Autobiography Examples, Guide & Outline

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Written By Amanda Green

Amanda Green was born in a small town in the west of Scotland, where everyone knows everyone. I joined the Toastmasters 15 years ago, and I served in nearly every office in the club since then. I love helping others gain confidence and skills they can apply in every day life.

Do you believe you’ve lived an exciting life? If you do, then it’s about time you write an autobiography.

This article will give you several autobiography ideas through six effective tips. You’ll also discover the best personal autobiography examples from which you can take inspiration.

What Is an Autobiography?

An autobiography is a type of publication that includes one’s life story. Unlike biographies, autobiographies are a narrative written by oneself instead of other professional writers.

An autobiography can include details about one’s childhood, school life, and professional life. The topic ideas are endless since self-written biographies may explore an abundance of experiences and life events.

Many people find autobiographies more interesting than biographies because they are personal narratives. Some were not necessarily intended for publication, such as a diary, memoir, or journal.

Some examples of inspiring autobiographies include the works of famous people like Benjamin Franklin, Maya Angelou, Frederick Douglass, Malala Yousafzai, and Anne Frank.

What Are the 5 Types of Autobiographies?

Full Autobiography

A full autobiography includes extensive details about a person’s every element of life. The content of this type of autobiography may start with his life from birth to the present.

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Full autobiographies follow the complete structure of books because of their length. They often include an exposition, climax, and resolution like fictional works.

Some examples of autobiographies include Benjamin Franklin’s and Elia Kaza’s.


A memoir does not focus on extensive details about one’s life experiences. Instead, it focuses on a specific event in time or any central theme. It can be about one’s college experiences, family life, or relationship with someone.

Expert writers know that memoirs use a first-person narrative voice. One example of an incredible autobiography of this format is Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes.


Confessional autobiographies do not include important details about life events or daily lives. This type of autobiography is written by someone who has done something wrong.

Honesty is an integral factor that one must consider when writing a confessional autobiography. Some essential topics may include faith, sexuality, and other intimate themes.

Some amazing examples of personal autobiographies of confession include Confessions by Saint Augustine and Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Overcoming Adversity

Many people are interested in learning about one’s adversities in life and how they were able to move on.

This type of autobiography may include essential details about kidnapping, murder, and accidents. The character may also recall memories and factual details of divorce and abuse.

An experienced writer knows how to turn these autobiographies into inspiring ones. These stories should help readers express their emotions and heal.

Some innovative autobiography examples include The Center of the Universe by Nancy Bachrach and In Order to Live: A North Korean’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park.

Personal Narrative Essay

An autobiographical essay is a common school assignment that English teachers require students. An autobiography for students is also present in millions of college application essays.

This format of autobiography includes an introduction, body, and conclusion like any other essay. It may focus on a common theme or field for conciseness and clarity.

What Are the 6 Steps in Writing Autobiography?

Brainstorm Your Autobiography

Writing an autobiography takes a lot of research and brainstorming. It would help if you spent valuable time having a thorough background of the autobiography template and format. Reading factual and fictional autobiographies is the best way to do this.

Then, write a mind map or a collection of memories you want to include in your writing. Do you want to include your entire life, from your earliest memory until your present experience? Or do you want to focus on a particular aspect of your life?

Choose Between an Autobiography or a Memoir

Traditional autobiographies include an account of a person’s entire life, while a memoir is only a part of their life. If you want to focus on specific struggles, travel experiences, funny life incidents, childhood dreams, or your marriage life, it’s better to write a memoir.

You might also want to write an autobiography essay, which is much shorter than both an autobiography and a memoir.

Organize Your Outline

Creating an outline will help you create a chronological structure for your autobiography and eliminate unnecessary details. In general, it should include two elements:

  1. Key events (meaningful, formative life experiences)
  2. Illustrative events (individual experiences, lessons, humor, romances, etc.)

A good example of a key event would be a war, your parent’s separation, or a relocation. From these experiences, add illustrative events, such as how your parents’ separation affected your romantic relationships, religious encounters, and funny anecdotes.

Write Your First Draft

Now that you have an outline, it’s time to tell the story. Make sure it has a conflict, theme, goals, climax, and resolution. You also want to ensure you’ve produced compelling characters in your autobiographical work.

Writing the initial draft also means figuring out your transitions. Divide the key events in your life into chapters. This strategy gives you a clear and descriptive way to end a part of your life and start another.

Take a Break and Edit

Take a few days off once your first draft is complete. After this, examine the entire piece paragraph by paragraph, then line by line. You can also consider hiring an editor who will correct any mistake or confusing sentence in your work.

Write Your Second, Third, and Final Draft

Consider the revisions suggested by your editor when writing the next draft. Keep re-editing and proofreading your work until it’s perfect. Don’t be afraid to reach ten drafts. What matters is you refine your writing skills and publish the perfect book.

Sample Autobiography Outline

This outline will help you create a well-structured autobiography.


  • Introduce yourself in the first chapter or paragraph of your autobiography.
  • Include basic information, such as name, age, personality traits, etc.


  • Family history (important childhood events, crises, deaths, illnesses in your family)
  • School history (where you studied, school experiences, successes, and failures at school)
  • Work history (where you worked, what you liked most about your work, difficult parts of your job)
  • Spiritual development (Do you believe in God?)
  • Relational development (events in your friendship, romantic relationships)
  • Personal development (hobbies, addictive tendencies, personal strengths, weaknesses)


  • Finish with a thought-provoking detail or moral lesson.

Autobiography Examples

Want to read more autobiographies before writing one? Here are some examples of books I recommend.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Anne Frank was a Jewish teenager who kept a diary as her family hid from Nazis. As one of the best autobiographies of all time, The Diary of a Young Girl became a best-seller worldwide and a part of Holocaust instruction for decades.

Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela

Long Walk to Freedom is a famous personality autobiography that exhibits the fight for black liberation in South Africa. It’s a favorite book among many readers because Mandela founded democracy and promised no one would be discriminated against as the first Black president in his country.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

In her autobiography, Maya Angelou discussed how difficult it was to be a black poet and author. According to her, people didn’t listen to her voice because of her skin color, making her feel like a slave.

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

The newly-published funny autobiography by Jennette McCurdy features a controversial title that centers on the iCarly and Sam & Cat star’s struggles as a former child actor.

She discussed her complicated relationship with her overbearing mother, addiction, eating disorder, and how she moved on.

Learn More About Autobiographical Writing

I hope this guide has helped you study the types of autobiography and the difference between biography and autobiography. I also provided six essential tips on how to write an autobiography.

Writing an autobiography will help you perfect your autobiographical know-how and writing skills. If you have any questions about writing, let us know!

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