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Bibliography vs. Biography: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 8, 2023
A bibliography is a list of sources or references used in a work. A biography is an account of someone's life written by another person.

Key Differences

Bibliography and biography, though they sound somewhat similar, serve entirely different functions in the realm of literature and research. A bibliography is a compilation of the sources or references consulted or cited in the creation of a written work. This list provides readers with the necessary details to identify and retrieve each source. Whether it's books, articles, web pages, or other types of materials, a bibliography gives due credit and helps prevent plagiarism.
On the other side of the spectrum, a biography is a detailed account of someone's life, encompassing their experiences, achievements, challenges, and more. Written by someone other than the subject, a biography offers insights into the life of the individual being discussed. From childhood memories to professional milestones, a biography paints a comprehensive picture of a person's journey through life.
Interestingly, the word bibliography has roots in the Greek word 'biblion', which means 'book', and 'graphein', meaning 'to write'. Essentially, it's about writing or listing books. Biography, meanwhile, combines 'bios', meaning 'life', and 'graphein'. It pertains to writing about life. While a bibliography aids in the authenticity and credibility of a work, a biography delves deep into the intricacies of a person's existence.
In practical application, you might find a bibliography at the end of research papers, articles, or books, ensuring that readers have access to the original sources of information. A biography, conversely, stands as a standalone work, dedicated to narrating the life events of its chosen subject. Whether you're looking to verify information from a bibliography or immerse yourself in someone's life story via a biography, both contribute immensely to the literary world.

Comparison Chart


List of sources or references
Account of someone's life

Commonly Found In

Research papers, books, articles
Standalone books, documentaries


Titles, authors, publication dates, publishers
Life events, achievements, personal stories


Informative, academic

Root Meaning

Writing or listing books
Writing about life

Bibliography and Biography Definitions


A compilation of materials on a particular subject.
He consulted a bibliography on Renaissance art to find more resources.


A written account of someone's life.
The best-selling biography detailed the life of the renowned scientist.


A list of books consulted by an author.
The bibliography in the book was several pages long.


A detailed profile of someone's life story.
Her biography is an inspiration to many.


A list of sources used in research.
The student included a comprehensive bibliography at the end of her thesis.


An account of the life of something, such as an organization.
The company's biography celebrates its 100-year existence.


A record of writings by a particular author or on a topic.
The author's bibliography includes ten published novels.


A narrative of personal experiences and achievements.
The actor's biography was a mix of drama, success, and challenges.


A systematic description of books and other works.
She specializes in creating annotated bibliographies for academic papers.


A book detailing the life of an individual.
I just finished a captivating biography about Frida Kahlo.


A list of the works of a specific author or publisher.


An account of a person's life written, composed, or produced by another
A film biography of Adlai Stevenson.
An oral biography.


A list of writings relating to a given subject
A bibliography of Latin American history.


Biographies considered as a group, especially when regarded as a genre.


A list of writings used or considered by an author in preparing a particular work.


The writing, composition, or production of biographies
A career entirely devoted to biography.


The description and identification of the editions, dates of issue, authorship, and typography of books or other written material.


A person's life story, especially one published.
There are many biographies of Benjamin Franklin.


A compilation of such information.


The art of writing this kind of story.


A section of a written work containing citations, not quotations, to all the books referred to in the work.


(transitive) To write a biography of.


A list of books or documents relevant to a particular subject or author.


The written history of a person's life.


The study of the history of books in terms of their classification, printing and publication.


Biographical writings in general.


A history or description of books and manuscripts, with notices of the different editions, the times when they were printed, etc.


An account of the series of events making up a person's life


A list of books or other printed works having some common theme, such as topic, period, author, or publisher.


A list of the published (and sometimes unpublished) sources of information referred to in a scholarly discourse or other text, or used as reference materials for its preparation.


The branch of library science dealing with the history and classification of books and other published materials.


A list of writings with time and place of publication (such as the writings of a single author or the works referred to in preparing a document etc.)


Does every book have a bibliography?

No, mostly academic or research-oriented works include them.

Are all biographies factual?

Ideally, yes, but they might contain the author's interpretations.

How long can a biography be?

It varies, from short profiles to multi-volume works.

Are bibliography and biography interchangeable?

No, they serve different purposes in literature.

Is a bibliography the same as a reference list?

They're similar, but a bibliography includes all sources, cited or not.

Is a biography always in book form?

No, it can also be an article, film, or other media.

Do bibliographies only list books?

No, they can list articles, websites, and other sources.

Why is it essential to format a bibliography correctly?

Proper formatting ensures clarity and credibility.

Can a biography be written by the person it's about?

If written by the subject, it's an autobiography, not a biography.

Do fiction books have bibliographies?

Rarely, unless the fiction requires citing factual sources.

Can a biography be fictionalized?

Some are dramatized, but they should be based on true events.

Can I cite a biography in a bibliography?

Yes, if you've used it as a source.

Can bibliographies contain unpublished works?

Yes, they can list manuscripts, interviews, and more.

Why include a bibliography in a paper?

To give credit to sources and allow readers to verify information.

Can a person have multiple biographies?

Yes, different authors can write about the same person.

What's an annotated bibliography?

A list of sources with brief summaries or evaluations.

What makes a biography compelling?

Good research, narrative skill, and genuine insight into the subject.

Do biographies require consent?

Ethically, yes, especially for living subjects, but not always legally.

How is a bibliography arranged?

Often alphabetically, but sometimes by topic or date.

Why read biographies?

To gain insight into someone's life, learn history, and find inspiration.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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