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Snapshot of My Life: Autobiographical Photo Essay

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How to Create an Engaging Photo Essay (with Examples)

Photo essays tell a story in pictures. They're a great way to improve at photography and story-telling skills at once. Learn how to do create a great one.

Learn | Photography Guides | By Ana Mireles

Photography is a medium used to tell stories – sometimes they are told in one picture, sometimes you need a whole series. Those series can be photo essays.

If you’ve never done a photo essay before, or you’re simply struggling to find your next project, this article will be of help. I’ll be showing you what a photo essay is and how to go about doing one.

You’ll also find plenty of photo essay ideas and some famous photo essay examples from recent times that will serve you as inspiration.

If you’re ready to get started, let’s jump right in!

Table of Contents

What is a Photo Essay?

A photo essay is a series of images that share an overarching theme as well as a visual and technical coherence to tell a story. Some people refer to a photo essay as a photo series or a photo story – this often happens in photography competitions.

Photographic history is full of famous photo essays. Think about The Great Depression by Dorothea Lange, Like Brother Like Sister by Wolfgang Tillmans, Gandhi’s funeral by Henri Cartier Bresson, amongst others.

What are the types of photo essay?

Despite popular belief, the type of photo essay doesn’t depend on the type of photography that you do – in other words, journalism, documentary, fine art, or any other photographic genre is not a type of photo essay.

Instead, there are two main types of photo essays: narrative and thematic .

As you have probably already guessed, the thematic one presents images pulled together by a topic – for example, global warming. The images can be about animals and nature as well as natural disasters devastating cities. They can happen all over the world or in the same location, and they can be captured in different moments in time – there’s a lot of flexibility.

A narrative photo essa y, on the other hand, tells the story of a character (human or not), portraying a place or an event. For example, a narrative photo essay on coffee would document the process from the planting and harvesting – to the roasting and grinding until it reaches your morning cup.

What are some of the key elements of a photo essay?

  • Tell a unique story – A unique story doesn’t mean that you have to photograph something that nobody has done before – that would be almost impossible! It means that you should consider what you’re bringing to the table on a particular topic.
  • Put yourself into the work – One of the best ways to make a compelling photo essay is by adding your point of view, which can only be done with your life experiences and the way you see the world.
  • Add depth to the concept – The best photo essays are the ones that go past the obvious and dig deeper in the story, going behind the scenes, or examining a day in the life of the subject matter – that’s what pulls in the spectator.
  • Nail the technique – Even if the concept and the story are the most important part of a photo essay, it won’t have the same success if it’s poorly executed.
  • Build a structure – A photo essay is about telling a thought-provoking story – so, think about it in a narrative way. Which images are going to introduce the topic? Which ones represent a climax? How is it going to end – how do you want the viewer to feel after seeing your photo series?
  • Make strong choices – If you really want to convey an emotion and a unique point of view, you’re going to need to make some hard decisions. Which light are you using? Which lens? How many images will there be in the series? etc., and most importantly for a great photo essay is the why behind those choices.

9 Tips for Creating a Photo Essay

autobiography photo essay

Credit: Laura James

1. Choose something you know

To make a good photo essay, you don’t need to travel to an exotic location or document a civil war – I mean, it’s great if you can, but you can start close to home.

Depending on the type of photography you do and the topic you’re looking for in your photographic essay, you can photograph a local event or visit an abandoned building outside your town.

It will be much easier for you to find a unique perspective and tell a better story if you’re already familiar with the subject. Also, consider that you might have to return a few times to the same location to get all the photos you need.

2. Follow your passion

Most photo essays take dedication and passion. If you choose a subject that might be easy, but you’re not really into it – the results won’t be as exciting. Taking photos will always be easier and more fun if you’re covering something you’re passionate about.

3. Take your time

A great photo essay is not done in a few hours. You need to put in the time to research it, conceptualizing it, editing, etc. That’s why I previously recommended following your passion because it takes a lot of dedication, and if you’re not passionate about it – it’s difficult to push through.

4. Write a summary or statement

Photo essays are always accompanied by some text. You can do this in the form of an introduction, write captions for each photo or write it as a conclusion. That’s up to you and how you want to present the work.

5. Learn from the masters

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Making a photographic essay takes a lot of practice and knowledge. A great way to become a better photographer and improve your storytelling skills is by studying the work of others. You can go to art shows, review books and magazines and look at the winners in photo contests – most of the time, there’s a category for photo series.

6. Get a wide variety of photos

Think about a story – a literary one. It usually tells you where the story is happening, who is the main character, and it gives you a few details to make you engage with it, right?

The same thing happens with a visual story in a photo essay – you can do some wide-angle shots to establish the scenes and some close-ups to show the details. Make a shot list to ensure you cover all the different angles.

Some of your pictures should guide the viewer in, while others are more climatic and regard the experience they are taking out of your photos.

7. Follow a consistent look

Both in style and aesthetics, all the images in your series need to be coherent. You can achieve this in different ways, from the choice of lighting, the mood, the post-processing, etc.

8. Be self-critical

Once you have all the photos, make sure you edit them with a good dose of self-criticism. Not all the pictures that you took belong in the photo essay. Choose only the best ones and make sure they tell the full story.

9. Ask for constructive feedback

Often, when we’re working on a photo essay project for a long time, everything makes perfect sense in our heads. However, someone outside the project might not be getting the idea. It’s important that you get honest and constructive criticism to improve your photography.

How to Create a Photo Essay in 5 Steps

autobiography photo essay

Credit: Quang Nguyen Vinh

1. Choose your topic

This is the first step that you need to take to decide if your photo essay is going to be narrative or thematic. Then, choose what is it going to be about?

Ideally, it should be something that you’re interested in, that you have something to say about it, and it can connect with other people.

2. Research your topic

To tell a good story about something, you need to be familiar with that something. This is especially true when you want to go deeper and make a compelling photo essay. Day in the life photo essays are a popular choice, since often, these can be performed with friends and family, whom you already should know well.

3. Plan your photoshoot

Depending on what you’re photographing, this step can be very different from one project to the next. For a fine art project, you might need to find a location, props, models, a shot list, etc., while a documentary photo essay is about planning the best time to do the photos, what gear to bring with you, finding a local guide, etc.

Every photo essay will need different planning, so before taking pictures, put in the required time to get things right.

4. Experiment

It’s one thing to plan your photo shoot and having a shot list that you have to get, or else the photo essay won’t be complete. It’s another thing to miss out on some amazing photo opportunities that you couldn’t foresee.

So, be prepared but also stay open-minded and experiment with different settings, different perspectives, etc.

5. Make a final selection

Editing your work can be one of the hardest parts of doing a photo essay. Sometimes we can be overly critical, and others, we get attached to bad photos because we put a lot of effort into them or we had a great time doing them.

Try to be as objective as possible, don’t be afraid to ask for opinions and make various revisions before settling down on a final cut.

7 Photo Essay Topics, Ideas & Examples

autobiography photo essay

Credit: Michelle Leman

  • Architectural photo essay

Using architecture as your main subject, there are tons of photo essay ideas that you can do. For some inspiration, you can check out the work of Francisco Marin – who was trained as an architect and then turned to photography to “explore a different way to perceive things”.

You can also lookup Luisa Lambri. Amongst her series, you’ll find many photo essay examples in which architecture is the subject she uses to explore the relationship between photography and space.

  • Process and transformation photo essay

This is one of the best photo essay topics for beginners because the story tells itself. Pick something that has a beginning and an end, for example, pregnancy, the metamorphosis of a butterfly, the life-cycle of a plant, etc.

Keep in mind that these topics are linear and give you an easy way into the narrative flow – however, it might be difficult to find an interesting perspective and a unique point of view.

  • A day in the life of ‘X’ photo essay

There are tons of interesting photo essay ideas in this category – you can follow around a celebrity, a worker, your child, etc. You don’t even have to do it about a human subject – think about doing a photo essay about a day in the life of a racing horse, for example – find something that’s interesting for you.

  • Time passing by photo essay

It can be a natural site or a landmark photo essay – whatever is close to you will work best as you’ll need to come back multiple times to capture time passing by. For example, how this place changes throughout the seasons or maybe even over the years.

A fun option if you live with family is to document a birthday party each year, seeing how the subject changes over time. This can be combined with a transformation essay or sorts, documenting the changes in interpersonal relationships over time.

  • Travel photo essay

Do you want to make the jump from tourist snapshots into a travel photo essay? Research the place you’re going to be travelling to. Then, choose a topic.

If you’re having trouble with how to do this, check out any travel magazine – National Geographic, for example. They won’t do a generic article about Texas – they do an article about the beach life on the Texas Gulf Coast and another one about the diverse flavors of Texas.

The more specific you get, the deeper you can go with the story.

  • Socio-political issues photo essay

This is one of the most popular photo essay examples – it falls under the category of photojournalism or documental photography. They are usually thematic, although it’s also possible to do a narrative one.

Depending on your topic of interest, you can choose topics that involve nature – for example, document the effects of global warming. Another idea is to photograph protests or make an education photo essay.

It doesn’t have to be a big global issue; you can choose something specific to your community – are there too many stray dogs? Make a photo essay about a local animal shelter. The topics are endless.

  • Behind the scenes photo essay

A behind-the-scenes always make for a good photo story – people are curious to know what happens and how everything comes together before a show.

Depending on your own interests, this can be a photo essay about a fashion show, a theatre play, a concert, and so on. You’ll probably need to get some permissions, though, not only to shoot but also to showcase or publish those images.

4 Best Photo Essays in Recent times

Now that you know all the techniques about it, it might be helpful to look at some photo essay examples to see how you can put the concept into practice. Here are some famous photo essays from recent times to give you some inspiration.

Habibi by Antonio Faccilongo

This photo essay wan the World Press Photo Story of the Year in 2021. Faccilongo explores a very big conflict from a very specific and intimate point of view – how the Israeli-Palestinian war affects the families.

He chose to use a square format because it allows him to give order to things and eliminate unnecessary elements in his pictures.

With this long-term photo essay, he wanted to highlight the sense of absence and melancholy women and families feel towards their husbands away at war.

The project then became a book edited by Sarah Leen and the graphics of Ramon Pez.

autobiography photo essay

Picture This: New Orleans by Mary Ellen Mark

The last assignment before her passing, Mary Ellen Mark travelled to New Orleans to register the city after a decade after Hurricane Katrina.

The images of the project “bring to life the rebirth and resilience of the people at the heart of this tale”, – says CNNMoney, commissioner of the work.

Each survivor of the hurricane has a story, and Mary Ellen Mark was there to record it. Some of them have heartbreaking stories about everything they had to leave behind.

Others have a story of hope – like Sam and Ben, two eight-year-olds born from frozen embryos kept in a hospital that lost power supply during the hurricane, yet they managed to survive.

autobiography photo essay

Selfie by Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman is an American photographer whose work is mainly done through self-portraits. With them, she explores the concept of identity, gender stereotypes, as well as visual and cultural codes.

One of her latest photo essays was a collaboration with W Magazine entitled Selfie. In it, the author explores the concept of planned candid photos (‘plandid’).

The work was made for Instagram, as the platform is well known for the conflict between the ‘real self’ and the one people present online. Sherman started using Facetune, Perfect365 and YouCam to alter her appearance on selfies – in Photoshop, you can modify everything, but these apps were designed specifically to “make things prettier”- she says, and that’s what she wants to explore in this photo essay.

Tokyo Compression by Michael Wolf

Michael Wolf has an interest in the broad-gauge topic Life in Cities. From there, many photo essays have been derived – amongst them – Tokyo Compression .

He was horrified by the way people in Tokyo are forced to move to the suburbs because of the high prices of the city. Therefore, they are required to make long commutes facing 1,5 hours of train to start their 8+ hour workday followed by another 1,5 hours to get back home.

To portray this way of life, he photographed the people inside the train pressed against the windows looking exhausted, angry or simply absent due to this way of life.

You can visit his website to see other photo essays that revolve around the topic of life in megacities.

Final Words

It’s not easy to make photo essays, so don’t expect to be great at it right from your first project.

Start off small by choosing a specific subject that’s interesting to you –  that will come from an honest place, and it will be a great practice for some bigger projects along the line.

Whether you like to shoot still life or you’re a travel photographer, I hope these photo essay tips and photo essay examples can help you get started and grow in your photography.

Let us know which topics you are working on right now – we’ll love to hear from you!


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Ana Mireles is a Mexican researcher that specializes in photography and communications for the arts and culture sector.

Penelope G. To Ana Mireles Such a well written and helpful article for an writer who wants to inclue photo essay in her memoir. Thank you. I will get to work on this new skill. Penelope G.

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How to Write an Autobiographical Essay: Tips and Examples

How to Write an Autobiographical Essay: Tips and Examples

Writing an autobiographical essay is a great way to reflect on your life and share your unique perspective with others. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, this article will provide you with the tools and guidance you need to craft a powerful essay that showcases your experiences, thoughts, and interests.

When writing an autobiographical essay, it’s important to first think about your purpose and audience. What do you hope to accomplish with your essay? Are you looking to simply tell your story or do you aim to provide insights into a specific aspect of your life? Understanding your purpose will help you choose the right topics and structure for your essay.

One of the most crucial steps in the writing process is outlining your essay. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your essay flows smoothly from one topic to the next. A clear outline will also make it easier to stay focused on your main thesis statement and avoid veering off track.

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When structuring your essay, consider the narrative form. Autobiographies are often written in a chronological order, starting from your earliest memories and progressing through significant events in your life. This approach allows your readers to travel along with you on your journey, experiencing each moment as it happened. However, you can also choose to organize your essay thematically, grouping similar experiences or topics together.

In the body of your essay, it’s important to remember to provide specific examples and evidence to support your statements. Whether you’re discussing a historical event, your personal achievements, or your thoughts on a particular philosophy or topic, make sure to back up your claims with facts, anecdotes, or personal experiences. This will add depth and credibility to your writing.

Lastly, don’t forget to revise and proofread your essay before submitting it. This extra step is crucial in ensuring that your essay is free from errors and that your thoughts are clearly communicated. Consider having a trusted friend or mentor read through your essay and provide feedback. Their fresh perspective may help you identify areas that need improvement and make your essay even stronger.

Writing an autobiographical essay can be a deeply personal and introspective process. It requires the writer to reflect on their life experiences, thoughts, and emotions, and presents an opportunity for self-discovery and self-expression. By following the tips and examples provided in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to embark on your autobiographical writing journey and create a compelling essay that leaves a lasting impact on your readers.

Understanding Autobiographical Essays

When writing an autobiographical essay, it is necessary to take certain steps in order to achieve a well-structured and compelling paper. This article will provide you with tips and examples to help you understand why these essays are important and how to write them effectively.

First and foremost, it is important to identify your target audience and the purpose of your essay. Are you writing for a professional party, a degree awarding committee, or simply for your own personal satisfaction? Understanding your audience will help you to tailor your writing style and content accordingly.

Next, you’ll need to outline the major events and experiences in your life that you want to focus on in your essay. This could include your upbringing, education, career, hobbies, or any significant moments that have shaped your life. By having a clear plan in mind, you can structure your essay in a logical and coherent manner.

As you write your essay, be sure to revise and edit your work to ensure clarity and coherence. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and make sure that your thoughts flow smoothly from one paragraph to the next. It can also be helpful to have someone else read your essay and provide feedback and suggestions for improvement.

While writing an autobiographical essay, it is important to remember that it is not just a dry recitation of facts. Instead, it should be a compelling narrative that engages and captivates the reader. Use vivid descriptions, personal insights, and examples to bring your story to life.

Finally, don’t be afraid to include personal reflections and thoughts about the larger world and society. Autobiographical essays have the power to not only tell a personal story but also to shed light on broader issues such as politics, economics, inequality, or other topics of interest. By connecting your personal experiences to larger themes, you can make your essay more relatable and impactful.

Key Tips for Writing an Autobiographical Essay

By following these key tips, you can write a compelling autobiographical essay that shares your life story and leaves a mark on the reader. Remember to have fun with your writing and let your unique voice shine through!

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Examples of Autobiographical Essays

When it comes to writing an autobiographical essay, it can be helpful to read examples to get a better understanding of the format and structure. Examples can provide insights into how to effectively share your thoughts, experiences, and perspectives with others.

Here are three examples of autobiographical essays:

  • Title: My Journey in Engineering
  • Summary: This autobiographical essay takes the reader through my journey in the field of engineering, from my childhood interest in building things to my professional accomplishments. It includes reminiscences of studying at a top engineering school, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and my thoughts on the inequality in the field.

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  • Title: A Memoir of My Literary Journey
  • Summary: This autobiographical essay takes a more personal approach and focuses on my passion for literature and writing. It explores how my love for reading and analyzing literature evolved into a hobby and eventually a profession. It includes thoughts on the power of words and the influence of literature on society.
  • Main Body: The essay starts by describing my early encounters with literature and how they sparked my interest. It then dives into my literary education, the books that shaped my perspectives, and my experiences in writing and publishing. It also includes reflections on why literature is important and how it can inspire change.
  • Title: From Politics to Journalism: My Journey in the Media
  • Summary: This autobiographical essay explores my transition from a career in politics to pursuing journalism. It includes my experiences working on political campaigns, my decision to switch careers, and the challenges and rewards of working in the media.
  • Main Body: The essay starts by outlining my involvement in politics and the skills I gained from that experience. It then goes on to detail my thought process when deciding to make a career change and the steps I took to enter the field of journalism. It includes insights on the media industry and my experiences as a journalist.

Reading these autobiographical essay examples can be a helpful guide when starting to write your own. It’s important to choose a title and format that best fits your story and interests, and to build a clear and well-structured essay. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and experiences, as they can provide valuable insights to others. And remember to proofread your essay to ensure it’s free of errors and has a powerful impact.

What is an autobiographical essay?

An autobiographical essay is a piece of writing that tells the story of someone’s life. It usually focuses on significant events, experiences, and personal reflections.

Do I need to have a specific structure for my autobiographical essay?

While there is no strict structure for an autobiographical essay, it is generally recommended to have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide some background information and set the tone for the essay. The body paragraphs should explore different aspects of your life and experiences, while the conclusion should sum up the main points and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

Is it necessary to include all the details of my life in an autobiographical essay?

No, it is not necessary to include every single detail of your life in an autobiographical essay. Instead, focus on the events and experiences that have had a significant impact on you or shaped you into the person you are today. Select the most relevant and interesting stories to share with your readers.

How can I make my autobiographical essay engaging and memorable?

To make your autobiographical essay engaging and memorable, try to incorporate vivid descriptions, personal anecdotes, and your own unique voice. Show, rather than tell, your experiences and emotions to draw the reader into your narrative. Additionally, consider using literary techniques such as foreshadowing or symbolism to add depth and complexity to your writing.

Do I need a title for my autobiography essay?

Yes, it is recommended to have a title for your autobiography essay. The title should be concise, eye-catching, and reflective of the overall theme or message of your essay. It should give the reader a glimpse into what they can expect from your writing. Spend some time brainstorming and come up with a title that truly captures the essence of your story.

An autobiographical essay is a piece of writing that narrates the writer’s own life story. It typically focuses on significant events, experiences, and accomplishments that have shaped the writer’s identity.

How do I start an autobiographical essay?

You can start an autobiographical essay by introducing yourself and providing some background information about your life. You can also begin with a captivating anecdote or a memorable event that has had a significant impact on your life.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California , and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.

Writing Beginner

How To Write an Autobiography 2024 (Tips, Templates, & Guide)

Your life story has value, merit, and significance. You want to share it with the world, but maybe you don’t know how .

Here’s how to write an autobiography:

Write an autobiography by creating a list of the most important moments, people, and places in your life. Gather photos, videos, letters, and notes about these experiences. Then, use an outline, templates, sentence starters, and questions to help you write your autobiography .

In this article, you are going to learn the fastest method for writing your autobiography.

We are going to cover everything you need to know with examples and a free, downloadable, done-for-you template.

What Is an Autobiography?

Typewriter, lightbulb, and crumpled paper - How To Write an Autobiography

Before you can write an autobiography, you must first know the definition.

An autobiography is the story of your life, written by you. It covers the full span of your life (at least, up until now), hitting on the most significant moments, people and events.

When you write your autobiography, you write an intimate account of your life.

What Should I Include In an Autobiography?

If you are scratching your head, baffled about what to include in your autobiography, you are not alone.

After all, a big part of how to write an autobiography is knowing what to put in and what to leave out of your life story. Do you focus on every detail?

Every person? Won’t your autobiography be too long?

A good way to think about how to write an autobiography is to use the Movie Trailer Method.

What do movie trailers include?

  • High emotional moments
  • The big events
  • The most important characters

When you plan, organize, and write your autobiography, keep the Movie Trailer Method in mind. You can even watch a bunch of free movie trailers on YouTube for examples of how to write an autobiography using the Movie Trailer Method.

When wondering what to include in your autobiography, focus on what would make the cut for a movie trailer of your life:

  • Most important people (like family, friends, mentors, coaches, etc.)
  • Significant events (like your origin story, vacations, graduations, life turning points, life lessons)
  • Emotional moments (When you were homeless, when you battled a life-threatening condition, or when you fell in love)
  • Drama or suspense (Did you make it into Harvard? Did your first surgery go well? Did your baby survive?)

Autobiography Structure Secrets

Like any compelling story, a well-structured autobiography often follows a pattern that creates a logical flow and captures readers’ attention.

Traditionally, autobiographies begin with early memories, detailing the writer’s childhood, family background, and the events or people that shaped their formative years.

From here, the narrative typically progresses chronologically, covering major life events like schooling, friendships, challenges, achievements, career milestones, and personal relationships.

It’s essential to weave these events with introspective insights.

This allows readers to understand not just the what, but also the why behind the author’s choices and experiences.

Towards the end, an effective autobiography often includes reflections on lessons learned, changes in perspective over time, and the wisdom acquired along life’s journey.

Example of the Structure:

  • Introduction: A gripping event or anecdote that gives readers a hint of what to expect. It could be a pivotal moment or challenge that defines the essence of the story.
  • Childhood and Early Memories: Recounting family dynamics, birthplace, cultural background, and memorable incidents from early years.
  • Adolescence and Discovering Identity: Experiences during teenage years, challenges faced, friendships formed, and personal evolutions.
  • Pursuits and Passions: Describing education, early career choices, or any particular hobby or skill that played a significant role in the author’s life.
  • Major Life Events and Challenges: Chronicles of marriage, parenthood, career shifts, or any significant setbacks and how they were overcome.
  • Achievements and Milestones: Celebrating major accomplishments and recounting the journey to achieving them.
  • Reflections and Wisdom: Sharing life lessons, changes in beliefs or values over time, and offering insights gained from lived experiences.
  • Conclusion: Summarizing the journey, contemplating on the present state, and sharing hopes or aspirations for the future.

How To Write an Autobiography Quickly: Strategies & Templates

Want the quickest way to organize and write your autobiography in record time? You can literally write your autobiography in 7 days or less with this method.

The secret is to use done-for-you templates.

I have personally designed and collected a series of templates to take you from a blank page to a fully complete Autobiography. I call this the How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint.

And it’s completely free to download right from this article. 🙂

In the How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint, you get:

  • The Autobiography Questions Template
  • The Autobiography Brainstorm Templates
  • The Autobiography Outline Template

Here is an image of it so that you know exactly what you get when you download it:

Autobiography Blueprint

How To Write an Autobiography: Step-by-Step

When you sit down to write an autobiography, it’s helpful to have a step-by-step blueprint to follow.

You already have the done-for-you templates that you can use to organize and write an autobiography faster than ever before. Now here’s a complete step-by-step guide on how to maximize your template.

  • Brainstorm Ideas
  • Order your sections (from medium to high interest)
  • Order the ideas in each section (from medium to high interest)
  • Write three questions to answer in each section
  • Choose a starter sentence
  • Complete a title template
  • Write each section of your by completing the starter sentence and answering all three questions

Brainstorm Your Autobiography

The first step in writing your autobiography is to brainstorm.

Give yourself time and space to write down the most significant people, events, lessons, and experiences in your life. The templates in the How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint provide sections for you to write down your brainstormed ideas.

How to Brainstorm Your Autobiography

This will help you organize your ideas into what will become the major sections of your book.

These will be:

  • Y our most significant events and experiences.
  • The people who impacted you the most.
  • The challenges you have overcome.
  • Your achievements and successes.
  • The lessons you have learned.

The “other” sections on the second page of the Brainstorm template is for creating your own sections or to give you more space for the sections I provided in case you run out of space.

As I brainstorm, I find asking myself specific questions really activates my imagination.

So I have compiled a list of compelling questions to help you get ideas down on paper or on your screen.

How to Write an Autobiography: Top 10 Questions

Order Your Sections (From Medium to High Interest)

The next step is to order your main sections.

The main sections are the five (or more) sections from your Brainstorm templates (Significant events, significant people, life lessons, challenges, successes, other, etc). This order will become the outline and chapters for your book.

How do you decide what comes first, second or third?

I recommend placing the sections in order of interest. Ask yourself, “What’s the most fascinating part of my life?”

If it’s a person, then write the name of that section (Significant People) on the last line in the How to Write an Autobiography Outline Template. If it’s an experience, place the name of that section (Significant Events) on the last line.

For example, if you met the Pope, you might want to end with that nugget from your life. If you spent three weeks lost at sea and survived on a desert island by spearfishing, that is your ending point.

Then complete the Outline by placing the remaining sections in order of interest. You can work your way backward from high interest to medium interest.

If you are wondering why I say “medium to high interest” instead of “low to high interest” it is because there should be no “low interest” parts of your autobiography.

But wait, what if you met the Pope AND spent three weeks lost at sea? How do you choose which one comes first or last?

First of all, I want to read this book! Second, when in doubt, default to chronological order. Whatever event happened first, start there.

Here is an example of how it might look:

Autobiography Example

Order The Ideas in Each Section (From Medium To High Interest)

Now, organize the ideas inside of each section. Again, order the ideas from medium to high interest).

Within your “Significant People” section, decide who you want to talk about first, second, third, etc. You can organize by chronological order (who you met first) but I recommend building to the most interesting or most significant person.

This creates a more compelling read.

Keep in mind that the most significant person might not be the most well-known, most famous, or most popular. The most significant person might be your family member, friend, partner, or child.

It comes down to who shaped your life the most.

So, if your “significant people list” includes your dad, a famous social media influencer, and Mike Tyson, your dad might come last because he had the biggest significance in your life.

Write Three Questions to Answer in Each Section

Ok, you’ve done the heavy lifting already. You have the major sections organized and outlined.

Next on your autobiography to-do list is to choose and write down three questions you are going to answer in each section. You can write your questions down in the provided “boxes” for each section on the template outline (or on another piece of paper.

This is easier than it might seem.

Simply choose one of the sample autobiography questions below or create your own:

  • Why did I choose this person/event?
  • What does this person/event mean to me?
  • How did I meet this person?
  • Where did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?
  • How did it happen?
  • What is the most interesting part?
  • How did I feel about this person or event?
  • How do I feel now?
  • Why does this person or event matters to me?
  • How did this person or event change my life?
  • What is the most challenging part?
  • How did I fail?
  • How did I succeed?
  • What did I learn?

Questions are the perfect way to write quickly and clearly. I LOVE writing to questions. It’s how I write these blog posts and articles.

Choose a Starter Sentence

Sometimes the hardest part of any project is knowing how to start.

Even though we know we can always go back and edit our beginnings, so many of us become paralyzed with indecision at the starting gate.

That’s why I provided sample starter sentences in your How to Write an Autobiography Blueprint.

Here are the story starters:

  • I began writing this book when…
  • Of all the experiences in my life, this one was the most…
  • I’ve been a…
  • My name is…
  • Growing up in…
  • It wasn’t even a…
  • It all started when…
  • I first…
  • I was born…

Keep in mind that you do not need to begin your book with one of these story starters. I provide them simply to get you going.

The key is to not get bogged down in this, or any, part of writing your autobiography. Get organized and then get writing.

Complete a Title Template

At the top of the How to Write an Autobiography Outline is a place for you to write your book title.

Some authors struggle forever with a title. And that’s ok. What’s not ok is getting stuck. What’s not ok is if coming up with your title prevents you from finishing your book.

So, I provided a few title templates to help juice your creativity.

Just like the story starters, you do not need to use these title templates, but you certainly can. All you need to do is fill in the title templates below and then write your favorite one (for now) at the top of your outline. Presto! You have your working title.

You can always go back and change it later.

How to Write an Autobiography Title templates:

  • [Your Name]: [Phrase or Tag Line]
  • The [Your Last Name] Files
  • Born [Activity]: A [Career]’s Life
  • The Perfect [Noun]: The Remarkable Life of [Your Name]

Examples using the Templates:

  • Christopher Kokoski: Blog Until You Drop
  • The Kokoski Files
  • Born Writing: A Blogger’s Life
  • The Perfect Freelancer: The Remarkable Life of Christopher Kokoski

Write Your Autobiography

You have your outline. You have your title, templates, and sentence starters. All that is left to do is write your autobiography.

However, you can use tools like Jasper AI and a few other cool tricks to craft the most riveting book possible.

This is the easy way to remarkable writing.

Check out this short video that goes over the basics of how to write an autobiography:

How To Write an Autobiography (All the Best Tips)

Now that you are poised and ready to dash out your first draft, keep the following pro tips in mind:

  • Be vulnerable. The best autobiographies share flaws, faults, foibles, and faux pas. Let readers in on the real you.
  • Skip the boring parts. There is no need to detail every meal, car ride, or a gripping trip to the grocery store. Unless you ran into the Russian Mafia near the vegetables or the grocery store is perched on the side of a mountain above the jungles of Brazil.
  • Keep your autobiography character-driven . This is the story of YOU!
  • Be kind to others (or don’t). When writing about others in your story, keep in mind that there may be fallout or backlash from your book.
  • Consider a theme: Many autobiographies are organized by theme. A perfect example is Becoming . Each section of the book includes “becoming” in the title. Themes connect and elevate each part of the autobiography.
  • Write your story in vignettes (or scenes). Each vignette is a mini-story with a beginning, middle, and end. Each vignette builds. Each vignette should be described in rich sensory language that shows the reader the experience instead of telling the reader about the experience. Each vignette is immersive, immediate, and intimate.
  • Include snippets of dialogue. Use quotation marks just like in fiction. Show the dialogue in brief back-and-forth tennis matches of conversation. Remember to leave the boring parts out!
  • Choose a consistent tone. Some autobiographies are funny like Bossy Pants by Tina Fey. Others are serious such as Open by Andre Agassi. Your story (like most stories) will likely include a mix of emotions but choose an overall tone and stick with it.
  • Don’t chronicle, captivate . Always think about how to make each section, each chapter, each page, each paragraph, and each sentence more compelling. You want to tell the truth, but HOW you tell the truth is up to you. Create suspense, conflict, and mystery. Let drama linger until it becomes uncomfortable. Don’t solve problems quickly or take away tension right away.

How Do I Format an Autobiography?

Most autobiographies are written in the first person (using the pronouns I, me, we, and us).

Your autobiography is written about you so write as yourself instead of pretending to be writing about someone else.

Most autobiographies are also written in chronological order, from birth right up to your current age, with all the boring parts left out. That doesn’t mean you can’t play around with the timeline.

Sometimes it’s more interesting to start at a high moment, backtrack to the beginning and show how you got to that high moment.

Whatever format you choose, be intentional, and make the choice based on making the most compelling experience possible for your readers.

How Long Should an Autobiography Be?

There are no rules to how long an autobiography should be but a rough guideline is to aim for between 200 and 400 pages.

This will keep your book in line with what most readers expect for books in general, and will help get your book traditionally published or help with marketing your self-published book.

How To Write a Short Autobiography

You write a short autobiography the same way that you write a long autobiography.

You simply leave more out of the story.

You cut everything down to the bones. Or you choose a slice of your life as you do in a memoir. This often means limiting the people in your book, reducing the events and experiences, and shrinking your story to a few pivotal moments in your life.

How To Start an Autobiography

The truth is that you can start your autobiography in any number of ways.

Here are four common ways to begin an autobiography.

  • Start at the beginning (of your life, career or relationship, etc.)
  • Start at a high moment of drama or interest.
  • Start at the end of the story and work backward
  • Start with why you wrote the book.

Good Autobiography Titles

If you are still stuck on titling your autobiography, consider going to Amazon to browse published works. You can even just Google “autobiographies.”

When you read the titles of 10, 20, or 50 other autobiographies, you will start to see patterns or get ideas for your own titles. (HINT: the title templates in the Autobiography Blueprint were reverse-engineered from popular published books.

Also, check out the titles of the full autobiography examples below that I have included right here in this article.

Types of Autobiographies

There are several different kinds of autobiographies.

Each one requires a similar but slightly nuanced approach to write effectively. The lessons in this article will serve as a great starting point.

Autobiography Types:

  • Autobiography for School
  • Autobiography Novel
  • Autobiography for a Job
  • Short Autobiography
  • Autobiography for Kids

Therefore, there is actually not just one way to write an autobiography.

Memoir vs. Autobiography: Are They The Same?

It’s common to feel confused about a memoir and an autobiography. I used to think they were the same thing.

But, nope, they’re not.

They are pretty similar, which is the reason for all the confusion. A memoir is the story of one part of your life. An autobiography is the story of your full life (up until now).

What Is the Difference Between an Autobiography and a Biography?

An autobiography is when you write about your own life. A biography, on the other hand, is when you write the story of someone else’s life.

So, if I write a book about the life of the President, that’s a biography.

If the President writes a story about his or her own life, that’s an autobiography.

What Not To Include In an Autobiography

Autobiographies are meant to be a snapshot of our lives that we can share with others, but there are some things that are best left out.

Here are three things you should avoid including in your autobiography:

1) Anything That Readers Will Skip

Your life may not be filled with non-stop excitement, but that doesn’t mean you need to include every mundane detail in your autobiography.

Stick to the highlights and leave out the low points.

2) Character Attacks on Others

It’s okay to discuss conflicts you’ve had with others, but don’t use your autobiography as a platform to attack someone’s character.

Keep it civil and focus on your own experiences and how they’ve affected you.

3) Skipping Highlights

Just because something embarrassing or painful happened to you doesn’t mean you should gloss over it in your autobiography.

These are the moments that shape us and make us who we are today, so don’t skip past them just because they’re uncomfortable.

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your autobiography is interesting, honest, and engaging.

How To Write an Autobiography: Autobiography Examples

I have always found examples to be extremely instructive. Especially complete examples of finished products. In this case, books.

Below you will find examples of published autobiographies for adults and for kids. These examples will guide you, motivate you and inspire you to complete your own life story.

They are listed here as examples, not as endorsements, although I think they are all very good.

The point is that you don’t have to agree with anything written in the books to learn from them.

Autobiography Examples for Adults

  • A Promised Land (Autobiography of Barack Obama)
  • If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won’t) (Betty White)
  • It’s a Long Story: My Life (Willie Nelson)
  • Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography (Rob Lowe)
  • Becoming (Michelle Obama)

Autobiography Examples for Kids

  • This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (NOT Disability) (Aaron Philips)
  • Bee Fearless: Dream Like a Kid (Mikaila Ulmer)

Final Thoughts: How To Write An Autobiography

Thank you for reading my article on How to Write an Autobiography.

Now that you know all of the secrets to write your book, you may want to get it published, market it, and continue to upskill yourself as an author.

In that case, read these posts next:

  • Can Anyone Write A Book And Get It Published?
  • The Best Writing Books For Beginners 2022 (My 10 Favorites)
  • Why Do Writers Hate Adverbs? (The Final Answer)
  • How To Write a Manifesto: 20 Ultimate Game-Changing Tips

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June 21, 2023

Many people want to know how to write an autobiography to take their place in history or make a mark. This writing helps you list life’s essential milestones, moments, places, and people. It enables you to use your voice to share your story. This article defines an autobiography while explaining how to write it. Also, it shares practical tips for writing a good autobiography. It’s essential because many educators assign students this task, yet most needs help writing an autobiography.

how to write an autobiography

Table of Contents

  • What Is An Autobiography?

What Is The Goal Of An Autobiography?

What to include in an autobiography, how to start an autobiography, how to write a good autobiography of yourself, sample autobiography template, tips on writing an autobiography, what is an autobiography.

An autobiography is a narration by the author depicting their life story chronologically. An autobiography can fall under any of these categories, depending on the purpose:

  • Autobiographical College Essay Some institutions require students to submit an educational autobiography with their college application. It enables students to present themselves to the admission officers while persuading them to accept them into their institutions.
  • Personal Essay A personal essay is a short autobiography. It’s a self-portrait essay that is more emotional and personal, sharing the author’s experiences. Typically, this essay focuses on a specific period, event, or individual. It’s a common assignment in high school and college.
  • Memoir A memoir is an autobiography that doesn’t necessarily cover the writer’s life. It focuses on the most significant and exciting past events, covering as much information as possible.

Comprehensive autobiographies are lengthy and through accounts of the authors’ lives. They cover everything from birth to the current moments.

An autobiography gives a firsthand account of the writer’s life. It provides a higher intimacy level for the readers. This writing can serve the following purposes:

Convey the writer’s life story to a significant audience Help the author leave a mark Reconcile the author’s past Preserve the author’s memories

The primary purpose of an autobiography is to portray the writer’s achievements and experiences. That’s why most people write autobiographies later in life to give firsthand accounts describing their stories.

The first question many ask when planning to write an autobiography is what to include in their composition. And this concern is vital since you must know what to put in a autobiography and what to avoid including in your life story. For instance, you can only focus on some details or every people you’ve met. Otherwise, you will make the autobiography longer than necessary. Here’s a breakdown of what to write about in an autobiography.

  • Significant events: You may include important life events, including your origin, life lessons, life-turning points, vacations, and graduations.
  • Milestones: Talk about your successes and achievements in life.
  • Vital people: Talk about family, friends, coaches, mentors, teachers, and business partners. Share information about the people that affected you the most.
  • Emotional moments: Share details of the challenges you’ve faced when you faced a life-threatening illness, when you were struggling financially, and when you met your spouse.
  • Suspense and drama: How did you feel when your first baby was born? Did you go through surgery? Did you secure admission to your dream college?

Consider a movie trailer when planning, organizing, and writing an autobiography. You can include highly emotional moments and significant events or major characters.

Since an autobiography describes a person’s story, it should start with their origin, including family members, hometown, and educational background. However, ensure you only include relevant details in your story. Here’s a breakdown of the autobiography writing process.

Starting an autobiography involves selecting or creating a compelling title. So, avoid generic phrases and create an engaging heading for the story. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Read Well-Known Autobiographies Many prominent people, including successful artists, business people, politicians, and writers, have written autobiographies. You can read autobiographies of inspiring personalities to get the basics of autobiographical writing.
  • Think about Your Life Remember unusual experiences, significant events, and essential people in your life. Please consider your life and the worthy moments to include in the autobiography. You can talk to people who know some of the outstanding things you’ve done.
  • Make a List Making a list is vital when writing your autobiography. The list should categorize your memories to enable you to structure thoughts logically. Making this list can be challenging for adults with active lifestyles. Nevertheless, focus on events and individuals your readers will find interesting.
  • What was the worst or best part of a person or event you want to talk about in your autobiography?
  • What information should you share with your readers?
  • What feelings or moods do you want your readers to get when or after reading your autobiography?
  • How did that particular event change your life?
  • What lessons did somebody or an event teach you?
  • What made a specific event or moment important in your life?
  • Why did you choose to share this particular event with the readers?
  • Why is now the best moment to write the autobiography?

Planning is vital when writing an autobiography. Therefore, think carefully about various aspects of the people in your life before writing it.

To make your life story fascinating, understand the autobiography structure before you start writing. Here are the primary sections to add to your autobiography.

  • Introduce your title to the readers
  • Present your core ideas
  • Capture the readers’ attention
  • Transparent: Make following and understanding the text easy for the readers.
  • Well-structured: Focus every paragraph on a particular period, time, or event.
  • Logical: Ensure you present facts logically with smooth transitions from one section to the next.
  • Conclusion Your autobiography conclusion should leave a lasting impression since the introduction made the readers interested in reading it. In this section, assess your life and the lessons you have learned. Also, tell your readers how the life lessons helped you. Nevertheless, ensure your conclusion is concise and clear.

Writing an autobiography outline is vital when planning how to complete this task. Here’s a sample template for writing an autobiography.

“This autobiography explains how a man overcame homelessness and depression to excel in the corporate world.”
“I was born in Africa during the great recession.”
“I had a busy father because my grandparents taught him that only hard work could keep him alive.”
  • The beginning: This should have an introduction, history, and settings.
  • Middle: Include this section’s main events, highlights, and conflict.
  • End: Have the main thoughts, reflections, and ending remarks in this section.

how to write an autobiography

Whether you want to write an autobiography essay or an autobiographical book, you will find the following tips helpful when completing this task.

  • Write Chronologically Ensure your story follows a chronological order to make the task more manageable. That way, you will focus on each season after the other rather than jump around. Also, it creates a natural flow for the story, making reading a smooth experience.
  • Describe Memories Your story may only include a few action scenes. However, detailed descriptions can spark the readers’ imaginations. Therefore, be creative when describing personal memories. And you can capture the human senses with your illustrations. For instance, you can tell readers about the taste of food, the smell of coffee, or the sound of someone’s voice. Sensory writing enables you to establish colorful expressions even when describing something simple.
  • Hook Readers with the Introduction Engaging your readers from the beginning is vital when writing an autobiography. Therefore, aim to convince your readers that your autobiography is worth reading and distinctive. You can play on their curiosity or nostalgia to ensure they continue reading.
  • Include Real Names of Events and People The writer’s autobiography should include real names of places, people, and events. Disclosing real names enables the readers to connect more with your story since it makes it richer. It gives the autobiography authenticity. If you’ve forgotten an event or a person’s name, describe them in your text. However, mention only relevant events and people.
“It was getting dark, and I was cold.”

You can say:

“It was around 9 pm when I waited for him to arrive by the beautiful church on Christmas Eve. There were no stars or the moon that night. I could only see a street lamp about three blocks away.”
  • Include Reflections Reflections enable the author to be honest about various things in life. That’s why some autobiographies give them more gravity than the stories. Here, you can express your joys, frustrations, and feelings about various aspects of life. But that doesn’t mean explaining how you thought or felt about everything. Instead, you may limit the reflections to the most significant events only. Also, ensure readers get the primary takeaway from the autobiography through your examinations. For instance, what lessons or insights did you learn from the events? That way, you can drive the points home, and readers will love to know them too.
  • Find Your Unique Voice A personal voice is vital when writing your life’s story. Ensure you use a tone you’re comfortable with or compose mini-drafts in various approaches to find one that suits you. Finding a unique voice early ensures a consistent style for the entire autobiography. Also, it eliminates the need to edit the whole autobiography.
  • Use Images You can use images to emphasize your story’s season. When your autobiography has more photos, it becomes more colorful. Also, you can use pictures to break up text blocks or provide a visual texture to the autobiography. However, insert only meaningful photos with sentimental value.
  • Make it Short Consider your readers, who could be your professor, a scholarship committee judge, or an admission officer. These people are busy with hundreds or thousands of autobiographies to read. Therefore, ensure only vital details go into your autobiography. If you want to ensure your autobiography is of the correct length, ask your impatient friend to read it. They will provide an honest opinion since they prefer reading short articles to long stories or books.
  • Avoid Making It a Personal Diary Your autobiography should be candid, revealing, and precisely honest. Also, describe your life’s hardships to show how you overcame them and their influence on you. However, write the things you feel calm discussing. For instance, if students made fun of you in college and you feel like killing them, you may avoid the topic. That’s because your feelings could leak into the text and make readers subconsciously uncomfortable.

Use a Custom Writing Service

Do you need help writing an autobiography? If so, you can hire our  customized term papers experts online. Our professional writers have helped many students write winning autobiographies. If your teacher assigned you an autobiography assignment and you need help from a native English speaker to excel in your course, we can assist you.

We deliver top-quality written assignments to learners at all educational levels. Whether in high school or university, we can write an autobiography to help you become the best student in your class. Our services are cheap, and we can even help you generate ideas for the text. Moreover, we can help you beat the submission deadline, no matter the urgency of your assignment. Please get in touch with us to order your autobiography. We will gladly help you write a winning autobiography paper!

How do I start writing an autobiography?

Start by gathering as many facts and details about your life as possible to help readers understand what has been happening. Next, please choose a topic, introduce it to the readers, and discuss the prominent people and events in the body. End the autobiography with a conclusion wrapping up everything.

Is there a specific format for an autobiography?

No. Most autobiographies use the same format as traditional personal memoirs, graphic novels, dramas, vignettes, and scripts. Therefore, choose a format that works best for you, depending on the length, scope, and what the autobiography is meant for. You might be writing it as a scholarship application, for which you can get a scholarship essay writing service any time!

How long should an autobiography be?

No specific lengths or rules about an autobiography’s word count or size exist. However, most autobiographies range between 250 and 450 pages. If you’re writing an educational autobiography, your teacher or institution may specify the length. If not, ensure your autobiography is sufficiently long to cover your life’s vital details.

What topics should I include in an autobiography?

Your autobiography should include only vital topics. For instance, cover things like your place and time of birth, your personality overview, and something you like and dislike. Also, explain special events that have helped shape your life and the lessons they taught you.

autobiography photo essay

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What Is an Autobiography?

What to Consider Before You Start to Write

  • Writing Research Papers
  • Writing Essays
  • English Grammar
  • M.Ed., Education Administration, University of Georgia
  • B.A., History, Armstrong State University

Your life story, or autobiography , should contain the basic framework that any essay should have, with four basic elements. Begin with an introduction that includes a thesis statement , followed by a body containing at least several paragraphs , if not several chapters. To complete the autobiography, you'll need a strong conclusion , all the while crafting an interesting narrative with a theme.

Did You Know?

The word autobiography  literally means SELF (auto), LIFE (bio), WRITING (graph). Or, in other words, an autobiography is the story of someone's life written or otherwise told by that person.

When writing your autobiography, find out what makes your family or your experience unique and build a narrative around that. Doing some research and taking detailed notes can help you discover the essence of what your narrative should be and craft a story that others will want to read.

Research Your Background

Just like the biography of a famous person, your autobiography should include things like the time and place of your birth, an overview of your personality, your likes and dislikes, and the special events that shaped your life. Your first step is to gather background detail. Some things to consider:

  • What is interesting about the region where you were born?
  • How does your family history relate to the history of that region?
  • Did your family come to that region for a reason?

It might be tempting to start your story with "I was born in Dayton, Ohio...," but that is not really where your story begins. It's better to start with an experience. You may wish to start with something like why you were born where you were and how your family's experience led to your birth. If your narrative centers more around a pivotal moment in your life, give the reader a glimpse into that moment. Think about how your favorite movie or novel begins, and look for inspiration from other stories when thinking about how to start your own.

Think About Your Childhood

You may not have had the most interesting childhood in the world, but everyone has had a few memorable experiences. Highlight the best parts when you can. If you live in a big city, for instance, you should realize that many people who grew up in the country have never ridden a subway, walked to school, ridden in a taxi, or walked to a store a few blocks away.

On the other hand, if you grew up in the country you should consider that many people who grew up in the suburbs or inner city have never eaten food straight from a garden, camped in their backyards, fed chickens on a working farm, watched their parents canning food, or been to a county fair or a small-town festival.

Something about your childhood will always seem unique to others. You just have to step outside your life for a moment and address the readers as if they knew nothing about your region and culture. Pick moments that will best illustrate the goal of your narrative, and symbolism within your life.

Consider Your Culture

Your culture is your overall way of life , including the customs that come from your family's values and beliefs. Culture includes the holidays you observe, the customs you practice, the foods you eat, the clothes you wear, the games you play, the special phrases you use, the language you speak, and the rituals you practice.

As you write your autobiography, think about the ways that your family celebrated or observed certain days, events, and months, and tell your audience about special moments. Consider these questions:

  • What was the most special gift you ever received? What was the event or occasion surrounding that gift?
  • Is there a certain food that you identify with a certain day of the year?
  • Is there an outfit that you wear only during a special event?

Think honestly about your experiences, too. Don't just focus on the best parts of your memories; think about the details within those times. While Christmas morning may be a magical memory, you might also consider the scene around you. Include details like your mother making breakfast, your father spilling his coffee, someone upset over relatives coming into town, and other small details like that. Understanding the full experience of positives and negatives helps you paint a better picture for the reader and lead to a stronger and more interesting narrative. Learn to tie together all the interesting elements of your life story and craft them into an engaging essay.

Establish the Theme

Once you have taken a look at your own life from an outsider’s point of view, you will be able to select the most interesting elements from your notes to establish a theme. What was the most interesting thing you came up with in your research? Was it the history of your family and your region? Here is an example of how you can turn that into a theme:

"Today, the plains and low hills of southeastern Ohio make the perfect setting for large cracker box-shaped farmhouses surrounded by miles of corn rows. Many of the farming families in this region descended from the Irish settlers who came rolling in on covered wagons in the 1830s to find work building canals and railways. My ancestors were among those settlers."

A little bit of research can make your own personal story come to life as a part of history, and historical details can help a reader better understand your unique situation. In the body of your narrative, you can explain how your family’s favorite meals, holiday celebrations, and work habits relate to Ohio history.

One Day as a Theme

You also can take an ordinary day in your life and turn it into a theme. Think about the routines you followed as a child and as an adult. Even a mundane activity like household chores can be a source of inspiration.

For example, if you grew up on a farm, you know the difference between the smell of hay and wheat, and certainly that of pig manure and cow manure—because you had to shovel one or all of these at some point. City people probably don’t even know there is a difference. Describing the subtle differences of each and comparing the scents to other scents can help the reader imagine the situation more clearly.

If you grew up in the city, you how the personality of the city changes from day to night because you probably had to walk to most places. You know the electricity-charged atmosphere of the daylight hours when the streets bustle with people and the mystery of the night when the shops are closed and the streets are quiet.

Think about the smells and sounds you experienced as you went through an ordinary day and explain how that day relates to your life experience in your county or your city:

"Most people don’t think of spiders when they bite into a tomato, but I do. Growing up in southern Ohio, I spent many summer afternoons picking baskets of tomatoes that would be canned or frozen and preserved for cold winter’s dinners. I loved the results of my labors, but I’ll never forget the sight of the enormous, black and white, scary-looking spiders that lived in the plants and created zigzag designs on their webs. In fact, those spiders, with their artistic web creations, inspired my interest in bugs and shaped my career in science."

One Event as a Theme

Perhaps one event or one day of your life made such a big impact that it could be used as a theme. The end or beginning of the life of another can affect our thoughts and actions for a long time:

"I was 12 years old when my mother passed away. By the time I was 15, I had become an expert in dodging bill collectors, recycling hand-me-down jeans, and stretching a single meal’s worth of ground beef into two family dinners. Although I was a child when I lost my mother, I was never able to mourn or to let myself become too absorbed in thoughts of personal loss. The fortitude I developed at a young age was the driving force that would see me through many other challenges."

Writing the Essay

Whether you determine that your life story is best summed up by a single event, a single characteristic, or a single day, you can use that one element as a theme . You will define this theme in your  introductory paragraph .

Create an outline with several events or activities that relate back to your central theme and turn those into subtopics (body paragraphs) of your story. Finally, tie up all your experiences in a summary that restates and explains the overriding theme of your life. 

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How to Write an Autobiographical Essay

Last Updated: March 12, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Alicia Cook . Alicia Cook is a Professional Writer based in Newark, New Jersey. With over 12 years of experience, Alicia specializes in poetry and uses her platform to advocate for families affected by addiction and to fight for breaking the stigma against addiction and mental illness. She holds a BA in English and Journalism from Georgian Court University and an MBA from Saint Peter’s University. Alicia is a bestselling poet with Andrews McMeel Publishing and her work has been featured in numerous media outlets including the NY Post, CNN, USA Today, the HuffPost, the LA Times, American Songwriter Magazine, and Bustle. She was named by Teen Vogue as one of the 10 social media poets to know and her poetry mixtape, “Stuff I’ve Been Feeling Lately” was a finalist in the 2016 Goodreads Choice Awards. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 868,699 times.

An autobiographical essay is just an essay about something you experienced. Even so, writing an autobiographical essay can be challenging. You might write an autobiographical essay for a class, an application, or just for your own personal enjoyment. Whatever your reason, there are some key concepts and strategies that you will want to keep in mind as you write. Keep reading to learn more about how to write an autobiographical essay.

Planning Your Essay

Step 1 Choose a story that you really want to tell or that you just want to get out of your system.

  • an accomplishment like winning an award, getting a job, or graduating from high school
  • a trial like a difficult class, an injury, or losing a loved one
  • a meaningful experience like discovering a hobby, meeting your best friend, going away to camp, or learning something about yourself
  • Make sure that you are comfortable sharing your story. Don’t write about anything too hard or heartbreaking if you are not emotionally ready to handle it.

Step 2 Define your purpose for writing.

  • If you are writing an autobiographical essay for an application, make sure that you read the instructions well. If the application includes a prompt or question that you need to answer, make sure that the story you intend to tell will respond to this prompt or question.
  • If you are writing an autobiographical essay for a class, make sure that you read the assignment guidelines well. Make sure that the story you intend to tell will work for this assignment. Ask your instructor if you have any questions about the assignment.

Step 3 Consider your audience.

  • If you are writing your essay as part of an application, consider what your readers will be most interested in hearing about.
  • If you are writing your essay for a class assignment, consider what your instructor will expect you to include in your essay.

Step 4 Generate ideas for your autobiography.

  • Try listing. List the ideas that you have for your autobiography and then look over the list you have made and group similar ideas together. Expand those lists by adding more ideas or by using another prewriting activity. [5] X Research source
  • Try freewriting. Write nonstop for about 10 minutes. Write whatever comes to mind and don’t edit yourself. Review what you have written. Highlight or underline the most useful information for your autobiography. Repeat the freewriting exercise using the passages you underlined as a starting point. You can repeat this exercise many times to continue to refine and develop your ideas. [6] X Research source
  • Try clustering. Write a brief explanation of the subject of your autobiography on the center of a piece of paper and circle it. Then draw three or more lines extending from the circle. Write a corresponding idea at the end of each of these lines. Continue developing your cluster until you have explored as many connections as you can. [7] X Research source
  • Try questioning. On a piece of paper, write out “Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?” Space the questions about two or three lines apart on the paper so that you can write your answers on these lines. Respond to each question in as much detail as you can. [8] X Research source

Step 5 Make an outline.

  • It may be helpful to decide where to start from and where to finish, and then work on filling in the middle.

Drafting Your Essay

Step 1 Write in the first person.

  • Do not use the second person perspective (“you”) or switch back and forth between “I” and “you.” Use the first person perspective (“I”) throughout your entire essay.

Step 2 Begin with an engaging sentence that gets right into your story.

  • Jump right in. One way to begin a story is to immediately begin describing something that happened, even if it happened in the middle of your story. You might start with something like, “There I was, standing in front of the entire 10th grade reading a story I had written.” [11] X Research source
  • You can start writing your draft in any order that you like, but then remember to organize the completed story in the proper order.

Step 3 Describe the setting.

  • Say something tantalizing to your reader. For example, you might start with something like, "I never expected to be as happy as I was on that day." Or, "Many things have happened to me in my life, but this was the worst.” Just make sure that the opening fits with your topic.
  • Avoid beginnings that are too general or broad. Never open with, “Since the dawn of time…” This type of opening does not help your reader understand what your story is about. "Too general" openings are boring as well. [13] X Research source
  • Avoid opening with a quote, unless it is meaningful to you and crucial to your story. If you want to include a meaningful quote in your autobiographical essay, it should have something to do with your story. You should talk about what it means to you when you provide it.

Step 4 Transition from the introduction into your story.

  • You might say something like, “Under these circumstances, I began the most challenging year of my life.” Or, “Before this happened, I had no idea that I could do something so huge.” Choose a transition that fits your introduction and that will connect with the ideas in your next paragraph.

Step 5 Tell your story.

  • Talk about why this story is significant to you and what you learned from it. [16] X Research source
  • Refer to the beginning of your story in the end by mentioning a situation or person that was central to your introduction. [17] X Research source
  • Tell your readers about something that came out of this experience that you were not expecting. [18] X Research source

Enhancing Your Essay

Step 1 Include lots of vivid details and dialogue where appropriate.

  • Instead of saying that your teacher wore a blue dress, say that it was aqua blue with white lace trim on the sleeves.
  • Instead of saying you felt nervous, describe your trembling hands, the knot in your stomach, and the weak feeling in your knees.
  • Instead of saying that you spoke to your teacher about something important, put the conversation that you had with your teacher into dialogue.

Step 2 Consider organizing your story in a non-chronological manner.

  • Use chronological organization if you want to start at the beginning and describe your story in the order that it happened.
  • Use starting in the middle organization if you want to put your readers into the midst of your story and then go back to the beginning.
  • Use starting at the end organization if you want to tell your readers how your story ended up and then explain how you got to that point.

Step 3 Be yourself.

  • Don’t be afraid to show your sense of humor, as long as you don’t think it will disrupt the tone of your essay. In other words, if you are telling a sad story, using sarcasm or making a joke about something serious might not be appropriate.

Writing Help

autobiography photo essay

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Be concise. When writing a story about your life, it’s best to keep it simple and be straightforward. Avoid padding out your autobiographical essay with unnecessary information. Just include the most important details and describe those details well. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 0
  • Share your work with supportive friends and family. Ask for feedback on what they like and how you can improve your story. If you're a student, try asking your English teacher to help you. Thanks Helpful 3 Not Helpful 3

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Write an Autobiography

  • ↑ http://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-an-autobiographical-essay-biography-examples.html
  • ↑ http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/write/fieldguide/writing_guides.asp#BLUE08
  • ↑ http://writing.ku.edu/prewriting-strategies
  • ↑ https://selfpublishingadvice.org/writing-when-to-use-first-person/
  • ↑ https://www.esu.edu/writing-studio/guides/hook.cfm
  • ↑ http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/write/fieldguide/writing_guides.asp
  • ↑ https://www.otago.ac.nz/classics/otago055219.pdf
  • ↑ http://www.writing.ucsb.edu/faculty/donelan/para.html
  • ↑ http://writetodone.com/how-to-use-vivid-description-to-capture-attention/
  • ↑ http://www.wwnorton.com/college/english/write/fieldguide/writing_guides.asp#BLUE07
  • ↑ http://www.cbsnews.com/news/10-great-opening-lines-from-stanford-admissions-essays/

About This Article

Alicia Cook

To write an autobiographical essay, choose a story from your own life that you're excited to share. Consider who your audience is when selecting a story and go with something that will appeal to them. Next, create an outline for your essay to help you organize all of your thoughts. When you're ready to get started, kick off your essay with an engaging sentence, then jump right into the action to hook your readers. Remember to write in first person and include vivid details to bring your story to life. Let your unique personality shine through! To learn how to enhance your essay by including dialogue, keep reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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15 Autobiography Examples to Inspire Your Own

POSTED ON Oct 25, 2023

Nicole Ahlering

Written by Nicole Ahlering

So you’re ready to write an autobiography ! Congratulations; this can be a gratifying personal project. And just like any creative endeavor, it’s a great idea to start by getting inspired. 

In this article, we’re sharing 15 stellar autobiography examples to get your wheels turning. We’ll also share some need-to-know info on the different types of autobiographies and autobiography layouts, and we’ll leave you with a list of catchy ways to start your book. Let’s get going!

Get Our 6″ x 9″ Pre-Formatted Book Template for Word or Mac

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In this article, we'll explore:

What are the different types of autobiographies .

As it turns out, there are many different ways to write a book about yourself. You can go the traditional autobiography route, which is a chronological account of your entire life. Or you can write a memoir , which zeroes in on specific themes or time periods in your life. 

If you’d like, your autobiography can be composed of individual personal essays, or you can blend your autobiography with literary techniques to create a piece of creative nonfiction . 

There are graphic autobiographies that use comics or other combinations of images and text to illustrate your life story, or you can simply publish an edited version of your journal or diary . 

You can write a travelog that documents your life through your adventures or blend elements of your life with made-up stories to create autobiographical fiction . 

When it comes to sharing your life story, there are few rules!

How can I lay out my autobiography? 

Did you know there are multiple ways you can structure your autobiography? The most common is to put it in chronological order . But you can also lay out your book in reverse chronological order or even jump around in time .

Here are a few other layouts to consider: 

  • Thematic or topical . As you outline your autobiography, pay attention to themes that emerge. You can lay out your autobiography by central ideas rather than by time. 
  • Flashback and flash-forward. This nonlinear approach can be a great way to create some excitement and intrigue in your life story.
  • Cyclical structure. Is there one event that you feel defined your life story? Why not try circling back to it throughout your book? This can be an interesting way to demonstrate how your perspective changed with time. 

If you need a little more help laying out your autobiography, we have free autobiography templates and free book templates to help you. 

Related: 50 Eye-Catching Autobiography Titles

15 Autobiographies to inspire your own 

Ready to get your creative juices flowing? Here are some examples of autobiography to add to your reading list. 

1. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Autobiography Examples-The Diary Of A Young Girl

One of the best-known autobiographies, The Diary of a Young Girl, is an excellent example of a journal-style layout. Featuring the story of a young girl who is hiding during the Holocaust, aspiring writers will find inspiration in Frank’s raw emotions and candor. 

2. Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda 

Autobiography Examples-Autobiography Of A Yogi

A favorite of Steve Jobs, this autobiography details the author’s spiritual journey through yoga and meditation. It’s a wonderful example of how to blend the recounting of events with spiritual insights and philosophical teachings. 

3. Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela 

Autobiography Examples-The Long Walk To Freedom

The former South African president wrote this stunning autobiography about his struggle against apartheid, his imprisonment, and his presidency. Aspiring autobiography writers who want to write a book about social change should read this one. 

4. The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi

Autobiography Examples-The Story Of My Experiments With Truth

In his autobiography, Gandhi explores his philosophy of nonviolent resistance through his political and spiritual journey. Writers will appreciate this book for the way it weaves stories of personal growth into a larger narrative of social change. 

5. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Autobiography Examples-I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

One of several autobiographical works by Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings explores her coming-of-age experience amidst racism and a traumatic childhood. Writers should read this to hear Angelou’s powerful story and be inspired by her vivid language. 

6. The Story of My Life by Hellen Keller

Autobiography Examples-The Story Of My Life

Keller details her remarkable life as a deaf and blind person, sharing intimate details about her education and advocacy work. Aspiring writers will benefit from reading Keller’s sensory-rich language since she has the unique experience of navigating the world through touch.

7. The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X

Autobiography Examples-The Autobiography Of Malcolm X

This autobiography, written in collaboration with journalist Alex Haley, tracks Malcolm X from his youth through his adulthood as a prominent activist in the civil rights movement. Read this one to learn tips and tricks for writing about your personal evolution. 

8. The Story of My Life by Clarence Darrow 

Autobiography Examples-The Story Of My Life

Darrow shares his experiences as a civil libertarian and prominent American Lawyer in this enlightening autobiography. Writers should read this one to learn how to build a persuasive argument in their book. 

9. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah 

Autobiography Examples-Born A Crime

South African comedian, television host, and political commentator Trevor Noah wrote this autobiography detailing his upbringing during apartheid in South Africa. This is a must-read for writers who are looking to infuse humor into their autobiographies—even when writing about heavy subjects . 

10. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Autobiography Examples-I Am Malala

In her autobiography, Yousafzia recounts her tumultuous and sometimes terrifying journey advocating for equal education for girls. If you want to write your own autobiography, read this one first to learn how to bring an authentic voice to your narrative. 

11. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Autobiography Examples-The Hiding Place

Boom’s autobiography shares the harrowing story of her family’s efforts to hide Jews from the Nazis during World War II. Writers should read this to witness how Boom weaves a historical narrative into her life story. 

12. Agatha Christie: An Autobiography by Agatha Christie 

Autobiography Examples-Agatha Christie: An Autobiography

Renowned mystery writer Agatha Christie took time away from her suspenseful novels to write a book about herself. If you plan to write an autobiography, read Christie’s first to learn how to build a sense of intrigue. 

13. Chronicles: Volume 1 by Bob Dylan 

Autobiography Examples-Chronicles Volume 1

If you’re an artist writing your autobiography, you’ll be inspired by Dylan’s. It shares his unique perspective on the creative process in music and literature and delves into what it means to maintain your artistic vision. 

14. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi 

Autobiography Examples-When Breath Becomes Air

This well-known autobiography may make you cry, but it’s well worth the read. Written by a surgeon as he faces a terminal illness, it’s a must-read for any author exploring themes of mortality in their writing. 

15. Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama 

Autobiography Examples-Dreams From My Father

This autobiography by the former U.S. president is a great read for anyone aspiring to write an autobiography that intertwines their personal story with a larger societal and political narrative. 

  • 31 Best Autobiographies
  • 30 Celebrity Autobiographies

What is a catchy autobiography introduction? 

Sometimes the hardest part of a new project is getting started. If you’re ready to begin writing your autobiography and need a good opener, here are some angles to consider: 

  • Start by describing a childhood dream and how it influenced your journey. 
  • Open with a letter to your younger self.
  • Share a formative childhood memory. 
  • Start with a thought-provoking question you’ll answer as your book progresses.
  • Talk about an object that’s meaningful to you and tie it to a larger story about your life.

With so much inspiration and so many wonderful resources, there’s never been a better time to write your autobiography. If, after reading a few books on this list, you’re not sure where to start with yours—let us help! Just sign up for a book consultation to get started.

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How to Write an Autobiography Essay: Guide for College Students

So what is an autobiography essay? It is a paper based on your own personal knowledge that usually dwells upon one episode that had a major influence on one’s personality or worldview. It might be a part of a usual assignment or a necessary part of a college application. In any case, it is something you are sharing to present some personal qualities or make an interesting outcome. It might seem very simple to write about yourself at first glance, however, it takes a lot of skill and planning to select the subject and display it in the best possible way. Some people find writing an autobiography essay even more complicated than any other paper as there is a lot of freedom regarding the subject and there are always worries about not being too self-involved. This article on how to write an autobiography essay will help you complete a flawless and powerful paper.

Autobiography Essay Format

Considering planning a paper, an outline is one of the fundamental parts. You need to have a draft plan for the work’s structure. Not only does it provide a coherent order to your reflections, but it also makes a paper more readable and easy to follow. The first thing to do before starting on your own paper is to find inspiration. You can ask for some illustrations from your professor, or look for them online – there are many good presentations on the internet. An autobiography essay is not a story of one’s life; it usually concerns one event or experience that is worth sharing. An event that had an influence on the person who lived it through, and can provide a meaningful message to the reader.

How Do You Structure an Autobiography?

Generally, an autobiography essay outline follows the common framework of any essay, meaning a five-paragraph paper. It shouldn’t be very long; however, you may change the standard outline according to your needs. It might be closer to a narrative paper, but remember to use the first-person narration, as it is not fiction. It is not a short story, it is a personal essay.

When planning an outline consider the story and how it can be presented, how many paragraphs do you need and what are the demands to an assignment. It might be a good point to include a plot twist. However, you can never go wrong with a well-proven traditional structure.

How to Title an Autobiography Essay?

There is no right or wrong time for choosing the title for life story. Some start with it, others do it in the end, it is totally up to you. A title can be creative if you want but it should be appealing, intriguing and deal with the main point of your paper.

The tips on how to write a title vary, but the main aspects are:

  • It shouldn’t be very long;
  • Do not try to include all the key points in a title;
  • You may use puns for a comedy effect if it is appropriate;
  • Make it engaging for a reader.

You can look through creative titles about yourself online and use them as a basis for your thought process. However, do not use someone’s idea as your own as it won’t represent your writing.

Here are some autobiography titles ideas that might inspire you:

  • Driving Exam that Almost Drove me Crazy;
  • Living Through a Happy Accident;
  • What My First Job Taught Me;
  • The Day that Changed it All;
  • Surviving High-School Graduation.

The choice of a title is completely up to you as long as it is made in accordance with the assignment’s requirements.

How to Start an Autobiography Essay?

Before you start writing, brainstorm and choose an incident you want to depict. It must be relevant and have something to tell the reader. Create an outline and follow a coherent way to describe it. The first sentence of an autobiography paper must be attention-grabbing and interesting. You might as well start right with the story instead of putting a long autobiography introduction. Underline the main idea of your writing and what is going to be disclosed.

There are several good ways to start an autobiography, such as to start in the middle of a setting, “Here I was standing in front of the whole group with my presentation.” Another way is to add a little bit of suspense, like “I never knew that such a simple thing as going to a vet with my dog can change my whole perspective”.

An autobiography essay introduction doesn’t have to be very long. Underline the main point, create a setting or go directly to the events that inspired you. A good idea is to use a non-chronological order in the description of events to make the story more interesting. It is also crucial to have a nice transition to the main part; it can be a sentence like, “I’d never expected that what was coming next would be the most important day of my life.”

How to End an Autobiography Essay?

Autobiography conclusions are as essential as the beginning, as they sum up the story, tie the ends together and make a meaningful impact on the reader. How to end an autobiography in a stylish and exciting way? First of all, conclude what has been stated before and focus on why it is important, what was the influence on your life and what conclusion did you make from this experience. Refer to the significance and make a connection to the beginning. Describe the central person in the story if there had been one. It is also great if you tell what was so unexpected for you and what this event has taught you about yourself or the world around you.

If the story was non-chronological, make sure that by the end of an autobiographical essay it all comes together as one comprehensive piece. Check one more time if it is easy to follow and creates a vivid picture in the reader’s mind.

autobiography photo essay

Extra Tips on How to Write a Good Autobiography Essay

Writing an autobiography essay can be challenging as it deals with the introspective process and makes us learn about ourselves more. It is important not only to follow formatting requirements but also to create a living picture of an event that the reader can re-live. Some students choose to use a fast essay writing service to help them with this assignment and it is only understandable.

Here are some more tips for writing an excellent autobiography narrative essay:

  • Select an event you are excited to tell about, it will make it more engaging and easy to write;
  • Think about the audience of your paper, who will read it and what they might be interested in;
  • Use a first-person narration to underline your perspective;
  • Be sincere and be yourself. After all, this is your life you are writing about. Even a negative experience can teach us a lot;
  • Understand the purpose of your work – what is the key point you are making? What is the question you are trying to answer?
  • When writing an autobiography essay always check the demands of the assignment. An application and a college task have different purposes. Be sure you know all the guidelines;
  • Don’t forget to describe the setting and add some vivid details to make the story more interesting and create a picture in the reader’s mind;
  • After you are done, take some time to proofread your text. Here are some useful proofreading tips that might help you to check your writing and make sure it is flawless.

Autobiography Essay Example/Autobiography Sample Essay

Here is a short excerpt from an autobiography essay:

“When I was growing up I had never wanted to be a teacher unlike many of my peers. However, one day what promised to be a normal Monday changed my whole perspective. I was in high school at that time, and we went with my mother to visit a college to find out more about the programs I might follow in the future. We were lucky to visit a lecture by a physics professor and I thought it might be boring at first. Little did I know, this lecture was the most important hour in my life.

It was a nice sunny day and the campus looked great, there were lots of students and they all seemed so adult to me. It also was unbelievable that soon I might be one of these intelligent and nice people. We were welcomed and had a great excursion over the campus and the main building and now it was the time to visit a lecture.”

It is an example that shows how to complete an introduction and connect it to the main part. Here are many other autobiography essay examples that you can read and use as an outline for inspiration.

When working on a personal essay it is important to spend a lot of time planning and selecting a subject. Find an event that was significant for you that can present your worldview or unique experience. Create an outline and take enough time to draft ideas and think on how to present a story.

Remember to be frank about what you are writing, do not make fiction as it is inappropriate. Show what you’ve learned and focus on it in the conclusion.

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autobiography photo essay

Autobiography Writing Guide

Autobiography Examples

Last updated on: Nov 20, 2023

Autobiography Examples – Detailed Outline and Samples

By: Barbara P.

Reviewed By: Melisa C.

Published on: Mar 22, 2023

Autobiography Examples

We all have stories to tell. And, for some of us, the only way we feel like we can get our story out there is by writing it down. Some people may believe that an autobiography is something only famous people write about themselves but that is not true. 

In fact, anyone who has a story worth telling can write an autobiography. 

If you are assigned to write an autobiography in your high school or college and you are confused about where to start, don’t panic. 

You are at the right place.

Explore this detailed guide to understand the concept of writing an autobiography. It will also provide you with some great autobiography examples for a better understanding.

Autobiography Examples

On this Page

What is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a kind of the self-written story of a person's life. This type of narration has various aims and objectives that depend on the kind of writing that you decide to go with.

Moreover, it has different types. A writer can choose any of them on the basis of what he wants to include in his story.



Struggling to understand the basics of autobiography? Check out this how to write an autobiography to understand the key prerequisite of autobiographies. 

Autobiography Types

Below-mentioned is the four main types of autobiography. These include:

1. Traditional Autobiography –  It is a complete story that covers all life experiences including birth, childhood, and adulthood. You can write it for personal use. However, if you feel that your life can be inspiring for others, you can also write it for the wider public.

2. Memoir –  It focuses on describing a specific event, relationship, time period, or place that has an effect on your personality and life. For example, it may include your hometown or an important relationship.

3. Personal Essay –  It is the idea of sharing your life story with the audience in a way that they feel as if they were a part of it. Similarly, it also describes two aspects including the event and how it affected the beliefs.

4. Confessional –  Some people find comfort in writing about their mistakes and sins. Thus, they write this type of autobiography so that people will learn from their mistakes and avoid them.

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Examples are an essential way to learn something in less time. Therefore, we have stated some examples for you to write your autobiographies. These will also help to learn about a proper autobiography template and structure.

Have a look at these autobiography examples to get a better understanding.

Cultural Autobiography Examples


Educational Autobiography Examples for Students 


Autobiography Examples For Class 6

Autobiography Examples For Grade 7

Autobiography Examples For College Students

Autobiography Examples About Yourself

Autobiography Examples Ks2

Famous Personality Autobiography

The autobiography of benjamin franklin is one example of a famous personality autobiography. Similarly, these famous autobiography examples will provide you with everything to get started with your famous personality autobiography.


Funny Autobiography


High School Autobiography


Literary Autobiography Example

Literary Autobiography

Personal Autobiography


Professional Autobiography


Struggling to understand the difference between memoir and autobiography? Check this guide with memoir vs autobiography examples to differentiate between the two terms.

Scientific Autobiography


Short Autobiography Examples for Students


Autobiography Examples Books

Autobiography example books provide a detailed insight into the life of an individual. Through these real-life stories, readers get to know more about a person's experiences and how they overcame challenges. 

Book Autobiography Sample

Spiritual Autobiography Examples

Spiritual autobiographies are a great way to reflect on one's spiritual journey and the lessons learned along the way. Here is an example to help you out.

Spiritual Autobiography Sample

The Dos and Don'ts of an Autobiography

A successful autobiography indicates the author’s ability to present a worthwhile story. There are a wide variety of things that you can talk about while writing your personal narratives.

However, the following are some dos and don'ts of writing an autobiography that will help in refining your writing skills.

Some dos of writing an autobiography are:

  • Understanding the Intended Audience

There is a huge difference when you are writing an autobiography for your friends or a group of strangers. Because it requires extensive details about life events and experiences. Thus, make sure to include facts that you consider significant.

  • Developing A Core Concept

It is essential to identify the central theme of your autobiography. Moreover, a well-structured outline is also a proper way of associating one event with another. It will also set the interest of the readers by keeping the story consistent from the beginning to the end.

  • Do Tell the Truth

Do not portray yourself as the hero or villain of the story. Instead, tell the truth and acknowledge your mistakes by exposing your strengths and weaknesses.

  • Revising and Editing

Read aloud what you have written and do some editing. Check if your ideas flow logically and look out for interrupting thoughts.

  • Do Seek Feedback

Ask your friends and family to read your work and provide you with feedback. Understand the difference between fair criticism and forced judgment.

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Don’ts of Writing an Autobiography

Below mentioned are some don'ts of writing an autobiography.

  • Do Not Mention Unnecessary Details

Include relevant details and struggles when narrating your life story. Avoid adding unnecessary details. Instead, share the information that is directly related to your story.

  • Stop Worrying About Others

Your story may contain some details that can have a negative effect on others. Do not worry about them and rearrange all the details.

Moreover, remember that you are not here to please everyone. Thus, avoid writing for a broader audience and make your story too generic and specific for the readers.

  • Discuss Why Your Story Is Inspiring

If your main goal is to inspire people with your story, show them how you felt instead of telling them directly. Allow the audience to come to the conclusion through your writing style.

  • Avoid Copying Someone's Story

It is a big mistake to copy someone's work to make your story compelling. Find the hook and unique points that are marketable. Also, think of all these details before you begin writing.

Autobiographies aim to educate and inform others in some ways. This blog has provided all the essential details to write an autobiography. You can generate even more samples of autobiography through our FREE AI-based paper writer . 

If you are still looking up “ who can write my essay? ”, relying on a professional expert is a good option. Make sure you select a reliable and top-ranked writing service, 5StarEssays.com . We guarantee you high-quality write essay services with zero percent plagiarism.

Give us a chance and place your order now by contacting our professional writers through the live chat option.

Barbara P.

Literature, Marketing

Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.

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  • How to Write an Autobiography - A Complete Guide

Autobiography Examples

  • Know the Different Types of Autobiography Here

Autobiography Examples

  • Autobiography Format for Students - A Detailed Guide

Autobiography Examples

  • Autobiography vs. Memoir: Definitions & Writing Tips

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‘Where We Are’: A Photo Essay Contest for Exploring Community

Using an immersive Times series as inspiration, we invite teenagers to document the local communities that interest them. Contest dates: Feb. 14 to March 20.

A group of friends sitting on an orange picnic blanket in a sun-dappled park, surrounded by green grass and trees.

By The Learning Network

The Covid-19 pandemic closed schools and canceled dances. It emptied basketball courts, theaters, recreation centers and restaurants. It sent clubs, scout troops and other groups online.

Now, many people have ventured back out into physical spaces to gather with one another once again. What does in-person “community” look like today? And what are the different ways people are creating it?

In this new contest, inspired by “ Where We Are ” — an immersive visual project from The New York Times that explores the various places around the world where young people come together — we’re inviting teenagers to create their own photo essays to document the local, offline communities that interest them.

Take a look at the full guidelines and related resources below to see if this is right for your students. We have also posted a student forum and a step-by-step lesson plan . Please ask any questions you have in the comments and we’ll answer you there, or write to us at [email protected]. And, consider hanging this PDF one-page announcement on your class bulletin board.

Here’s what you need to know:

The challenge, a few rules, resources for teachers and students, frequently asked questions, submission form.

Using The Times’s Where We Are series as a guide, create a photo essay that documents an interesting local, offline community. Whether your grandmother’s Mah Jong club, the preteens who hang out at a nearby basketball court, or the intergenerational volunteers who walk the dogs for your neighborhood animal shelter, this community can feature people of any age, as long as it gathers in person.

We encourage you to choose a community you are not a part of for reasons we explain below, in the F.A.Q.

Whichever community you choose, however, it’ll be your job to interview and photograph them. Then, you’ll pull everything together in a visual essay, which will tell the group’s story via a short introduction and a series of captioned photographs.

Your photo essay MUST include:

Between six and eight images, uploaded in the order in which you’d like us to view them.

A short caption of no more than 50 words for each image that helps explain what it shows and why it is important to the story.

A short introduction of up to 300 words that offers important background or context that complements and adds to the information in the photos and captions. You might consider the introduction the beginning of your essay, which the photos and captions will then continue. Together they will answer questions like who this community is, how it came to be, and why it matters. (Our How-To guide offers more detail about this.)

At least one quote — embedded in either the introduction or one of the captions — from a member of the community about what makes it meaningful.

In addition to the guidelines above, here are a few more details:

You must be a student ages 13 to 19 in middle school or high school to participate , and all students must have parent or guardian permission to enter. Please see the F.A.Q. section for additional eligibility details.

The photographs and writing you submit should be fundamentally your own — they should not be plagiarized, created by someone else or generated by artificial intelligence.

Your photo essay should be original for this contest. That means it should not already have been published at the time of submission, whether in a school newspaper, for another contest or anywhere else.

Keep in mind that the work you send in should be appropriate for a Times audience — that is, something that could be published in a family newspaper (so, please, no curse words).

You may work alone, in pairs, or in groups of up to four for this challenge , but students should submit only one entry each.

Remember to get permission from those you photograph, and to collect their contact information. Learn more about this in the F.A.Q. below.

You must also submit a short, informal “artist’s statement” as part of your submission, that describes your process. These statements, which will not be used to choose finalists, help us to design and refine our contests. See the F.A.Q. to learn more.

All entries must be submitted by March 20, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time using the electronic form below.

Use these resources to help you create your photo essay:

A related Student Opinion question to help you brainstorm ideas before you begin taking photos.

A step-by-step guide that uses examples from the Where We Are series to walk students through creating their own.

Free links to the “Where We Are” Collection :

1. The Magic of Your First Car 2. At This Mexican Restaurant, Everyone is Family 3. Where the Band Kids Are 4. In This Nigerian Market, Young Women Find a Place of Their Own 5. At Camp Naru, Nobody Is ‘an Outlier’ 6. For Black Debutantes in Detroit, Cotillion Is More Than a Ball 7. At This Wrestling Academy, Indian Girls Are ‘Set Free’ 8. In Seville, Spain, These Young Rappers Come Together to Turn ‘Tears Into Rhymes’ 9. For a Queer Community in Los Angeles, This Public Park Is a Lifeline 10. In Guatemala, A Collective of Young Artists Finds Family Through Film 11. On a Caribbean Island, Young People Find Freedom in ‘Bike Life’ 12. At This Texas Campus Ministry, ‘Inclusive Love’ Is the Mission 13. For Young Arab Americans in Michigan, the Hookah Lounge Feels like Home

An activity sheet for understanding and analyzing the Where We Are series.

Lessons on interviewing and taking photographs . While these two resources were originally created for our 2022 Profile Contest , each contains scores of tips from educators and Times journalists that can help students learn to interview, and to take and select compelling photographs that tell a story.

Our contest rubric . These are the criteria we will use to judge this contest. Keep them handy to make sure your photo essay meets all of the qualifications before entering.

Below are answers to your questions about writing, judging, the rules and teaching with this contest. Please read these thoroughly and, if you still can’t find what you’re looking for, post your query in the comments or write to us at [email protected].


What is a photo essay? How does it differ from just a series of photos?

A photo essay tells a story through a series of images. These images work together and build on each other to explore a theme of some kind. The photo essays in the Where We Are series, for instance, focus on the themes of community and coming-of-age, but each through a different lens, as the three images published here illustrate. Together they are beautiful examples of how visual collections can investigate ideas by illuminating both the “big picture” and the tiny, telling details.

How do I choose a good subject for this?

Our Student Opinion forum can help via its many questions that encourage you to brainstorm local, offline communities of all kinds.

Can I be a member of the community I photograph?

You can, but we encourage you not to. Part of the point of this contest is to help you investigate the interesting subcultures in your area, and expand your understanding of “community” by finding out about groups you otherwise may never have known existed.

But we also think it will be easier to do the assignment as an outsider. You will be coming to the community with “fresh eyes” and relative objectivity, and will be able to notice things that insiders may be too close to see.

If you do choose to depict a community you are a part of, we ask that you do not include yourself in the photos.

I’d like to work with others to create this. How do I do that?

You can work alone, with a partner, or with up to three other people. So, for example, in a group of four, two people might act as photographers, while the other two interview community members. When you are ready to edit your material and write up what you have discovered, the interviewers could use their notes to handle the short introduction, while the photographers could edit their shots into a meaningful visual sequence, and help collaborate on the captions.

Please remember, however, that you can only have your name on one submission.

Do I need permission to photograph the people in this community?

You do. It is good journalistic practice to tell the people you are photographing why you are taking pictures of them, and to ask their permission. They should also know that, if you are a winner, their image and name may appear online.

Though you do not have to have a signed permission sheet from every participant, if you are a winner and we publish your work, we will need to be able to reach those depicted, so please get their contact information before you take their pictures. (If you are photographing young children, this is especially important. Secure a parent or guardian’s permission first.)

An important exception to this: If you are taking photos of crowds in public places, such as at a sporting event, a community meeting or a local fair, you don’t need to worry about permissions, as it would be impossible to get them from all attendees.

I don’t know where to begin! What advice do you have?

Once you’ve chosen a community to photograph, begin by introducing yourself to ensure the participants are open to your project. Then, devote a bit of time to just observing, noticing how and where the members of this group spend time, what they do together, and how they relate to each other.

When you’re ready to start documenting what you find, our step-by-step guide will help you take it from there.


How will my photo essay be judged?

Your work will be read by New York Times journalists as well as by Learning Network staff members and educators from around the United States. We will use this rubric to judge entries.

What’s the prize?

Having your work published on The Learning Network and being eligible to be chosen to have your work published in the print editions of The New York Times.

When will the winners be announced?

About two months after the contest has closed.


Who is eligible to participate in this contest?

This contest is open to students ages 13 to 19 who are in middle school or high school around the world. College students cannot submit an entry. However, high school students (including high school postgraduate students) who are taking one or more college classes can participate. Students attending their first year of a two-year CEGEP in Quebec Province can also participate. In addition, students age 19 or under who have completed high school but are taking a gap year or are otherwise not enrolled in college can participate.

The children and stepchildren of New York Times employees are not eligible to enter this contest. Nor are students who live in the same household as those employees.

Why are you asking for an Artist’s Statement about our process? What will you do with it?

All of us who work on The Learning Network are former teachers. One of the many things we miss, now that we work in a newsroom rather than a classroom, is being able to see how students are reacting to our “assignments” in real time — and to offer help, or tweaks, to make those assignments better. We’re asking you to reflect on what you did and why, and what was hard or easy about it, in large part so that we can improve our contests and the curriculum we create to support them. This is especially important for new contests, like this one.

Another reason? We have heard from many teachers that writing these statements is immensely helpful to students. Stepping back from a piece and trying to put into words what you wanted to express, and why and how you made artistic choices to do that, can help you see your piece anew and figure out how to make it stronger. For our staff, they offer important context that help us understand individual students and submissions, and learn more about the conditions under which students around the world create.

Whom can I contact if I have questions about this contest or am having issues submitting my entry?

Leave a comment on this post or write to us at [email protected].


Do my students need a New York Times subscription to access these resources?

No. Students can get free access to the entire Where We Are series through The Learning Network . (All 13 photo essays are listed above, in our Resources section.) In addition, our related student forum , activity sheet and “how to” guide are also free, as are everything they link to.

However, if you are interested in learning more about school subscriptions, visit this page .

I’m not an art teacher. Can this work for my students too?

Yes! Though this is a new contest for us, we chose it in part because the theme of “community” is such an important one in subjects across the curriculum. In fact, we hope it might inspire teachers in different curriculum areas to collaborate.

For example, students in social studies could investigate the role of community locally, learning about the history of different influential groups. An English teacher might support students as they interview and craft their introductions and photo captions, while an art teacher could offer tips for photo composition. And, of course, a journalism teacher could guide the full project, or work with other teachers to publish the most successful results in the school paper.

How do my students prove to me that they entered this contest?

After they press “Submit” on the form below, they will see a “Thank you for your submission.” line appear. They can take a screenshot of this message. Please note: Our system does not currently send confirmation emails.

Please read the following carefully before you submit:

Students who are 13 and older in the United States or the United Kingdom, or 16 and older elsewhere in the world, can submit their own entries. Those who are 13 to 15 and live outside the United States or the United Kingdom must have an adult submit on their behalf.

All students who are under 18 must provide a parent or guardian’s permission to enter.

You will not receive email confirmation of your submission. After you submit, you will see the message “Thank you for your submission.” That means we received your entry. If you need proof of entry for your teacher, please screenshot that message.

Here is an example of how you might submit a photo with a caption and a photographer credit (Ashley Markle is the photographer):

If you have questions about your submission, please write to us at [email protected] and provide the email address you used for submission.

autobiography photo essay

How to Write an Autobiography: Format + Writing Tips

autobiography photo essay

The world is eager to hear your story, which is one that deserves to be told. The options are unlimited when you have a blank sheet and a pen in your hand. It might be both thrilling and terrifying at the same time, but don't allow your fear of writing an autobiography to deter you!

Writing about your life has a lot more to it than meets the eye. It's a fantastic chance to get to know yourself and learn how to talk to new people - two important life skills that can be used in a lot of other contexts. It will also be helpful to you as a writer. It's normal for writers of books, papers, and different attempts to deliver their own self-portraits to acquaint themselves with the crowd.

Although it could appear challenging to write a successful autobiography, this is only true when you don't know how to approach the work. Our term paper writing services have included important guidelines, tips, and recommendations on this page to help you while you write. By the end of this post, you'll be able to fearlessly get started on writing your own life story.

What Is an Autobiography

It is essential to define what an autobiography is and specify the various forms before we can move on to our writing advice. An autobiography is a self-written work depicting the author's life story chronologically. These narrative-style articles can serve a variety of purposes, depending on the type of writing. You can also look at other narrative essay topics on our blog for endless inspiration.

There are typically four categories of autobiographical writing:

  • An autobiography is a lengthy and thorough account of the author's life. Everything from birth to the present is covered in this type of writing. Frequently, the reason for composing a life story is: to convey a person's life story to a large audience, to leave a mark, to reconcile one's past, or to preserve one's memories.
  • Autobiographical essay for college – Typically, this type of autobiographical writing is submitted with the rest of your application. This essay aims to present yourself to admissions officers and persuade them that you are a good fit for their educational establishment.
  • Memoirs – The only difference between memoirs and autobiographies is that memoirs do not have to cover a person's entire life. Instead, you can focus on a memoir's most exciting and significant past events and include as many details as possible.
  • Personal essay – This is the last and shortest form of autobiographical writing. Simply put, it is a self-portrait essay. This type of essay, unlike others, is more personal and emotional; sharing your personal experiences is necessary. Such a paper typically focuses on a single event, period, individual, etc. In schools and colleges, this is a common type of academic assignment.

Because of their distinct characteristics, each type may necessitate a different strategy. As a result, the purpose of this article will be to specifically discuss how to write a autobiography about yourself effectively.

Autobiography Example

As was mentioned earlier, reading a few good examples of autobiographies can give you an additional burst of inspiration and help find the right tone for your own writing. And you will say 'Yes, I can do my paper'! Here are a few brilliant examples to help you generate fresh ideas to get rolling:

As mentioned earlier, reading a few good examples of autobiographies can give you an additional burst of inspiration and help you find the right tone for your writing. And you will say, 'Yes, I can do my paper'! Here is a brilliant sample to help you generate fresh ideas on how to write an autobiography example:

Tell your story with EssayPro . Our skilled writers can help you craft an autobiography that truly reflects your journey. Share your unique experiences and life lessons in a way that resonates with readers.

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Autobiographical Essay Structure

Although the exact format of an autobiography will depend on the chosen type of writing, there are some basic principles to bear in mind.

autobiographical essay structure

First, similar to any other kind of essay, an autobiographical one should consist of three main blocks:

So, how to start autobiography? The introduction of any text has three main objectives: to introduce the reader to the topic of your text, to present your core idea, and to drive the reader's attention (i.e., to make them want to read further). Therefore, this part of your text should be concise and straight to the point. As a rule, intros should be between one to three sentences long.

A good way to make your introduction for autobiography example flawless is to outline your general portrait and to make an intriguing statement that will encourage the reader to continue reading.

The body of your text is its main and biggest part, which basically tells your story. Unlike the intro or conclusion, the body doesn't have any specific requirements in terms of length. You can make it as long as you need to uncover the main events of your life. The only rules applicable to this section of your text are that should be:

  • Well-structured – each paragraph should focus on a specific event or a period of time;
  • Clear – make sure your text is easy to read and understand;
  • Logical – since you are writing an autobiography, it is vital to present facts in a logical sequence and with smooth transitions between every paragraph.

An introduction is what makes people interested in your story and engages them to read the whole thing, but the conclusion is what leaves a lasting impression. Therefore, you want to know how to end an autobiography. The conclusion of your autobiography is a great place to assess your life, consider the lessons you've learned, and state how they took you to where you are now. Like your intro, your conclusion shouldn't be too long. Keep it clear and concise for a good story.

Creating a proper title page is essential to writing an interesting story. Just like selecting a font and font size, title page requirements could vary based on the standards of the institution you are writing for. However, there are some commonly established rules for making a title page. The following information usually goes on the title page:

  • Your phone number
  • Date of creation
  • Class, you are writing this for (optional)

The title and the author section must always be separate from the contact information and the rest. It's usually located in the middle of the paper, while the rest of the info goes in the bottom right corner.

This is an approximate autobiography template. In the following parts of our guide, we will focus more on the details and tips on writing an autobiography flawlessly.

Literary Forms of Autobiography

Let’s examine the literary forms of autobiography:

Literary Forms of Autobiography

Autobiographies with a central topic frequently go beyond just telling a person's life narrative. Through this storytelling style, the author may be attempting to communicate particular ideas or thoughts that they feel are important to share. Again, the objective is to express your views and opinions.


An author of a religious autobiography is someone who has or has had a relationship with God. Before being redeemed by God, the individual goes through several events and circumstances. They could also discuss their actions before being rescued.


In an intellectual autobiography, you describe your path and the significant events that shaped who you are today. You consider the factors influencing your viewpoint and share them with the audience. The person reading this is curious about how you became who you are.

The goal of a fictional autobiography is to accurately depict the author's experiences. To preserve people's identities, as some of it has been fabricated. Actions in this kind of autobiography may be inflated or altered for artistic reasons.

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How to Start an Autobiography: 8 Steps for the Writing Process

Writing your life story can be quite frustrating. Many people find it hard to look at themselves from a different angle. However, if you are up for the challenge, these tipWriting your life story can be quite frustrating. Many people find it hard to look at themselves from a different angle. However, if you are up for the challenge, these tips will guide you through the step-by-step process of how to start an autobiography essay:

Step 1: Find an Example

The first thing you should do before you rush to begin writing is to study one or a few examples of autobiographies written by famous people. This step has several purposes: to get a clear example of what a flawless autobiography should look like, to grasp the general tone, autobiographical format, and structure—applicable to this form of writing, and to get inspired.

Just in case you have no idea whose autobiography to start with, here are a few inspiring examples:

  • The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Franklin
  • Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela
  • The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
  • A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
  • Dreams from my Father, Barack Obama

Step 2: Write Down Your Most Important Memories

Your next step is to remember everything that matters to you. Think of remarkable people, unique experiences, key events, and other things that have influenced your life the most. Recall all the worthwhile details and make a list of them.

Step 3: Pick One Point You Want to Focus On

Generally, you would have to write about your whole life in an autobiography. However, since we are focusing on tips for great essay writing about your own life, you have to pick a focus point.

In an autobiographical essay, you must focus on a single event, person, memory, place, etc. Therefore, you should pick one point from your list. It can be hard to decide what to write about, so consider the most engaging for your readers.

Step 4: Ask the Right Questions

Writing about your own life can be confusing. You may find it hard to brainstorm ideas and maintain inspiration. To make sure that you won't get stuck wondering what ideas to include in your essay, here is a list of questions that should set you on the right track:

  • How would you describe yourself with three adjectives?
  • What famous quotes describe you and your life best?
  • What is the ethnic and social background of your family?
  • Who and what made you who you are today?
  • What are your biggest achievements so far?
  • What are your main goals?
  • What are your main strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your key values?
  • What are your worst and best memories of your childhood?
  • What has been the most memorable day for you?
  • What are your relations with your family members?
  • What is the most vital life lesson you've learned so far?
  • What fault could you never forgive yourself or others for?

Answering these questions should help to find inspiration and generate brilliant ideas for your autobiographical essay writing.

Step 5: Create a Detailed Outline

Although many people skip this step, writing a good outline can make the writing process simpler and more productive. There are plenty of reasons that indicate the importance of planning. Most importantly, making a proper autobiography format helps you follow the right structure and sequence and helps ensure that you won't miss out on important details.

Here is a sample outline of autobiography template that can come in handy:

  • Basic background information that engages readers
  • Thesis statement – main idea and key points‍
  • Thesis statement
  • Supporting ideas (details, facts, reasons, and a smooth transition between every idea)
  • Summary - use this outline for every paragraph in the main body. Include at least three paragraphs.‍
  • Restate your thesis statement
  • Summary of all key ideas
  • Conclusion (lessons you've learned, personal thoughts, etc.)

Step 6: Write Your First Draft

Once you have a specific plan in mind, you can create your first draft. Follow your outline to ensure you don't miss anything important, and don't rush.

Step 7: Proofread!

Although many people neglect its importance, proofreading is the key to success. It doesn't matter how interesting your story is if the text contains mistakes. Therefore, allocate enough time for proofreading and carefully check your essay for spelling, punctuation, grammar, style, and other mistakes.

Step 8: Ask for a Feedback

When you write an autobiography, no matter how carefully you proofread your text, there is always a chance that you've missed out on something important. That's why asking someone else to read your essay and share their thoughts is always a good idea. In addition, you can request help from close friends or family members. They should be able to look at your autobiography differently and notice things you haven't.

Writing Techniques to Use in an Autobiography

Here is a list of useful techniques for writing an autobiography for students.

  • A clear narrative

Remembering that autobiographies are still literature is important when discussing them. There should be a unifying storyline to link all of these experiences, regardless if they may not adhere to traditional creative narrative techniques. It should seem like a tale rather than just a series of disconnected incidents.

  • Attention to detail and key points

Detail-oriented autobiographies are advisable. We read this book to learn about the writer's unique history and expect interesting facts and key points from the subject's life. For reference, what career did they pursue, and where did they receive an education? 

  • Chronological order 

The majority of autobiographies are written in the following order: birth, childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, maturity, and senior years. Remember that this sequence does not always apply to all autobiographies. Autobiographies can be quite extensive and exhaustive, covering every aspect of a person's life.

The Perks of Writing About Your Life Story

When you write a good story of your life, it'd be great to include:

  • Helps you establish your place 

You don't need to be well-known or a professional writer to document your life's journey. Not all legacies are intended to reach a broad audience. Instead, most people leave behind a legacy in family history that is more humble in scope—with the people they have a lasting impact on.

The entire autobiography will be passed from one generation to the next. Admittedly, life events written on paper cannot easily be wiped out. A life story is a perfect tool for establishing one's auWhen you write a good story of your life, it'd be great to include the following:

The entire autobiography will be passed from one generation to the next. Admittedly, life events written on paper cannot easily be wiped out. A life story is a perfect tool for establishing one's authority in the realm of the earlier days.

  • You can reflect on your life lessons and learn more about yourself.

An autobiography is a form of learning about oneself. It allows the writer to delve into their experiences and reflect on their lives. As an outcome, self-knowledge develops while the adventure gains clarity. The detailed account gives the audience a window into the enchanted self-exploration process. Perhaps, the readers will also find their route due to this journey. Read a little about the reflective essay ; it will be helpful.

  • It can be a powerful tool for therapy.

The writing process of an autobiography involves the writer examining their feelings at different points in their own life. But the process of writing an autobiography looks back on the author's life with the advantage of retrospect. The recovery period might then start as a result. Numerous sensations, both good and bad, abound in human psychology. Ultimately, writing helps to clear up such feelings and attain awareness.

  • You are given a fresh feeling of direction.

An autobiography gives the author a chance to consider their life's purpose. Additionally, it enables the reader to evaluate their own. It helps people determine the meaning of their lives. Life, as we experience it, frequently feels frustratingly disjointed. It seemed more like a collection of mismatched storyboards from several movies than the storyline of a cohesive movie.

Writing your life story might help your life feel more linked and worthwhile. One of the main advantages of writing your story is this. A fresh insight, appreciation, and even tenderness for your life are brought about by reliving your past and viewing it from a distinct viewpoint.

Top Tips to Make Your Autobiography Look Flawless

Hopefully, our guide will show you the right way and help you get started. Now, here are a few more tips to help make your essay perfect:

Keep it short. You don't need to write your full biography, so there is no need to write a long piece. Try to keep your essay clear and concise.

Write from the first-person perspective. While it may be inappropriate in other papers, first-person narration is perfect for autobiographical essays. After all, you are telling your life story, so it is necessary to make it personal.

Search for examples. Even if you have never dealt with this type of task before, looking at some autobiographical sketch examples will help you get some ideas about autobiographical writing. Here are a few good examples to look at:

  • The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Mahatma Gandhi
  • Chronicles, Vol 1, Bob Dylan
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  • Agatha Christie: An Autobiography, Agatha Christie
  • Autobiography of Mark Twain, Mark Twain
  • On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King
  • The Road Ahead, Bill Gates
  • Faster than Lightning, Usain Bolt
  • A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
  • My autobiography, Charlie Chaplin

Don't make it trivial . You shouldn't be afraid of adding your personal voice to this piece. If you make your essay trivial and follow a standardized writing pattern, it can turn out dull.

Add vivid details. Since this writing is meant to be emotional, you should add as many sensory details as possible. By adding such information, you will keep your readers even more engaged as they will be able to feel and see every part of your life story.

Did all of these tips on how to write your autobiography make you overwhelmed? Then order an essay to make your life easier! In case you have already written your work, you can always ask us to ' edit my essay ,' and we'll do it asap. Don't waste any more time and get help from the top service, which incorporates many talented and professional essay writers .

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How to Begin an Autobiography

Last Updated: March 13, 2023

This article was co-authored by Gerald Posner . Gerald Posner is an Author & Journalist based in Miami, Florida. With over 35 years of experience, he specializes in investigative journalism, nonfiction books, and editorials. He holds a law degree from UC College of the Law, San Francisco, and a BA in Political Science from the University of California-Berkeley. He’s the author of thirteen books, including several New York Times bestsellers, the winner of the Florida Book Award for General Nonfiction, and has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. He was also shortlisted for the Best Business Book of 2020 by the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. This article has been viewed 57,857 times.

Write what you know, say the experts. What could you know better than your own life? If you want to embark on a written documentary of your experiences and emotions, your dramas and disappointments, you can learn to get started in the right direction. By doing your research, you can find the emotional core of the story you want to tell–your story–and how to get around to actually writing the thing. See Step 1 for more information.

Doing Your Research

Step 1 Start documenting.

  • If you don't already, start keeping a detailed journal of your day-to-day life. The best way to give yourself a reliable record of what was going on in your world and in your head is to keep a journal every night before you go to bed.
  • Take lots of pictures. Imagine what it would be like to have forgotten what your best friend from school looked like, and not have a picture of them. Pictures will help jog memories later and provide a helpful record of places and events. They're essential for autobiographers.
  • Video can be especially moving to look back on. Seeing the way in which you've aged on camera, from youth to adulthood, or seeing an old family pet living and moving around can be a powerful experience. Take lots of video over the course of your life.

Step 2 Interview your family and friends.

  • What is your strongest memory of me that i cannot forget?
  • What is the most significant event, achievement, or moment of my life?
  • What's a time you remember me being difficult?
  • Have I been a good friend? Lover? Person?
  • What object or place do you most associate with me?
  • What would you want to say at my funeral?

Step 3 Travel and talk to long-lost relatives.

  • If you're the child of immigrants, it can be very moving for many people to visit the birthplace of your family, if you haven't already. Arrange a trip to the homeland of your ancestors and see if you identify with the place in a way you hadn't before.
  • Try to get a sense not only of the story of your life, but the story of your family's life. Where did they come from? Who were they? Are you the child of cattle ranchers and steel workers, or the child of bankers and lawyers? On what side did your ancestors fight in an important war? Has anyone in your family been to prison? Are you the descendant of knights? Royalty? The answers to these questions can make for powerful discoveries.

Step 4 Go to the family archives.

  • At the very least, it's a great idea to look through old photographs. Nothing can jog stronger emotions and powerful nostalgia quicker than seeing your grandparents wedding day, or seeing your parents as children. Spend time with old photographs.
  • Every family needs a reliable archivist, someone who takes charge of looking over the family's documents. If you've got an interest in digging around in the past, start taking on this responsibility. Learn everything you can about your family, your history, and yourself.

Step 5 Consider planning an exciting project to write into your autobiography.

  • Try being a fish out of water. If you're a city-dweller, see what would happen if you moved to the country for a year and decided to eat only food that you could grow. Spend a year researching farming methods and homesteading skills, propose the project, and strap on your gardening gloves. You could also travel to a turbulent location, getting a gig teaching overseas, somewhere exciting and unfamiliar to you. Write about your experience being there.
  • Try to give something up for a long period of time, like throwing away your garbage, or eating processed sugar, and document your experience of this experiment.
  • If you have an exciting enough proposal, lots of publishers will advance you some money and a contract if you've got a good track record of publishing, or if you've gotten a really great idea for a non-fiction project.

Step 6 Read other autobiographies.

  • Townie by Andre Dubus III
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  • Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  • Life" by Keith Richards
  • Me by Katherine Hepburn
  • Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn

Finding a Starting Place

Step 1 Find the emotional truth of your story.

  • Picture your whole life, as you've lived it, like a beautiful mountain range off in the distance. If you want to give people a tour of your mountains, you could rent a helicopter and fly over it in 20 minutes, pointing to little things in the distance. Or you could take them on a hiking trip through the mountains, showing them the nitty-gritty, the up-close, and the personal. That's what people will want to read.

Step 2 Name the way in which you've been changed.

  • Quick exercise: Write up a short one-page portrait of yourself 5 years ago, 30 years ago, or even a couple of months ago, if necessary–however long you need to account for a significant change in yourself. What would you have been wearing? What would have been your major goal in life? What would you have been doing on an average Saturday night?
  • In Dubus' Townie , the author recounts what it was like growing up in a college town, where his estranged father worked as a successful and famous novelist and professor. He, though, lived with his mother, doing drugs, getting into fights, and struggling with his identity. His transformation from being an out-of-control, anger-obsessed "townie" to a successful writer (like his father) forms the core of the story.

Step 3 Write a list of the important characters in your story.

  • Quick exercise: Write up a one-page character sketch of each member of your family, focusing on questions you've asked of yourself, or asked others about yourself for research. What is your brother's most crowning achievement? Is your mother a happy person? Is your father a good friend? If your friends are more significant in your autobiography than your family, focus more on them.
  • It's important to keep your list of main characters as small as possible, and "blend" characters, if necessary. While all the boys you used to hang out with at the bar, or all the people you used to work with may be important at some point in the story, throwing 10 new names at us every two pages will quickly overwhelm your reader. It's a common writer's technique to blend them into a single character to avoid burdening the reader with too many different names. Pick one main character per important setting.

Step 4 Decide where most of the story will take place.

  • Quick exercise: Write down everything you associate with your hometown, or the region you're from. Do you identify as a Midwesterner, if you're from Iowa, or do you identify as an Iowan? When people ask you about where you're from, are you embarrassed to describe it? Proud?
  • If you've moved around a lot, consider focusing on the most distinctive, memorable, or critical-to-the-story locations. Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart , which chronicles a life on the move and his tumultuous relationship with his brother, the convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, involves dozens of moves and living spaces, but will often summarize them, rather than dramatizing them.

Step 5 Limit the scope of the book.

  • An autobiography is a record of the entire life of the writer, while a memoir is a document that covers a very specific story, period of time, or aspect of the writer's life. Memoirs are more versatile, especially if you're young. An autobiography written at the age of 18 might be somewhat tedious, but a memoir could be great.
  • If you want to write an autobiography, you need to pick a unifying theme to carry through the story. Maybe your relationship with your father is the most important part of your story, or your military experience, or your struggle with addictions, or your rock-solid faith and the difficulty in holding onto it.

Step 6 Start with a rough outline.

  • Chronological autobiographies work from birth to adulthood, following closely to the order of events as they occurred in your life, while thematic and anecdotal autobiographies will jump around, telling stories based around particular themes. Some writers prefer to let whim drive the car, and not a complicated outlined plan for the plot.
  • Johnny Cash's autobiography Cash wanders around his story, starting at his home in Jamaica, then going back in time, constantly shifting around like a good late-night conversation on the front porch with an old timer. It's a wonderful and familiar way of structuring an autobiography, impossible to outline.

Drafting Your Autobiography

Step 1 Just start writing.

  • Ron Carlson, a novelist and story writer, calls this commitment "staying in the room." While you might want to get up and grab a cup of coffee, or fiddle with your record player, or take the dog for a walk, the writer stays in the room and sticks with the difficult part of the story. That's where the writing happens. Stay in the room and write.

Step 2 Write up a production schedule.

  • You might also decide on a set amount of time you can commit to the project every day and not worry about a number of words or pages. If you've got a solid 45 minutes of quiet after you get home from work, or before you go to bed at night, set aside that time to work on your autobiography undisturbed. Stay focused and do as much as you can.

Step 3 Consider recording your story and transcribing it later.

  • It might be helpful to have someone to talk to, treating the recording process more like an interview. It can be weird to just talk into a microphone by yourself, but if you're a great raconteur with lots of hilarious stories to tell, it might put you in your own element to have a close friend or relative to talk with and lob questions at you.
  • Most rockstar autobiographies, or memoirs written by people who aren't professional writers, are "written" this way. They'll record interviews, telling stories and anecdotes from their lives, and then put it together with a ghostwriter who oversees the actual writing of the book. It may seem like cheating, but it works.

Step 4 Let yourself remember incorrectly.

  • Sometimes, you might remember two important conversations with your friend Craig, both times over pizza at your favorite place. Maybe they happened on two separate nights two years apart, but for the purposes of the story it'd be a lot easier to make it all one conversation. Is there any harm in doing so, if it tidies up the narrative? Probably not.
  • There's a difference between cleaning up the messy details in your memory and straight-up making stuff up. Don't invent people, places, or problems. No outright lies.

Step 5 Tell off the

  • At the end of each writing period, look back at what you've written and then make changes, or better yet let your writing sit on the shelf for a while before you do anything to make changes.

Step 6 Incorporate as many other elements into your autobiography as possible.

  • Dig out a picture of your family from the era yore writing about and write about what you imagine each character was thinking at the moment the picture was taken? Write it.
  • Let someone else talk for a while. If you've done some interviews with family members, write in one of their voices for a while. Transcribe an interview you conducted and get their input on the page.
  • Imagine the life of an important object. Make your grandfather's brass knuckles he brought back from WWII be the point-of-view character for an argument between him and your father. Sit with your father's coin collection and imagine his collecting them, his feeling them, his looking through them. What did he see?

Step 7 Understand the difference between scene and summary.

  • Example of summary: "We moved around a lot that summer. It was all scraped knees and gas station hot dogs, the hot leather in the back of dad's '88 Suburban. We fished at Raccoon Lake, got leeches at Diamond Lake, and visited grandma in Kankakee. She gave us kids a jar of pickles to split while dad got drunk in the backyard, fell asleep, and ended up with the god of all sunburns lobstering across his back."
  • Example of scene: "We heard the dog whine and Grandma opened the screen door a crack to look out at him, but we could see she held her foot against the bottom of it, like she was scared of something she saw. Her hands were still covered in globs of pie dough and her face was like a mask. She said, 'Bill Jr. you touch that dog again and I'm calling the police.' We stopped eating pickles. The pickles seemed ridiculous, suddenly. We waited to hear what she would say next."

Step 8 Write small and write specifically.

  • If the emotional core of your story revolves around your relationship with your father, you could give us 50 pages of a systematic takedown of his worldview, railing against his small-mindedness, or misogyny, or tyrannical ranting, but you might lose a lot of us three pages in. Instead, focus on things that we can see. Describe his after-work routine. Describe the way he said things to your mother. Describe the way he ate his steak. Give us particular details.

Step 9 Use dialog sparingly.

  • When you're writing a scene, the dialog should be used to move the scene forward, and should also be used to show us something about how the character is experiencing the scene. Maybe it's important for the grandmother character that she be the one to stand up to Jay Jr. and tell him to stop. Maybe that's a big important change in the drama.

Step 10 Be generous.

  • There should be no straight-up evil characters that show up in autobiography, they need to have motivations and attributes all their own. If Bill Jr. is a drunken dog-beater, there needs to be a good reason why, not just because he's Satan reincarnate.
  • Let "good" characters have moments of embarrassment, or failures of character. Show them in failure so we can see them in success and appreciate them more for it.

Step 11 Stick with it.

  • If you have to put your writing aside for a while, so be it. You can always live a little more, gain some more perspective, and return to the book with fresh eyes. An autobiography can be an ever-changing thing. Keep living your life and writing new chapters.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Make sure your autobiography rings with truth. Don't make up anything just to make your autobiography more exciting. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Use words that will draw your readers in and try to replace words with stronger ones. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

Things You'll Need

  • Pen & Paper or a Computer
  • A Self-Publishing Website (Optional)
  • Pictures from back in the old days (Optional)

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About this article

Gerald Posner

To begin an autobiography, start documenting your life as much as possible with photos, videos, journal entries, and mementos, which will make writing about your life a lot easier. Also, interview your friends and family members, taking detailed notes so you can refer to them during the writing process. You should also look through your family archives, like old photo albums and journals. While you're doing research for your book, consider reading other autobiographies to get an idea of what kind of information you'll want to include. To learn how to overcome writing obstacles and write your autobiography, scroll down! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Guest essay: j. robert oppenheimer biographer on the nearly impossible adaptation.

Multiple people attempted to bring the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography 'American Prometheus' to the screen — but Christopher Nolan was the only one to succeed.

By Kai Bird

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Oppenheimer writer-director Christopher Nolan earned an adapted screenplay Oscar for the Universal film.

Back in September 2021, a friend sent me a paragraph-long notice in a magazine, reporting that Hollywood director Christopher Nolan was working on a film about J. Robert Oppenheimer . This was disturbing news to me, a co-author of American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer , a 720-page biography of Oppenheimer that was published in 2005 and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. My co-author, Martin J. Sherwin, and I had never heard from Nolan. 

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American Prometheus was optioned again in 2010 and a third time in 2015. Two more screenplays were drafted. The third one was so terrible that Marty and I felt compelled to draft a memo listing the 108 historical inaccuracies sandwiched into a script that featured a poet/ghost as narrator. By 2021, Marty and I had concluded that Hollywood was just not up to grappling with the complexity of Oppenheimer’s story or the existential issues surrounding the dawn of the atomic age. 

But then in September 2021, soon after reading about Nolan’s Oppenheimer project, I got a call from Charles “Chuck” Roven, a producer who had worked on several Nolan films. He assured me that Nolan’s new project was indeed an adaptation of our book. The next day, I found myself speaking with Nolan on the phone. Later, he invited me to meet him in a Greenwich Village boutique hotel. 

Nolan said it was long — too long — and he was not prepared to share it with us yet. But he was prepared to answer our questions about what was in the script and what was not. 

To begin on a light note, I asked him if he had managed to use Oppenheimer’s favorite toast for his potent gin martinis: “To the confusion of our enemies!” Nolan laughed and said that the toast had been in the script, but he had recently cut it out for reasons of space. He explained that he would lose artistic control if the film went longer than three hours. 

I was still skeptical. But over the course of a two-hour conversation, my wife, Susan, and I came away with a sense that Nolan’s script might have promise. I explained that Marty and I had always believed that what had happened to Oppenheimer after he built the atomic bomb was essential to the story. Nolan responded that, yes, he agreed, and assured us that the 1954 trial, the kangaroo court of a security hearing, was featured heavily in his screenplay. 

We left this first meeting impressed with Nolan’s intelligence and charm. Regrettably, Marty had been too ill to travel to New York that day. But I reported back to him that maybe, just maybe, Nolan was going to succeed where others had failed. Sadly, two weeks later, Marty died of small-cell lung cancer. He never had a chance to meet with Nolan in person. 

I then asked him about the mystery witness who appeared in Lewis Strauss’ Senate confirmation hearing. This was a scene near the end of the film, and I did not recognize the scientist (played by Oscar winner Rami Malek). Nolan responded that he had been curious to know more about why Strauss had lost the 1959 confirmation — so curious that he had taken the trouble to track down the transcript of the Strauss confirmation hearing. This was something that Marty and I had not done. In our book, we had reported the outcome of the confirmation hearing, but we had not bothered to read the transcript. Nolan did — and he found in it the dramatic testimony by “scientist X” that is featured at the end of his film. 

I was impressed. Nolan had done his own historical research. 

When I finally saw the finished film, I was even more impressed. Nolan and his producer and wife, Emma Thomas, walked me into an empty Imax theater and sat me in the exact middle of the screening room, and then they adjourned to the end of the aisle, leaving me to watch the film in complete privacy. At times, I wept, partly moved by the images, but also for Marty’s absence. And when it was over, I walked over to Nolan, hugged him and whispered, “It is brilliant.” I then turned to Emma and said, “Usually, the author says the book is always better than the film. But in this case, I fear that some will say the film is better.” 

I am still not sure.

This story first appeared in a February stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe .

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How To Write An Autobiography

Autobiography Format

Barbara P

Simple Autobiography Format for Students to Follow

Published on: Sep 14, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 24, 2023

Autobiography Format

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An autobiography is a self-written life story that offers a great level of intimacy to readers.

Writing an autobiography  is not a big deal if you are aware of the writing routine and have a format outline in hand.

There is no set pattern for writing an autobiography. Your story can take any form or structure as long as it is expressive and informative. However, you have to make an outline and choose one of the many possible writing styles.

In this blog, we will discuss a basic autobiography format that you can follow to get your story out into the world.

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Types of Autobiography Formats

There are many  types of autobiography styles that you can choose for writing about yourself. Let’s take a look at the most common autobiography formats that can help you get started.

Traditional Autobiography

It covers the person’s life from birth to the present time. These are in the form of complete books with several chapters, each recounting a specific phase of the writer’s life.

Famous examples include “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin” and “The Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela.

This format of autobiography focuses on certain moments or themes in a person’s life, such as philosophical, historical, religious, etc.

The main difference between autobiography vs. memoir is that an autobiography covers the writer’s whole life, whereas a memoir shares a specific personal memory. “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank is an example of a famous memoir.

Personal Narratives

It is more narrow type of writing than a memoir. Simply put, it is just an essay about yourself. As a rule of thumb, it focuses on one moment at a time and expands the experience through dialogues. This is the most common type of assignment in high school and colleges.

These are short chapters that cover one specific event at a time. It focuses on a brief description, account, or episode.

A collection of vignettes can be published as a complete piece of work. However, each chapter in the collection does not necessarily relate to the other.

Graphic Novels

A unique genre in which drawings and cartoon panels are used to convey a true story. This form of writing is accompanied by drawn scenes and depictions from the author’s life.

Drama or Scripts

This is a form in which one can explore autobiographical topics through dialogues in film or on a stage.

However, presenting your life through a drama or script sometimes requires you to add a few fictional elements. That’s why such works claim to be “based on a true story” rather than depicting true events as they happened.

Remember, the most accepted autobiography format is chronological. This means writing about the life story in the order in which it happened.

Components of an Autobiography Format

Writing an autobiography is an easy task if you plan ahead and have a format outline in hand. Here is a proper autobiography format for students.

Write the title of your work at the top of your page in bold font. Remember, you can come back and change your title at any time. You might come up with the perfect title at the end of the writing process.

Here are some tips to help you choose the best title for your autobiography:

  • Reflect on Themes: Consider the overarching themes or key moments in your life. What aspects do you want to highlight? Family, career, personal growth, overcoming challenges, etc. Use these themes as inspiration.
  • Emotional Impact: Think about the emotions you want to evoke in your readers. Whether it's joy, resilience, inspiration, or introspection, a title that resonates emotionally can make your autobiography more memorable.
  • Be Authentic: Choose a title that authentically represents your story. Avoid sensationalizing or misleading titles; instead, opt for one that reflects your true experiences and personality.
  • Memorable Phrases: Look through your autobiography for any memorable phrases, quotes, or expressions that capture the essence of your journey. These can serve as a great foundation for your title.

2. Dedication

Write about the person to whom you would like to dedicate your work. Better leave this part until last, as working through your autobiography will trigger many memories. So you might dedicate your work to more than one person.

3. Table of Contents

Once you are done with the writing, compile your table of contents as it will help the readers to easily navigate.

4. Acknowledgments

This is the section where you need to thank everyone who has helped you in composing your autobiography from start to end. Show your gratitude and appreciation in a few beautiful and inspirational lines.

5. Foreword

Here you need to jot down all the reasons for writing the autobiography. Discuss the purpose of writing it and what you want to achieve from it. A good approach is to include brief thoughts in this section, as it will help you stay focused throughout the writing process.

6. Introduction

Start your autobiography with an attention-grabbing introduction to pique your readers’ interest from the start and keep them reading until the end. This part should be clear, concise and to the point.

7. Body Section

Create a series of headings and subheadings in your autobiography format outline. Write your autobiography based on chronological events. Link all the information in an interesting story format. Include relevant material under each section, such as dates, experiences, etc.

8. Conclusion

Present your final thoughts in the end. Look back on your work and think about what you have learned from the experience and how it has changed you. Tie up all the information in an interesting manner for a perfect ending.

9. Memorabilia

The “memorabilia'' at the end of autobiographies generally refers to additional material or documents such as pictures, medals, letters, etc. These are meant to highlight some special moments, include some memorabilia 

You can include elements such as:

  • Photographs: A collection of personal photographs featuring the author, family members, friends, and significant events in the author's life.
  • Documents: Reproductions of important documents, letters, or handwritten notes that hold significance in the author's story.
  • Artifacts: In some cases, authors may include images or descriptions of physical items, objects, or artifacts that have personal meaning to them.
  • Timeline: A chronological timeline summarizing key events in the author's life, which can serve as a quick reference for readers.
  • Maps: Maps highlight important locations or places mentioned in the autobiography, especially if the author has had a diverse or international life.

Once finished writing, compile the index to help the readers locate the information in the autobiography.

The index at the end of a book is a list of terms, names, and subjects, along with the page numbers where they can be found in the book. It serves as a helpful reference for readers who want to quickly locate specific information within the text.

The above format is simple and easy to use, but the actual writing process can be a real challenge. So spend hours of time brainstorming your ideas and memories in detail before getting started. 

Autobiography Format Sample

Autobiography is like a personal story where the writer shares his/her personal life events. It is based on facts, and every person has something different to share with readers. 

It revolves around the writer’s childhood, family members, career, relationships, and life experiences. Here is a sample paper of a short autobiography format for college students that can be used as a reference. 

Sample of Autobiography Format

In addition, here are a few autobiography format examples for middle school and high school students:

Autobiography Format Class 6

Autobiography Format Class 7

Autobiography Format Class 8

Self Autobiography Format Class 12

Finally, we have provided an MLA autobiography format that you can refer to. 

Best Autobiography Format Example MLA

Want to go through some sample autobiographies? Head to our blog to find more autobiography examples to read and learn from.

To conclude,

Your autobiography is your story, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to write it. Still, with the help of this blog, you’re now aware of the basic format and elements that you should include for a successful autobiography.

Although the above guide should help you grasp the idea of how to write an autobiography, don't expect it to be an easy task. 

There are too many things that you have to take care of for writing an autobiography worth reading. Such writing tasks take a lot of time and can be pretty daunting at some point.

If you have never dealt with such a writing task before and are looking for help, you are in the right place. Don't waste any more time and get help from a professional writer from the legit essay writing service online. 

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Essays About Autobiography: Top 4 Examples and 8 Prompts 

Essays about autobiography help readers understand an individual’s life through that very person’s eyes. Learn to write these in this article.

Many people write autobiographies to describe or depict an important challenge or event in their lives. For some, their autobiography stands as proof of their victory over a challenge or event. Other people want to share their life lessons or truths through their autobiographies. Many authors wish to inspire and entertain readers by sharing their life stories.

Autobiographies provide a way for readers to learn things vicariously. Readers don’t need to endure or experience the lives of others to pick up life lessons from them. They can also easily grasp specific techniques, outlooks, or motivations from great individuals to withstand challenges in their own lives.

If you want to read essays on autobiographies, continue below for some examples. You can also use them as models when it’s time to write your autobiography. 

See these 7 best essay writing apps to help you with your essay.

Essays About Autobiography

1. my autobiography example by gene geralde gonzales, 2. my autobiography essay by janie thompson, 3. example of autobiography of a student by elizabeth austen, 4. i wrote an autobiography in 1988 at age 14; here it is by ryan rumsey, 1. why i eat rice with every meal: an autobiography, 2. my philosophy in life, 3. the things that made me what i am today, 4. how people in my life have turned me into a writer, 5. random musings, 6. your favorite things, people, events, and others, 7. a set of experiences, 8. life or career goals.

“I had a hard time [in] adjusting to a new environment, with different culture and dialect, as well. After six months, I was able to communicate with the family members of my employer in Mandarin, their native language, and also do well with my daily activities, especially cooking their Chinese dishes.”

In her essay, Gonzales details her life, starting from her basic details, family, and where she came from. Next, she describes how her family spends time, hobbies, and her career as a domestic helper. Finally, she includes what she did with the money she collected from working abroad and her next plans.

You might enjoy our round-up of the best autobiographies and the best memoir writers .

“In the attempt to continue our family tradition, I wanted to get a degree in the field of costume design. This issue caused my great interest since the set of particular skills needed for this profession would give [me] the opportunity to develop myself, as well as my career, in different business areas.”

Thompson’s essay begins with her name, birth date, and family. Then, after describing some more basic information about herself, she described her career and why she chose this path. She also describes the skills she needed to learn and develop to make it far in the fashion industry. Finally, she ends her essay with a short story about her own family and her new business on children’s clothing.

“My main belief in life is that everything should be in harmony. People have to keep balance in all spheres of life: society, family, work, friendship, and others. Studying art is my personal way to keep balance.”

Austen’s short essay shows her focus on art. It had a similar beginning to our other two examples: a brief depiction of her background. She later describes how her passion for art grew and developed.

“The qualities of adults I respect and admire the most are being enjoyable and having fun because with all the worries of adults, it’s remarkable to see them have fun and let go of all worries. The quality I least respect is when adults misunderstand you and yell at you.”

Rumsey’s autobiographical essay describes almost every aspect of his life at age 14, including his hobbies, family, and best friend. In addition, he notes down his favorite television shows, sports, and why friendship is important to him. He says that he had loved every year of his fourteen-year-old life and that he hopes the reader enjoyed reading it just as much. For more, check out these articles about autobiography .

8 Prompts and Ideas for Writing Essays About Autobiography

You’ve read various autobiographical essays, and it’s now your turn to write yours. Do you want to avoid the typical essay about autobiography and do something different? Use the ideas and topics listed below as a starting point or focus. 

If you need help, check out this guide to the best story writing apps .

Autobiographies provide a way for you to describe the environment in which you grew up or developed. This essay idea is an excellent option or starting point for people with a heritage or culture that involves rice in almost every meal, like an Asian heritage. You can also change the topic to suit something else that is unique or stereotypical to your heritage.

Essays About Autobiography: My Philosophy in Life

Autobiographical essays often start with the basic details of the writer’s life. However, you can go deeper by describing your philosophy in life. You can focus on your philosophy and describe how it has changed your way of living. For example, you became a vegetarian or vegan after adopting the philosophies of Buddhism or Hinduism.

In this essay, you describe how you found success in life by first describing what made you successful. These things can range from a tough early life or a supportive family. It can also include specific events that changed how you approach life, like the sudden death of a dear friend.

Your autobiography essay can also describe how people in your life have pushed you to take a particular path. The essay idea isn’t limited to writers only. You can also change the keyword to what you are now. It can go beyond your career or job and cover religion, political belief, or general outlook. Examples include an optimist, Christian, or teacher.

You can also write an essay on an autobiography that doesn’t focus on anything specific. It only needs to make sense and cohesiveness to be a good essay. The random musings you can describe in your essay may include regrets, daydreams, phobias, anxieties, and spiritual beliefs. You can even describe your many habits, why you like or dislike them, and how they developed.

Young writers may find it easier to write their essays about autobiographies when they describe their favorite things and why young writers like them. These favorite things could be as simple as their favorite color. They can also detail their favorite bands, sports, hobbies, books, music, friends, etc.

You can write your essay about autobiography by focusing on a particular experience or set of experiences. For example, you are an athlete who has tried different combat sports and martial arts. You can start by discussing your first combat sport and why you enrolled in it. You can also include your tournament experiences, the preparation that led up to it, and how you felt after the competition. It can also apply to work, being a dancer, academic life, and others.

Essays About Autobiography: Life or Career Goals

Your autobiographic essays don’t always need to be about what has already happened to you. Sometimes, they can also discuss the future. You’d still need to describe your past or current life. The fun part is that you can add your expectations in the next five or ten years. Discuss your next steps forward and how they may play into achieving your goals.

Are you stuck picking your next essay topic? Read about how to write an essay about diversity .

autobiography photo essay

Maria Caballero is a freelance writer who has been writing since high school. She believes that to be a writer doesn't only refer to excellent syntax and semantics but also knowing how to weave words together to communicate to any reader effectively.

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How To Write An Autobiography

Autobiography Examples

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Top Autobiography Examples & Samples For Your Help

Published on: Sep 10, 2021

Last updated on: Feb 12, 2024

Autobiography Examples

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An  autobiography  is a story of a person's life written down or told. They are interesting to read, but they can be even more interesting to write.

An autobiography is different from a biography. A biography is someone else's story about a person's life. But, an autobiography is the person's own story about their life.

This may make autobiographies more interesting to read than biographies. Also, they give the thoughts and feelings of the person rather than someone else's interpretation.

There are many different stories in the world. Uniquely telling your story is not easy. You need to describe what is happening to make the reader feel like they are right there with you.

In this blog, you will learn about some amazing examples of autobiographies. So, start reading now.

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Autobiography Examples For Students

An autobiography is the story of someone's life written by them. They might write about their hardships or success. Here are some examples of autobiographies that might inspire you to write your own.

Short Autobiography Examples

This is a good example of a creative and interesting autobiography to read. It will teach you how to write your own great autobiography.

Autobiography Examples For Class 6

Autobiography essays are not easy to write. They are different from other essays because they tell the story of a person's life experiences. Every person has a lot of interesting experiences, so it can be hard to choose which ones to write about.

For your help, we compiled an example that you can use for your help and make your writing process easy.

Autobiography Examples For Grade 7

Only you know yourself best. Writing an autobiography is a great way to share your life with others. Everyone has a story to tell, and writing an autobiography is one way to leave your mark on history.

Here is an example that gives you a better idea of sharing your life story with others.

Autobiography Examples For College Students

An autobiography is a text that tells your life story. It can be in the form of a  memoir , which is more informal or more formal. Autobiographies can be written for different reasons:

  • To introduce yourself to the world.
  • To get into a program at school, for a job, volunteering, etc.

You can find more ideas for an autobiography from this example.

Note: As a college student, you might encounter confusion distinguishing between an autobiography and a statement of purpose . While both involve personal narratives, autobiographies provide a comprehensive life story, while statements of purpose focus on specific goals and qualifications for academic or professional opportunities. Understanding their distinct purposes and structures can help streamline your application processes effectively.

Autobiography Examples For High School Students

An autobiography is a self-written biography that someone writes about themselves. They might write about all of their life or just some parts. They do this to share their experiences, put them in a larger cultural or historical context, and entertain the reader.

Take a look at the below example and create a well-written one without any mistakes.

Spiritual Autobiography Examples

A spiritual autobiography is your life story. In it, you write about how God has been present in your life. This includes your journey in and out of organized religion and everything spiritual.

Writing your spiritual autobiography is a chance for you to identify specific experiences with God. You will then reflect on how those experiences have impacted you.

Below is an example for your ease.

Autobiography Examples in Literature

An autobiography is a book written by somebody about their own life. It tells the story of the author’s life, accomplishments, things they have done, etc.

The following is an example that can help you better understand how to write an autobiography.

Cultural Autobiography Examples

A cultural autobiography is more than just telling your life story. Your cultural identity reveals your beliefs and ideas about culture. It also shows how culture affects different cultural groups that make up who you are.

You may want to write a cultural autobiography better to understand yourself and your culture's role in your life. It is important to be aware of your own cultural identity in a multicultural world and be open to other cultures.

An example of a perfect cultural autobiography is below for your help.

Educational Autobiography Examples

The educational autobiography is a way to tell your life story. This type of autobiography includes what you did in school and how it affected other parts of your life.

Take a look at this example to see how to write a good educational autobiography.

Social Class Autobiography Examples

In most sociology classes, students are assigned to write a socio-autobiography. This assignment helps them understand that the subject is relevant to their daily lives. Your interactions with society have a big impact on who you become as a person.

Writing your social class autobiography is a great way to show people how you fit into society. The following example will show what kind of social autobiography looks like.

Autobiography Examples For Kids

Children are often encouraged to write an autobiography, but few people recognize the importance of this task. Everyone has something special from their childhood that they should remember and reflect on. Writing about your life is a good way to do this.

There are many different ways to write an autobiography. If you are writing about yourself, it is best to start by writing about your early life and work experience.

You can also mention your school experiences. After that, you can write about other topics that may be of interest to readers, like your hobbies or interests.

Here is an example that will help in starting an autobiography.

We all have the opportunity to write our own story, but it doesn't always come easy. If writing about yourself seems difficult, then follow the examples mentioned above.

However, if you want a professional writer to write it for you, just say ' write an essay for me ' and consult a professional at CollegeEssay.org .

We have expert writers who will help you write an autobiography, personal narrative, college essay, and any academic assignment.

AI essay writing tools are also readily available to provide you with additional assistance and support.

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As a Digital Content Strategist, Nova Allison has eight years of experience in writing both technical and scientific content. With a focus on developing online content plans that engage audiences, Nova strives to write pieces that are not only informative but captivating as well.

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