How to Write a Biography: A Guide for Beginners and Pros Alike

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How to Write a Biography: A Guide for Beginners and Pros Alike
Table of Contents
  1. How to Write a Biography: A Guide for Beginners and Pros Alike
  2. What Is a Biography?
  3. What Is the Purpose of a Biography?
  4. Major Tips on How to Write a Biography
  5. Look for Accurate Information
  6. Get Permission if Possible
  7. Keep the Same Tone Throughout the Text
  8. Build a Background
  9. Gather Additional Info
  10. Make Sure You Have a Thesis
  11. Keep it Chronological
  12. Maintain the Structure
  13. Conclusion
  14. Biography Example

One of the ways to be a successful student is writing good academic papers of all kinds. An essay and research paper thesis is some of the most popular, but biography isn’t that common. It’s important to know how to write a biography to draw people’s attention to someone’s life. 

This might not be as easy as it seems at first. But with a TOP tip set, you’ll be alright!

What Is a Biography?

It’s not your regular research paper; it’s more specific and personal as the subject of research is a person. Biographies are papers that describe someone’s life. This has to be a significant person like a historical figure, a famous artist, etc.

It’s crucial to know what elements make a story a biography:

  • Third-person perspective;
  • Their childhood;
  • Their activity;
  • Their interests;
  • Their course of life;
  • Their family;
  • Their death or the most current situation.

It might seem clear how to write a biography, but in fact, the process has more intricacies than you might think. We’ll cover them one by one in this tip set.

What Is the Purpose of a Biography?

Before talking about how to write a biography, you have to understand what’s the purpose of such a paper. There are lots of sources containing tons of information on the subject in case someone you’re writing a biography about is a significant person.

A biography unites all the must-know information as you share the story with the readers. It’s done in the author’s style, which makes reading about the same historical figure more interesting.

Major Tips on How to Write a Biography

A lot can be said on the topic since biographies can be of different kinds and written in different styles. However, if it’s a standard bio you’re making as an assignment, the main point is to describe the life of the figure in the clearest, most interesting way.

Here are some tips for you to become a great biography author.

Look for Accurate Information

There should be lots of fact checks because you’ll have to write about the person’s family, with every event and accomplishment described using relevant info. Only refer to reliable sources and make sure you cite them properly. This may add or deduct points from the paper, just like from any other piece of academic writing. So make proper references to websites and other sources you’re citing in the biography.

Get Permission if Possible

If it’s possible, ask for permission to complete the paper. The fact that you had contact with the relatives of the figure, for example, will make the paper so much more special. They can also tell you more about a certain moment, flashback, period of time in the life of the artist, politician, etc. you’ll be talking about.

Keep the Same Tone Throughout the Text

As you complete the text, read it and see if the tone is the same throughout it. No matter whether it’s an adult or a child, you have to mention every major accomplishment they have achieved. Also, make sure the tone is appropriate. While for an adult, it may be serious and rather dry, if you’re making a bio about a child, make sure there are some adjustments.

Build a Background

If the person is not very famous, make sure you build the grounds to get a reader to know who you’re talking about. Introduce the character well.

Make the bio like a book (not that large, though). Every chapter can be about a certain stage of the person’s life. And be sure there’s the last chapter that says the most current situation, whether they are alive and well.

Gather Additional Info

You can also watch a documentary about the person if it’s someone very famous. This will save you lots of time and effort, and you’ll watch an interesting movie. If it’s a high-quality documentary, you won’t regret it.

Make Sure You Have a Thesis

Even a bio must contain the main idea - a thesis. Think about the most prominent achievement or event and make it the center, the main purpose of the whole paper. It’s better if it’s relevant to modern problems.

Keep it Chronological

The most logical way is to describe the life of a person in chronological order. You can make it backward as well for originality, but the basic rules are that you should share info from the earliest period of their life.

Chronicle the events in a way interesting to read. If it’s not essential, there’s no necessity to mention it (unless you’re making a fully-detailed paper). Let the paper contain some humor or pun as in a satire essay if applicable. And keep it detailed unless you have a lot of material and a little space. Make sure each paragraph tells about another deciding point, flashback, or prominent moment of the life of the subject.

Maintain the Structure

While your own style is fine, there are some basic rules as to the structure of the paper. There are:

  • An introductory paragraph containing the thesis;
  • The main body;
  • A conclusion.

Frame the piece of writing in the intro and conclusion for it to become wholesome. But try to keep events in the right order in the main body as well. Think of the people who will read the article without any prior knowledge of the figure.


Writing biography papers isn’t that easy, but if you follow the aforementioned tips, the assignment will come out much better and easier. Give detailed descriptions, evolve the character throughout the paper, build a solid background to engage the reader. Make sure the data you provide is accurate and check the sources.

Along with that, remember about the structure you have to follow and proper formatting. Don’t include personal opinion unless required. And make sure you proofread the paper several times. And if you can’t complete the assignment yourself, you can always ask professionals from WriteMyPaper4Me for help!


Biography Example

The life of Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was born in 1918 in the village of Mvezo in South Africa. His father, Gadla Henry Mphakanyiswa, was an important man. He worked for the king and was the chief of the village. Nelson’s mother was called Nosekeni Fanny.

Nelson Mandela’s father Gadla was a proud and fair man. He always tried to do the right thing for his people. Because of this, he argued with somebody and lost his money and his important job in the village. After this the family moved to Qunu, another small village. Nelson Mandela had a very happy childhood. He went to the local school and was a good student. But when he was ten years old his father died, and his cousin King Jongintaba told Nelson to come and live with him. Nelson had to say goodbye to his family.

When Nelson was nineteen he went to Healdtown College in Fort Beaufort. He moved to Fort Hare College and then went to live in Johannesburg, where he worked as a policeman. But Nelson wanted to become a lawyer. So he went to law school and later set up the first black law firm in South Africa. He married a woman called Evelyn, and they had four children.

At this time in South Africa life was very difficult for black people. There was a system called ‘apartheid’. Many black people could not vote, and they could not travel around their country. They could only go from their home to work. They had to live in ‘townships’ with other black people. The land here was not good. They had no running water, no telephones and no electricity. Mandela spent a lot of time talking with his friends about life in South Africa. They hoped all people in South Africa would one day be free and equal.

Nelson Mandela first became interested in politics when he was at Fort Hare College, and in 1944 he joined the African National Congress (ANC). Life for black people in South Africa was getting worse all the time. Apartheid laws were getting more severe. The ANC tried to help black people. Mandela became well known because he organized a Defiance Campaign with the ANC. He told black people not to obey the laws of apartheid. Thousands of people took part in the Defiance Campaign. The government did not change its apartheid laws, but the ANC grew stronger. People around the world started to hear about it. After the Defiance Campaign, Mandela was put in prison for a while. But he went on fighting for freedom for black people.

In 1957 Mandela and his wife Evelyn were divorced, and in 1958 Mandela married Winnie Madikizela. They lived in the black township of Soweto and had two daughters. But in 1960 the ANC was banned, and in 1963 Mandela was put in prison for life. He was sent away to an island where he could not see his family.

During the 1970s and 1980s there were many riots and protests in South Africa. Many young black people wanted to fight apartheid. The government tried to stop these protests with force. The police and army killed thousands of people. But people in other countries were also speaking out against apartheid. The United States and European countries passed sanctions against South Africa (‘sanctions’ are laws that punish a country). During this time a campaign to free Nelson Mandela also started up. Around the world there were protests. People marched in the streets shouting ‘Free Mandela!’. The South African government saw that Mandela was the only man who could change things in the country. Mandela had talks with South Africa’s new leader, President de Klerk. In February 1990 President de Klerk freed Mandela after 27 years in prison. De Klerk promised to free 374 political prisoners. He said that the ANC and other banned organizations would be legal again. And he said that the government would work on a plan to let all South Africans vote.

In 1991 Mandela became president of the ANC, and in May 1994 he was elected President of South Africa. Apartheid finally came to an end. In 1996 a new constitution was signed, giving freedom of speech for all.

Mandela worked very hard for peace in South Africa. In 1990 he travelled around 14 countries, meeting lots of interesting people including President George Bush Senior and Margaret Thatcher. In December 1993, together with de Klerk, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Nelson Mandela is now 90 years old. He retired from public life in 2004. He lives a much quieter life these days, although he still does a lot of charitable work. He lives in Qunu, the village where he grew up, with his third wife Graca Machel (he and Winnie Mandela separated in 1992).

I admire Nelson Mandela very much because he worked so hard for his people and chose to use peaceful methods of protest. He fought to change South Africa into a country where people of different races could live together and have equal rights.