • It combines bulky or boring information in an entertaining manner.
  • It gives readers, who do not know the subject before, a feeling of acquaintance with the subject.
  • Biographies satisfy the curiosities of wannabes, who are really interested in knowing more about their mentors. It motivates and encourages the readers.

Tips for writing a biographical research

According to Miller, a Biographical research is a research technique which includes the collection, evaluation and analyses of the full data of a person’s life, or a portion. This is done via thorough interview, or dive into his/her personal documents or both. Just like we mentioned earlier, it is a way of viewing social sphere through procedural lens, rather than static terms.

The main goal of biographical research is recreating rich descriptions of the concerned subject. A good ideas is also to look through some historical bio examples of famous historical figures to get an idea of how an interesting bio should be written. In order to write a good biography, proper research must be made. You will need to prepare these ten things ahead of the writing process.

Ten things every good biography example contains

A Developed Link between the Author the Subject

No reader gets interested in a bio written by an uninterested writer. You must be able to prove beyond all doubts that you are also interested in getting the truth about the subject’s existence. Readers ought to know the reasons the bio is pertinent to them and the best way to express that is by explicitly articulating your interest.


The aim of writing a biography is to help people connect more to the reality of the subject. Nothing is as real as an historical reference. Also, it helps such bio gain popularity amongst people from a particular area that the subject came from. Readers want to know where the subject haled from, and grew up


By stating the achievements of the subject, you are giving people a reason to celebrate the subject and biographies of celebrated people sell the most. Let them know the name of the awards the subject was awarded and when he/she were awarded; the certificates they earned and the reviews they got from the business community, in the press, from your customers and your peers.


The greatest characteristics of humans are their weakness and times of trials. You are going to humanize your subject by including different ordeals he faced during his upbringing.

How to write a good biography ?

  • Pick a Subject

Your subject is that person that the whole biography would be about. Consider these factors when you picking your subject

  • Is the person interesting?

Determine whether the person, you want to write about is the kind that arouses interest in the heart of readers. Perhaps this person is not interesting, you can write a fictional story in form of a biography for him/her. This depends on the person’s experiences and the entire coverage of the biography. For instance, for any person who is inexperienced in life or if his/her life has never been full of adventurous events, writing a long biography would not be easy.

Writing about famous people or political figures can be a good hint here because of their exciting and celebrated existence. A person like Edmund Hillary or President Reagan would make a good biographic subject because people are interested in the life of the person who climbed Mount Everest in the or life of the president.

Do not get me wrong. I’m not saying only celebrities should be your subjects but the bitter truths is that for an ordinary person’s biography to be interesting, it should include some extraordinary stories – so even if the person is not a celebrity, a biography writer should paint him/her in a way that gets the attention of people.

  • Do you have the permission?

Before you start writing on a particular subject, you ought to get the permission of the subject or the subject’s heir. You can write an unauthorized biography but the lack of authorization can be a jinx in itself. You will need valid information about the subject and such information can only be gotten from the subject or his/her immediate family members- you are at the risk of writing a farce in the process of shunning important authorization.

The big risk involved in writing an unauthorized biography is that if you hurt someone’s reputation via your unauthorized biography, you could get to a lawsuit.

  • Outline the biography

This is very important because it serves as the foundation of the biography. An outline is a collection of the topics/areas you are going to write. In the course of research, you can change, rectify or omit some parts of the outline but the main purpose of having an outline is to give your research a direction.

Do you want to expand the coverage of the biography to the person’s whole life, or do you want to focus it on a specific aspect of what that person has done for the society?

  • Organize your researches chronologically

The best way of organizing non fictional Biographies is chronological organization. Alternative ways of writing biographies are:

  • In media res: “In Media res” is a literary terminology which means “in the middle of things”. Any story written, in media res style will begin in between the tale, then backward, and, finally forward to the beginning of the story. After then, the story will progress to the end
  • Via interviews: This arrangement is organized after a series of interviews.
  • By topic: This arrangement is topic-based and these listed topics include items of events that affected the person’s life.

Whether it is by topic, through interviews or in media res, make sure your report cuts across Birth and Childhood, Adult Life, and how his/her death was handled.

Determining how to split up the chapters or what points you want the book to discuss is. For example, if you plan to write a biography only at your discretion.

Read also: Guide to writing a formal research paper.

Write and edit

After all the research and prewriting, the next thing to do is to write, write and write. Make your report represent your subject staunchly and depict an interesting story to the audience. Do not exclude relevant details, and stick to your thesis.