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How to Write Your Personal and Family Story (Complete Guide)

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  • Tags: featured , Memoir , Writing Narrative

Complete Guide to Writing and Publishing A Narrative

How to write, edit, and publish your personal story and family story.

will present what I have learned from writing personal, individual, and family narratives. This guide is based on my personal and professional experience in interviewing hundreds of people and writing thousands of narratives over the last several decades.

When I first started researching and writing a personal narrative—be it my own or about my mother, family, or others—I wanted to record the profound and thought-provoking experiences that could last for generations. Instead, I found the personal narrative of being about life and how choices determine our course and how our course provides us an opportunity to become the individuals we are and to create the legacy we leave with our ancestral lines. No matter how great or small, every story has value because life was lived, and every life is a gift. The story is about what we did with the gift.

In this “Complete Guide for Writing A Personal Narratives,” I will present what I have learned from writing personal, individual, and family narratives. This guide is based on my personal and professional experience in interviewing hundreds of people and writing thousands of narratives over the last several decades. The following are the topics that will be covered in this guide:

  • A Story Worth Writing Begins with an Outline
  • Use the “Mapping” Technique for Narrative Outlines
  • Writing A Personal Narrative—Draft One
  • Ideas for Writing the Paragraph
  • Writing A Personal Narrative—Revising the First Draft
  • Structure for Writing a Personal Narrativ e
  • Support Your Claims in A Personal Narrative
  • Include Artifacts, Photos, and Images
  • Other Elements to Include in Your Personal Narrative
  • How to Organize the Sections of Your Personal Narrative
  • Publishing Your Personal Narrative
  •   Sharing Your Personal Narrative

Other resources to consider include:

  • Complete Guide for Conducting Oral History Interviews
  • 7,500-plus Questions About Life to Ask People When Writing Narratives

1. A Story Worth Writing Begins with an Outline

A Story Worth Writing Begins with an Outline

“Why do you need an outline? I already know what I want to say.” These are the words I remember saying in tenth grade as I started my English creative writing course. As I discussed the first writing assignment with my teacher, I assured her that I could finish the story without writing the required outline. She allowed me the opportunity to prove her wrong. After several drafts, I reluctantly told the teacher I could not complete the story in the assigned time. I found myself writing and rewriting. I found myself expanding and deleting sections of each paragraph. It was never wholly what I wanted to say.

The teacher offered me a second chance. This time, I was to use an outline and then write the story. With a new topic, I wrote the outline and finished the story. I don’t remember my grade, but I remember the lesson: a story worth writing begins with an outline.

An outline is a blueprint of your final product—in this case, your narrative. It represents the content of your story, organizing your memories, lessons learned, and supporting details. The outline is all about organization and providing a visual and conceptual design of your writing.

How does an outline help in writing a personal narrative?

The outline helps you expose gaps in your story early in the process and gives you time to fill them in, not to leave out any important events, stories, and ideas that you want to tell. You will understand the full breadth of the story you write, have a clear focus on the detail you want to include with each topic, and always have a reference point to add, rearrange, and delete.

Remember, the outline is a blueprint. Just as blueprints help a builder create a structure, your outline can form the foundation or frame for the first draft.

Writing experience by experience, topic by topic: If your outline is on a computer, you can just click your cursor at any part of the outline you have created and fill in the details. This can help you overcome writer’s block. That is, you can write the third section first if you want. Then simply go back and fill in sections one and two. When you revise, you can make sure all the pieces fit together.

Modifying the design

Outlines are not set in stone. As you write, you may discover that you’ve left out essential information. If you keep a printed copy of your outline handy, you can figure out where in your outline the new information belongs and insert it (don’t be formal about it—just pencil it in). That way, you can see how the addition alters the rest of the story.

Starting again

Sometimes your original outline simply needs to be restructured. If you are careful, this is not a problem, and you can rework the original outline. When you create the new outline (even if it’s simply a sketch), focus on your purpose and who you are writing to.

Using the outline to crosscheck the final draft. Finally, suppose you update your outline as you work rather than abandon it after being created. In that case, you’ll have a handy reference to double-check the organization of the final story. The outline can also provide your section headings and subheadings for a larger story and become the contents table.

What is the outline structure for writing a personal narrative?

Like any good story, a personal narrative has three sections: introduction, body, and conclusion. The outline is designed to indicate levels of significance using major and minor headings. You will organize your information from general to specific. For example, the general headings could be as follows:

  • Childhood (0-11)
  • Adolescence (11-18)
  • Early Adulthood (18-25)
  • Prime Adulthood (25-45)
  • Middle Adult Years (45-65)
  • Senior Adulthood (65-present)

And subordinate headings or topics could include:

  • Memories of your children
  • Community Service
  • Health Record
  • Physical Characteristics
  • Social Life
  • Memorable World Events
  • Military Service
  • Counsel to Posterity

As you create your subheadings, ensure a clear relationship between the subheadings and their supporting elements. Consider the following example:

  • Mary Schreiber Attends High School
  • High School Attendance
  • High School Activities
  • Mary Schreiber Summer Work
  • Picking fruit (Cherries, Peaches)
  • Working at the Midland Cannery

Writing Personal Narrative

The most important rule for outlining is to be consistent! An outline can use topic or sentence structure, which is explained below.

Sentence Structure

A sentence outline uses complete sentences for all entries and uses correct punctuation.

  •  Advantages . Presents a more detailed overview of work, including possible topic sentences, and is easier and faster for transitioning to writing the final paper.

Topic Outline

A topic outline uses words or phrases for all entries and uses no punctuation after entries.

  • Advantages. Presents a brief overview of work and is generally more straightforward and faster to write than a sentence outline. Two simple formats seem to work well with creating an individual narrative outline—roman numeral and decimal. They are explained below:

Roman numeral I. Major Topic

A. Main Idea B. Main Idea

1. Detail of Support a. Broken down further

(1) More details (2) More Details

Decimal 1.0 Major Topic

1.1 Main Idea 1.2 Main Idea

1.2.1 Detail of Support

1.2.2.1 More details 1.2.2.2 More details

Regardless of simplicity or complexity, an outline is a pre-writing tool to help you organize your thoughts and create a roadmap for writing your narrative.

Remember, the outline is for you. It exists to help orient you within the individual narrative and to help ensure a complete answer. You can deviate from it if you wish, and as you write, you may find you have more and more ideas. Stop and take the time to brainstorm and write them down, then reassess and adjust your plan.

How do you create an outline for writing a personal narrative?

I have created a simple system for gathering and managing information when you are writing individual narratives. See the article, Easy 7 Step Color-coded File Organizing System for Writing Narratives.” If you have used the system, start with the first folder and move your way back through the folders. The system makes it effortless to create a personal narrative outline

If you didn’t use the system, start at the beginning and outline the significant events of your life. Start with your childhood years and continue through to the present. For example, the following is a very rough outline, using the roman numeral format, of the “childhood years” life stage for Mary Schreiber:

I. Childhood (0-11) (Years covered)

B. Death of Mother

1. Detail of Detail 2. Detail of Detail

C. Life with Uncle Dean and Aunt Janet

1. Detail 2. Detail

a. Detail of Detail

D. Remarriage of Mary’s Father to Step-mother

a. Detail of Detail b. Detail of Detail

Some individuals prefer to pick topics or life stages and answer predetermined questions from each stage of life to help prompt them through.

Return to list of topics for Complete Guide for Guide to Writing A Personal Narrative.

2. Use the “Mapping” Technique for Narrative Outlines

Use the "Mapping" Technique for Narrative Outlines

Whenever I need a little bit—or a lot—of extra help developing ideas that I will write about, I use what is called “mapping.” Mapping refers to organizing your ideas visually by connecting one thought with another. Eventually, the mapping will lead you to a list of ideas and a sequence to use them in.

How to use mapping to generate ideas

Use these steps to generate ideas.

  • Write the topic in the middle of the page.
  • Draw lines that branch out from that topic to other keywords or phrases you associate with that topic.
  • As needed, draw more lines that branch out from each of the keywords (subtopics) that help to develop these ideas.
  • Now that you have created a few subtopics, evaluate which subtopics go together and can be linked, if any. Connect the ideas that work together with lines.
  • If you need to regroup your ideas, write the topic in the middle of the page again and go through the first steps again with the new groupings.
  • Continue this process as many times as needed until you can form the topic groupings into the parts of your story or experience. With the bubbles and branches, you can see how they interrelate and work together as a whole.

How to use mapping to sort out stories, experiences, or paragraphs

Use these steps to expand your ideas.

  • Write your topic in the middle of a large piece of paper.
  • Take your brainstorming list and circle the central ideas.
  • Which of those ideas link to other ideas on your page? What would be the main idea? What would be subsidiary or linked ideas?
  • Now transfer the main ideas to the mapping page. Draw a circle (bubble) around the idea and then link the ideas with lines, like tree branches.
  • By connecting the ideas with branches, you show concepts and ideas interrelate. Continue to add bubbles and branches as the ideas continue to expand. Use lines and branches to show how any of the large or linked ideas interrelate. Don’t be afraid to add bubbles or branches that weren’t in your original preparation writing. Keep those ideas growing!
  • When you have completed the exercise, you can see how the ideas fit together. Once you see how the ideas work together, you can list which ideas to use in your writing.

3. Writing A Personal Narrative—Draft One

Writing A Personal Narrative—Draft One

By now, you should be ready to start writing. Whether you are writing about yourself or someone else, be honest. I have read many personal narratives over the years, and those with the most meaning include true stories about real life. The stories range from the sad and tragic to the exciting, funny, and simple day-to-day.

Gather your resource materials and find a place to write. Gather your outline and any other resource materials near you for easy reference. Now that you are ready sit down and start writing. When you open the doors of memory, you will probably be eager to capture everything just right. Sit in a comfortable place, relax, and take it one page at a time.

Write your first draft as fast as you can, without concern for style and grammar. You may think this contrary to practical writing style but write your first draft as rapidly as possible. The focus of the first draft is to put your thoughts to paper (or keyboard) as quickly as you can. Be yourself—you’ll write faster and more naturally. Don’t think that the first draft has to be perfect—you’ll probably think it’s awful, but if you worry about writing a great first draft, you’ll never finish.

Don’t spend too much time thinking about style and grammar; just write. Let yourself explore the ideas as you go. If you change your mind about saying something, don’t stop to cross it out; write an improved version. You may have a lot of repetition in your first draft. That’s fine. Only if you find you’ve veered far off-course should you revise what you’ve written before moving on. Otherwise, wait until the second draft to make changes in the first part of the book.

Where should you begin in writing a personal narrative?

Remember: you have an outline, so start wherever you like. Start in the beginning, middle, or end. Just start writing. Start writing with the intent of getting some ideas down on paper.

Use memory triggers

A memory trigger can be a question, photograph, letter, or a discussion with a friend with whom you shared an experience. Think about the times you have looked through the photo album and come across pictures and were able to experience a time past as though it was just yesterday. All your memories are still in safekeeping; it’s simply a matter of finding them.

Write your first draft in the way that’s best for you

If you are a good typist, you will probably use the keyboard. If you write longhand, you can write with pen and paper. If you have a computer and use voice-recognition software (like Dragon Naturally Speaking), then use this software to write your first draft. It is essential to write your first draft as quickly and efficiently as possible, focusing on the words but not the way you produce the words. Assume you will be revising anyway.

Use descriptive words

Think about the who, what, where, when, how, and why of each memory. Use your senses to help describe your stories. These details will help bring your stories to life.

Make a note of any ideas

One experience you will have as you write about one topic is receiving inspiration and ideas. Your thoughts will range from a new topic to add to the outline or a piece of information to add to a topic that you just finished. You may get an idea to call Aunt Peggy to ask a specific question or look for a photograph in the scrapbook. Whatever the thought, write it down or capture it electronically. When I am writing, I will keep a digital recorder (or a notebook and pen) with me not to miss those moments.

Bracket the to#ugh to write sections

Put brackets around sections that are tough to write or require further information. When you write your first draft, it’s common to either not has all the information you need or be stumped. You may be writing about a specific memory and think to put in a text from an obituary. Simply use brackets to denote that more information is needed and keep moving. For example, [Need text from Mary Schreiber Obituary] or [Need to confirm the statement made by Uncle George on Midland city project during Depression.] By using brackets, you will save a lot of time and keep your train of thought moving. When you move on to the revision phase of the writing, you can go back and work through the bracketed sections one at a time.

Need help writing?

If you are not confident of your writing ability, join a local or online writers group to learn about the craft of writing or take a writing class at a community college.

4. Ideas for Writing the Paragraph

Ideas for Writing the Paragraph

Sometimes the paragraph you are writing doesn’t seem to want to flow. The following is a simple look at constructing a paragraph, which may help you grow your ideas and write better, easier paragraphs.

A well-written, cohesive paragraph communicates one complete thought. To organize your subtopics into clear, concise thoughts, the following outline of paragraph structure is helpful.

A paragraph begins with the topic sentence, followed by supporting details and ending with closure.

  • Topic sentence. The topic sentence states the main idea of the paragraph. The topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph but can be in the middle of the end.
  • Supporting details . Once you have the topic sentence, it needs to have supporting details, which can be explained, examples, stories, facts, or a combination of these things. The supporting details will develop your topic statement and show your idea.
  • Closure. This is where you bring your ideas to a close and link your ideas to the next point or paragraph.

How can I p#lan paragraphs for writing a personal narrative?

You have plenty of ideas, you kind of know what to say, and you know the basic structure of your writing. What do you do now? You need to work out what goes where. Look at all your ideas and identify logical sequences. Consider the following points when planning your paragraphs:

  • Choose the first idea. Choose which idea the reader should know first. If all of the ideas seem equally relevant, choose the one you feel will provide the best “hook” for the reader. Choose the idea that will bring your reader into the story and guide them to what you’re thinking and answer. Choose one that will pull the reader in and orient them to your thinking and your answer. Don’t put the most dramatic ideas first. If the idea is the most dramatic, you should build-up to it.
  • Choose a second idea. After choosing the first idea, decide which idea should go second. Which one would naturally come after? Is there an idea that belongs to or is an extension of that first one?
  • Save the explanation for last. If you have an idea that needs to be explained, save it until the end so that the sentences leading up to that idea can explain your meaning more clearly.

Making the actual plan

Here is a simple outline for planning a paragraph.

  • Make a list of the order in which you want the ideas to flow. This can be as simple as one word for each idea.
  • Look at your list and ask yourself if the ideas flow naturally. If not, rearrange your thoughts until you have a plan you like.
  • Double-check that there are enough ideas written down to support your topic sentence fully.
  • If you want a more detailed plan, include smaller ideas next to each idea (subtopic or heading). You’ll use these smaller ideas to expand your thoughts. Also, include any examples you may want to use.

5. Writing A Personal Narrative—Revising the First Draft

Writing A Personal Narrative—Revising the First Draft

Your first draft is done—congratulations! That’s a good beginning. Now it’s time to revise and edit. The difference between a mediocre individual narrative and a tremendous individual narrative often comes in the revising and editing stage. I can’t stress this phase of writing enough! I have had the sad experience of writing and printing a newsletter, brochure, or flyer where thorough editing was not done, and an error (such as a misspelling) slipped by. No matter how great the work, a simple error is like a splash of mud on clean windows. Editing is like hoeing the garden: it may not be pleasant at the time, but the result is wonderful. It’s also much cheaper to catch the error now than after you have printed and bound your work.

Toward the end of my father’s life, he began to reflect upon his life and write his memoirs. He wrote well over one thousand pages in longhand. He desired to have his writings published for all of his family to read. As I read over the lines and pages, I found many beautiful stories, examples, and lessons learned, but the writing was very rough. I was willing to work with my dad to edit and prepare the writings for publication, but it was no use; he was adamant that the first draft is the way it should be because it was his story. The 1000-plus handwritten pages are now filed away and on my to-do list.

Plan on at least two edits for your narrative. In the first edit, concentrate on the organization and content. Is the story in the correct order? Did you include all the characters and events you intended? Is it clear to readers who these people are and why they do what they do? Flesh out the characters, descriptions, and dialogue (if you have included it).

In the second edit, work on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and transitions to polish the story. Edit the story as many times as necessary to make it the best you can, but realize that it will never be perfect. You have to stop editing your work and finish it at some point. You may not achieve the “perfect” individual narrative—there will always be something to add and tweak—but you will have the story you want. Remember, you can always add additional volumes. Complete the individual narrative and share it.

After you’ve edited the manuscript several times, ask other people to read it. A professional editor can make a big difference; if you plan to publish for an audience more significant than your family, professional editing is essential.

Who does the editing?

Editing is a team exercise. You will probably do most of the writing and editing and plan on at least two other people to review and assist with the editing. If you are not interested in or don’t have the skills for editing, then definitely enlist the help of others. Editors can also be for hire.

Writing Personal Narrative

Consider using Grammarly

One of the tools I use to help me in editing is an online tool called Grammarly. Grammarly’s writing app makes sure everything you type is correct and precise and easy to read. Grammarly’s algorithms flag potential issues in the text and make context-specific suggestions to help with grammar, spelling and usage, wordiness, style, punctuation, and even plagiarism. Our software explains the reasoning behind each suggestion, so you can make an informed decision about whether and how to correct an issue. Grammarly is also easy to use. There is a free version and a professional version. I use the professional version and love it.

Three types of edits

During the revision and editing process, you will engage in the following three types of editing:

  • Restructuring or reorganizing—this involves reflecting on what has been written and making significant improvements in the way parts fit together.
  • Acquiring new information—adding photos, maps, exhibits, or further research on topics to understand better topics discussed or eluded.
  • Sharpening—adding clarity by going over what is written and smoothing it out.

The Revision Stages Requires Restructuring and Reorganizing

Restructuring and reorganizing is the essential part of the revision stage. It requires that you step back and look at your writing with a fresh eye, as if you were a person fifty years from now, reading your narrative for the first time. The following are a few ideas that will help you in the editing and revising process.

Read your narrative aloud and make notes

One of the hardest things you will do as a writer is seeing your work from an outsider’s perspective. “Being too close to the forest to see the trees” is a good idiom to describe what is happening. When I read my writing, I have misspellings and usage errors that I simply gloss over or don’t see. When my wife edits my work, I’m surprised that I missed the errors she finds. I overlook many errors because I remember what I meant to say and don’t necessarily look at what I wrote. Three techniques will help you to focus on the words you have written.

Read your writings aloud at every stage of revision

Read what you have written aloud so you can hear the words. When I read what I have written aloud, I force myself to focus on what I am reading and the flow of my sentence structure. I will often catch grammatical errors or flawed writing styles when I read it aloud. When you first begin your revision, read through the whole draft of a section—start to finish—before revising the parts.

how do i write a biography about my family

Print out a draft of your narrative before you start editing

If you wrote your first draft on the computer, print it out before editing on the screen. By printing out what you wrote, it is much easier, for example, to evaluate the lengths of paragraphs and overall flow. You can write directly on the draft, make notes, and list changes that need to be made. You can circle sentences and draw a line to where they might fit better. With a printed copy, you can physically note which passages sound weak, need more evidence, or could benefit from more examples.

Read your essay aloud with a pencil or pen in hand

As you read aloud, make notes about what you think might need to be changed. When you read the draft the first time, make notes in the margins. If you see spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, simply circle them so you can come back to them when you start your revision and editing.

Look at your writing through a reader’s eyes

When I first started writing, I became very defensive when someone edited or commented about the writing. I took it very personally. That “filter” was keeping me from seeing how others were receiving my writing. The editing and suggestions others made were minor, but they made a difference in how the writing would be received. Even if I disagreed with the recommendation, it gave me a chance to rewrite a sentence or paragraph and make it much more straightforward. Thus, when you read your writing, you must see the writing through the reader’s eyes. The following are a few techniques to consider:

Read as if you had no interest in the personal narrative

Read your writing from the perspective of someone who has no interest in what you wrote. Writing the personal narrative is something you care about. Your first draft is essentially writing to yourself. It’s easy to skip essential facts simply because you already know them. When you read your writings from the point of view of someone who has no interest in the subject, you start asking questions or making comments—”Where’s the proof?” “That’s a lame statement.” “Why is that important?” “What was the date?” “What was it like to live in the city at that time?” You can more easily see any omissions, and this process gives you a direction of what to do to strengthen your writing.

Read your writing from the perspective of a doubter

Our personal narratives are filled with experiences that are personal, spiritual, and sensitive. When you read your writing from the perspective of a doubter, you find areas where you can add more proof and expand on details. If you wrote something negative about someone, when you read as a doubter, you take on the opinion of defending the person who was not shown in the greatest light. I have found myself “toning down” or simply leaving out my own opinion in some instances and instead just presenting the facts.

Have someone who will give you honest feedback read your writing s

The two techniques above are based on you pretending to be the audience. This technique focuses on giving your writing to someone else and having them give you honest feedback. The first level of feedback that is most important is their reaction to your writings. Were they bored? Intrigued? What did they like the most and why? What do they wish you would have expanded on or simply left out? When you ask people for their genuine, honest feedback, do so to understand that you will take their feedback seriously. You may disagree with what will be said, but you will listen, not be offended, and view it as an opportunity to write a grand individual narrative that generations will cherish.

6. Structure for Writing a Personal Narrative

Structure for Writing a Personal Narrative

Your first draft was an exercise of getting your thoughts on paper. One of the first tasks you will address when reviewing your writing is to look closely at the body of the personal narrative and decide if the reader will see and follow the flow. An excellent narrative is not simply a collection of good paragraphs; it doesn’t start and stop at random—it moves in one direction. Good structure comes about through restructuring—moving, deleting, and adding sentences, paragraphs, or even whole sections. When you focus on the structure of your writing, you are not too concerned about transitions before and after the paragraph or even about detail in spelling and grammar because you’re not sure if that word, phrasing, sentence, or paragraph will even be in the final draft.

Reorganize and rewrite personal narratives from the top down

Look at the overall organization of your ideas first, and then work your way down to the details. If your paragraphs need to be moved around, settle on the order, you are going to put them in before you rewrite them. If you need to add new material, decide where it will go before writing it. Do not waste your time revising and inserting sentences until you know where every paragraph for a section of your narrative belongs. It is easier to start revising by inserting a sentence where you need one and correcting errors in your paragraphs.

Look at how the main parts of the body are connected

Whether you developed an outline or simply started writing, look at your writing to see how the information flows. One way to analyze the flow of your writing is to write down the topic sentence and see how the information flows and holds together from one topic to the next. The main task of this exercise is to see if your paragraphs are in good order. Does one paragraph lead to the next, or do you seem to be jumping around? Are you missing material? Are questions left unanswered?

Look at the way your paragraphs begin and end

Once you have the overall flow of your writing figured out, then examine your paragraph transitions. Does one paragraph lead to another? Are you answering the questions that were discussed in the previous paragraph or providing needed information? Or are you just changing subjects at random? Look for accidental or unintended breaks in the flow that are distracting and confusing for the reader.

Look for gaps

Look for those places where your thoughts seem to jump from one point to another without linking information. As a researcher, I find that I left gaps in writing when I chose not to explain or expand an idea that I already understood and knew the background information for. I have to remember that my reader doesn’t know the detail behind the story and that I need to include the information to have the same understanding that I have gained.

7. Support Your Claims in A Personal Narrative

Support Your Claims in A Personal Narrative

When writing a personal narrative, most individuals will take your word on what you write concerning experiences and stories or about instances that are “common knowledge.” If your narrative is engaging, you should tell the reader something they don’t already know. When you write about other people, you will need a backup—beyond your word—to help develop and support what is being said. This type of backup would include newspaper articles, photos, certificates, letters, and history books. Evidence is information that tells how you know about the claim you have made. It would help if you took this very literally. It is often hard to tell the difference at first between telling readers what you know and telling them how you know it. A compelling narrative is credible by the answers you give, both about what you know and your sources for that knowledge.

Discover what claims in your personal narrative need supporting evidence

It is fair to assume that readers will accept claims about your own experiences—assuming they sound reasonable—without further evidence. If you make a claim that is not common knowledge and is not from your own experience, it requires that you add supporting information. As a researcher, keep in mind that not everyone knows everything you know.

Tell your readers how you know the claim is valid

Your narrative is devoted to answering the question, “How do you know?” When revising your personal narrative, take that question very literally. It would help if you let your reader know why you believe a claim is valid. This can be done by letting them know what you saw, read, or heard. If you believe that a claim you are making is valid, let your readers know what you saw, read, or heard that convinced you it was true. Sometimes you are going to have to do further research to confirm what you believe to be true. The following are a few examples of ways I have told readers how I know something to be true:

  •  The experience is based on personal experience. Tell your experience in a way that your readers will understand how you learned what you know. When I wrote about my mother’s physical abuse during her marriage to my father, I described what I observed. If I were to make the statement that my father abused my mother, there would be no reason for the reader to accept my statement or conclusion.
  • The experience you relate is not your own direct experience. When you write a personal narrative, many of the experiences you relate will be those shared by others in oral or written format. Simply tell the reader how you found out about the experience and how it illustrates your point and how you found out about it.
  • The experience and claims you are making are about a larger group of people or a famil y. If you are making claims about a group of people, it is essential to provide more than one experience to support the point you are trying to make. For example, if I were to claim that my Schreiber ancestry came from a rich history of raising cattle, I would then show examples of how members of the Schreiber ancestry raised cattle from several generations, gather proof of brands, articles from newspapers, photographs of the family with cattle, and so forth.

Explain your sources and cite them where necessary

To tell us how you know something, you need to tell us where the information came from. If you observed the case you are telling us about, you need to tell us that you observed it, including when and where. If you read about an experience, tell us where you read about it. If you accept the testimony of another person, you need to tell us who the person is and why or how she has the information you are providing.

Remember, the question your readers will always be asking is whether what they are reading is accurate. Your narrative will be a compilation of your personal experiences and those of others. You are always answering the question, “How do you know?” When you tell the experiences and stories of others, you are answering the question, “How do they know?” If you care about the truth you are writing about; readers need to have some way to check the reliability of your sources.

Use examples

The easiest—and usually the best—way to keep your readers interested in your writing is to use examples. All other things being equal, examples are more entertaining and involving than generalizations. In almost every case, what readers remember best from an individual narrative is an example, usually a detailed and fully developed one. In such an example, we see and hear something that happened; it shows us people (or animals or machines) acting as we see them act all the time. When I read a detailed example story, it’s like being there. It relates to a personal experience that I haven’t had but that I might have had if I had been in the right place at the right time.

Dates and places don’t have to be dull

You can increase the interest in dates and places by adding a short description. Rather than saying, “Grandpa Jones had an eighty-acre farm,” you could say, ” When he was just 25 years old, Grandpa Jones bought an eighty-acre farm located four miles from town, next to the Spanish Fork River.” Dates can tell stories, but few readers will stop to notice when they are used without the description. When you have an important day you want to draw attention to, add definition. For example: “At the age of 32, his wife died from a black widow bite, leaving him four small children under the age of 7,” or “At the age of 17, just three months shy of his eighteenth birthday, he joined the Navy as a radioman at the beginning of WWII.” These phrases are much more interesting than “His wife died in 1933” or “He joined the Navy in 1942.”

8. Include Artifacts, Photos, and Images

how do i write a biography about my family

As you write, edit, and prepare your narrative for publication, you will continually refer to or want to include images in your writing. The following is an overview of the types of artifacts, photos, and images you will want to consider in helping to write and tell the individual narrative.

How do I used photos and scanned images for my personal narrative?

As part of preparing your writing for publication and distribution, adding photos and scanned images is a critical consideration. What images will you choose to help tell the story? In addition to photos of people, including photos of significant buildings or other locations, including homesteads, churches, family cemeteries, or places of business. Images of certificates (such as birth, marriage, and death certificates), letters, and other personal documents will add significant value in telling the individual narrative.

I have found that the most challenging part of using images is choosing which one to use. It is a common desire to use as many images as possible, but you should choose the best images to help you tell the story. If you are talking about a family, try to find a photo of the family rather than individual photos of each person. Consider the following list of suggestions when choosing images for your narrative:

  • With your digital archive or paper archive, you created such as the one I introduced in the article, “Easy 7 Step Color-coded File Organizing System for Writing Narratives,” in front of you. Review each folder about your written story. I have organized and sorted all my images into electronic folders that match the physical paper organization I have created.
  • Place a sticky note on each photo that fits the text of the personal narrative you have written. Mark on the sticky note the section title and paragraph you believe the image would be suitable for.
  • Review each item you have tagged with a sticky note and ask the following questions: • Would I find that valuable item or interesting if it were in someone else’s narrative? • Would it be as effective to describe the item rather than include it in the book? • Is the item representative of the period in which it will be included?

Note 1: If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” remove the sticky note and place the item back into the narrative archive. Only those items with a sticky note will be considered for use in the final, personal narrative.

Note 2: If you are using photos of persons who are still living, it is essential to gain their permission for use.

Note 3: At no time is it permitted to include vital record certificates (birth, marriage) or any related types of records of living persons.

how do i write a biography about my family

  • Choose the best quality and most typical images to use in the narrative. Often you won’t have the opportunity to choose the photo because it’s the only one you have, but if you do have a chance, consider the following when choosing photos:

• Get Close. Choose photos that get close. Photos, where the subjects fill the frame with only the most basic image, are just better.

• Are Not Centered. Choose photos that do not have your subject right in the center of the photo. Photographs are uninteresting and static when centered, so having an un-centered photo lends more interest to the subject.

• Aren’t rushed . Choose from photos where you have a series to choose from. You can choose where the photo will be on the page and then look for the one that best fits the space and is composed well.

• Explore all angles. Choose photos that give you a change in perspective (such as a photo shot up from an angle or down from a higher angle). The photos help eliminate distracting backgrounds, telephone poles, or other obstacles that would otherwise negatively affect your photo.

• Focus on the eyes . If possible, choose photos that have the subject looking directly at the camera. There is nothing more inviting than looking into the eyes of our friends and loved ones.

• Use the richness of the sunrise and sunset. Some of the best photos are taken during the first and last hour of sunlight each day. During these times, the light is warm and soft, lending a beautiful quality to the photograph. Choose photos that are taken during these hours.

• Shoot photos on overcast days . Photos taken on overcast days are great to use because you don’t have harsh shadows, and the colors are overall better. • Don’t use direct flash . Choose photos taken without flash. Direct camera flash often causes flat lighting and red-eye.

• Use window light . Choose photos that take advantage of soft, natural light.

• Don’t have the midday look. Midday photos are among the worst photos because the sun is bright, which creates harsh shadows on faces and objects, squinting eyes, less appealing skin tones, and overall muted colors.

  • Stay away from the scrapbook look. This is where you trim images and documents with special cutting scissors, add stickers, and write on the photo or any related activities. While it might look cute, it simply destroys the artifact and is not seen as providing any real value to what you are trying to display. Instead of scrapbooking your artifacts, spend your time writing a good and descriptive caption.
  • When you have more than one photo for a specific section, and you can’t decide which one to use, ask others for their opinions about your final selections.

how do i write a biography about my family

Can I use maps, documents, letters, and other artifacts in my narrative?

In addition to photographs, you can effectively use a wide variety of artifacts to help expand and bring meaning to your writings. For example, you can do the following in your personal narrative:

  • Maps. Use maps to show current boundaries for counties, states, or other areas and the boundaries that existed when your family lived there. Use a map to show the migration path of your ancestors. Use different styles of lines and a legend to show historical and current boundaries and routes of migration. When using photocopies of actual historic family documents, also include a typed transcription.
  • Grid Format. The use of documents and maps usually fits into the same grid format (explained below) for your photographs.
  • Drawing and handwritten documents. In addition to historical documents, you may find it valuable to include drawings or handwritten stories from youth, as well as newspaper clippings or notations about current activities of living family members.
  • Blank pages. Add a few blank or lined pages for future family members to make additional notes as the family grows.
  • Scanned signatures . Scanned signatures (taken from wills, letters, and so forth) placed next to photographs can be an excellent addition.
  • Note: Any works published more than seventy-five years ago are no longer covered by copyright so that you can use the pictures, but you should give credit. Be aware of copyright issues when using maps, illustrations, and other materials that are not your own.

What image layout should I use for my personal narrative?

As you begin to combine your writings with images, the following lessons that I have learned will help improve the layout and readability of your narrative:

  • Develop a layout grid for your narrative. A layout grid denotes where you will put images and text on the pages to help maintain visual consistency throughout the book. Where possible, place photos near the text (narrative or charts) describing the individuals in the picture. Accompany narratives with photos of the key people in that story.
  • Group photos from the same branch of the family tree on the same page or group of pages.
  • Create a photographic timeline, such as a series of group shots from family reunions taken over successive years. For example, pair a wedding photo of a couple with a photo from their fiftieth anniversary.
  • Enhance an otherwise dull chart with a headshot of the “head” of each primary branch of the family.
  • Instead of an initial drop-cap (a large, two- or three-line tall capital letter at the beginning of a chapter), place a photo at the start of a narrative rather than placing it “tombstone” style over the top story.

How do I prepare photos and images for my personal narrative?

You will most likely be using digital images in the final preparation of your personal narrative. Take the time to enhance your photographs using editing software. The following are a few thoughts about photo editing. I encourage you to seek more detailed how-to advice for your specific needs.

Remember. Your original photos are your negatives

Never make changes to these—always work with a copy of the photo. When you load a photo into your image manipulation program, always do a “save as” to make a copy of the photo, and then work with that copy. If you make a mistake, you can always go back to the original and try again.

What to do with photo-editing software

The most common photo-editing tasks you will perform include the following:

  • Reassemble large documents that have been photographed in sections.
  • Correct the effects of poor lighting conditions or remove shadows from your photos.
  • Compensate for distortion of the document photo caused by a poor shooting angle or curled pages.
  • Enhance the quality of document photos suffering from low contrast or hard-to-read text.

An example of editing a document

Below I’ve outlined the steps I go through in editing an image with poor lighting. This is a simple process that has worked well for me. (I use Adobe Photoshop or Elements.)

  • Import image.
  • Create a duplicate image.
  •  Rotate image, if necessary.
  • Use a cropping tool to trim the image.
  • Use an auto level, auto color, and auto contrast. Use the manual versions of these tools if needed.
  • Save as a new file with a different name.

9. Other Elements to Include in Your Personal Narrative

How to Organize the Sections of Your Personal Narrative

Where you are writing your personal narrative, there are no limits to what you can include. For example, you can add

Ancestry or family tree charts

Ancestry charts show family relationships. Careful consideration should be used when deciding to include them in your narrative because they can take up too much space, or their format might not fit the book’s layout. Most individuals will start with a common ancestor, show all descendants, or start with a current-generation and show linkage to the common ancestor. Charts do not have to be extensive. A two- to the five-generation chart can be an excellent addition. There is no right or wrong way to include ancestry charts, as long as they fit the format of your book. As a rule of thumb, use standard, commonly accepted genealogy formats. While genealogy publishing software may automatically format charts and other family data suitably, when formatting data from scratch, consider these tips:

  • When listing generations and descendants, it’s a good idea to indent bullets and numbering because it makes the information more readable.
  • Use the same formatting throughout the book when listing dates such as birth, marriage, and death.
  • When continuing information to another page, end on one individual and start the next page with a new individual.
  • Be consistent with the way you connect family lines with boxes and lines.

Chronology sheets

These sheets allow you to detail, in date order, the schools you attended, the jobs you have had, homes you’ve lived in, and so forth, as well as any other details you may wish to include. Remembering exact dates can be difficult, so indicating the year is usually sufficient.

Dedication. You may have decided before you start writing your narrative to who you want to dedicate your work. I would advise that you wait until you have completed it until you decide. Working on your narrative will stir up many old memories, feelings, and emotions, and you may change your mind about your dedication by the time you are finished.

Documentation

The first rule of genealogy is to document your resources. Should you use documentation in your narrative? Many prefer not to use footnotes or endnotes because they find them distracting. However, I believe that you should include documentation in your narrative.

You include documentation because it provides the reader with important information about your source and credibility in your writings. If readers have conflicting information, it becomes easy for them to compare their notes with yours and correct their data. When you talk about families and what they did or did not do, having the source of information makes the truth easier to understand. When you expand your research about separate topics, you give readers a place to go for further reading, such as a book, website, or article. Documentation will save you a lot of argument and time.

Once you have completed writing your narrative, take some time to reflect on the completed project. Write down your thoughts and feelings about the experience in an epilogue.

A preface is a place for you to put a few of your thoughts before you start your narrative, such as why are you writing your autobiography, what you hope to achieve by writing it, what you hope others will get out of it, any worries, fears or concerns about reliving the past, and so forth.

The index is an essential addition to your narrative. An index provides the listing of where to find mentions of topics, people, and images. If you are using a genealogy program to assist with the production of your book, you can also do indexing or use your word processing program to develop and edit it. Note: It’s a good idea to index a woman under her maiden as well as married name.

Table of contents

Next to the index, the table of contents is a necessary element of your writing. The table of contents helps others understand how the writings are organized and provides a map of your work. Use the table of contents to show general sections, such as chapters and subheadings.

Vital statistics

A listing of your vital statistics—such as your name, address, and age—is the information needed to identify the work as your own and serves as a point of reference later on. Anyone who reads your narrative will also know who the writer is.

10. How to Organize the Sections of Your Personal Narrative

How to Organize the Sections of Your Personal Narrative

The following is an example of organizing your narrative into chapters and sections for a cohesive presentation.

This is the first page after the cover, and it contains the title (and sub-title) in as few words as possible. It may also include the edition number if there is more than one edition. The title page is the place to list your name and the names of other authors and editors, as well as the place and date of publication. Copyright statement. The copyright statement is usually on the back of the title page. It includes information about the publication, such as the publishing date and who to contact for more information.

Example: Copyright 2021 by Author B. Schreiber. All rights reserved.

This is a list of chapters and sections with accompanying page numbers. It provides an outline and guides for readers to find sections that are of most interest to them.

The dedication contains the person or people to whom you are dedicating the personal narrative and why. It is usually written on the page after the copyright page.

List of illustrations

This contains the name and page number of each picture, map, or illustration in the individual narrative.

A foreword is a statement about the personal narrative written by someone other than you or the editor.

This statement, written by you, describes why you wrote the personal narrative, provides an overview of the personal narrative’s scope, content, and organization; and outlines the research methods you used. It also provides an address for readers who wish to contact you.

Acknowledgments

An acknowledgments page is a place to show gratitude to people or institutions who helped you research, compile, edit, or otherwise put together your narrative.

List of abbreviations

This reference contains the abbreviations you have used in your personal or family narrative and their meanings.

Introduction

An introduction contains background or historical information that may be needed to understand the personal or family narrative.

List of contributors

This lists the names of people who helped write the personal or family narrative.

A chronology provides dates and descriptions of important events in a personal or family narrative. It gives readers an overview of the events that shaped the person’s life and provides a quick reference to critical events. Including a chronology is handy if your history is not arranged chronologically.

The main text of your narrative is usually divided into several sections or chapters and can also be divided according to the period. You can use divider pages to separate the chapters. The text may contain footnotes, endnotes, and so forth, as well as illustrations, photographs, maps, or copies of records and certificates.

Appendix or appendices

An appendix contains information that is not essential to the main body of the text but may be helpful to readers who want more specific information about a topic. An appendix can also list the sources used in writing your history.

Family group sheets, pedigree charts, and similar items Bibliography. A bibliography lists the sources you used in compiling your narrative.

This list of individuals, place names, and subjects mentioned in your history, with page numbers of where the topic is mentioned.

11. Publishing Your Personal Narrative

Publishing Your Personal Narrative

When writing your personal narrative, there are many options of how to publish the narrative. However, before you start talking about publishing, you need to ask yourself a few questions, such as the following:

How good is my material?

  • How thorough has your research been?
  • Are you satisfied with the accuracy of the information you have acquired, and have you documented your sources?
  • If your research contains hypotheses or conclusions that are based only on conjecture, are you willing to state them as such? This will help other researchers put your work in context and, hopefully, encourage additional research.
  • If there are gaps or questionable data, you should probably conduct additional research to make your publication the best it can be.

Does the information present a cohesive picture of the family?

  • Are there significant chronological gaps in your research, missing individuals, or missing important dates?
  • Do the family stories relating to historical events fit with documented historical facts? Can you prove them?

Are you a good writer?

  • You may want to enlist the writing or editorial assistance of someone good with words, sentence construction, punctuation, and writing engaging text.

Are you sure you want to share your research with others?

  • Suppose you plan to publish material on the Internet (see below). Are you ready to extend your research range and invite other researchers and family members to contribute more material or challenge your publishing?
  • You are always sure to receive feedback in some form or another. If you receive corrections to your data or additional data, are you prepared to publish a revised edition of your work?

All of these issues influence your decision about when to publish. As you proceed with the desire to publish, you will have multiple options for publication, including the following formats:

Individuals will sometimes use a blog to publish their narratives or the narratives of their families. The format is much like that of an online journal. The process of posting to a blog is relatively simple. It becomes an easy and inexpensive way of sharing your personal narrative. A typical blog includes the following elements:

  • Short, informational entries—generally arranged in reverse chronological order
  • A time or date for each post
  • Links to other blogs or websites for additional content
  • Archives of all previously posted content, sometimes arranged into categories

If you decide to use a blog to publish your personal or family narrative, focus on telling stories about individuals. You can include photographs, video, audio, and scanned images such as a newspaper article or letter. You can organize your posts into individual or family groupings. Include your documentation where appropriate. If you are in the process of researching a family line, you can tell the stories as you discover them.

Family newsletter

Family newsletters usually focus on happenings of the family that is usually spread far and wide. Many family newsletters also become a medium to share family narratives and include documents, stories, photos, and newly discovered facts with all interested researchers. Newsletters are usually published two to four times a year by printing, photocopying, or electronically posting.

Family narrative thumb-drive, CD or DVD

A family narrative thumb-drive, CD or DVD can hold large amounts of data in a small space. It can include photos, sounds, scanned document images, and even video—something a printed personal or family narrative can’t do. And since they are compact and relatively inexpensive, you can easily share them with other personal or family narrative researchers at family reunions, genealogical conferences, or through the mail. One of the biggest challenges in creating a family narrative thumb-drive, CD or DVD is to decide what information you’d like to present and how to organize the information. Suppose you’ve spent years studying the genealogy of a particular family or surname. In that case, you probably want to include the results of that research in the form of lineage-linked family trees or register reports. You may also want to include a written family narrative or photographs of your ancestors, their houses, headstones, and so on. Or perhaps you have video or sound recordings of ancestors or family members you would like to showcase.

What are my options for printing and publishing my personal narrative?

Of all the options, printing and publishing is usually the first option you consider when sharing your research and personal narrative. Self-publishing your personal narrative is a relatively simple process with the available technologies. Options range from a simple printout of a word-processing document to a book layout in a desktop publishing program. If you chose to do a book layout, you can then print your book at a quick-copy, bind it with a spiral ring, or print at an offset press and have it professionally bound. You can print a few copies and distribute them to a few families or publish and sell many copies to the public.

Google search

I would encourage you to do a Google search on “How to self-publish a person narrative or history.”

The following are a few lessons learned by others about publishing their narratives with publishers.

Quick copy versus book publisher

If you plan to print under two hundred copies, you are probably better off going to a quick-copy, although specialty publishers take on “short-run” projects. Most commercial publishers prefer a print “run” of more than five hundred books. Printed books are usually well designed and of good quality.

If you’re publishing a few copies of the book for your family only, you can lay the book out in a word processor and have it printed at a local printer or even print the pages on your home printer and insert them in loose-leaf binders.

If you’re publishing for a wider audience, you’ll need to hire professionals for the interior and cover design and printing. You can contract with individual vendors for the various services you need or hire someone to handle everything. Be wary of publishing companies that charge you hefty fees to publish your narrative and then purchase the book copies. Check the credentials and references of professionals you use and interview them to ensure you’re comfortable working with them.

Talk to publishers before you start. Start talking to publishers when you start writing a personal narrative. They will help walk you through design and formatting options that will affect what you write and format.

Review other personal narratives to gain ideas

Take the time before you start writing your book to browse through other personal or family narrative books to see how others have done it. Photocopy pages from the book you like so you have them as a reference when planning your book. Factors to consider include the paper type and quality, print size and style, number of photos, and binding. A little extra time and money can go a long way toward making your book as attractive as possible—and keep it within your budget parameters.

Compare costs. Call a few potential publishers and printers to compare costs and quality of service and find out their requirements for publishing a personal narrative. To obtain an estimate for a whole life story, plan for a book of two hundred pages, including images, with enough copies to distribute to your parents, siblings, children, and grandchildren (and a few extras). If you want to be more exact, provide the publisher exactly how many pages are in your manuscript. It is always a good idea to take your finished manuscript with you, including the mockup of picture pages, introductory pages, and appendixes. If you want to spend more, you can have your narrative printed by an offset publisher. The quality will be better, but the high additional cost may not justify the additional quality.

How to fund publishing

It is unnecessary to spend a lot of money completing a personal narrative, but it should look good and read well if you are going to do it. It’s not uncommon for individuals writing family narratives to have the total project funded by family members, provided you are doing the work.

Ask for samples

Ask your publisher to see samples of the types of binding they offer. Most publishers will show you a variety of bindings. Having your narrative hardbound with a sewn binding is not a requirement; however, it will last longer than other types of binding. Your goal is to publish and distribute your narrative, regardless of how it is bound.

Work with the publisher

If available, have your publisher archive your narrative for you. Many publishers will offer a one-time storage fee and keep it for you in digital form, which you may use later to make additional copies.

Use electronic files

Use a publisher that prints copies from a file you’ve saved to on your computer. Each copy will then be as good as the original. Contact your publisher to find out what file format they prefer. Most publishers will accept files in recent versions of Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, and other widely used word processing programs. Extra care should be taken to ensure that the end product is acceptable and correct.

Paper makes a difference

20 lb. paper is acceptable (but too thin to print on both sides of the page), but 24 lb. is better and 60 lb. is best. Double-sided printing is preferable. The standard paper will discolor and become brittle within fifty years, so always have your narrative printed on acid-free paper.

Black-and-white photos are bes t

All photographs and images should be copied into black and white images. Black and white images will preserve much longer than color images, and printing black and white images is much cheaper than printing full-color photos.

Layout considerations and options

There will be many details to remember when defining how your narrative will appear on the page. For example, you will need to think about the book’s size. The standard paper size is 8.5 by 11 inches and will be the most cost-effective to duplicate. Smaller page sizes may be more attractive but will require more pages and will be more expensive as the pages will have to be cut to smaller. Other layout considerations include the following:

  •  Stay away from trying to use a fancy-type face. Use fonts like Helvetica, Times New Roman, Arial, or members of serif text families. These fonts are easy to read.
  • It’s always a good idea to use a large face such as 10 to 12 point types with average margins for one or two-column formats.
  • When you align your text, you can justify your text (aligning your text on the left side of the page with a ragged right) or justify the text with a flush left and right.
  • There are many different types of binding available for your narrative. Search the one that best fits your budget and at the same time fulfills the purpose you have in mind for the book.
  • Remember, you must make the side you will bind to be V4″ more significant than the outside edge when you are laying out the page. For example, your binding edge will need your binding edge if your outside edge is V2″ 314″ wide.
  • Take great care in writing the captions in your book. For example, try to the best of your ability to include the name of every person in the photograph. When you have large groups of people and cannot identify everyone, give the photo’s date.

12. Sharing Your Personal Narrative

Sharing Your Personal Narrative

Throughout the writing of your personal narrative, keep your eyes focused on the completion and distribution. The following are a few ideas to consider:

Publish several extra books for future generations. Posterity should have easy access to your narrative.

  • Donate copies to libraries or other institutions.
  • Post it on the Internet.
  • Donate a copy to your local library.
  • Donate a copy to the Salt Lake Family History Library.
  • Permit microfilm using the Family History Library’s “Permission to Duplicate” form.
  • Send a letter of permission with your manuscript.
  • Send an unbound copy as it’s easier to microfilm.
  • Plan ahead for the publishing and marketing of your book.
  • Be alert for contacts and opportunities for promotion as you research and write.

Keep good records of anyone who has been contacted or helped with the book. You will contact them as potential buyers or persons who will help publish and distribute the personal narrative book.

When I first started researching and writing a personal narrative—be it my own or about my mother, family, or others—I wanted to record the profound and thought-provoking experiences that could last for generations. Instead, I found the narrative of being about life and how choices determine our course and how our course provides us an opportunity to become the individuals we are and to create the legacy we leave with our ancestral lines. No matter how great or small, every story has value because life was lived, and every life is a gift. The story is about what we did with the gift.

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how do i write a biography about my family

When Michael Jones was a child, he lived in an isolated region in northern Maine, far away from his extended family. He remembers looking up at the dark, swirling skies one afternoon as a 6-year-old and thinking, “It’s going to be a lonely life.” His story is a universal one: America is a migratory nation. Families are geographically separated, and our kitchen table stories are getting lost in all the turmoil of change.

A quick scan of the internet will find very little in terms of maintaining inter-generational connections beyond social media. The few resources on the subject suggest just the usual platitudes: Spend more time together. Do things together. Create new memories together. But for most Americans, this is not the reality. Social visits are formal and stilted, and may happen once or twice in a year.

So what can we do? How can we reopen the floodgates of wisdom that pass between generations ? Dr. Cheryl Svensson, director of the Birren Center for Autobiographical Studies , has spent more than 20 years working with older adults who want to write their life story. During that time, she’s noticed an increase in interest in life stories or memoir writing.

“More and more older people understand that unless they write their story, it will be lost,” she says. “Or as one man said, ‘I’ll just be a name scribbled on the back of a faded photograph.’

“We are social, story-telling humans. Through our stories, our intergenerational connections can be kept strong, even with great-great-grandchildren we may never meet,” Svensson says. “Writing your life story is a gift you leave for the future.”

The best book you’ll ever read is the one you write—your life story—and it can be as easy as writing a love letter. —Richard Campbell

One proven way to help connect generations is by sharing your life story with your children and grandchildren. Most of us are not professional writers. So we quickly become discouraged when starting to write our stories. We worry about dialogue, grammar and style. Ultimately, we don’t want to be judged.

But let’s take a moment and reframe this into something far more positive. The best book you’ll ever read is the one you write—your life story—and it can be as easy as writing a love letter. Here’s how to write your memoir.

Step 1: Face your Fears

“But I don’t have much of a story,” you might say to yourself. This is a common refrain. But imagine yourself in a room full of people, each of whom has written a life story and entered it into a giant computer. Then, voila, the machine creates one single life story that represents everyone in that room.

What would that story be about? It would show one—just one—emerging theme: courage. We are all survivors, and to survive, we have courage. And where there is courage, there are stories. Lots of them.

Another typical fear: “I’m not a writer.” Well, here’s the good news. If you have ever composed a love letter or written an email, you can tell your story. You are a writer.

But what about your writing style? We’ve all heard how famous authors have their own unique tone. You say loud and clear: “That’s not me.” But that love letter? It was the authentic you pouring it out from your heart.

The real question now is “How can I connect with multiple generations?” The answer: Write as you speak. Ignore the critic on your shoulder, and just write as you would talk. Let the dialogue flow like a good conversation. Forget grammar. Forget spelling. Just get your thoughts down. You can edit later. Now imagine your unique voice reaching across from one generation to the next, far more powerfully than social media could.

Perhaps the most challenging part of writing a compelling life story is getting started. The most obvious way is to begin at birth and move chronologically through your life experiences. But this doesn’t work. Pick up any recent memoir and look at the first few pages. Rarely do they start at birth. Instead they are usually in medias res , a Latin term meaning “into the middle of things.”

Step 2: Structure Your Story Around Themes

Instead, let’s take a look at one writing process that can make your life-story project enjoyable and manageable: a guided autobiography .

A guided autobiography takes a do-it-yourself approach to structuring your life story, featuring short vignettes. Each two- to three-page story focuses on specific topics that include family, work, self-image, spirituality and life goals. In a guided autobiography, theme—not time—drives your life story.

You can select from dozens of basic themes based on your personal life experience. For example, some people will find a story in the “personal values” theme, while others may find something more relevant in “life after retirement.”

So where do you start? Identify a key branching point in your past . We all have hundreds of these moments that change us in a significant way. Some are obvious (parents’ divorce, a serious disease), while others are more subtle but equally important (a random day in school when you realized you had a passion for a favorite subject).

Choose one such event to get your creative juices flowing. Compose a short (two- to three-page) story about that event, and write as if you were speaking. You’ve probably already retold this story many times before—the only difference is that now you’re doing so in writing.

Repeat this same process for as many life themes as you wish. Add some photos , and the result will be a completed personal life story, suitable for family and friends.

To get you started, I’ve outlined 10 core themes that you can center your life story around. For each, write a brief paragraph on an experience from your past. When you’re finished, you’ll have a structural overview of your life story that you can flesh out later.

1. Forks in the Road

As we briefly discussed earlier, these are the key turning points in our lives. We all have several: high school graduation, a first job, a first serious romantic relationship, or the birth of a child. Major or (seemingly) minor, these events will always be important to us. Which of your own forks in the road experiences stand out? Choose one that happened when you were a child or adolescent.

2. Family and Self

We all have family: the people you grew up with, nurtured you, cared for you. They could have been your parents or other guardians, grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles or even neighbors. For some people, a family of friends is most important. When you think back to your original family—in whatever form it existed—what comes to mind? When were they there for you? What did those relationships mean to you?

3. The Meaning of Wealth

Our financial status is often a lifelong challenge towards equilibrium. We seek balance between our lifestyles and bank accounts. What does money mean to you? Security? Power? Freedom? Has this always been your thinking, or has it changed through the years? What did you learn from times in which you didn’t have enough money? How did you scrape by?

4. My Life’s Work

Our work helps define who we are. It can give us purpose, showcase our talents or simply put food on the table. Our life’s work can involve one job or several, and you may have loved or hated the work you did. How does your work impact your family life, identity or overall worldview?

5. Self-Image and Well-Being

We navigate the world through the filter of our health—both emotional and physical. Throughout life, health is never neutral: It works either for us or against us. How has your health impacted you over the years? Has it influenced your decisions? How has it challenged you?

6. The Male-Female Equation

Gender plays a part in nearly every aspect of our lives. Most of us see ourselves as primarily one sex, though the boundaries can become blurry over time. What male-female relationship expectations did you learn as a child? Did they remain the same or change over the years? How do you define yourself through gender identity, especially as you get older?

7. The End of Life

Everything ends. As mentioned before, it takes courage to live—we are all survivors. Looking into your future, what are your thoughts about death and dying? Does life come to a stopping point, or do you believe there to be something that lives beyond? What rituals do you expect will happen upon your death? What do you perceive as a good death?

8. From Secular to Spiritual

A culture’s history is often a reflection of its beliefs. From animism to Zoroastrianism, we live our lives according to local and regional traditions—even if we’re part of larger religious traditions or movements. Many of us have drifted away from such beliefs or accepted new ones since childhood. Your faith journey likely can’t be captured by name or date, but how has it impacted your life? Have you ever had a spiritual crisis, or questioned your faith?

9. My Life Goals

It’s never too late to create new goals. These can be short-, medium-, or long-range— everything counts. Even uncompleted goals can provide meaning, as the greatest learning comes through the journey. Have you undertaken major life goals? How has this process played out? What goals have you had to abandon or modify, and what new goals might you want to create?

10. My Message

This is your life’s icing on the cake. It is an opportunity to pass along your legacy to your children, grandchildren or community. What were your most valuable life lessons? What will your legacy be to those who matter to you?

Step 3: Put It All Together

These 10 themes represent a significant portion of your life story, but they’re just the starting point. Once you have shared some stories related to these themes, something interesting happens. A single emerging theme comes to light. For some people, it may be triumphing over early life challenges. For others, it may reflect a life of faith.

Then, from this single emerging theme will come the title of your story. For example, if you have lived a life of helping others as a caretaker, one title could be My Life: For Others . And once you have a title and some direction, fleshing out the rest of your life story will be easy.

We can’t bring back the old days and old ways, but we can forge new inroads. Writing our stories is one proven way. —Richard Campbell

Family lore, passed down through generations, has become more challenging to obtain and preserve in recent decades. But with the Baby Boomer movement towards capturing memories, guided autobiography and memoir writing in general have become saving graces of that once-upon-a-time activity called person-to-person interaction. They are reasonable facsimiles that can soften the edge of social media saturation.

Your life story is a powerful gift to children and grandchildren. It will never replace walking a country road with Grandpa or listening to Grandma’s wisdom first-hand, but it is a gift that keeps giving.

We can’t bring back the old days and old ways, but we can forge new inroads. Writing our stories is one proven way.

how do i write a biography about my family

Richard Campbell is co-author of Writing Your Legacy: The Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Life Story and teaches life-story-writing sessions.

A version of this article appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Family Tree Magazine .

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Richard Campbell

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How to and (Especially) How Not to Write About Family

how do i write a biography about my family

Today’s post is by Sharon Harrigan ( @harrigan_sharon ), whose novel Half is available now.

Writing about the people you are closest to can be one of the most rewarding experiences a writer can have—but also the scariest. This is a big topic, so I will cover it in two parts. First: what to put on the page. And second: how to deal with your subjects’ reactions to what you write about them.

Let’s start, as some of my favorite memoirs do, with a cliffhanger. Here is what you should not do: When your publisher gives you a January 1 deadline for submitting the final manuscript, you should not print out a copy for each of your family member-characters and send those copies all at the same time, which guarantees you will receive their responses right before Christmas.

But who would do that? Such recklessness would be really dumb, right? I know. At least I know now . But I’ll get back to my own experience later—so you can learn from my mistakes. First, let’s talk about best practices when writing about your family. (All quotes are from Writing Hard Stories , edited by Melanie Brooks.)

Don’t worry about what your family will think when you’re writing the first draft.

One way to invite writer’s block is to imagine the people you are writing about looking over your shoulder. “I try to just write alone and worry about the publishing part later,” Joan Wickersham says. “My feeling is you can write whatever you want, and then you think about it again when it’s time to publish.”

Richard Hoffman adds, “Writing and publishing are two different things. Don’t confuse them. As soon as you start thinking, I could never publish that, then the censor is in the room with you crossing stuff out as fast as you can write it. You can’t work that way.”

Examine your motives.

Don’t write out of revenge. If your purpose is to get even or settle a score, consider waiting until you have processed the experience enough to not be angry about it, or at least enough to have some distance and perspective. You may need to write about things that will be hard for your family to read, but avoid being, as Joan Wickersham puts it, “gratuitously nasty.” “I didn’t want [my memoir] to be nasty,” she says, “both for my family, but also because I’ve read memoirs like that—where you feel there’s an axe to grind—and it always makes me back away from the memoir and not really trust the writer.” Readers don’t need to like the narrator of a memoir, but they need to trust her as their guide, or they will close the book.

Also: “You really don’t need to hurt anybody,” says Abigail Thomas. “The person you’re exposing is yourself.” But what if some people in your family behaved badly? You can’t lie and pretend they were model citizens. Thomas’ solution is simple. She says, “People who might be injured simply don’t appear.”

Tell your story only.

If you don’t pretend to be able to tell everyone’s story, readers will trust that you know your material. As Michael Patrick MacDonald says, “I only told stories that are my stories. Of course, they involve other people, and that’s the problem, but I only told parts of their stories if they intersected with my trauma.” Kim Stafford, who writes about his brother’s suicide, says, “There is no way I can tell my brother’s story … Instead, I write my stories of my brother.”

Treat some people with extra caution—for example, children.

All the memoirists I’ve heard talk about this say children are more vulnerable and need to be treated with more sensitivity. For instance, at an AWP panel on this topic, one writer said his rules are to respect the secrets his children would not want repeated, including anything mental-health-related. Another said she gave her children carte blanche to change how they were portrayed, a privilege she didn’t give anyone else, and another said she kept asking for her nineteen-year-old son’s okay, even though she didn’t ask any of her other characters.

Write down your own memories before you ask other people to fact-check you.

Memoir is not about what you remember but why you remember it that way. Your subjects will try to correct your facts, so wait until you have arrived at the emotional truth before that gets buried in the controversies about the literal or physical truth.

Monica Wood says, “I deliberately didn’t ask [my siblings] about family history. I wanted it to be my memory.” Mary Karr, in The Liar’s Club , sometimes stops in the middle of a paragraph to add a parenthetical telling us her sister remembers the scene she just described differently. You might choose to do that, though it is a difficult technique to pull off without sounding gimmicky. Even if you don’t write like Mary Karr (and how many of us can?) it is best to keep your memories distinct from those of others.

Should you give your family control over the work, or ask for permission to publish?

Writers tend to agree on the above guidelines while drafting. There is a lot less consensus about what comes after. How much control should you give your subjects—those family members you have turned into characters? What should you let them see, and when? Will you allow them to change anything?

One question you will have to grapple with is whether to allow some people to say you can’t write about them. Before I started writing my memoir, I asked for my mother’s permission to use the stories she had been telling me about her life, and I would not have proceeded without it. On the other hand, I wrote a Modern Love essay about when my husband and I started dating, and I only told him about it once the New York Times required him to sign a form. I agree with Kyoko Mori that “anyone who marries or goes out with a writer, they should understand that they are signing up for this … I’d love to say to people, don’t worry, I’ll never write about you. But it would just not be true.”

A surprising number of writers (surprising to me ) say they don’t show their manuscripts to their subjects at all before their memoir is published. Sue William Silverman, for example, explains, “I didn’t want anybody influencing what I had to say. I didn’t show it to my sister and say, Are you okay with this? If she’s not okay with it, I’m still going to write it … If she disagrees with it, then she gets to write her own book, if she wants.”

Melanie Brooks says, “I’d heard from a number of authors I interviewed that they were intentional about not sharing the finished work with their families before publication because they didn’t want anyone dictating what should or shouldn’t be in there.”

Maureen Woods was an exception. “These people did not ask to be in my story,” she says. “If they were writing a memoir, I would want to see what they wrote before it came out and have the chance to say something about what feels like an invasion of privacy.”

Your family will react.

What kind of reactions will you get from your family—whether they see the memoir before or after it is published? I posed this question to an online group of memoirists and received a wide range of answers. Some told me their families had threatened to sue or cut them out of their wills. One writer said her sister refused to talk to her for a long time, but she thought the rift was caused by jealousy not injury. And sometimes people respond in surprising ways. Instead of wanting you to take them out of your book, they will complain because they are not in the spotlight more. Edwidge Danticat says, “My brothers asked why the book was all about me. I said, Because I’m the one writing it.”

Not all responses from family are negative. Sometimes the process of gathering information brings people closer. That happened with my mother and me. She is finally comfortable talking about herself. She no longer thinks her life is not important enough for people to care about it. She now knows that people are interested in women like her, women who, for much of history, have been invisible, soft-spoken and self-deprecating women eclipsed by loud and powerful men. My mother attended two of my memoir book launches. After the second one, she sat around a table with my brother’s friends and answered questions about how she coped as a twenty-something widow with three small children, after my father’s strange and mysterious death. She talked about how she managed to grow up quickly after her mother kicked her out of the house at age sixteen. She talked about how a working-class girl with few opportunities became interested in art, and how that helped her survive a traumatic childhood and marriage. I am closer to my mother than I have ever been because we have nothing left to hide from each other.

Now back to my cliff-hanger. I was at the post office, about to send off a copy of my manuscript to every family member-character in my memoir. I know I’m anxious because my FitBit shows my heartrate: over 100 beats per minute. It is the beginning of December. What could possibly go wrong? I feel as if I’m about to jump—not off a cliff but off the edge of a swimming pool. I know how to swim but I hate water rushing up my nose. I tell myself I can handle being uncomfortable. I tell myself I am allowed to write whatever I want and that I am sending these copies simply as a courtesy.

Then the week before Christmas, I receive a letter from one of my aunts detailing everything wrong with my story. The list is long. I can’t even handle reading it myself, so I ask my husband to read it to me. I feel like I should be wearing a hazmat suit—it’s that harsh. What’s more, my aunt says she has sent her letter to everyone else in my family.

I immediately call my mother and apologize. She says I didn’t do anything wrong, that she doesn’t agree with my aunt. But I have the terrible feeling that I have done something wrong, and I need to make it right. I watch the film Manchester by the Sea , in which a man accidentally burns down his house and kills his children. I feel like that man.

My brother flies in to spend the week between Christmas and New Year’s with me, and he helps me address my aunt’s grievances, page by page. We revise the manuscript together.

My aunt is finally satisfied with my revision. She doesn’t forgive me, though, and says she can’t forget what I wrote in the first version.

What would I have done differently? What would I advise you to do, based on my experience? Have one trusted reader, preferably someone who knows all the characters in real life, comb through the manuscript first, imagining what others will think. In my case, that person would have been my brother. He is the one who helped me afterwards, but it would have been so much less traumatic if I had asked him to be my first character-reader.

What if I’m not up for any of this?

Maybe you are thinking, This sounds kind of complicated. I’ll just keep my family out of my story. I thought I could do that, too. But “you can’t write a family memoir without writing about people in your family,” Joan Wickersham says. “Your experience is all tangled up in theirs.”

Maybe you are even thinking, Why write my story at all? It sounds like a lot of heartache. Maybe so, but it is also true that once a memory moves from your mind to the page, it can feel like a burden lifted. To quote Joan Wickersham again, “A police sketch artist said that one of the things she liked about her job was that before meeting her, these people had to carry the memory of that face, but once they gave it to her, she hoped they could forget it a little bit.” The same can be true with memoir. Once you write about a memory, you don’t have to carry it around, trying not to lose it, anymore.

The other day someone asked me about when I introduced my then-boyfriend to my seven-year-old son. I couldn’t remember. But then I realized: I don’t have to anymore. The memory is out there in the world, in a Modern Love column, and in my memoir. I no longer have to carry it around, afraid that otherwise it might disappear.

Sharon Harrigan's Half

I bristle when people ask if writing my memoir was therapeutic. I am afraid they mean, Was it only therapeutic? I want to say, No, I wasn’t trying to heal, I was trying to make art. But the truth is, you can do both: create something beautiful and arrive at a deeper understanding of yourself.

I won’t lie: Writing memoir can be grueling, both in terms of hard work and emotional fallout. So allow yourself to enjoy the benefits. That’s one of the most important tips I want to share.

Note from Jane: If you enjoyed this post, check out Sharon Harrigan’s new novel, Half .

Sharon Harrigan

Sharon Harrigan’s first book is the memoir Playing with Dynamite (Truman State University Press, 2017). Her second book is the novel Half (University of Wisconsin Press), which Publisher’s Weekly called “riveting and inventive, a cut above the average coming of age tale.” Her work has also appeared in such places as the New York Times (Modern Love), Pleiades, and the Virginia Quarterly Review . She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University and lives and teaches in Charlottesville. Learn more at her website .

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Linda Moore Kurth

I get the “therapeutic” question frequently. My memoir took me many years to write, and at first I felt good to getting it out there, getting it said. But as I continued writing, it became more informative, giving me a deeper understanding of the events. And finally, with the emotion dissipated, it’s been for the art. As for family members’ reaction, my brother, who is in the book and read the final manuscript, has a better understanding of my life, and for that, I’m very glad. (God, the Devil, and Divorce: A Transformative Journey out of Emotional and Spiritual Abuse, release date 3-2021)

Joy Lennick

I wrote a Memoir after the deaths of many of the real characters in my stories. Fortunately, there were no creepy skeletons in the cupboard and I wasn’t starved or beaten. Lest you think it boring…there were excerpts from my Dad’s wartime diaries and enough variety, happenings,quirky characters and humour to keep boredom at bay. (My Gentle War, Amazon & Kindle)

Margie Fisher

This post is so useful! Thanks for writing it, Sharon!

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[…] fantasy novel, while the often-fraught genre of memoir is tackled by Sharon Harrigan exploring how to talk about family in memoir, and Marlene Cullen showing how to freewrite about traumatic events without causing more […]

[…] on June 27, 2020 by redwingredtail Posted on June 9, 2020 by Sharon Harrigan | 4 […]

Amanda Craig

Hey! Great article, and I hope you see this comment/question. If I wanted to write about an experience I had as a mother with my young son, would this be considered too intrusive for him? Would you recommend it? Would it be best to have aconvo with him and see his thought? The story is from when he was a toddler, and he is 11 now.

Julie poole

What if a sister writes a memoir about your brother which you know is mostly made up using childhood stories that happened to you as well as two very traumatic situations that involved you and not her…where she makes up a series of events about one situation and in one inserts herself as the one it happened to? Also writing an entirely fictional account if the way your brother spent his last minutes…l am furious…she also paints a picture of me being nonessential to the family which is how she has treated me her entire life to the point of talking my mother with dementia who had her own issues to disinherit my children and myself and never let you know she was dead…What do you do then? She is self published and is self promoting the book with the help of her self publishing company …she is going to our hometown and doing a reading at a library combined with bookstore to sell it there.l am sick with sadness…my brother said she would do anything to get ahead and she has , standing Ng in the backs of a dead brother,a dead father,a sick sister and a disinherited sister …

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Published In: Brief

How to Write a Biography (Examples & Templates)

A biography is a written account of a person’s life that details their life in chronological order. Another person usually writes this detailed account, and it contains reports of their childhood, career, major life events, relationships, and social impact. It also details their relationships with their family, children, and life accomplishments.

The best way to find out more about a popular figure is through reading their biographies, so you need to make sure you get the correct information. Before writing a biography, you need to do a lot of research and interviews to represent a person’s life accurately.

Types of Biography

A biography is the story of someone’s life as written by another writer. Most biographies of popular figures are written years, or even decades, after their deaths. Authors write biographies of popular figures due to either a lack of information on the subject or personal interest.

A biography aims to share a person’s story or highlight a part of their life.

There are different types of biographies, depending on the story. Some biographies are written true to the story, while some are written as fictional works. Biographies can give you true understanding of a person on an internal as well as external level along with a lot of life lessons.

Autobiography

An autobiography is different from a biography because it is written by the subject of the story, themselves. The author writes in the first-person narrative, and it flows step-by-step like a story of their life. Autobiographies contain personal accounts of the subject’s life, along with their perspectives and opinions on events in their life.

How To Write a Biography

Pick a subject.

Picking a subject is the first step in writing a biography. You can pick an already famous person or a relatively unknown person with a great life story. If you already have a few in mind, you can start by asking yourself some questions such as;

  • What has the subject accomplished that makes them a good subject?
  • Have they had an impact on society?
  • Is the subject a celebrity or a well-known personality?
  • Will the biography appeal to a wide audience?

Get Permission

When you pick a subject, the next thing to do is to get permission from them or their family or rights owners. Although, with some historical figures, there may not be any need for permission. Getting permission from your subject makes it easier for you to get stories to put into your book. You can get the chance to obtain additional personal stories and anecdotes that will make your book more interesting by doing so as well.

Do The Research

Research is the most important part of a biography’s process as the entire content of the book is dependent on it. Irrespective of what you know about the subject, you need to carry out as much research as possible to get the story’s facts precisely.

Biography research comes from various sources, depending on the book’s subject. Firsthand reports from family, friends, or personal accounts from the subjects are primary sources. They are usually the most accurate and reliable, and they are crucial for a biography. Secondary sources come from other sources like magazines or documentaries.

Pick a Format

Biographies come in various formats, with each of them having their pros and cons. A typical biography will start at the beginning, usually with the birth and childhood of the subject. Yet, if the biography’s theme involves a different event in their life, the author may want to explore the flashback option or one with concurrent events from different times.

Usually, biographies have a theme or a general life lesson at the center. The author’s role is to tell the subject’s story leading up to the major event.

Which-ever format you choose should place the theme at the center, with the other events detailing the journey.

Create a Timeline Of The Story

Since a biography takes place in chronological order, there needs to be a timeline of the events in the right order. The timeline should contain the key events in the subject’s life, in the order the author plans on revealing them. A great way to declutter the story and keep it interesting is to use flashbacks . This way, the author can introduce past events and explain later events excluding the element of monotony.

Add In Your Thoughts

The good thing about biographies is that you don’t have to stick to the hard facts only. As the author, you can share your opinions and emotions in writing. The author has the freedom to do this by commenting on a significant action by the subject in a manner that describes why they feel the subject may have done what they did.

The author can also include commentary on events depicted in the biography – how it was influenced society or its impact on the lives around them. Recounting these events through a different perspective can make the biography more relatable and interesting to read.

FAQ’s

Why is a biography template important.

A biography template has an outline that makes the writing easier for the author. Biography templates usually contain a sample timeline, format, and questions that provide more information about the subject. With a great biography template, you can cut your writing time in half and spend less time coming up with an outline.

How are biographies better in comparison to autobiographies

Since a different person writes biographies, they tend to be more objective and somewhat accurate than autobiographies. An autobiography tells things from the author’s perspective, so their views and perspective cloud it. Thus, a biography will likely tell a more factual story.

These are the important steps you need to take to help you write a great biography. Now, to make things easier for you, we have a free customizable autobiography and biography template that you can use to start your first book. Get the template and start writing today

What are some of the most important elements to keep in consideration while writing a biography?

Any author looking to write a biography must consider the factors below. They aren’t the only important factors, but a biography isn’t complete without them. • Date and place of their birth • Academic background • Professional expertise • Death, if deceased • Facts and anecdotes about the person • Main accomplishments • Detailed accounts of their child and adult life

Biographies tell the untold stories of some incredibly relevant people in the world. But biographies are not always strictly accurate. So, every biographer needs to follow the necessary steps to provide a biography with all the requirements.

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How to Write a Biography: A 7-Step Guide [+Template]

From time to time, nonfiction authors become so captivated by a particular figure from either the present or the past, that they feel compelled to write an entire book about their life. Whether casting them as heroes or villains, there is an interesting quality in their humanity that compels these authors to revisit their life paths and write their story.

However, portraying someone’s life on paper in a comprehensive and engaging way requires solid preparation. If you’re looking to write a biography yourself, in this post we’ll share a step-by-step blueprint that you can follow. 

How to write a biography: 

1. Seek permission when possible 

2. research your subject thoroughly, 3. do interviews and visit locations, 4. organize your findings, 5. identify a central thesis, 6. write it using narrative elements, 7. get feedback and polish the text.

FREE RESOURCE

FREE RESOURCE

Biography Outline Template

Craft a satisfying story arc for your biography with our free template.

While you technically don’t need permission to write about public figures (or deceased ones), that doesn't guarantee their legal team won't pursue legal action against you. Author Kitty Kelley was sued by Frank Sinatra before she even started to write His Way , a biography that paints Ol Blue Eyes in a controversial light. (Kelley ended up winning the lawsuit, however).  

how do i write a biography about my family

Whenever feasible, advise the subject’s representatives of your intentions. If all goes according to plan, you’ll get a green light to proceed, or potentially an offer to collaborate. It's a matter of common sense; if someone were to write a book about you, you would likely want to know about it well prior to publication. So, make a sincere effort to reach out to their PR staff to negotiate an agreement or at least a mutual understanding of the scope of your project. 

At the same time, make sure that you still retain editorial control over the project, and not end up writing a puff piece that treats its protagonist like a saint or hero. No biography can ever be entirely objective, but you should always strive for a portrayal that closely aligns with facts and reality.

If you can’t get an answer from your subject, or you’re asked not to proceed forward, you can still accept the potential repercussions and write an unauthorized biography . The “rebellious act” of publishing without consent indeed makes for great marketing, though it’ll likely bring more headaches with it too. 

✋ Please note that, like other nonfiction books, if you intend to release your biography with a publishing house , you can put together a book proposal to send to them before you even write the book. If they like it enough, they might pay you an advance to write it.  

FREE RESOURCE

Book Proposal Template

Craft a professional pitch for your nonfiction book with our handy template.

Once you’ve settled (or not) the permission part, it’s time to dive deep into your character’s story.  

Deep and thorough research skills are the cornerstone of every biographer worth their salt. To paint a vivid and accurate portrait of someone's life, you’ll have to gather qualitative information from a wide range of reliable sources. 

Start with the information already available, from books on your subject to archival documents, then collect new ones firsthand by interviewing people or traveling to locations. 

Browse the web and library archives

Illustration of a biographer going into research mode.

Put your researcher hat on and start consuming any piece on your subject you can find, from their Wikipedia page to news articles, interviews, TV and radio appearances, YouTube videos, podcasts, books, magazines, and any other media outlets they may have been featured in. 

Establish a system to orderly collect the information you find 一 even seemingly insignificant details can prove valuable during the writing process, so be sure to save them. 

Depending on their era, you may find most of the information readily available online, or you may need to search through university libraries for older references. 

Photo of Alexander Hamilton

For his landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow spent untold hours at Columbia University’s library , reading through the Hamilton family papers, visiting the New York Historical Society, as well as interviewing the archivist of the New York Stock Exchange, and so on. The research process took years, but it certainly paid off. Chernow discovered that Hamilton created the first five securities originally traded on Wall Street. This finding, among others, revealed his significant contributions to shaping the current American financial and political systems, a legacy previously often overshadowed by other founding fathers. Today Alexander Hamilton is one of the best-selling biographies of all time, and it has become a cultural phenomenon with its own dedicated musical. 

Besides reading documents about your subject, research can help you understand the world that your subject lived in. 

Try to understand their time and social environment

Many biographies show how their protagonists have had a profound impact on society through their philosophical, artistic, or scientific contributions. But at the same time, it’s worth it as a biographer to make an effort to understand how their societal and historical context influenced their life’s path and work.

An interesting example is Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World . Finding himself limited by a lack of verified detail surrounding William Shakespeare's personal life, Greenblatt, instead, employs literary interpretation and imaginative reenactments to transport readers back to the Elizabethan era. The result is a vivid (though speculative) depiction of the playwright's life, enriching our understanding of his world.

Painting of William Shakespeare in colors

Many readers enjoy biographies that transport them to a time and place, so exploring a historical period through the lens of a character can be entertaining in its own right. The Diary of Samuel Pepys became a classic not because people were enthralled by his life as an administrator, but rather from his meticulous and vivid documentation of everyday existence during the Restoration period.

Once you’ve gotten your hands on as many secondary sources as you can find, you’ll want to go hunting for stories first-hand from people who are (or were) close to your subject.

With all the material you’ve been through, by now you should already have a pretty good picture of your protagonist. But you’ll surely have some curiosities and missing dots in their character arc to figure out, which you can only get by interviewing primary sources.

Interview friends and associates

This part is more relevant if your subject is contemporary, and you can actually meet up or call with relatives, friends, colleagues, business partners, neighbors, or any other person related to them. 

In writing the popular biography of Steve Jobs, Walter Isaacson interviewed more than one hundred people, including Jobs’s family, colleagues, former college mates, business rivals, and the man himself.

🔍 Read other biographies to get a sense of what makes a great one. Check out our list of the 30 best biographies of all time , or take our 30-second quiz below for tips on which one you should read next. 

Which biography should you read next?

Discover the perfect biography for you. Takes 30 seconds!

When you conduct your interviews, make sure to record them with high quality audio you can revisit later. Then use tools like Otter.ai or Descript to transcribe them 一 it’ll save you countless hours. 

You can approach the interview with a specific set of questions, or follow your curiosity blindly, trying to uncover revealing stories and anecdotes about your subject. Whatever your method, author and biography editor Tom Bromley suggests that every interviewer arrives prepared, "Show that you’ve done your work. This will help to put the interviewee at ease, and get their best answers.” 

Bromley also places emphasis on the order in which you conduct interviews. “You may want to interview different members of the family or friends first, to get their perspective on something, and then go directly to the main interviewee. You'll be able to use that knowledge to ask sharper, more specific questions.” 

Finally, consider how much time you have with each interviewee. If you only have a 30-minute phone call with an important person, make it count by asking directly the most pressing questions you have. And, if you find a reliable source who is also particularly willing to help, conduct several interviews and ask them, if appropriate, to write a foreword as part of the book’s front matter .

Sometimes an important part of the process is packing your bags, getting on a plane, and personally visiting significant places in your character’s journey.

Visit significant places in their life

A place, whether that’s a city, a rural house, or a bodhi tree, can carry a particular energy that you can only truly experience by being there. In putting the pieces together about someone’s life, it may be useful to go visit where they grew up, or where other significant events of their lives happened. It will be easier to imagine what they experienced, and better tell their story. 

In researching The Lost City of Z , author David Grann embarked on a trek through the Amazon, retracing the steps of British explorer Percy Fawcett. This led Grann to develop new theories about the circumstances surrounding the explorer's disappearance.

Still from the movie The Lost City of Z in which the explorer is surrounded by an Amazon native tribe

Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with jaguars and anacondas to better understand your subject’s environment, but try to walk into their shoes as much as possible. 

Once you’ve researched your character enough, it’s time to put together all the puzzle pieces you collected so far. 

Take the bulk of notes, media, and other documents you’ve collected, and start to give them some order and structure. A simple way to do this is by creating a timeline. 

Create a chronological timeline

It helps to organize your notes chronologically 一 from childhood to the senior years, line up the most significant events of your subject’s life, including dates, places, names and other relevant bits. 

Timeline of Steve Jobs' career

You should be able to divide their life into distinct periods, each with their unique events and significance. Based on that, you can start drafting an outline of the narrative you want to create.  

Draft a story outline 

Since a biography entails writing about a person’s entire life, it will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. You can pick where you want to end the story, depending on how consequential the last years of your subject were. But the nature of the work will give you a starting character arc to work with. 

To outline the story then, you could turn to the popular Three-Act Structure , which divides the narrative in three main parts. In a nutshell, you’ll want to make sure to have the following:

  • Act 1. Setup : Introduce the protagonist's background and the turning points that set them on a path to achieve a goal. 
  • Act 2. Confrontation : Describe the challenges they encounter, both internal and external, and how they rise to them. Then..
  • Act 3. Resolution : Reach a climactic point in their story in which they succeed (or fail), showing how they (and the world around them) have changed as a result. 

Only one question remains before you begin writing: what will be the main focus of your biography?

Think about why you’re so drawn to your subject to dedicate years of your life to recounting their own. What aspect of their life do you want to highlight? Is it their evil nature, artistic genius, or visionary mindset? And what evidence have you got to back that up? Find a central thesis or focus to weave as the main thread throughout your narrative. 

Cover of Hitler and Stalin by Alan Bullock

Or find a unique angle

If you don’t have a particular theme to explore, finding a distinct angle on your subject’s story can also help you distinguish your work from other biographies or existing works on the same subject.

Plenty of biographies have been published about The Beatles 一 many of which have different focuses and approaches: 

  • Philip Norman's Shout is sometimes regarded as leaning more towards a pro-Lennon and anti-McCartney stance, offering insights into the band's inner dynamics. 
  • Ian McDonald's Revolution in the Head closely examines their music track by track, shifting the focus back to McCartney as a primary creative force. 
  • Craig Brown's One Two Three Four aims to capture their story through anecdotes, fan letters, diary entries, and interviews. 
  • Mark Lewisohn's monumental three-volume biography, Tune In , stands as a testament to over a decade of meticulous research, chronicling every intricate detail of the Beatles' journey.

Group picture of The Beatles

Finally, consider that biographies are often more than recounting the life of a person. Similar to how Dickens’ Great Expectations is not solely about a boy named Pip (but an examination and critique of Britain’s fickle, unforgiving class system), a biography should strive to illuminate a broader truth — be it social, political, or human — beyond the immediate subject of the book. 

Once you’ve identified your main focus or angle, it’s time to write a great story. 

Illustration of a writer mixing storytelling ingredients

While biographies are often highly informative, they do not have to be dry and purely expository in nature . You can play with storytelling elements to make it an engaging read. 

You could do that by thoroughly detailing the setting of the story , depicting the people involved in the story as fully-fledged characters , or using rising action and building to a climax when describing a particularly significant milestone of the subject’s life. 

One common way to make a biography interesting to read is starting on a strong foot…

Hook the reader from the start

Just because you're honoring your character's whole life doesn't mean you have to begin when they said their first word. Starting from the middle or end of their life can be more captivating as it introduces conflicts and stakes that shaped their journey.

When he wrote about Christopher McCandless in Into the Wild , author Jon Krakauer didn’t open his subject’s childhood and abusive family environment. Instead, the book begins with McCandless hitchhiking his way into the wilderness, and subsequently being discovered dead in an abandoned bus. By starting in medias res , Krakauer hooks the reader’s interest, before tracing back the causes and motivations that led McCandless to die alone in that bus in the first place.

Chris McCandless self-portrait in front of the now iconic bus

You can bend the timeline to improve the reader’s reading experience throughout the rest of the story too…

Play with flashback 

While biographies tend to follow a chronological narrative, you can use flashbacks to tell brief stories or anecdotes when appropriate. For example, if you were telling the story of footballer Lionel Messi, before the climax of winning the World Cup with Argentina, you could recall when he was just 13 years old, giving an interview to a local newspaper, expressing his lifelong dream of playing for the national team. 

Used sparsely and intentionally, flashbacks can add more context to the story and keep the narrative interesting. Just like including dialogue does…

Reimagine conversations

Recreating conversations that your subject had with people around them is another effective way to color the story. Dialogue helps the reader imagine the story like a movie, providing a deeper sensory experience. 

how do i write a biography about my family

One thing is trying to articulate the root of Steve Jobs’ obsession with product design, another would be to quote his father , teaching him how to build a fence when he was young: “You've got to make the back of the fence just as good looking as the front of the fence. Even though nobody will see it, you will know. And that will show that you're dedicated to making something perfect.”

Unlike memoirs and autobiographies, in which the author tells the story from their personal viewpoint and enjoys greater freedom to recall conversations, biographies require a commitment to facts. So, when recreating dialogue, try to quote directly from reliable sources like personal diaries, emails, and text messages. You could also use your interview scripts as an alternative to dialogue. As Tom Bromley suggests, “If you talk with a good amount of people, you can try to tell the story from their perspective, interweaving different segments and quoting the interviewees directly.”

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These are just some of the story elements you can use to make your biography more compelling. Once you’ve finished your manuscript, it’s a good idea to ask for feedback. 

If you’re going to self-publish your biography, you’ll have to polish it to professional standards. After leaving your work to rest for a while, look at it with fresh eyes and self-edit your manuscript eliminating passive voice, filler words, and redundant adverbs. 

Illustration of an editor reviewing a manuscript

Then, have a professional editor give you a general assessment. They’ll look at the structure and shape of your manuscript and tell you which parts need to be expanded on or cut. As someone who edited and commissioned several biographies, Tom Bromley points out that a professional “will look at the sources used and assess whether they back up the points made, or if more are needed. They would also look for context, and whether or not more background information is needed for the reader to understand the story fully. And they might check your facts, too.”  

In addition to structural editing, you may want to have someone copy-edit and proofread your work.

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Importantly, make sure to include a bibliography with a list of all the interviews, documents, and sources used in the writing process. You’ll have to compile it according to a manual of style, but you can easily create one by using tools like EasyBib . Once the text is nicely polished and typeset in your writing software , you can prepare for the publication process.  

In conclusion, by mixing storytelling elements with diligent research, you’ll be able to breathe life into a powerful biography that immerses readers in another individual’s life experience. Whether that’ll spark inspiration or controversy, remember you could have an important role in shaping their legacy 一 and that’s something not to take lightly. 

Continue reading

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How to Write a Biography: 10 Step Guide + Book Template

POSTED ON Nov 14, 2023

Nicole Ahlering

Written by Nicole Ahlering

So you’d like to know how to write a biography. We can help with that! In this guide, we show you how to get from the initial book idea to publishing your book , and we throw in a free template to help you on your way. 

Let’s jump right in. 

This guide teaches you how to write a biography in the following steps:

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

We will send you a Book Template for US Trade (standard paperback size).

Step 1: Read other biographies 

Austin Kleon, Author of Steal Like an Artist , says “the writer tries to master words. All of these pursuits involve the study of those who have come before and the effort to build upon their work in some way.”

In other words, to be a great writer, you need to read the best biographies written by other excellent authors!

In this case, it would behoove you to read several biographies – whether historical or celebrity biographies is up to you and your sub-genre. 

A good author to start with? Walter Isaacson . He’s written highly acclaimed biographies on everyone from Abraham Lincoln and Steve Jobs to Leonardo Da Vinci and Elon Musk. 

Step 2: Identify your subject

Next, it’s time to choose who you’d like to write about – if you don’t already have someone in mind.  

The most important factor will be, of course, your interest in the person you’re planning to write about. You’ll spend months (or even years) deep-diving into this person’s history, so you want to choose someone who you’re unlikely to tire of. 

Here are a few other factors to consider: 

  • How impactful has your potential subject’s life been? In other words, will people care to learn more about this person? 
  • How readily available is information about your potential subject? Biographies require extensive research, so it’s critical to choose someone who has enough information out there to dig into! Consider whether your subject has done interviews, written journals, has family or a partner willing to speak with you, and more. 
  • Are there already books written about your potential subject? Just because there’s an existing biography about the person you’re interested in doesn’t (necessarily) mean you can’t write another one. But if there are two or three biographies, you may want to reconsider. If you do choose to write about someone who has already been well-documented, be mindful about approaching the topic with a new angle or perspective. For instance, there are several biographies about George Washington, but author Alexis Coe wrote one about how Washington isn’t “quite the man we remember.” This brilliant iteration has over 12,000 ratings on Goodreads .
  • Is there a market demand for a book about your potential subject? If you’d like to publish your book, you need to be mindful of whether folks will want to read it. Do some research to determine if readers will be receptive to a book about the person you’re interested in. 

Related: Is a Biography a Primary Source?

Step 3: Get permission to write about your subject

We’ll start by stating the obvious. It’s a good idea to get permission to write about your subject, even if you’re not legally required to. For one thing, it’s just good manners. Plus, you’re much more likely to get unfettered access to the information and sources you need to write your book. 

But do you have to get permission? It depends.

In some cases, if your subject is considered a “public figure,” permission may not be required. The definition of a public figure varies depending on your jurisdiction, so you should always consult a lawyer before writing a biography. 

If you do decide to proceed without permission, be mindful of how your book will be received and any legal issues that may arise. 

Related : Difference Between A Memoir and Biography

Step 4: Create an outline

It’s critical to outline your biography before you begin writing it. Among other things, it helps ensure you cover every topic you’d like to and get the book in the correct chronological order. It also helps you identify themes that emerge as you organize your ideas. 

YouTube video

Need help creating your outline? Learn how to do it (and take advantage of free templates!) in our guide to outlining a book . 

Step 5: Select a working title (using a title generator) 

Now is the fun part! It’s time to create a working title for your book. A working title is just what it sounds like: it’s a title that works – for now. 

Of course, it’s helpful to have something to call the book as you’re working on it. And it encourages you to think about the message you’d like your book to convey. When your biography is complete, you can always do a little more research on how to write book titles for your specific sub-genre and update your working title accordingly.

Or, you can decide you still love your initial title and publish your book with that one! 

We’ve made it easy for you to develop a working title – or multiple – using our book title generator . 

Don't like it?

Step 6: Write a rough draft 

Okay, now it’s time to start writing your rough draft. Don’t be intimidated; just focus on getting something down on the page. As experts on all things writing and self-publishing, we’ve got a rough draft writing guide to help you get through this phase of writing a biography.

Remember to be as balanced and objective as possible.

Make good use of your primary and secondary sources, and double-check all of your facts. You’ve got this!  

Step 7: Self-edit

There are several different types of editing that we recommend each manuscript undergo. But before you give your rough draft to anyone else to review, you should edit it yourself. 

The first step to self-editing?

Take a break! It’s essential to give your mind some time to recuperate before you go over your work. And never self-edit as you go!

After you’ve completed your break, here are a few things to consider as you edit: 

  • Grammar. This one is self-explanatory and usually the easiest. You can use an AI editor to make a first pass and quickly catch obvious spelling errors. Depending on prompts and your experience with the tool, you can also use AI to catch some grammar and syntax issues as well.
  • Content and structure . This is the time to make sure the bones of your piece are good. Make sure your content flows logically (and in chronological order), no important pieces of information are missing, and there isn’t redundant or unhelpful information. 
  • Clarity and consistency. Keep an eye out for any confusing copy and ensure your tone is uniform throughout the book.
  • Try reading your draft aloud. You’d be surprised at how many errors, shifts in tone, or other things you’d like to change that you don’t notice while reading in your head. Go ahead and do a read-through of your draft out loud. 

Step 8: Work with an editor

Once you’ve created the best draft you can, it’s time to hire an editor. As we mentioned, there are multiple types of book editing, so you’ll need to choose the one(s) that are best for you and your project. 

For instance, you can work with a developmental editor who helps with big-picture stuff. Think book structure, organization, and overall storytelling. Or you might work with a line editor who focuses on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and the like. 

There are also specialized copy editors, content editors, fact-checkers, and more.

It’s in your best interest to do a substantial amount of research before choosing an editor since they’ll have a large impact on your book. Many editors are open to doing a paid trial so you can see their work before you sign them on for the entire book. 

Step 9: Hire a book cover designer + get an ISBN 

Once you’ve worked with your editor(s) to finalize your book, it’s time to get your book ready to go out into the world. Your first step is to hire a book cover designer to create a cover that grabs readers’ attention (pssst: did you know that all SelfPublishing authors get done-for-you professional book design? Ask us about it !).

Then, you’ll need to get an ISBN number for your book – or an International Standard Book Number. It’s a unique way to identify your book and is critical for ordering, inventory tracking, and more. 

Bear in mind that each rendition of your book – regardless of when you publish them – will need their own ISBN numbers. So if you initially publish as a softcover and hardcover book and then decide to publish an ebook with the same exact content, you'll need 3 total ISBN numbers.

To get an ISBN, head to ISBN.org and follow the steps they provide.  Or reference our guide right here for step-by-step instructions (complete with photos) on how to get an ISBN number for self-published books.

Step 10: Create a launch plan 

Now is the most exciting part. It’s time to get your book out into the world! You’ll need to map out your plan, schedule events , finalize your pricing strategy, and more. 

We have an entire guide to launching a book to help you figure it out. 

YouTube video

Get your free book template!

Learning how to write a biography can be challenging, but when you have a clear plan and guidance, the process is much easier. We've helped thousands of aspiring authors just like you write and self-publish their own books. We know what works – and how to become a successfully published author faster.

Take the first step today and down the book template below!

And, if you need additional help writing your biography, remember that we’re standing by to help. Just schedule a book consultation and one of our team members will help answer any of your questions about the writing process.

how do i write a biography about my family

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how do i write a biography about my family

Choosing the Right Format When Writing Your Family History

Home » Blog » Choosing the Right Format When Writing Your Family History

how do i write a biography about my family

CHOOSING THE RIGHT FORMAT WHEN WRITING YOUR FAMILY HISTORY

You’ve dreamed of writing a family history book for years. In fact, you’ve even started wading through old documents, photos, and records.

But after countless hours of research, you’re stuck.

What do you do with all of the materials you’ve gathered? What’s the best way to present your family’s history? What kind of a story do you want to tell — and how do you want to tell it?

Where do you even start?

The great thing about family history projects is that the options are almost limitless.

Want to keep things simple? You can stick to a just-the-facts family tree.

Want a sweeping epic that spans generations? Consider writing a novel-length family biography that weaves your ancestors’ stories together with important historical events.

Not a huge fan of writing? You can tell your family’s story through a collection of letters, journals, photographs, and other documents.

Of course, the drawback to all of these choices is choosing the right one for your family and your goals for the project.

Not sure which option is right for you? Join us for a deep dive into some of our favorite options — along with the pros and cons of each one.

Traditional Genealogy

Traditional styles are, by far, is the most straightforward way to organize your family history. The traditional, basic format shows how each person in your lineage is connected.

Considering this approach? Try one of these options:

Family Tree Style.

This style offers the bare facts of your ancestors, including names, birth and death dates, and how they relate to each other within the family line.

Family tree diagrams are great for illustrating smaller family relations, but can easily become quite cumbersome for larger families.

how do i write a biography about my family

Ahnentafel Style.

Also known as a 'pedigree chart,' this option is similar to -- but more complex than -- a family tree and is a popular choice for historian archivists.

These charts can vary in layout, but they are always organized with the information starting in the present and moving backward into the past along the direct lineage. The information is organized based on a specific numbering and charting system that tracks family units or groups.

how do i write a biography about my family

Register Style.

Another popular option with historic archivists and professional genealogists. Also known as the “Descendancy,” this style is the opposite of the Ahnentafel as it works from the past into the present from a common ancestor. Like the Anhentafel, though, this option uses a numbering system to organize people into families. However, registers also feature a very basic paragraph about each person that includes: the place of birth/baptism and birth/baptism date(s); place of death/burial and death/burial date(s); and place of marriage and marriage date.

Why go traditional?

All three styles of traditional genealogy are a great way to organize your research and data while compiling your family history.

And, since these options are focused on names, dates, and places, they’re great options if you’re not interested in doing a lot of writing.

They are also perfect for the genealogist and anyone else who wants to organize their information before starting a more writing-intensive option.

Drawbacks to consider:

While these formats make it easy to organize the data in a logical way, they’re not very exciting.

The end result is a dry, bare-bones list of names and dates, with no in-depth details about your family’s rich history.

Journaled Scrapbook

Also known as a “heritage scrapbook,” this style of family history includes names and dates, but it keeps things interesting with the addition of photos, notes, stories, documents, letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, and anything else you can think of.

You can use a scanner and simple layout software to create your scrapbook digitally. This gives you the option to print multiple copies for several members of your family.

Or you can keep things old-school and create a one-of-a kind, paper-crafted scrapbook that that is placed within a binder.

Why this is a great option:

With the journaled scrapbook format, you can use a lot more of the documents and old photos you found in your research instead of letting them sit in a box.

Photos help give a rich element to your family history. You can even embellish them in a creative way with written narratives and any other documents you like.

Things to consider:

Printing can increase the overall cost of your project — especially if you’re using lots of photos and other graphics.

On the other hand, if you choose to do a paper-crafted scrapbook, you can save money — but you’ll be limited to only one copy to share with your family.

Theme-Based Family History

A theme-based family history is a great way to capture that interest while also chronicling the people along your lineage.

Did your family love to cook? Write a book of recipes shared across the generations, along with the stories about where the recipes came from and other interesting details.

how do i write a biography about my family

Were there a lot of military men and women in your family? Write about their bravery and experiences during their service, and how that affected the family line.

Maybe there were plenty of “black sheep,” adventurers, or renegades in your family line. Base your family history around their colorful experiences.

Really, there is no shortage of ideas on topics you could use to present your family histories.

Why choose a theme-based option:

There are lots of topics you can choose from within your family history to write about.

Whether visual or narrative in form, it is a great way to present a special family theme that can be shared with all your relatives. You can mix photos, documents, and narratives along with items like recipes, letters, etc.

What to know before you start:

Just like with a journaled scrapbook, theme-based history books often include lots of photos, notes, and other documents, which means it can be costly to print.

Creating a book with a special theme or narrow scope also means leaving out many other aspects and stories — or even people — that don’t fit within the book’s focus.

Family Biography

how do i write a biography about my family

A family biography is a narrative story of a whole family’s history, and it can provide a look at a direct family line/surname or a broader view of several directly connected lines.

This format is a lot like a novel.

You write a narrative about your ancestors using notes, memories, and a bit of creative license here and there.

Your family’s narrative is set against a historical backdrop and often includes information about historical events, politics, economic conditions, and other historical circumstances that influenced your descendants.

Why a biography?

This format gives you the ability to use all the facts you collected in a more compelling way while bringing your family’s history alive.

You can get in-depth and provide meaning and context. You can also tell some amazing stories without worrying if they’ll “fit” within a specific space or theme.

Drawbacks of a biography-style book:

This option works best if you have plentiful resources to draw upon, such as old letters and journals actually written by family members you are writing about.

Without that firsthand perspective, it’s all too easy to make assumptions about your ancestors’ actions, beliefs, and decisions.

Anthology-Style History

This format an anthology, which is a collection of stories typically written to fit into a certain subject or theme.

To use this format you would select which family members’ stories you want to highlight and write each one separately.

Each family member’s story would be a chapter or section in our book, and each story would work together in some way to illustrate a certain theme, idea, time period, or even a memory.

Again, there is no shortage of ideas for compiling an anthology-style family history. You could write stories about all the women or all the men in one direct line.

Or you could even transcribe family members’ memories or interpretations of a certain important family event.

The benefits of an anthology:

This format can include more in-depth information into each individual, creating a more complete portrait of each family member you write about.

You can also ask family members to write their own stories and send them to you, which means less writing work for you — and more colorful and varied stories for readers.

The challenges of an anthology-style approach:

While it is said everyone has a story to tell, not every family member’s story will be equally compelling.

You’ll need to make sure that you have enough stories to make an interesting book, and you should be willing to scale the project up or down as needed.

For example, you might find that, out of ten women in your family, only six have stories that would be interesting to others.

And if you are having other family members write their own stories, you may find they don’t write well and may get narrative back that needs to be rewritten.

CAPTURE THEIR VOICES, TODAY

Preserve your family history

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Event Histories

Another interesting way to write your family’s history is by capturing certain events and writing about how they affected your ancestors.

Going from past to present, taking a large, or even smaller, historical event that your ancestors experienced can be an interesting way of presenting the facts of both the event and your family and show how it shaped the family line.

Examples: Did you have groups of ancestors who documented their experiences during the Civil War?

Maybe you have a relative who was alive during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake?

Or maybe you’d like to focus on a direct ancestor’s arrival in America and how that changed his life and future of the family.

The pros of taking a historical approach: Writing about your ancestors in a historical context can bring out stories you may never have thought of before.

And learning how certain events influenced them or pushed them to do certain things and see life in a certain way can add a great richness to your family history.

A few cons to consider: Certain events — such as war, natural disasters, and the like — can be difficult or even depressing to write about, and you may even hear a few stories that you wish you hadn’t.

This isn’t to say that every story in your family history has to have a happy ending — but it’s best to be prepared to hear some less-than-positive details.

A memoir is a historical account written from one’s own personal experience.

To write a memoir about your family history, you, the writer, would write an account of your family history and the members of your family.

You could also consider writing about an important event as it relates to your family from your own memories, interpretations, experiences, and your conducted research.

While some people choose to interview family members for their perspectives when writing a memoir, most memoirs are written solely from the perspective of the author.

Depending on your age and your memory recall, the time span of your family’s history would be closer to the present and be more subjective in nature than complete fact.

Example: The Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This format offers you flexibility and creativity to blend family facts with your own memories and personal interpretation. If you enjoy writing, you’ll likely find that this is one of the most interesting and compelling ways to highlight your family’s history through your own personal lens.

The (potentially) not-so-good:

One of the biggest problems with this sort of family history is the subjective nature of the writing.

It is typically based mostly on your own interpretation and assumptions with no room for other family member’s input. You may find that you are too personally entwined with the events, which it can cloud your memory and hinder your ability to write objectively.

Living Memory

Instead of relying solely on YOUR memory, you can collect all the memories you can from living relatives and combine them with surviving historical documents to produce a single narrative, anthology, or scrapbook.

Examples:  To help get you started capturing the memories of your family members, consider these resources: Your Story: A Guided Interview Through Your Personal & Family History  by Gift to the Future2000 Inc (Author), Inc Staff Gift To The Future 200 (Author) ; The Story of a Lifetime: A Keepsake of Personal Memoirs by Pamela Pavuk  (Author), J. Richard Huxen (Author) ; To Our Children’s Children: Preserving Family Histories for Generations to Come by Bob Greene (Author), D. G. Fulford (Author)

What’s great about this option:

By including stories from multiple family members, you’re sure to get a wide variety of viewpoints, ideas, and stories to include in your book.

Your relatives will feel more included and this format really makes the book a true family story.

What ‘s challenging about it:

People often remember things differently — and with so many different voices and viewpoints, you might get conflicting memories to the same stories.

You may also get stories that don’t work cohesively together (this is why it might be helpful to provide family members with pre-written questions or to interview them in groups).

Vintage Photos

Of course, if you love the idea of putting together a family history — but feel apprehensive about the amount of research or writing required for your preferred format – a ghostwriter can help. Bringing in an outside resource can help you stay organized, keep your project on track, and help you fine-tune your writing.

Whether you choose a handmade scrapbook, an anthology of personal narratives, or a short-and-sweet family tree, you’ll find that this project will be rewarding for everyone involved. And you’ll likely learn a thing or two about your family along the way.

how do i write a biography about my family

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how do i write a biography about my family

6 thoughts on “ Choosing the Right Format When Writing Your Family History ”

I want see about my last name for corff family tree please thank you

Hi Catherine! We’d love to help you with your family tree project! Please feel free to contact us through our website ( https://www.thewritersforhire.com/contact/ )or by calling us at 713-465-6860.

I would like to write a book about one branch of my family from when they arrived in America to current living family members. I have photos, documents, letters, many stories about certain members, much research about their occupations in some case. I have also researched inventions of the times that changed their standard of living. I can easily add current events of their time. What format is best to use in your opinion?

It sounds like you have put a lot of work into your family history! If you have a lot of images and documents that you want to include, you may want to consider a journaled scrapbook. However, if your content is more heavily story-based, we’d recommend going the biography or anthology route.

Good luck! And please let us know if we can help you with your book.

The payoff for all this detective work is nothing less than time traveling through your family history. You will get to know your ancestors in a more intimate and meaningful way.

We couldn’t agree more!

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How to Write a Biography About Yourself: Steps, Tips & Examples

Learn to write an engaging autobiography about yourself. Unlock your story's power and captivate readers. Start crafting your narrative today!

Farzana Zannat Mou

Last updated on May 7th, 2024

How to Write a Personal Bio About Yourself

When you click on affiliate links on QuillMuse.com and make a purchase, you won’t pay a penny more, but we’ll get a small commission—this helps us keep up with publishing valuable content on QuillMuse.  Read More .

Table of Contents

A personal biography, often shortened to just my self-biography, is a brief statement summarizing your skills and achievements. You can write a bio to differentiate yourself from other candidates, gain new clients, or connect with social media followers. 

Learning how to write a biography about yourself can help you build your brand and market yourself effectively. In this article, we are going to discuss biography with steps, tips, and strategies to help you write how to write a biography about yourself. 

Before writing, how to write a biography of yourself. First, we have to know what a personal biography is.

What is a personal biography?

A personal biography [1] is a brief introduction summarizing your experience, references, education, and personal or professional achievements. This can help you convey your brand and show others what makes you unique. You can use your profile as a marketing tool when applying for jobs, attracting potential clients, or encouraging people to follow you on social media.

A personal biography often conveys the purpose or goal of writing the biography, such as talking to a client or getting a job. In your biography, you can include details about your personal or professional achievements, such as awards you’ve won or positive feedback you’ve received from customers. 

You don’t have just to write an essay about you. You may choose to discuss your personal or professional background in your biography, such as your current position, years of experience in the industry, or your motivation for pursuing your career path. 

A personal biography typically mentions your education and other qualifications, such as internships, certifications, or professional development training.

What to include in a personal bio?

Here are some of the elements a personal bio might include:

  • Name : [Your Name]
  • Profession : [Your Job Title/Role]
  • Experience : Briefly outline your relevant professional experience.
  • Accomplishments : Highlight any notable achievements or milestones in your career.
  • Skills : List key skills or areas of expertise relevant to your profession.
  • Interests : Mention any hobbies or interests that showcase your personality outside of work.
  • Unique Qualities : Highlight any unique traits or experiences that set you apart.
  • Education : Include your educational background if relevant.
  • Contact Information : Provide a way for people to contact you if they want to connect or collaborate.

Where To Show Personal Bio 

Many people use their biography when looking for a job to explain to the hiring manager why they are the ideal candidate for the job. You can also use your biography in other ways. Some places you can post your biography include:

Shine Online:

  • Concise & Catchy: Twitter and Instagram bios thrive on brevity. Use keywords to grab attention and reflect your interests (e.g., “Foodie, Bookworm, Aspiring Cloud Architect”).
  • Professional: LinkedIn allows for a more comprehensive bio. Craft a compelling summary that highlights your career journey, key skills, and achievements.
  • Personal Website or Blog : If you have your own digital space, a dedicated “About Me” section is ideal. Here, you can delve deeper into your background, passions, and what makes you tick.
  • Guest Posting Platforms : When contributing articles to other websites, some may have an author bio section. Craft a concise bio that piques the reader’s interest and potentially links back to your own website.

Offline Bio Beacons:

  • Resumes & Cover Letters : In the professional realm, tailor your bio to resonate with the specific job or company. Highlight relevant skills and experiences that showcase your qualifications for the role.
  • Networking Events : Prepare a succinct “elevator pitch” that summarizes your background and interests in a captivating way. This is your chance to make a lasting impression in a short interaction.
  • Business Cards (Optional) : While not a necessity, some people include a bio or tagline on their business cards. This can be a creative way to spark conversation and leave a memorable impression.
  • Portfolios or Presentations : If you’re in a creative field, consider incorporating a bio section into your portfolio or presentation. This can add a personal touch and help potential clients or collaborators connect with you on a deeper level.

Remember, the key is to tailor your bio to the specific platform or situation. Think about your target audience and the message you want to convey. By strategically placing your bio in these online and offline spaces, you can effectively introduce yourself to the world and leave a lasting impression.

How to Write a Biography About Yourself 

How to Write a Biography About Yourself

When you think you have to do something for your better career you must be alert about how to write a bio . Here’s an expanded take on how to craft a captivating biography about yourself in 6 steps:

1. Find Your Focus

Don’t just list facts, tell a story! Think about who will be reading it like a boss, classmate, or everyone. What’s the goal? Is it to show your skills for a job, your creative side, or everything about you?

This helps you decide what to write. For a job, focus on work experience, achievements, and skills that make you a good fit. For creative writing, mention what inspires you and the artists you like.

Think of important moments, big achievements, and things that make you unique. Then, write them down in a clear order, either by time (like your life story) or by topic (like focusing on skills).

2. Start Strong with a Hook

The first sentence is your chance to shine. Instead of a snoozer intro, write something that makes people curious. This could be a surprising fact about what you do, a quick story that hints at your personality, or even a question that sparks the reader’s imagination. 

Think about how you’d introduce yourself to someone you really admire. What would you say to make them want to chat more? Do that in your first sentence. It’ll turn your bio into a “must-read.” After all, you’re an interesting person, so show it off from the very beginning.

Imagine you’re starting a conversation with someone you want to impress – how would you introduce yourself in a way that compels them to listen? So, I think you know how to write an introduction .

3. Showcase Your Journey

This is the heart of your biography, where your experiences come alive. Don’t just list accomplishments; delve deeper and showcase the challenges overcome, turning points that shaped you, and the triumphs you’ve achieved. 

Instead of just stating you received a prestigious award, describe the project you tackled or the problem you solved that led to the recognition. Highlight the skills you honed along the way and how they contribute to your overall value.

Tell your story. Don’t just list your achievements. Show the interesting parts. What problems did you solve? What were the big moments? How did you learn and grow?

Pick things that impress the people you’re writing for. If it’s a job application, show skills that fit the job. If it’s for friends, tell fun stories. Use details to make your story come alive. Maybe you won an award. Instead of just saying that, tell them about the project you did.

4. Add Personality with Details and Voice

Spice it up! Don’t just tell people what you did, show them! Instead of saying “I won an award,” describe the cool project you worked on or the tricky problem you solved to earn it. Mention things you saw, heard, or even smelled that made the experience memorable. 

A funny story shows you’re quick-witted, and a story about overcoming a challenge shows you’re a problem-solver. Write like you’re chatting with a friend. Don’t worry about using big words or sounding fancy. Just write the way you normally talk. 

Are you known for your jokes? Let your sense of humor shine through. Are you super passionate about something? Let your enthusiasm jump off the page. The more you sound like yourself, the more interesting your story will be.

5. Keep it short 

The length of your biography can vary depending on the focus and goals. On your social media site, you can write a brief professional biography of two or three sentences. Other bios, such as a website bio, can be several paragraphs long. No matter where you plan to display your biography, keep it short to grab readers’ attention and encourage them to learn more about you or connect with you.

6. Refine and Polish Your Work

Once you have a solid draft, take a critical eye and become your own editor. Proofread meticulously for typos, grammatical errors , and any awkward phrasing. Ensure the flow of your writing is smooth and the information is presented clearly. 

Read your biography aloud to catch inconsistencies or areas that feel clunky. Having a trusted friend or colleague review it for clarity and impact can also be beneficial. Their fresh perspective might help you identify areas for improvement or ensure your message resonates with the intended audience. You don’t need to check for plagiarism .

7. Leave a Lasting Impression

The final sentence is your chance to create a memorable closing. This could be a powerful summary of your core values, a glimpse into your aspirations for the future, or a call to action that invites the reader to connect with you in some way. 

This could be a quick summary of what’s important to you, a hint about your future goals, or even an invitation for the reader to connect in some way. The ending should leave a lasting impression that reflects who you truly are. Maybe you could end with a question that sparks a conversation or a quote that sums up your way of thinking.

8. Regularly update your profile 

You are constantly learning new skills and achieving new goals in your career. Keeping these achievements to yourself will only limit your opportunities. 

Instead, you should take a few minutes to update your various profiles every time you go through a major life event. This way, your biography will always accurately reflect who you are and what you have to offer, allowing you to gain better exposure, gain the respect of your peers, and ultimately be recruited.

9. Match the word count to the platform 

While you analyze how to write a biography about yourself you should concern yourself with the word limit of the biography. The time it takes to write your biography is up to you unless you’re filling out the biography section of your profile and are only allowed a certain number of words. However, you should keep in mind your background and what your audience is looking for when deciding how much to write. 

For example, people reading a biography on a job site may be screening many candidates, so it’s best to keep the biography on these sites short, between 300 and 500 words. Otherwise, readers may be tempted to ignore them. 

For a biography on your website, a longer biography (between 1500 and 2000) is often better because you can include more details. Search engines also prefer longer bios, so they often rank higher in search results, making your bio more visible.

Tips for making your biography noticeable

1. hook from the start: .

Skip the boring intro! Start your bio with something awesome! Think of a cool sentence, a surprising detail, or a question that makes people think. Imagine meeting someone interesting at a party. What would you say to grab their attention and make them want to chat more? This first line is super important because it sets the tone for your whole bio and makes people want to read on.

2. SEO Savvy: 

If your bio is online, consider yourself a tiny search engine magnet! Strategically sprinkle in relevant keywords that people might use to find someone like you. Research keywords related to your profession, interests, or skills. For instance, an aspiring chef might include a “culinary student” or “food enthusiast” to attract potential employers or collaborators.

3. Paint a Picture with Words: 

Instead of a laundry list of skills or interests, use vivid language and action verbs to showcase your passions. Don’t just say you’re “creative” – describe yourself as “brainstorming innovative solutions” or “transforming blank canvases into vibrant masterpieces.” This paints a picture for the reader and allows them to connect with your energy and enthusiasm.

4. Infuse Personality with a Pinch of Spice: 

Let your unique voice and perspective shine through! A dash of humor (if the platform allows) can make your bio relatable and memorable. Are you known for your infectious laugh? Mention your “contagious enthusiasm for life’s adventures.” Do you have a quirky hobby or hidden talent? Share it! This personal touch allows people to connect with you on a deeper level.

5. Storytelling Power: 

Weave a short, impactful anecdote that reveals something interesting about you. This personalized touch is far more engaging than a simple list of facts. Did a volunteer experience spark a passion? Briefly describe it! Did an unexpected encounter change your perspective? Share a snippet!

6. Sharp and Focused: 

While you want to showcase your personality, remember bio real estate is precious! Strive for a concise and focused bio. Aim for a length suitable for the platform. Twitter thrives on brevity, so keep it short and sweet. LinkedIn allows for a more comprehensive summary but avoids rambling.

7. Intrigue with a Call to Action (Optional): 

Depending on the context, consider including a call to action (CTA) at the end. This could be an invitation to connect with you on another platform, learn more about your work on a website or portfolio, or even a prompt to start a conversation. A strong CTA leaves a lasting impression and encourages further interaction.

Examples of Biography

Personal Biography Examples

1. Bio for getting a job

I’m [Your Name], a highly motivated and results-oriented IT professional with [Number] years of experience in [Your area of expertise]. Throughout my career, I’ve thrived in fast-paced environments, and consistently exceeded expectations by troubleshooting complex technical issues and implementing innovative solutions.

My passion lies in [Specific area of IT you enjoy most]. In my previous role at [Previous company], I spearheaded the [Project name] initiative, which resulted in a [Quantifiable achievement related to the project]. I’m proficient in [List of relevant technical skills] and possess a strong understanding of [Industry knowledge related to your field].

Beyond technical expertise, I’m a strong communicator, adept at collaborating with cross-functional teams to bridge the gap between technical aspects and real-world business needs. I’m also a quick learner, always eager to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and technologies in the ever-evolving IT landscape.

I’m confident that my [Specific skills] combined with my [Positive personality traits] make me a valuable asset to any team. I’m particularly interested in opportunities that allow me to leverage my skills in [Areas you want to focus on] to contribute to [Desired company goals].

2. Examples of a biography that focuses on career and journey

They say curiosity is the seed of all discovery. Well, for me, it felt more like an insatiable fire. Growing up in Warsaw, science wasn’t exactly a woman’s domain, but the pull I felt toward unraveling the mysteries of the universe was undeniable.

It wasn’t easy. Sacrifices had to be made to chase my dream. Paris, with its grand Sorbonne University, became my new home. There, amidst towering stacks of books and endless lab experiments, I met Pierre. He wasn’t just my love, but a brilliant mind who shared my passion for the unknown. Together, we delved into the world of radiation, a realm then shrouded in mystery.

Our discoveries were like unearthing hidden treasures. Polonium, a new element I named after my homeland, then the wonder of radium – each revelation fueled our scientific hunger. Then came the heartbreaking loss of Pierre. Devastated, I considered giving it all up. But his spirit, his unwavering belief in our work, propelled me forward.

Becoming the first woman to win a Nobel Prize felt surreal, an acknowledgment of the battles fought and the path paved. Yet, the greatest reward was the knowledge that our research held the potential to heal, to illuminate the darkest corners of medicine.

The irony isn’t lost on me. The very force I dedicated my life to understanding, radiation, ultimately took its toll. But even as my health declined, the fire of curiosity never truly dimmed. I hope that my journey, with all its struggles and triumphs, inspires others, especially young women, to chase their scientific dreams.

When applying for a job, one crucial factor that most individuals overlook is their “personal history.” Candidates’ dry and uninteresting personal histories don’t give them the credit they deserve because they don’t have enough time or aren’t aware of how important they are. 

To pass difficult technical interviews in different companies, in addition to thorough preparation, creating and presenting the best personal biography is extremely important. 

This article shows you how to write a biography about yourself and how to create the best personal biography to increase your chances of making a good impression and landing your dream job.

Why should I write a biography about myself?

Writing your biography can be a powerful way to reflect on your life journey, document your achievements, and share your story with others. It can also be a valuable tool for personal branding and professional development.

What should I include in my biography?

Your biography should include important milestones, significant life events, challenges you’ve overcome, passions, interests, and goals. You can also include anecdotes, quotes, and insights that reveal your personality and values.

How do I structure my biography?

There’s no one-size-fits-all structure for a biography, but a common approach is to start with an introduction that grabs the reader’s attention, followed by chronological or thematic sections that explore different aspects of your life, and a conclusion that ties everything together.

Should I include personal details in my biography?

It’s up to you how much personal information you want to include in your biography. While sharing some personal details can make your story more relatable and engaging, it’s essential to strike a balance and maintain your privacy.

How long should my biography be?

The length of your biography will depend on its purpose and where it will be published. For personal websites or social media profiles, a shorter bio of around 100-200 words may be sufficient. For more detailed accounts, aim for 500-1000 words or more.

How we've reviewed this article

Our content is thoroughly researched and fact-checked using reputable sources. While we aim for precision, we encourage independent verification for complete confidence.

1. Learn more about biography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biography

We keep our articles up-to-date regularly to ensure accuracy and relevance as new information becomes available.

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  • May 7th, 2024
  • Oct 24th, 2023

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How to Write a Personal Bio About Yourself

How to Write Your Family History

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Writing a family history may seem like a daunting task, but when the relatives start nagging, you can follow these five easy steps to make your family history project a reality.

What do you envision for your family history project? A simple photocopied booklet shared only with family members or a full-scale, hard-bound book to serve as a reference for other genealogists? Perhaps you'd rather produce a family newsletter, cookbook, or website. Now is the time to be honest with yourself about the type of family history that meetings your needs and your schedule. Otherwise, you'll have a half-finished product nagging you for years to come.

Considering your interests, potential audience, and the types of materials you have to work with, here are some forms your family history can take:

  • Memoir/Narrative: A combination of story and personal experience, memoirs, and narratives do not need to be all-inclusive or objective. Memoirs usually focus on a specific episode or time period in the life of a single ancestor, while a narrative generally encompasses a group of ancestors.
  • Cookbook: Share your family's favorite recipes while writing about the people who created them. A fun project to assemble, cookbooks help carry on the family tradition of cooking and eating together.
  • Scrapbook or Album: If you're fortunate enough to have a large collection of family photos and memorabilia, a scrapbook or photo album can be a fun way to tell your family's story. Include your photos in chronological order and include stories, descriptions, and family trees to complement the pictures.

Most family histories are generally narrative in nature, with a combination of personal stories, photos, and family trees.

Do you intend to write mostly about just one particular relative, or everyone in your family tree ? As the author, you need to choose a focus for your family history book. Some possibilities include:

  • Single Line of Descent:  Begin with the earliest known ancestor for a particular surname and follows him/her through a single line of descent (to yourself, for example). Each chapter of your book would cover one ancestor or generation.
  • All Descendants Of...:  Begin with an individual or couple and cover all of their descendants, with chapters organized by generation. If you're focusing your family history on an immigrant ancestor, this is a good way to go.
  • Grandparents:  Include a section on each of your four grandparents, or eight great-grandparents, or sixteen great-great-grandparents if you are feeling ambitious. Each individual section should focus on one grandparent and work backward through their ancestry or forward from his/her earliest known ancestor.

Again, these suggestions can easily be adapted to fit your interests, time constraints, and creativity.

Even though you'll likely find yourself scrambling to meet them, deadlines force you to complete each stage of your project. The goal here is to get each piece done within a specified time frame. Revising and polishing can always be done later. The best way to meet these deadlines is to schedule writing time, just as you would a visit to the doctor or the hairdresser.

Choose a Plot and Themes

Thinking of your ancestors as characters in your family story, ask yourself: what problems and obstacles did they face? A plot gives your family history interest and focus. Popular family history plots and themes include:

  • Immigration/Migration
  • Rags to Riches
  • Pioneer or Farm Life
  • War Survival

If you want your family history to read more like a suspense novel than a dull, dry textbook, it is important to make the reader feel like an eyewitness to your family's life. Even when your ancestors didn't leave accounts of their daily lives, social histories can help you learn about the experiences of people in a given time and place. Read town and city histories to learn what life was life during certain periods of interest.  Research timelines  of wars, natural disasters, and epidemics to see if any might have influenced your ancestors. Read up on the fashions, art, transportation, and common foods of the time. If you haven't already, be sure to interview all of your living relatives. Family stories told in a relative's own words will add a personal touch to your book.

Don't Be Afraid to Use Records and Documents

Photos, pedigree charts, maps, and other illustrations can also add interest to family history and help break up the writing into manageable chunks for the reader. Be sure to include detailed captions for any photos or illustrations that you incorporate.

Source citations are an essential part of any family book, to both provide credibility to your research, and to leave a trail that others can follow to verify your findings.

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How to write a professional bio (with examples and templates)

  • Rebecca Strehlow
  • 11 min read

Get started by: Creating a website →  | Getting a domain →

How to write a bio

Which three words would you use to describe yourself? Most of us have been asked this question, and many of us have fumbled through it awkwardly.

Coming up with a personal description can be daunting. But there are times when it’s essential - whether we’re updating our LinkedIn profiles, blogging for Medium or creating a business website of our own.

In this post, we’ll go over how to write a bio, step by step. To help guide you, we’ve also included a handy template, along with some professional bio examples for your inspiration. With these resources, you’ll find that writing a bio, as part of making a website , is much easier than you might think.

What is a bio?

Before you learn how to write a bio, you should have a clear understanding of what it is and why you need it.

In the world of literature, a personal biography can span the length of an entire novel, like Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom or Malala Yousafzai’s I Am Malala . In the online world, however, a bio is a short paragraph in which you introduce yourself. Typically, people place bios on the About Us page of their professional website, as well as on their social media pages and other networking platforms.

What to include in a bio

Depending on your audience and goals, your bio can highlight your personal interests, your professional achievements or a mix of both. Here are some of the elements a bio might include:

Job title or workplace

University degree and other qualifications

Hometown or city of residence

Personal or professional goals

Mission statement and values

Skills and expertise

Interests and hobbies

The goal of writing a bio is to provide people with a snapshot of who you are. This is important for a variety of reasons, whether it’s drawing people toward your personal website or promoting your blog, attracting clients and business partners to your brand, or highlighting your achievements for job interviews.

How to write a short bio

The most effective online bios are both professional and concise. Here’s how to write a short professional bio that suits your website or brand:

Introduce yourself

State your company or brand name

Explain your professional role

Include professional achievements

Discuss your passions and values

Mention your personal interests

01. Introduce yourself

Begin your bio by stating your first and last name. If you’re writing in the third person, these should be the first two words of the paragraph. This makes your name easy for your audience to identify and remember. Your bio is a huge part of your personal branding efforts, and should start with a strong intro to make a positive impact.

02. State your company or brand name

Think about whether you want your bio to represent yourself on a personal level, or whether you’d like it to come across as more professional. If you have a personal brand or business - for example, a blog, freelance business or eCommerce site - be sure to mention your brand name at the beginning of your bio. Don’t be afraid if the name sounds simple or redundant. It’s perfectly fine, for instance, to say Mary Smith is the founder and CEO of Smith Digital.

Likewise, feel free to mention the name of another company or brand that you work for if you’d like to associate it with your professional accomplishments - e.g., Mary Smith is a consultant at Google and the founder and CEO of Smith Digital.

03. Explain your professional role

Next, briefly explain your current position. This is relevant whether you’re the founder of a company, a high-level specialist or a beginner in your field, and it can be similar to the description you have on your resume. Your website visitors won’t necessarily know what your job involves, so elaborating on your primary responsibilities helps paint a picture of who you are and what you have to offer. This can also be used, if needed for employment and recruitment opportunities. If you're a freelancer a strong bio can make all the difference in how successful sourcing work can be.

Green image with peach squares that say "be concise" plus lavender circles that say "Know your audience" and "Bio".

04. Include professional achievements

In addition to explaining what your job entails, highlight milestones that make you stand out. Even if you haven’t won an award or gained external recognition, you can discuss ways in which you’ve contributed to your professional role and touch on new ideas or approaches that you bring to the table.

05. Discuss your passions and values

Once you describe what you do and how you contribute to your role, you’ll need to explain the why . This is one of the most important elements to focus on as you consider how to write a bio.

Think about the values and passions underlying your work, as well as your professional philosophy. What gets you up in the morning? What’s the driving force behind what you do?

You can also think of this part of your professional bio as a kind of mission statement. Perhaps your mission is to serve others, contribute to society, grow your expertise or learn new skills. Whatever your reasons, expanding upon these ideas can help your audience get a better understanding of what truly matters to you. Don't be afraid to deploy storytelling in this part of creating your bio. Explore your narrative and then convey it.

06. Mention your personal interests

The most effective short bios will not only focus on your professional experience, but will also touch on what you like to do in your spare time. Consider mentioning:

Your family

Your hometown

Your hobbies

Side projects you’re working on

Transitioning to a more casual discussion of who you are outside of work is a great way to conclude your bio. This will present you as a more well-rounded person while making you relatable for your audience.

Professional bio template

As you go through the steps on how to write a bio, this handy template will help you get started:

Sentence 1: [Name] is a [job title] who [job description].

E.g., Lisa Green is an English teacher who teaches beginning to advanced literature courses for 10th and 11th grade students at Bloomfield High School.

Sentence 2: [Name] believes that [why you do the work you do].

E.g., Lisa believes that written and analytical skills are not only a fundamental part of academic excellence, but are also the building blocks of critical thinking in high school and beyond.

Sentence 3: [Name/pronoun] has [mention your achievements].

E.g., In addition to managing the English curriculum for the school, she runs an after school program where she works one-on-one with students.

Sentence 4: [Name/pronoun] is a [mention any relevant awards, training or honors].

E.g., She has also been nominated Teacher of the Year for two consecutive years.

Sentence 5: [Name/pronoun] holds a [insert degree] in [field of study] from [university].

E.g., Lisa holds a BA in Creative Writing and a Master’s Degree in Teaching from the University of Michigan.

Once you’ve filled in this template, put it all together into a single paragraph to create an initial framework for your professional biography. Note that you can shorten or expand upon this bio according to your unique needs.

A professional bio template graphic that says [name] is a [job title] who [job description]. [Name] has [Academic Qualifications] from [University]...

Professional bio examples

Now that you know the basics of writing a professional bio, here are some short bio examples to inspire you. You can use these examples as additional templates for guidance as you craft your own personal biography.

Like the creators of these examples, you can place your bio on your personal or professional website and, later, revise the structure for other online platforms.

01. Bristol Guitar Making School

Professional bio examples: Bristol Guitar Making School

Of all the professional bio examples, Alex Bishop’s content exudes passion. Strategically placing the bio on the About page of his small business website , he highlights his skills and explains why he finds his work meaningful. In particular, we love his description of why he chose to pursue guitar making:

“​My passion as a guitar maker comes from a life-long obsession with making things. From a young age I have always tried to manipulate objects and materials in order to create something entirely different. I find that working with wood is a way for me to connect with nature. The simple act of shaping wood to make something functional or beautiful brings me endless satisfaction.”

He also lists his accomplishments and awards, adding credibility to his business and building trust among prospective clients.

02. Alexandra Zsigmond

Professional bio examples: Alexandra Zsigmond

As someone who has served as art director for both The New York Times' opinion section and The New Yorker , it's no surprise that Alexandra Zsigmond's bio is thorough and detailed. Providing statistics or reflections on the things she achieved in her career is a clever way to demonstrate her value without saying so directly. As she explains:

"She has collaborated with a roster of over 1000 artists worldwide and art directed over 4000 editorial illustrations. She is known for greatly expanding the range of visual contributors to the Times, drawing equally from the worlds of contemporary illustration, fine art, animation, and comics."

03. Amanda Shields Interiors

Professional bio examples: Amanda Shields Interiors

Amanda Shields provides us with another effective bio example on her interior design website. Importantly, she spices up her bio by explaining how home decor aligns with her personal life and why it’s so close to her heart as a mother and entrepreneur:

"After working as a product designer for numerous retailers over the years, and after I had my first child, I decided to take the plunge and start my own home staging business…. Coincidentally, a month later I discovered I was pregnant with my second child. I loved the new challenges I faced as a new entrepreneur and mom and it didn't take long for me to discover that this was my calling…. I felt the need to expand my business and launch Amanda Shields Interiors as its own entity to focus specifically on residential interiors and design."

By placing this content on her website’s About page, she provides potential clients with insights into her expertise and professional experience. She expands upon the choices she made along her career path, strategically making note of her achievements and acquired skills along the way.

Tips for writing a bio

As you write your bio using the professional template above, make sure to keep the following tips in mind:

Keep it concise: Your bio should be sufficiently explanatory, but it should also be short and to the point. A good rule of thumb is to keep each element of your bio - from your job description to your mission statement and hobbies - to about 1-2 sentences. That way, you’ll end up with a brief paragraph that holds your readers’ attention without rambling on.

Consider your audience: The voice and tone you choose for your biography largely depends on your audience and personal goals. If you’re looking for a job and are writing primarily for recruiters, you’ll want to use a serious, professional tone. On the other hand, if you’re creating an Instagram bio , consider using more casual, conversational language that reflects your personality.

Add humor: Relatedly, consider adding humor when appropriate. This is especially valuable if you’ve founded your own business or created your own website , as it can give you a distinct brand identity while helping your audience build a stronger sense of connection with your brand.

Link to your website: When writing a bio for a platform other than your own website - a social media page, another company page, or a guest blog or publication - remember to include a link to your website. This will help you promote your website while highlighting your professionalism and authority.

Adapt for different platforms: You’ll most likely need to adapt the length and writing style of your biography to suit different platforms. For example, you may place a longer bio on your website’s About page and a shorter one on your LinkedIn page. In these cases, use the same main principles for writing a bio while scaling down the most important elements.

By following these tips, you can create a powerful bio that helps you stand out in your field and allows your audience to get to know you better.

How to write a bio in four sentences or less

Really need to create a super short bio? We'd suggest following some of the tips above, just condensing them into less word for a short bio that still makes impact.

But if we really had to choose we'd say focus on - you, your professional role and company. That condenses everything that matters for bio into three sentences. Humor, creativity and uniqueness still all matter - just use fewer words to convey them.

Creating a bio for your website

As we’ve noted in the examples above, one of the most strategic places to put your bio is on your website - so be sure to consider it within your web design plans. Whether the goal of your site is to start and promote your business , showcase your design portfolio or display your resume, including a bio gives your audience a glimpse into the person behind your content. It can also kickstart your professional growth . Show the world what you do, how you do it and why it matters, and people will be drawn to your passion and inspired by your experience.

Pro tip: You can add a bio to many different types of websites, so using templates can help you create yours faster. For example, if you're creating a portfolio website , explore portfolio website templates to help you get started.

Creating a bio for social media

Crafting a professional bio for social media is vital as it introduces you or your brand, and it builds credibility and trust. A well-written bio establishes your expertise, attracts the right audience, and fosters engagement. It helps maintain a consistent brand image, optimizes search and discovery, and opens doors to networking and career opportunities. A compelling bio delivers a concise, informative snapshot of who you are, what you do, and the value you bring, leaving a lasting impression on visitors and potential collaborators alike.

You may need to edit your bio depending on which social media platform you plan to use it on. Some of the most popular ones include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Focus on getting your bio right on the platforms you plan to focus your personal or brand social media marketing efforts on.

Writing a bio with AI

If you're looking to write your bio fast while creating your website, consider using an AI text generator to build your draft. You'll still need to make sure it goes through. an intensive editing process, so that it really captures the essence of who you are and your professional skills. A bio is about much more than just basic information, so don't forget to include the storytelling too. Build a website with Wix and you can make use of the in-built AI text generator within its Editor .

Why good bios are important for a professional

In a world where first impressions matter, a well-crafted bio can make a significant impact in establishing trust and credibility with potential clients, employers or collaborators. It also offers insight into your personality and values, helping to forge authentic connections with your audience. It acts as a powerful tool for personal branding, allowing you to differentiate yourself in a competitive landscape and leave a memorable impression.

A strong bio also serves as a gateway to opportunities, whether it's securing new clients, landing job interviews or establishing partnerships. It acts as a professional introduction, allowing you to showcase your expertise. A polished and impactful bio is essential for you to effectively communicate your professional identity and stand out in your field.

Writing a bio without experience

Writing a bio when you don't yet have experience can be challenging, but it's an opportunity to showcase your potential and aspirations.

Begin by highlighting your educational background, skills and any relevant coursework or projects you've completed. Focus on your passions, interests and personal qualities that make you unique. Consider including volunteer work, internships or extracurricular activities that demonstrate your commitment and initiative. Emphasize your eagerness to learn and grow in your chosen field and express your future goals and aspirations. Don't be afraid to be honest about your current stage and your willingness to gain experience and develop professionally.

If you don't know what to write in your bio, start by brainstorming your key experiences, achievements, skills and personal attributes. Consider what sets you apart and what you want others to know about you. Look for inspiration from other bios or profiles in your field, and consider seeking feedback from friends, mentors or colleagues. Don't hesitate to highlight your passions, interests and goals, as well as any unique experiences or perspectives you bring to the table. Remember to keep it concise and engaging, and don't be afraid to revise and refine your bio until it accurately represents you.

How to write a bio FAQ

What is a short bio.

A short bio, short for biography, is a concise summary of a your life or professional background. It provides a brief overview of your key achievements, qualifications, experiences, and relevant details. Typically written in the third person, a short bio is often used in various contexts, such as professional profiles, social media accounts, introductions for speaking engagements, author descriptions, and other situations where a brief introduction is required. The length of a short bio can vary, but it's generally kept to a few sentences or a short paragraph to provide a snapshot of the person's background and expertise.

How do I write a bio about myself?

What should i include in a short bio, how do you write a fun bio for work, how do i make my bio stand out, related posts.

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The Best Short Professional Bios (Examples + Templates)

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Summary. To write a short bio you should first make an initial introduction introducing yourself in the first or first person. Your short bio should include your brand, your accomplishments, and your values and goals. Your short bio should be one to three short paragraphs or four to eight sentences long.

Knowing how to write a concise, informative, and interesting biography about yourself can help throughout various parts of the professional process. You can use your bio to capture the attention of potential employers or clients and convince them to choose to employ or work with you.

In this article, you’ll learn more about what goes into a short bio and how to write one, and you’ll also get to see some short bio templates and examples to help you get an idea of what yours should look like.

Key Takeaways

A short bio serves to introduce you, your achievements, and what you offer professionally to potential employers or clients.

It’s important to keep your bio brief so that readers stay engaged and will remember your main points.

You may need to adjust your bio for different audiences, as your clients may want to know different information than a recruiter would.

Talk about your skills and accomplishments in your bio, but don’t exaggerate them.

How to Write a Short Bio

What Is a Short Bio?

How to write a short bio, what to include in a short professional bio, short bio examples, short bio templates, tips for writing a short bio, writing a short bio faq.

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A short bio serves as your introduction to the professional world. In terms of finding or expanding on your job, a bio will cover your:

Work history

Achievements

Any other relevant professional information

Think of it as a professional memoir that a hiring manager or consumer can read and understand quickly. It’s usually about one to three paragraphs depending on experience.

There’s an emphasis on being succinct when it comes to writing a professional bio. This is because a bio is supposed to be a preface to attract recruiter attention and incline them to reach out for more information. Many readers will get lost or bored with a lengthy bio.

Using a short bio can be helpful across very different industries, from marketing to accounting, from psychiatry to sales.

You’re probably familiar with providing short bios on social media websites and applications. While the information and skills you include in a professional bio may differ, the general formatting is similar.

There’s a lot of considerations to take into account when writing a short bio, and it can quickly become intimidating. Deciding what information is relevant and how to keep it near 140 characters is no small task.

If you’re having difficulty writing a short bio, follow the outline below to craft an introduction that engages your reader.

Make an initial introduction. You can’t jump right into everything you’ve done and what you want to do in the future before introducing yourself.

Your bio’s first sentence should begin with your full name in the third person or introduce yourself in the first person and continue to briefly outline your most notable skills and accomplishments. It’s a good place to state your current job and employer.

Go deeper with what motivates you. Once you’ve catchily illustrated who you are in your short bio, you can use the second sentence to describe your motivations for your work.

Stating what drives you to do the work you do is essential to employers and customers alike. Whether you work as a physician or fitness consultant , there’s a reason why this is your profession, and you should explain that in your short professional bio.

Describe your accomplishments. Your short bio is for detailing why you’re the ideal candidate to be trusted with handling an employer or consumer’s business. By describing your prior accomplishments, you let them know what you could offer as an employee and how you’ve succeeded in the past.

While you should avoid sounding braggy, the reader is looking for information about what your qualifications are , and your accomplishments generally measure these qualities.

Even though you could probably go on for ages about the details of your accomplishments, save that for an interview . In a short bio, only include the most impressive of your achievements to outline.

Accomplishments relevant to a short bio could include:

Impressive results on a project

Former promotions

Awards received in your field

Certifications received

Include contact information. The purpose of a short bio as either a business or a job seeker is to inspire the reader to reach out. Without contact information, this pursuit becomes futile. Make sure your short bio has some way to contact you at the end.

Relevant contact information may include:

Phone number

Professional networking profile

A short professional bio includes:

Your full name. You can choose to write your bio in the first person (I, me, my) or third person (he, she, they), but either way, you need to include your full name at some point. Branding doesn’t work so well without a brand name (i.e., you!)

Your brand. Of course, if you have an actual brand that you’re trying to market, you should include the brand name as well.

What you do. Summarize what you want the reader to know about what you do in one sentence — tricky, we know.

Your accomplishments. For a short bio, you can stick with just one major accomplishment from your professional life. Or, if you have a string of impressive achievements, try condensing all of them down to one sentence.

Your goals and values. Let the reader know what makes you tick — why do you do what you do and what do you hope to achieve with your work? People are compelled by a story more than anything else, so it’s important to get this part right.

Something personal (optional). If you have a quirky tidbit about yourself you’d like to include, go for it. Just make sure it doesn’t throw off te the tone of the rest of your bio.

Contact info (optional). If your bio is serving as a call-to-action to drum up business or get leads on job opportunities, it makes sense to include your contact information at the end of your bio. It’s not necessary if that information is available elsewhere on the page , though.

Entry-Level Job-Seeker Bio Example

Mitchell Morrison is an upcoming video producer and editor who believes in the art of visual organization. He is a recent graduate from the University of Washington and focused on post-production during his time studying there. He was introduced to the magical world of visual art production by watching his father work on editing commercials growing up and has been working towards his dream of becoming a video editor ever since. During his last year of college, Mitchell participated in a competitive internship with Digital Space Films. He was chosen out of 2,000 applicants based on his academic portfolio and personal statement essay. This internship was an incredible learning experience and resulted in three professional accreditations for music video editing. Mitchell currently lives in Seattle, Washington pursuing freelance opportunities and spending time with his Dog, Pikachu. To get into contact with Mitchell: MitchellMorrisonVideo.com/contact

Working Professional Website Bio Example

Lisa Kennedy is an experienced real estate professional. She knows how important a home is for long-term happiness and has invested her career in putting people in the house they’ve always dreamed of. Lisa was driven to pursue real estate from her passion for helping people during life-altering times, and a keen interest in high-end, luxury homes. She’s been working in the real estate industry for ten years and in that time has assisted over 3,500 people in finding homes. She was educated at the University of Los Angeles with a bachelor’s in business management. She’s worked for some of the most respectable Real Estate companies in Los Angeles and individually under her agency “Kennedy Homes.” Lisa has also been published in Real Estate Quarterly Magazine as the 2017 winner of the “Top Luxury Home Seller” award. Lisa loves the culture of Los Angeles and has been living there with her family of five since she graduated from college. She enjoys spending her free time exploring towns along the West Coast and swimming. If you’d like to get in touch with Lisa: Email: [email protected]

Professional Networking Profile Bio Example

Bianca Jones Marketing Manager Miami, FL The first step towards customer satisfaction is being reached by stellar product marketing, and that’s what I aim to provide. My professional experience as a product marketing manager has allowed me to assist many organizations in improving their sales margins and audience response to emerging products. I’ve brought dedication and positive results to the companies I’ve worked for because I am passionate about product perception, marketing, and business statistics. What drives a product to success interests and inspires me. I specialize in long-term growth strategies and audience outreach. In addition to eight years of experience in professional product marketing, I have also published two books on creating a career as a marketer called “What to Do After Your Bachelor’s” and “A Marketer’s How-To.” If you’re interested in learning more about how to market your business better, or just discuss more, feel free to contact me by email at [email protected].

Your first choice is whether you want your bio to be written in the third person or first person. These short bio templates show both options, and also include different ideas for what to include, and how. Feel free to pick and choose your favorite parts of each of the two.

[Full Name] is a [job title] who [believes/knows] in the power of [what you do]. [He/She/They] began their journey in [field] by [how you got started in the field], and now dreams of [what you hope to accomplish]. [His/Her/Their] biggest accomplishment to date has been [your biggest accomplishment]. [Full Name] lives in [where you live] and participates in [a hobby/interest]. To get in touch with [Full Name], call/email/message me on [how you’d like to be contacted].
I am a [job title] who helps [who you help] [what you help them do]. It’s my belief that [your unique perspective on the field]. In the past [# of years] years, I’ve [major accomplishment #1] through [how you accomplished it]. I have a passion for [your professional passion], but on the side, I also enjoy [personal passion]. Get in touch with me today at [contact info] — I look forward to talking with you about [what you want to talk to your readers about].

You have a firm grasp of the structure of a short bio and what to include. Now, you may need some tips for how to polish your short professional bio and make it stand out from the competition.

Be mindful of length. While you’re probably getting sick of hearing that your bio should be short, it’s good to keep in mind throughout the writing process. It’s easy to go off on a tangent while trying to include everything relevant or rationalize, making your bio too long.

Avoid this impulse. The point of a bio is that it’s limited. You want to intrigue the reader enough to inspire them to seek more information about you or your services.

Tailor your bio to your intended audience. Whether you’re using a short bio to attract a particular customer base or potential employer, tailoring it to fit their wants and needs is crucial. Consider your intended audience base and what they’re looking for in a candidate or service.

Be genuine. Your short bio should be an authentic representation of your traits, experience, and personality. People are repelled by what they interpret as stretching the truth. If you’re being received as disingenuous by the reader, they’ll probably move on.

Proofread. The only way to steer clear of errors in your short bio is by proofreading it. Imagine a hiring manager being completely interested in your bio.

They love what you have to say about yourself and find your prior experience enticing. That is, until they come across a mistake that clearly shows you didn’t do proofread or edit.

Include links to your portfolio, website, or networking profile. One way to circumvent the confining factor of keeping your bio short is by including links to more detailed sources.

This can be in the form of linking your portfolio or website to allow the reader to go deeper into your discussed skills if they please, without taking up more space in your bio.

Implement these links seamlessly into your bio by attaching them to anchor words that describe what clicking will lead them to.

Add some personality. You aren’t the only person who has an impressive list of accomplishments to put on a bio, so you’re going to need to find some additional ways to make an impression.

What should a short bio include?

A short bio should include your name, what you do, and your achievements. You should also include your company or product’s brand, if you have one, and your goals and motivations for doing what you do. This humanizes you and helps you stand out from the rest of the pack.

How long is a short bio?

A short bio is typically one to three paragraphs long. These should be short paragraphs though, as other experts say that between four and eight sentences is the ideal length for a short bio.

What makes a good bio?

A good bio is succinct and memorable. Readers don’t want to spend long reading about your professional and personal life, so go back and cut it down to the important parts multiple times after you draft it. You might be surprised at how little you actually need to include.

What should you avoid putting in a short bio?

You should avoid including anything negative or arrogate. It’s never a good idea to write anything negative about previous jobs or employers. Only include positive things in your professional short bio.

It’s important to include your achievements in a short bio, but there is a fine line between mentioning your achievements and bragging about them. Stick to the facts when talking about your accomplishments.

Fremont University – Building Your Professional Bio

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Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

Don Pippin is an executive and HR leader for Fortune 50 and 500 companies and startups. In 2008, Don launched area|Talent with a focus on helping clients identify their brand. As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, Certified Digital Career Strategist, and Certified Personal Branding Strategist, Don guides clients through career transitions.

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Paragraph on My Family in English [100, 150, 200, 250 Words]

Paragraph on My Family: Family is an important part of everyone’s life. In this article, you are going to learn how to write a paragraph on My Family. We’ve provided four paragraphs here (100, 150, 200, and 250 words). All the paragraphs will be helpful for the students of class 1 to class 12. So, let’s begin.

Table of Contents

Paragraph on My Family [100 Words]

I have a small and happy family. We live in a small house near Kolkata. There are four members in our family. My parents, my younger sister and me. My father Rohan Basu is a teacher. He takes care of our necessities. My mother is a housewife. She manages the household work.

My sister is very intelligent and adorable. She loves to play with teddy bears. My parents spend a lot of time with us. They teach us good manners and discipline . They really work hard to secure our future. We all have deep respect and love for each other. I am very lucky to have a family like this.

Paragraph on My Family in English

Paragraph on My Family [150 Words]

Ours is a small family consisting of my parents, my sister and myself. My father’s name is Anil Dutta. He works in a Govt. department as an engineer. My mother is a school teacher. She teaches at a private school nearby. I am the only son of my parents. My name is Rohan Dutta. I am 10 years old and I read in class six at Hindu School.

My only sister is Sumona who is 6 years old. She reads in class two at the same school where my mother teaches. My parents are kind and loving. We love and respect them very much. Mother takes care of our needs. She teaches us good manners. My father works very hard to run our family.

We all live together in a small house in Kolkata. We also have a special member in our family, our pet dog charlie. It is 2 years old and is very fond of us.

My Family Paragraph in English

My Family Paragraph [200 Words]

I have a small family. I love my family so does everyone. I live with my parents, and my elder sister. My father’s name is Nitin Sharma. He is a doctor. My mother is a housewife. My elder sister’s name is Ritu Sharma. I play with her. She is very friendly to me. I am happy with them. We live together in a beautiful house in Delhi.

My father is very hardworking. He always inspires me. Although he is very busy, he spends a lot of time with us. My mother takes care of the family. She takes care of our food, clothes, health, education etc. My parents work very hard for our future.

All my family members love, respect and care for each other. They all teach me the importance of discipline and good manners. It is because of them that I have learned the basic values of life. We share our thoughts and emotions with each other.

During the vacations every year, we all family members go on a trip. We celebrate the festivals together with great joy and happiness. We are not very rich but there is peace in our family. I am very proud of my family.

Also Read: Paragraph on My Best Friend

Paragraph About My Family [250 Words]

Family plays a crucial role in everyone’s life. I have a wonderful family. There are 6 members in my family. It consists of me, my parents, my elder brother, my grandfather and my grandmother. My father Rohit Gupta is an engineer. My mother is a school teacher. They both take good care of me.

My father is the person I admire most. He is a very hardworking person. Sometimes he helps me with my homework in his free time. He teaches us lessons of life. My grandfather is a retired serviceman and my grandmother is a housewife. Both of them are caring and supportive.

My grandfather takes me to morning walk every day. She tells me interesting stories. My elder brother is in university. He is good in studies as well as sports and extracurricular activities. He is very sweet. He always helps me in my studies.

My family members are peace-loving people. They never fight with each other. We go for picnics and long drives on holidays.  We have love and respect for each other. We share our feelings and emotions with each other which strengthens our bonding. We all have our meals together.

My family teaches me good manners and moral values. They inspire me to move ahead and achieve my life goals. I feel very lucky to be born in a family which has made me a better person.

I have a pet dog in my home. His name is Tommy. He is so adorable and cute. I love my family so much. They are the best in the world.

Paragraph about My Family

Read More Paragraphs: 1. Paragraph on My Aim in Life  2. Paragraph on Early Rising 3. Paragraph on My Daily Routine  4. Paragraph on Science in Daily Life

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112 Best Graduation Wishes and Inspiring Messages to Write in Their Card

Celebrate the class of 2024 with these sentimental quotes and heartfelt congratulatory sentiments.

preview for 12 Inspirational Quotes for Graduates

Among our list of sayings, we have funny graduation messages , inspirational graduation quotes , and classic congratulatory wishes to send the graduate your best regards and to say "Happy Graduation!" in a unique way.

Because graduation season can be a hectic time of year, we recommend bookmarking this page to reference any time you receive a graduation invite in the mail. And if you’re on the hunt for graduation presents as well, we’ve got that too! We have cheap graduation gifts for those buying in bulk, law school graduation gifts for the soon-to-be attorney, medical school graduation gifts for the new doctor in your life, and many more.

So join the new grad in honoring this momentous achievement, and don’t forget to share a heartfelt “I’m proud of you” as you celebrate.

Short Graduation Wishes

what to write in a graduation card congratulation wishes for graduation

  • This is only the beginning. Congratulations!
  • You did it! Congratulations.
  • Caps off to you, graduate. Feel proud of your academic achievement!
  • Your future is beyond bright. Congratulations on a job well done!
  • After years of hard work and sacrifice, it’s finally paid off. Congratulations!
  • Warmest congratulations on your academic milestone!
  • I’m so proud of you! Congratulations on this exceptional accomplishment.
  • It’s time to celebrate, and relish this momentous occasion! Congratulations on charting your path to the future.
  • Best wishes on this spectacular day of achievement! Congratulations, graduate.
  • Congratulations on your well-deserved success!
  • I’m proud of you for always hitting the books and staying the course. A new adventure awaits. Congratulations!
  • The world is yours!
  • The sky's the limit!
  • Congratulations on your graduation, and best wishes for your journey ahead.
  • Congratulations on your well-deserved accomplishment.
  • Sincerest congratulations on your graduation.
  • I wish you all the best: Your future is very bright. Warmest congratulations on your graduation.
  • Thank you for inviting me to share in celebrating this much-deserved accomplishment. Congratulations, graduate!
  • Warmest congratulations, and best of luck in your future pursuits.

Funny Graduation Messages

graduation wishes funny graduation messages

  • Congrats on collecting the fanciest piece of paper you’ll ever own.
  • When they hand you your diploma, keep walking, just in case they try to take it back.
  • My hope for you is that your impactful memories of college last longer than your student loans.
  • We both accomplished something today. You: a diploma. Me: not falling asleep during the ceremony.
  • Don’t forget to thank those who were really there for you … Starbucks, Google, and ChatGPT.
  • Congrats on filling a minimum job requirement!
  • Kudos to you for FINALLY graduating!
  • I guess Cs really do get degrees. Congrats, grad!
  • Congrats on your degree and newly formed caffeine addiction.
  • Congratulations! Now you can finally start getting paid to work, rather than paying to do it!
  • You did it... now let's party!
  • Now that you have the degree, you can start paying the bills! Congratulations, grad!

Inspirational Graduation Wishes

what to write in a graduation card notes of encouragement for graduation

  • Today is just one of life's many sweet victories. Be sure to stop, and savor this incredible moment!
  • Make a difference. Live the dream. Relish the adventure. Make your mark. Happy graduation.
  • Graduation is not the end — it’s the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning. I can’t wait to watch you excel.
  • Never be afraid to follow your dreams. Remember, you’re the only person who can fulfill them. You’ve got this!
  • Now is your time! You’re unstoppable. I want you to enjoy, and celebrate this outstanding accomplishment.
  • Never let a setback take you off track. Stay focused, and continue to chase your dreams!
  • Chasing a dream requires passion and hard work. Congratulations on graduating and your continuous strive!
  • Your dedication and hard work have paid off. We're excited to see you soar!
  • You’re on your way to greatness; witnessing your success is a joy and privilege. We will always root for you.
  • Keep going, no matter what obstacles may get in your way. We know you’re fearless and can overcome any challenges. Congratulations on getting this far in your quest for knowledge.
  • Today, as you receive your diploma, remember all that you’ve accomplished. The best is yet to come! Keep striving for success, and you will have all your heart’s desires.
  • There is no challenge you can't conquer. Sincerest congratulations on this incredible achievement.
  • I have no doubt you will meet all of life's challenges with aplomb. Congratulations on your enormous accomplishment!

Wise Graduation Card Messages

what to write in a graduation card offerings of wisdom for graduation

  • As you make your way in the world, never lose sight of the things that matter most. Congratulations!
  • Be bold, be fearless, and watch your best self blossom while you accomplish your dreams.
  • Always maintain a positive attitude, and never stop believing in yourself. Confidence goes a long way. Kudos to you!
  • When it seems like others are outperforming you on the path to success, keep in mind that everyone blossoms at their own pace. Stay focused. Congratulations!
  • There will be times when the road seems bumpy, but never give up. Stay the course, and the destination will be even sweeter. I know you can do it!
  • School may be over, but never stop asking questions. Questions are the keys to unlocking endless opportunities.
  • Start each day believing in your dreams. Know without a doubt that you were made for great things.
  • No one will believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. Stay encouraged, and always remember your worth.
  • Continue to set the bar high, and attempt to exceed expectations. Happy graduation!
  • Today will soon be a memory, so be present, and relish every second of it. Caps off to you, graduate!

Graduation Wishes for Family Members

what to write in a graduation card graduation wishes for a family member

  • I'm always in your corner, but today, the stage is all yours. You did it!
  • Education is the key which unlocks all your potential. It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. We know the degree you’ve worked so hard for will help you thrive in the field you’ve chosen. We love you so much, congratulations.
  • I've been behind you all the way, and I always will be. Congrats, graduate!
  • Duties and responsibilities go hand in hand. It's time to take even more responsible decisions. You're a graduate! Happy Graduation Day!
  • There's never been anything you couldn't do when you put your mind to it. Congratulations!
  • This is your achievement, but you've never been alone — and you never will be. I'm honored to be on your winning team.
  • I know just how much work this represents, and I hope your heart is swelling with the same pride as mine.
  • I can't wait to witness the magic you'll create. Congratulations!
  • Congratulations to our little graduate. No matter where you go or how successful you become, never lose faith in God. Always be humble. Your parents always think about you.
  • I never doubted you'd make it, and here you are. My heart is bursting with pride.
  • School may be over, but family is forever.
  • School's out, but your journey is just beginning. I can't wait to see where it takes you!
  • Your future is bright. For all of the late night studies and sacrifices of enjoyment and parties, your reward is finally here. Congratulations to our beloved child who has emerged victorious.
  • I hope you know how proud I am of you.
  • I've always believed in you — and I always will. Congrats, grad!
  • It’s hard to believe that today is finally here. It seems just like yesterday you were a baby playing with alphabet blocks, now, you’re graduating. Congratulations!
  • We still remember your first day of school. On that day, we were nervous to send you away. Today feels the same. We are nervous yet again, as you face the world by yourself, but deep inside, we know you’ll always come out a winner. Best of luck, son.
  • I stand by you today — and I always will. Congrats on your big day!
  • I'm so happy to share in the joy and excitement of your big day.
  • I'm honored to join you in celebrating this important milestone. Congratulations on your graduation!
  • Being here, by your side today, means the world to me.
  • Sharing this day with you is one of my proudest moments. Congratulations!
  • Congrats, grad! I'm alongside you on your journey today, and always.
  • It would have meant the world to me to share this day with you. But know, I am celebrating your huge success across the miles. Congratulations!
  • The only thing that would have made this day more perfect is if we could have celebrated it together. (But in my heart, I'm by your side.) Congratulations!
  • My regret over missing this day is eclipsed only by my overflowing pride in you, graduate.
  • It would have been my great pleasure to celebrate your big day in person, but I hope you can feel me cheering you on from afar. Congrats on your big day!
  • I'm sorry I'm not there in person, but I'm with you on every step of your journey — you can count on that.
  • Congratulations on your graduation day! I’m right there with you in spirit.
  • I'm sorry to miss the big day, but I promise we'll celebrate together as soon as we can. Congratulations, grad!

Famous Quotes for Graduation Cards

what to write in a graduation card famous quotes for graduation

  • “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” — William Shakespeare
  • "You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." — Carter Crocker, Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin
  • "Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose." — Chadwick Boseman
  • "Change takes courage." — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • “Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” — Napoleon Hill
  • "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." — Mahatma Gandhi
  • “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “ Your imagination is your preview of life’s coming attractions.” — Albert Einstein
  • "Your education is a dress rehearsal for a life that is yours to lead.” — Nora Ephron
  • "We will fail when we fail to try." — Rosa Parks
  • "My dear, terrified graduates, you are about to enter the most uncertain and thrilling period of your lives." — Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X
  • "You must do the thing you think you cannot do." — Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living: Eleven Keys for a More Fulfilling Life
  • "We know what we are but know not what we may be.” — William Shakespeare, Hamlet
  • “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” — Steve Jobs
  • "Once you face your fear, nothing is ever as hard as you think. " — Olivia Newton-John
  • “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” — Babe Ruth
  • “There are no regrets in life. Just lessons.” — Jennifer Aniston
  • “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” — Henry David Thoreau
  • “I encourage you to live with life. Be courageous, adventurous. Give us a tomorrow, more than we deserve.” — Maya Angelou
  • "Follow your passion. It will lead you to your purpose." — Oprah Winfrey
  • "All those adults that you used to think were in charge and knew what they were doing? It turns out, they don’t have all the answers. A lot of them aren’t even asking the right questions. So, if the world’s going to get better, it’s going to be up to you." — Barack Obama
  • "It is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change. " — Queen Elizabeth II
  • “Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in.” — Hillary Clinton
  • "The reality is, on most matters, somebody is going to make the decision — so why not let it be you?" — Kamala Harris
  • "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. And you can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go. Congratulations graduate." — Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!
  • "Before you act, listen. Before you react, think. And, before you spend, earn. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. And, before you quit, try." — William Arthur Ward

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Ni'Kesia Pannell is an entrepreneur, multi-hyphenate freelance writer, and self-proclaimed Slurpee connoisseur that covers news and culture for The Kitchn. She's the former Weekend Editor for Delish who also writes about faith, health and wellness, travel, beauty, lifestyle, and music for a range of additional outlets.

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Kate Franke (she/her) is the editorial assistant at Woman’s Day . She loves all things lifestyle, home, and market related. Kate has a BAJMC in Magazine Media and BA in Writing from Drake University. She is a proud ASME alum whose work has appeared in Food Network Magazine , The Pioneer Woman Magazine , Better Homes & Gardens , Modern Farmhouse Style , Beautiful Kitchens & Baths , and more. Next to writing, Kate’s two favorite things are chai lattes and pumpkin bread!

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This Mother's Day, share a heartfelt message with these 30 quotes about mothers

how do i write a biography about my family

Celebrating mothers and motherhood has been a tradition for centuries, even before Mother's Day was officially created. It dates back to  the ancient Greeks and Romans who held festivals for Rhea and Cybele, the mother goddesses, the History Channel reports. Today, the holiday continues to honor mothers and mother figures.

While you might think that you show your mother love for everything she does throughout the year, the second Sunday in May serves as another chance to do so. And how you display your gratitude could vary depending on your love language .

If you're a fan of words of affirmation, here are some quotes to share – or write on a card – this Mother's Day.

Making a bouquet? Here are what flowers are safe v. toxic for cats.

Mother's Day, motherhood quotes

  • "I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know." – Mitch Albom , "For One More Day"
  • "Mama was my greatest teacher, a teacher of compassion, love and fearlessness. If love is sweet as a flower, then my mother is that sweet flower of love." – Stevie Wonder
  • "A mother is your first friend, your best friend, your forever friend." – Amit Kalantri , "Wealth of Words"
  • "Mother's love is peace. It need not be acquired, it need not be deserved." – Erich Fromm
  • "Mother is a verb. It's something you do. Not just who you are." – Cheryl Lacey Donovan , "The Ministry of Motherhood"
  • "Acceptance, tolerance, bravery, compassion. These are the things my mom taught me." – Lady Gaga
  • "A mother's love is patient and forgiving when all others are forsaking, it never fails or falters, even though the heart is breaking." – Helen Rice
  • "A mother's love is more beautiful than any fresh flower." – Debasish Mridha
  • "When your mother asks, 'Do you want a piece of advice?' it's a mere formality. It doesn't matter if you answer yes or no. You're going to get it anyway." – Erma Bombeck
  • "All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother." – President Abraham Lincoln
  • "I wondered if my smile was as big as hers. Maybe as big. But not as beautiful." – Benjamin Alire Sáenz , "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe"
  • "Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws." – Barbara Kingsolver , "Homeland and Other Stories"
  • "A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take." – Gaspard Mermillod
  • "I can imagine no heroism greater than motherhood." –   Lance Conrad , "The Price of Creation"
  • "To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow." – Maya Angelou
  • "A mother's arms are more comforting than anyone else's." – Princess Diana
  • "My mother is my root, my foundation. She planted the seed that I base my life on, and that is the belief that the ability to achieve starts in your mind." – Michael Jordan
  • "There's no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one." – Jill Churchill
  • "Being a mother is an attitude, not a biological relation." – Robert A. Heinlein , "Have Space Suit—Will Travel"
  • "Mothers and their children are in a category all their own. There's no bond so strong in the entire world. No love so instantaneous and forgiving." – Gail Tsukiyama , "Dreaming Water"
  • "When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. You are connected to your child and to all those who touch your lives. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child." – Sophia Loren
  • "Once you’re a mom, you’re always a mom. It’s like riding a bike, you never forget." – Taraji P. Henson
  • "The world, we'd discovered, doesn't love you like your family loves you." – Louis Zamperini
  • "The woman who is my best friend, my teacher, my everything: Mom." – Sandra Vischer , "Unliving the Dream"
  • "Mothers possess a power beyond that of a king on his throne." – Mabel Hale
  • "The influence of a mother in the lives of her children is beyond calculation." – James E. Faust
  • "But behind all your stories is always your mother's story, because hers is where yours begins." – Mitch Albom , "For One More Day"
  • "My mother sacrificed her dreams so I could dream." – Rupi Kaur
  • "Mother's arms are made of tenderness, and sweet sleep blesses the child who lies within." – Victor Hugo
  • "No language can express the power and beauty and heroism of a mother’s love." – Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Looking for inspiration? 50 positive quotes for peak motivation

Just Curious for more? We've got you covered

USA TODAY is exploring the questions you and others ask every day. From " Who was the oldest Golden Girl? " to " What is the smallest country? " to " What's May's birthstone? " − we're striving to find answers to the most common questions you ask every day. Head to our  Just Curious section  to see what else we can answer.

Here is what Stormy Daniels testified happened between her and Donald Trump

A sketch shows Susan Necheles cross-examining Stormy Daniels as former President Trump looks on.

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Porn performer Stormy Daniels took the witness stand Tuesday in the hush money case against former President Trump, who looked on as she detailed their alleged sexual encounter and the payment she got to keep it quiet.

Prosecutors allege Trump paid Daniels to keep quiet about the allegations as he ran for president in 2016. Her testimony aired them very publicly as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee seeks to win the White House again.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels , and his lawyers unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial midway through her testimony.

It was a major spectacle in the first criminal trial of a former American president, now in its third week of testimony in Manhattan.

Here are some takeaways from Daniels’ testimony:

Who is Stormy Daniels?

Stormy Daniels walks through barricades out of court.

The case centers on a $130,000 payment to Daniels from Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, in the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Prosecutors say it was part of a scheme to illegally influence the campaign by burying negative stories about him.

In this courtroom sketch, Stormy Daniels testifies on the witness stand as Judge Juan Merchan looks on in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, May 7, 2024, in New York.. A photo of Donald Trump and Daniels from their first meeting is displayed on a monitor. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Stormy Daniels describes meeting Trump in occasionally graphic testimony

The porn actor’s testimony, even if sanitized and stripped of tell-all details, has been the most-awaited spectacle in Donald Trump’s hush money trial.

May 7, 2024

His lawyers have sought to show that Trump was trying to protect his reputation and family — not his campaign — by shielding them from embarrassing stories about his personal life.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told jurors that she started exotic dancing in high school and appearing in adult films at age 23, eventually moving to direct more than 150 films and winning a roster of porn industry awards.

FILE - Former President Donald Trump attends jury selection at Manhattan criminal court in New York, April 15, 2024. Trump's criminal hush money trial involves allegations that he falsified his company's records to hide the true nature of payments to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who helped bury negative stories about him during the 2016 presidential campaign. He's pleaded not guilty. (Jeenah Moon/Pool Photo via AP, File)

World & Nation

Key players: Who’s who at Donald Trump’s hush-money criminal trial

Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial shifts to opening statements Monday, followed by the start of witness testimony. Who’s who in the case?

April 21, 2024

Meeting Trump

Daniels testified she first met and chatted with Trump at a 2006 Lake Tahoe celebrity golf outing where her studio was a sponsor.

He referred to her as “the smart one” and asked her if she wanted to go to dinner, she said. Daniels testified that she accepted Trump’s invitation because she wanted to avoid dinner with her co-workers and thought it might help her career. Trump had his bodyguard get her number, she said.

When they met up later in his penthouse, she appreciated that he seemed interested in the business aspects of the industry rather than the “sexy stuff.” He also suggested putting her on his TV show, “The Apprentice,” a possibility she hoped could help establish her as a writer and director.

She left to use the bathroom and was startled to find Trump in his underwear when she returned, she said. She didn’t feel physically or verbally threatened but realized that he was “bigger and blocking the way,” she testified.

“The next thing I know was: I was on the bed,” and they were having sex, Daniels recalled. The encounter was brief but left her “shaking,” she said. “I just wanted to leave,” she testified.

STORMY -- Pictured: Stormy Daniels -- (Photo by: Peacock)

Stormy Daniels alleges in new documentary that Donald Trump cornered her the night they met

‘I have not forgiven myself because I didn’t shut his a— down in that moment’ in 2006, the adult filmmaker says in ‘Stormy,’ premiering March 18 on Peacock.

March 7, 2024

Payments for silence

Daniels was asked if Trump ever told her to keep things between them confidential, and said, “Absolutely not.” She said she learned in 2011 that a magazine had learned the story of their encounter, and she agreed to do an interview for $15,000 to make money and “control the narrative.” The story never ran.

In 2016, when Trump was running for president, Daniels said she authorized her manager to shop the story around but did not initially receive interest from news outlets. She said that changed in October with the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump bragged about grabbing women sexually without asking permission . She said she learned that Cohen wanted to buy her silence.

Former President Donald Trump reacts while meeting with construction workers at the construction site of the new JPMorgan Chase headquarters in midtown Manhattan, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in New York. Trump met with construction workers and union representatives hours before he's set to appear in court. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

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Mistrial push

Midway through her testimony, Trump’s lawyers moved for a mistrial.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche argued that Daniels’ testimony about the alleged encounter and other meetings with him had “nothing to do with this case,” and would unfairly prejudice the jury.

The judge rejected it, and he faulted defense attorneys for not raising more of their objections while she was testifying.

Before Daniels took the stand, Trump’s lawyers had tried to stop her from testifying about the encounter’s details, saying it was irrelevant in “a case about books and records.”

Prosecutors countered that Daniels’ testimony gets at what Trump was trying to hide and they were “very mindful” not to draw too much graphic detail. Before Daniels took the stand, they told the judge the testimony would be “really basic,” and would not “involve any details of genitalia.”

While the judge didn’t side with Trump’s lawyers, he acknowledged that some details were excessive. The objections could potentially be used by Trump’s lawyers if he is convicted and they file an appeal.

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Cross-examination

Trump’s lawyers tried to attack Daniels’ credibility, suggesting she was motivated by money and that her account has shifted over the years.

“Am I correct that you hate President Trump?” defense lawyer Susan Necheles asked Daniels at one point. Daniels acknowledged she did.

“And you want him to go to jail?” the lawyer asked.

“I want him to be held accountable,” Daniels said. Pressed again whether that meant going to jail, she said: “If he’s convicted.”

The defense pressed Daniels on the fact that she owes Trump hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees stemming from an unsuccessful defamation lawsuit, and on a 2022 tweet in which she said she “will go to jail before I pay a penny.” Daniels dug in at times in the face of pointed questions, forcefully denying the idea that she had tried to extort money from Trump.

Trump whispered frequently to his attorney during Daniels’ testimony, and his expression seemed to be pained at one point as she recounted details about the dinner she says they shared. He shook his head and appeared to say something under his breath as Daniels testified that Trump told her he didn’t sleep in the same room as his wife.

On the way out of the courthouse, Trump called it “a very revealing day.” He didn’t address Daniels’ testimony explicitly but claimed the prosecutors’ case was “totally falling apart.”

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Jarring split screen

Trump’s appearance in court Tuesday, like all other days he’s stuck in the courtroom, means he can’t be out on the campaign trail as he runs for president a third time. It’s a frequent source of his complaints, but Daniels’ testimony in particular might underscore how much of a distraction the trial is from the business of running for president.

While Trump was stuck in a Manhattan courthouse away from voters and unable to speak for much of the day, President Biden was attending a Holocaust remembrance ceremony and condemning antisemitism .

It’s an issue Trump has sought to use against Biden in the campaign by seizing on the protests at college campuses over the Israel-Hamas war .

Associated Press writer Price reported from New York, Whitehurst from Washington. AP writers Michael Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Offenhartz and Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this story.

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How ‘Young Sheldon’ Finally Got to That Heartbreaking Moment: ‘Endings Are Always Really Difficult’

By Jim Halterman

Jim Halterman

  • ‘Young Sheldon’ Stars Iain Armitage and Annie Potts on Jim Parsons’ Finale Return and the Show’s Surprise End: ‘We Were Completely Ambushed by This’ 2 weeks ago
  • How ‘The Conners’ Went From Nearly DOA to a Milestone 100th Episode — and What’s Next: ‘There’s So Much More to Do’ 1 month ago
  • ‘When We Rise’ EP Dustin Lance Black: ‘This Is Going to Be More Timely Than I Thought’ 7 years ago

“A New Home and a Traditional Texas Torture” - George Sr. gets an exciting job offer, and Sheldon prepares for his move to California, on YOUNG SHELDON, Thursday, May 9 (8:31-9:01 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and streaming on Paramount+ (live and on-demand for Paramount+ with SHOWTIME subscribers, or on-demand for Paramount+ Essential subscribers the day after the episode airs)*.   Pictured: Iain Armitage as Sheldon   Photo Credit: Bill Inoshita / 2024 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

SPOILER ALERT: The following interview discusses events from the “ Young Sheldon ” episode “A New Home and a Traditional Texas Torture,” streaming on Paramount+ as of May 10.

We knew it was going to happen — since it was foretold on “The Big Bang Theory” — but that didn’t make it any easier to say goodbye to one of “Young Sheldon’s” original cast members. In the final moments in the second of two episodes airing back-to-back on May 9, the Cooper family received word that curmudgeon patriarch George Cooper (Lance Barber) had died of a heart attack.

Popular on Variety

Here, Holland also shares how the writers figured out how (and when) to portray George’s death, how Barber took the news about his character dying and what other information from “The Big Bang Theory” needed to be honored.

You guys have done this before, when you wrapped up “The Big Bang Theory.”But how challenging was it to land all the points you wanted before the end of the series?  

Since you’ve been asked about it for the last seven years, planning George’s death, did you guys know this is how you wanted to play it? Or was it something you kept going back and forth on?

We always knew we were going to address it this season. We always knew we were going to get to the funeral this season. And we always knew that George’s death would happen off screen, that we didn’t want to witness it. It was just a question of when. There was a version of this, as we talked about it earlier on, where it would have been: The finale would have been the death and the funeral. I think it was Chuck [Lorre, executive producer] who said, “This is mostly a positive, uplifting show. Let’s not leave the audience deep in their grief. Let’s watch the family start to piece itself back together, and let’s end with a little hope.” So then that re-shifted when we were going to do it.

And then also, just because we know some people are expecting it, I know there’s a lot of talk of whether it’s going to happen or not going to happen, but people who know “Big Bang” are expecting it. We wanted to do it in a way that was hopefully a little surprising. So that’s why it happens at the end of [Episode 12] — we thought maybe we can catch people off guard. Even though they know it’s going to come, maybe they won’t see it coming then.

Touching on “Big Bang,” we’ve known that George died when Sheldon is 14, but were there other details from the show that you had to live up to?

It was pretty much just his age. And to be honest, even “Big Bang” canon isn’t entirely consistent. It got more consistent. We know it was 14 and we know that Sheldon goes to Caltech right afterwards and leaves Georgie and the rest of the family behind grieving. Those were the two pieces that we knew.

Was it a tough conversation to have with Lance Barber, since he knew this could be coming?

He’s known since the beginning of the show that George Sr. had an expiration date. We slowed time down a little bit. Like, we extended it because the kids, our actual cast members Raegan and Iain, are 16 in real life. We stretched one year out into a couple seasons to keep Lance alive as far as long as we could. But he always knew this was coming.

And I think also it being the last season made it a little easier on him that there wasn’t going to be seasons going forward that he wasn’t going to get to be a part of, but he was great because he really wanted to be there.

In Episode 12, George gets a college coaching job offer that would take him and the family to Houston. What did that story say for the character and the family?

Talk to me about the last time we and the family sees George alive. He’s just going to work like an ordinary morning without any grand moment. Why?

We really talked a lot about that. It was interesting how much work we put into a scene where nothing exciting happened, and we kept making sure that was the case. We thought a lot about the reality of the situation is that you don’t recognize that these are big moments going into them. You only recognize that these are big moments in retrospect. And dad leaving for work is a thing that happens every day. There was no reason for anyone to stop and think, you know, this moment is special. We also thought that moving forward it left them with a little bit more regret that they didn’t appreciate those moments, but it just really felt like that was very real.

We even pulled out where no one says goodbye to him. We kept pulling things away [from the scene] so no one had a moment. For Missy, he offers her a ride to school and she says she’ll take the bus. Sheldon doesn’t even look up. Mary’s on him about making sure he’s not going to be late later on. No one even says goodbye to him.

We see a few people come back in episode 712, like Sheldon’s childhood friend, Tam (Ryan Phuong) and we see a couple of the teachers at the school. Was there a lot of talk about who you would bring back?

Yeah, definitely. There were certainly some characters that we wanted to acknowledge because they’ve been such an important part of the show. It would have been great to bring back Jason Alexander [who played Sheldon’s teacher Gene Lundy in five episodes], who we love. Some things just didn’t work out logistically, and it didn’t make sense in the story. But Tam had been such a big part of the story, and with Sheldon’s friend — and also trying to keep alive “Big Bang” canon when Sheldon goes off to Caltech, and Tam stays behind with his girlfriend. So trying to make a nod that to Sheldon, they’re still best friends. And then Mr. Givens, and we love Brian Stepanek who plays him.

In the last scene of the episode when the family gets the news that George has died, of course, Missy, Mary and Connie just break down immediately. But was there a lot of discussion about how Sheldon would react? Or was that an easy choice given the character, and how he deals with emotion?

We knew that Sheldon would process things internally, that Sheldon is not an outward emotive person. So it was really just about the details like, is he standing and does he sit or is he already sitting? It was really fine tuning those small details to get the exact right moment for him. But no, the thought that he would not outwardly express his grief was always baked into the character.

Was it a challenge for Iain Armitage not to just unload his emotions because this big moment’s happening that they’ve all known was coming?

What should we expect in those final two episodes airing next Thursday?

You know, the Coopers have to deal with their grief over the death of George Sr. And Sheldon has to prepare to start his life journey onto Caltech in California.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Kendrick Lamar vs. Drake Beef Goes Nuclear: What to Know

The two rappers had circled one another for more than a decade, but their attacks turned relentless and very personal in a slew of tracks released over the weekend.

Drake dressed in dark clothing raps into a microphone, with a hand gesturing in the air. Kendrick Lamar, dressed in red and a dark ball cap worn backward, raps into a microphone.

By Joe Coscarelli

The long-building and increasingly testy rap beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake exploded into full-bore acrimony and unverifiable accusations over the weekend. Both artists rapid-fire released multiple songs littered with attacks regarding race, appropriation, sexual and physical abuse, body image, misogyny, hypocrisy, generational trauma and more.

Most relentless was Lamar, a Pulitzer Prize winner from Compton, Calif., who tends toward the isolated and considered but has now released four verbose and conceptual diss tracks — totaling more than 20 minutes of new music — targeting Drake in the last week, including three since Friday.

Each racked up millions of streams and the three that were made available commercially — “Euphoria,” “Meet the Grahams” and “Not Like Us” — are expected to land near the top of next week’s Billboard singles chart, while seeming to, at least momentarily, shift the public perception of Drake, long a maestro of the online public arena and meme ecosystem .

In between, on Friday night, Drake released his own broadside against Lamar — plus a smattering of other recent challengers — in a teasing Instagram interlude plus a three-part track and elaborate music video titled “Family Matters,” in which he referred to his rival as a fake activist and attempted to expose friction and alleged abuse in Lamar’s romantic relationship.

But that song was followed within half an hour by Lamar’s “Meet the Grahams,” an ominous extended address to the parents and young son of Drake, born Aubrey Graham, in which Lamar refers to his rival rapper as a liar and “pervert” who “should die” in order to make the world safer for women.

Lamar also seemed to assert that Drake had more than a decade ago fathered a secret daughter — echoing the big reveal of his son from Drake’s last headline rap beef — a claim Drake quickly denied on Instagram before hitting back in another song on Sunday. (Neither man has addressed the full array of rapped allegations directly.)

On Tuesday, a security guard was shot and seriously injured outside of Drake’s Toronto home, which appeared on the cover art for Lamar’s “Not Like Us.” Authorities said they could not yet speak to a motive in the shooting, but the investigation was ongoing. Representatives for Drake and Lamar did not immediately comment.

How did two of the most famous artists in the world decide to take the gloves off and bring real-life venom into an extended sparring match for rap supremacy? It was weeks, months and years in the making, with a sudden, breakneck escalation into hip-hop infamy. Here’s a breakdown.

Since late March, the much-anticipated head-to-head seemed inevitable. Following years of “will they or won’t they?” lyrical feints, Lamar hit directly on record first this year during a surprise appearance on the song “Like That” by the Atlanta rapper Future and the producer Metro Boomin, both formerly frequent Drake collaborators.

With audible disgust, Lamar invoked the track “First Person Shooter” from last year’s Drake album, “For All the Dogs,” in which a guest verse from J. Cole referred to himself, Drake and Lamar as “the big three” of modern MCs.

Lamar took exception to the grouping, declaring that there was no big three, “just big me.” He also called himself the Prince to Drake’s Michael Jackson — a deeper, more complex artist versus a troubled, pop-oriented hitmaker.

“Like That” spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, as Future and Metro Boomin released two chart-topping albums — “We Don’t Trust You” and “We Still Don’t Trust You” — that were anchored by a parade of Drake’s past associates, each of whom seemed to share a simmering distaste toward the rapper, who later called the ambush a “20 v. 1” fight.

In early April, J. Cole fought back momentarily , releasing the song “7 Minute Drill,” in which he called Lamar overrated, before backtracking, apologizing and having the song removed from streaming services. But Drake soon picked up the baton, releasing a wide-ranging diss track called “Push Ups” less than a week later that addressed the field, with a special focus on Lamar’s height, shoe size and supposedly disadvantageous business dealings.

Less than a week later, Drake mocked Lamar’s lack of a response on “Taylor Made Freestyle,” a track released only on social media. It featured Drake taunting Lamar for being scared to release music at the same time as Taylor Swift and using A.I. voice filters to mimic Tupac and Snoop Dogg imploring Lamar to battle for the good of the West Coast.

“Since ‘Like That,’ your tone changed a little, you not as enthused,” Drake rapped in an abbreviated third verse, as himself. “How are you not in the booth? It feel like you kinda removed.” (“Taylor Made Freestyle” was later removed from the internet at the request of the Tupac Estate.)

But it was a seemingly tossed-off line from the earlier “Push Ups” that included the name of Lamar’s longtime romantic partner — “I be with some bodyguards like Whitney” — that Lamar would later allude to as a red line crossed, making all subject matter fair game in the songs to come. (It was this same alleged faux pas that may have triggered an intensification of Drake’s beef with Pusha T in 2018.)

How We Got Here

Even with Drake-dissing cameos from Future, Ye (formerly Kanye West), Rick Ross, the Weeknd and ASAP Rocky, the main event was always going to be between Drake, 37, and Lamar, 36, who have spent more than a decade subtly antagonizing one another in songs while maintaining an icy frenemy rapport in public.

In 2011, when Drake introduced Lamar to mainstream audiences with a dedicated showcase on his second album, “Take Care,” and an opening slot on the subsequent arena tour, the tone was one of side-eying competition. “He said that he was the same age as myself/and it didn’t help ’cause it made me even more rude and impatient,” Lamar rapped on “Buried Alive Interlude” of his earliest encounter with a more-famous Drake. (On his Instagram on Friday, Drake released a parody of the track, citing Lamar’s jealousy since then.)

The pair went on to appear together on “Poetic Justice,” a single from Lamar’s debut album, “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City,” in 2012, as well as “___ Problems” by ASAP Rocky the same year.

But their collaborations ceased as Drake became his generation’s premier hitmaker across styles in hip-hop and beyond, while Lamar burrowed deeper into his own psyche on knotty concept albums that brought wide critical acclaim alongside less constant commercial success.

When asked, the two rappers tended to profess admiration for one another’s skill, but seemed to trade subtle digs in verses over the years, always with plausible deniability and in the spirit of competition, leading to something of a hip-hop cold war.

The Week It Went Nuclear

Lamar’s first targeted response, “Euphoria,” was more than six minutes long and released last Tuesday morning. In three sections that raised the temperature as they built, he warned Drake about proceeding and insisted, somewhat facetiously, that things were still friendly. “Know you a master manipulator and habitual liar too,” Lamar rapped. “But don’t tell no lie about me and I won’t tell truths ’bout you.”

He accused the biracial Drake, who was born and raised in Toronto, of imitating Black American heritage and insulting him subliminally. “I hate the way that you walk, the way that you talk, I hate the way that you dress,” Lamar said. “I hate the way that you sneak diss, if I catch flight, it’s gon’ be direct.” And he called Drake’s standing as a father into question: “Teachin’ him morals, integrity, discipline/listen, man, you don’t know nothin’ ’bout that.”

Days later, Lamar doubled down with an Instagram-only track called “6:16 in LA,” borrowing both Drake’s “Back to Back” diss tactic from his 2015 beef with Meek Mill and a song title structure lifted from what is known as Drake’s time-stamp series of raps. Opting for psychological warfare on a beat produced in part by Jack Antonoff, Swift’s chief collaborator, Lamar hinted that he had a mole in Drake’s operation and was aware of his opponent’s opposition research.

“Fake bully, I hate bullies, you must be a terrible person,” he rapped. “Everyone inside your team is whispering that you deserve it.”

That night, Drake’s “Family Matters” started with its own justification for getting personal — “You mentioned my seed, now deal with his dad/I gotta go bad, I gotta go bad” — before taking on Lamar’s fatherhood and standing as a man in excruciating detail. “They hired a crisis management team to clean up the fact that you beat on your queen,” Drake rapped. “The picture you painted ain’t what it seem/you’re dead.”

Yet in a chess move that seemed to anticipate Drake’s familial line of attack, Lamar’s “Meet the Grahams” was released almost immediately. “This supposed to be a good exhibition within the game,” Lamar said, noting that Drake had erred “the moment you called out my family’s name.” Instead of a rap battle, Lamar concluded after another six minutes of psychological dissection, “this a long life battle with yourself.”

He wasn’t done yet. Dispensing with subtlety, Lamar followed up again less than 24 hours later with “Not Like Us,” a bouncy club record in a Los Angeles style that delighted in more traditional rap beef territory, like juvenile insults, proudly unsubstantiated claims of sexual preferences and threats of violence.

Lamar, however, didn’t leave it at that, throwing one more shot at Drake’s authenticity as a rapper, calling him a greedy and artificial user as a collaborator — “not a colleague,” but a “colonizer.”

On Sunday evening, Drake responded yet again. On “The Heart Part 6,” a title taken from Lamar’s career-spanning series, Drake denied the accusation that he preyed on young women, indicated that he had planted the bad information about his fake daughter and seemed to sigh away the fight as “some good exercise.”

“It’s good to get out, get the pen working,” Drake said in an exhausted outro. “You would be a worthy competitor if I was really a predator.” He added, “You know, at least your fans are getting some raps out of you. I’m happy I could motivate you.”

Joe Coscarelli is a culture reporter with a focus on popular music, and the author of “Rap Capital: An Atlanta Story.” More about Joe Coscarelli

Explore the World of Hip-Hop

The long-building and increasingly testy rap beef between Kendrick Lamar and Drake  has exploded into full-bore acrimony .

As their influence and success continue to grow, artists including Sexyy Red and Cardi B are destigmatizing motherhood for hip-hop performers .

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Hip-hop got its start in a Bronx apartment building 50 years ago. Here’s how the concept of home has been at the center of the genre ever since .

Over five decades, hip-hop has grown from a new art form to a culture-defining superpower . In their own words, 50 influential voices chronicle its evolution .

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