Professor Jaszczerski LIB 100: Information Literacy Weblog

What is the difference between biography and bibliography.

APA Style Guide

APA & MLA define a style of writing when you are documenting sources of other writers, ideas that are not yours.   Difference between bibliography and biography are not in names, even thought they are similar.   The two words are similar in intention.   Both document otherness be it a formalized list of ideas, and the sources of information where the author found them, or the authors account of another person’s life.  

Biography is a documented life the author writes about.   A bibliography; a list of sources used to formally cite ideas that are not personal.   Among all this difference your personal thoughts and reflections are excellent and encouraged. Nevertheless, when documenting ideas that are not yours you will need to add a bibliography at the end of your paper.  

At this point the question raised in class about what difference was between the two words seemed at first like a simple mix up-a misunderstanding about two words meaning but has turned out to be a poignant and insightful observation. A powerful connection arose.   Good job!  

I have attached the handouts we looked at in class this week, which provide guidelines, and a list of information needed in a particular order that creates a standard in compliance with both MLA and APA format.   Always use these for your papers in college.   Those information mediums that are not available on the sheet are your responsibility to find and document the medium you carried the idea from in correct format.   Later on in school, you will find a time when your carful review of a clean and neat, penultimate correct citation page will affect your grade and your GPA significantly. So stay sharp! Mind your bibliography; you will see the value reflected in your GPA.  

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This entry was posted on March 28, 2008 at 6:03 pm and is filed under Information Literacy , Information Theory , Library Instruction . You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post's comments. You can comment below , or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

3 Comments on “What is the difference between biography and bibliography?”

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Dear professor Jaszczerski.

I’d like to thank you for the help that you provided me through your website. Thanks for being a wonderful teacher !

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Dear Prof. Jaszczerski,

I’m not enrolled in any of your classes or courses; as a matter of fact, I’m not even on the same continent as you are! But I do wish to congratulate you on this article. It was quite invaluable to me as a student working on a project that required me to state the differences between bibliographies and biographies. Your explanations were short, but concise. Keep up the good work!

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biography is bibliography

Difference Between Bibliography and Biography

Some terms can be a bit confusing for people due to their similar sounds. But they are indeed different and have unique usage. Two such words are bibliography and biography.

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It is imperative to know the fundamental difference between them to use them properly.

Bibliography vs Biography

The difference between bibliography and biography is that bibliography is a list of sources that are cited at the end of the document to tell the readers where you took the information or ideas from. Biography is a published story about someone’s life written by somebody.

Biography includes all the life experiences the person has gone through in his life and information like his childhood, education, career, etc.

Bibliography vs Biography

The other features that differentiate between bibliography and biography are shown in the comparison table below.

Comparison Table

What is bibliography.

A Bibliography is a list of sources you mention at the end of your work to tell the readers all the materials you consulted in your research.

The aim is to provide the readers with all the literature you referred to in case they need to study those sources in detail. So, a bibliography is made up of all the primary and secondary sources.

Students and researchers are taught the importance of bibliography to avoid plagiarism. They are properly taught the format of writing the section of bibliography which is crucial to their research quality.

Let us discuss three types of bibliography here:

In the bibliography of works cited, you mention only those items whose content you have cited in your work. It may contain the name of books and publications you have referred to.

In the selected bibliography, you list down only the sources you think would be of major interest to your readers.

If you decide to write a selected bibliography, you may need to inform your supervisor and give a good reason for why you think you need to have a selected bibliography.

In an annotated bibliography, you mention a list of all the sources from books, articles, research papers along with a small description. The purpose of this description is to inform the readers of the relevancy and accuracy of the referenced items.

The most commonly used formats for bibliography are APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association).

The information is the same but the way of arranging the details like author name, publication year, or page number is different in these two styles.

bibliography 1

What is Biography?

A biography is a published story about someone’s life which is written by somebody. The biography of a person usually contains his life experiences, his early childhood, education, career, and relationships.

The aim of writing a biography is to motivate people using some famous person’s life events.

Most people are greatly inspired by some famous personalities and they want to know more about their life. Biographies play a crucial role in providing those inspiring stories for their readers.

On the other hand, some people are not having a good time in their lives and maybe facing disappointments and hurdles in life.

But when they read the biographies of their favorite person, they come to know that these people had to face similar situations in life but they never gave up.

Life was never easy for them as well but with hard work and dedication, they earned a place for them in this world. So, it encourages the readers on how to tackle the problems in their life as well.

Let us discuss four types of biographies here:

In historical fiction, some fictional statements are added into the person’s real-life history to add value to entertainment. In academic type, the biographies are strictly stuck to the facts related to that person’s life.

In fictionalized academics, some value of entertainment is added along with the factual accuracy of the person in the biography.

In prophetic biography, some spiritual goal is associated with a person’s life. One important thing to consider here is that you need to seek permission from the person before writing their biography.


Main Differences Between Bibliography and Biography

Some of the features that differentiate between reference and citation are given below:

Difference Between Bibliography and Biography

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Archives Library Information Center (ALIC)

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Bibliography of Biographical Resources in ALIC

This page provides a bibliography of biographical resources available at the Archives Library and Information Center. You can find more information, including biographies of individuals, by searching ALIC's Online Public Access Catalog. * Available in the library at Archives I. ** Available in the libraries at both Archives I and Archives II.

American biographical index. London; New York: K.G. Saur, 1993. 6 v. CT213 .A64 1993

American biographies: a genealogical, historical and biographical cyclopedia. Washington: The Bureau, 1950- . v. CT220 .A55

A Biographical directory of librarians in the United States and Canada. Chicago: American Library Association, 1970. xviii, 1250 p. CT9900 .W47

Biography and genealogy master index: a consolidated index to more than 3,200,000 biographical sketches in over 350 current and retrospective biographical dictionaries. Detroit, MI: Gale Research Co., c1980. 8 v. CT214 .B56

International biographical directory of national archivists, documentalists, and librarians. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000. xxi, 291 p. Z720.A1 I56 2000

Webster’s biographical dictionary. Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merrian Co., 1974. xxxvi, 1697 p. CT103 .W4 1974

Crossette, George. Founders of the Cosmos Club of Washington, 1878; a collection of biographical sketches and likenesses of the sixty founders. Washington: Cosmos Club, 1966. 176 p. Q11 .C7

Valentine, Alan Chester. The British establishment, 1760-1784; an eighteenth-century biographical dictionary. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970. 2 v. CT781 .V3

African American authors, 1745-1945: bio-bibliographical critical sourcebook. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000. xvi, 525 p. PS153.N5 A32 2000

The African American national biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 8 v. E185.96 .A4466 2008 A2

Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007, prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration of the U.S. House of Representatives, by the Office of History and Preservation, Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington, DC: U.S. G.P.O., 2008. v, 803 p. E185.96 .B526 2008*

On the trail of the buffalo soldier: biographies of African Americans in the U.S. Army, 1866-1917. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1995. xvii, 519 p. U52 .O5 1995

Who’s who of the colored race: a general biographical dictionary of men and women of African descent. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1976, c1915. xxxi, 296 p. E185.96 .W6 1976*

Dabbs, Henry. A first edition reference work on black brass: Black generals and admirals in the Armed Forces of the United States. Freehold, NJ: Afro-American Heritage House, 1984, c1983. 228 p. U52 .D33 1984

Moebs, Thomas Truxtun. Black soldiers - black sailors - black ink: research guide on African-Americans in U.S. military history, 1526-1900. Chesapeake Bay, VA: Moebs Pub. Co., 1994. xxvi, 1654 p. UB418.A47 M64 1994

Sutherland, Jonathan. African Americans at war: an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, c2004. 2 v. U52 .S88 2004

Toppin, Edgar Allan. A biographical history of blacks in America since 1528. New York: McKay, 1971. x, 499 p. E185.96 .T6*

Notable U.S. ambassadors since 1775: a biographical dictionary. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1997. xiii, 430 p. E176 .N895 1997

The Supreme Court justices: a biographical dictionary. New York: Garland Pub., 1994. xv, 570 p. KF8744 .S859 1994

Lanman, Charles. Biographical annals of the civil government of the United States. New York: J. M. Morrison, 1887. iv, [1], 568 p. E176 .L34 1887*

McMullin, Thomas A. Biographical directory of American territorial governors. Westport, CT: Meckler, c1984. 353 p. E176 .M17*

United States. Congress. Biographical directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005: the Continental Congress, September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States, from the First through the One Hundred Eighth Congresses, March 4, 1789, to January 3, 2005, inclusive. Washington, DC: U.S. G.P.O., 2005. xvii, 2218 p. JK1010 .A5 2005**

United States. Dept. of State. The Secretaries of State: portraits and biographical sketches. Washington: Office of Public Communication, Bureau of Public Affairs, 1978. v, 125 p. S 1.69:162

Barthelmas, Della Gray. The signers of the Declaration of Independence: a biographical and genealogical reference. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, c1997. vi, 334 p. E221 .B37 1997**

Palmer, Gregory. Biographical sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution. Westport, CT: Meckler, c1984. xxxvi, 959 p. E277 .P2 1984*

Schneider, Dorothy. First ladies: a biographical dictionary. New York: Facts on File, c2001. x, 406 p. E176.2 .S36 2001

Wakelyn, Jon L. Biographical dictionary of the Confederacy. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1977. xii, 601 p. E467 .W2 (A2)

Warner, Ezra J. Biographical register of the Confederate Congress. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, c1975. xxii, 319 p. JK9663 .W3

Biographical dictionary of American labor. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, c1984. xvii, 767 p. HD8073.A1 F5 1984

Biographical dictionary of American labor leaders. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1974. xiv, 559 p. HD8073.A1 F5

Biographical dictionary of the Union: Northern leaders of the Civil War. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1995. x, 683 p. E467 .B56 1995*

Ancell, R. Manning. The biographical dictionary of World War II generals and flag officers: the U.S. Armed Forces. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1996. xii, 706 p. D736 .A63 1996

Bell, William Gardner. Commanding generals and chiefs of staff, 1775-1995: portraits & biographical sketches of the United States Army’s senior officer. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1999. D 114.2:G 28/775-95

Bell, William Gardner. Secretaries of War and Secretaries of the Army: portraits and biographical sketches. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, United States Army, 2003. xi, 187 p. D114.2:Se 2/2003

Cullum, George W. Biographical register of the officers and graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. from its establishment in 1802 to 1890; with the early history of the United States Military Academy. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1891-[1950]. 9 v. in 10. U410 .H52 1891*

Dabbs, Henry. A first edition reference work on Black brass: Black generals and admirals in the Armed Forces of the United States. Freehold, NJ: Afro-American Heritage House, 1984, c1983. 228 p. U52 .D33 1984

Glazier, Willard. Heroes of three wars; comprising a series of biographical sketches of the most distinguished soldiers of the war of the revolution, the war with Mexico, and the war for the union.... Philadelphia: Hubbard brothers, 1884. 8, ix-xix, 20-450 p. E181 .G55*

Krick, Robert E. L. Staff officers in gray: a biographical register of the staff officers in the Army of Northern Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, c2003. xiv, 406 p. E470.2 .K745 2003

Sifakis, Stewart. Who was who in the Confederacy: a comprehensive, illustrated biographical reference to more than 1,000 of the principal Confederacy participants in the Civil War. New York: Facts on File, c1988. xi, 324 p. E467 .S562 1988*

Sifakis, Stewart. Who was who in the Union: a comprehensive, illustrated biographical reference to more than 1,500 of the principal Union participants in the Civil War. New York: Facts on File, c1988. ix, 479 p. E467 .S564 1988

Spencer, James. Civil War generals: categorical listings and a biographical directory. New York: Greenwood Press, 1986. ix, 333 p. E467 .S7*

Tunney, Christopher. A biographical dictionary of World War II. London: Dent, 1972. viii, 216 p. D736 .T7

Native American women: a biographical dictionary. New York: Routledge, 2001. xv, 396 p. E98.W8 B38 2001*

McKenney, Thomas Loraine. Biographical sketches and anecdotes of ninety-five of 120 principal chiefs from the Indian tribes of North America. Washington: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1967. xvi, 452 p. I 20.2:In 2/27

Waldman, Carl. Biographical dictionary of American Indian history to 1900. New York: Facts on File, c2001. vi, 506 p. E89 .W35 2001*

American men of science; a biographical directory. New York: Bowker. 11 v. CT9400 .A5

Astronauts and cosmonauts biographical and statistical data: report prepared by the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress…. Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1989. viii, 447 p. TL789.85.A1 A75 1989

Realizing the dream of flight: biographical essays in honor of the centennial of flight, 1903-2003. Washington, DC: NASA History Division, 2005. xv, 310 p. NAS 1.21:2005-4112

Elliott, Clark A. Biographical dictionary of American science: the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979. xvii, 360 p. Q141 .E3

Notable American women, 1607-1950; a biographical dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971. 3 v. CT3260 .N57**

Notable American women: a biographical dictionary. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971-1980. 4 v. CT3260 .N57

Who’s who of American women; a biographical dictionary of notable living American women. Chicago: Marquis-Who’s Who. v. CT3260 .W5**

Women in world history: a biographical encyclopedia. Waterford, CT: Yorkin Publications, 1999- . v. 1-4. HQ1115 .W6 1999


Biography: Citation & Writing Manuals

Citation & Writing Websites

Biographical Writing

biography is bibliography

biography is bibliography

Citation Manuals

biography is bibliography

Reference & Instruction Department

Reference & Instruction Department Fordham University Libraries Walsh Library   ♦  Rose Hill Campus  ♦  718-817-3586    Quinn Library   ♦  Lincoln Center Campus  ♦  212-636-6050    Fordham Westchester Library   ♦  Fordham Westchester Campus  ♦  914-367-3061  [email protected]   ♦   text 71-TXTX-1284  ♦  Ask a Librarian (Chat)

Bio-Bibliographies and Composer Resource Manuals

Bio-bibliographies and composer resource manuals are an excellent place to begin research on a composer. Frequently, they describe the current state of scholarly research, important developments in the research history, and highlight important experts in the field. They also furnish other useful information such as the locations of manuscripts and archives important to research on this composer. As is evident from the name, bio-bibliographies usually consist of two major components: a biography providing a linear overview of the composer’s life and significant compositions followed by a bibliography, which occupies the majority of the book.

In general, a bio-bibliography lists the most significant resources available on the composer while striving to provide a representative view of the literature. For lesser-known or obscure composers for which little literature is available, attempts may be made at reasonable comprehensiveness. A bio-bibliography on a popular composer, however, may narrow its scope to a representation of simply the best research or resources. In any case, most bibliographies consist of scholarly publications, dissertations and theses, and articles from scholarly periodicals. Some may also include reviews of performances or premieres. Increasingly common are discographies/videographies/filmographies. Citations are almost always grouped by resource type or subject (e.g., encyclopedias, analyses of compositions, composer histories, reviews) and then organized alphabetically within these classifications by author’s name (or by title if no author is present). At minimum, entries consist of a bibliographic citation and an annotation; at most, an ISBN or ISSN and LC call number will also accompany.

Two established series of bio-bibliographies are “Guides to Research” by Routledge and “Bio-Bibliographies in Music” published by Greenwood Press. By and large, they are similar in content and composition; however, it is worth noting that the Greenwood Press series typically includes a complete works list, while the Routledge series does not.

Bio-bibliographies are typically assigned call numbers under the Library of Congress classification of ML 134, integrated with the thematic catalogues.

Selected Examples:

Ayotte, Benjamin McKay. Heinrich Schenker: A Guide to Research. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Abravanel, Claude. Claude Debussy: A Bibliography. Detroit Studies in Music Bibliography 29. Detroit, Michigan: Information Coordinators, 1974.

Flury, Roger. Pietro Mascagni: A Bio-Bibliography. Bio-Bibliographies in Music 82. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2001.

Langford, Jeffrey Alan. Hector Berlioz: A Guide to Research. Garland Composer Resource Manuals 22. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities 1,025. New York: Garland, 1989.

Marvin, Clara. Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina: A Guide to Research. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2002.

Namenwirth, Simon Michael. Gustav Mahler: A Critical Bibliography. 3 vols. Wiesbaden: O. Harrassowitz, 1987.

Parker, Mary Ann. G. F. Handel: A Guide to Research. 2nd ed. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Perone, James E. Louis Moreau Gottschalk: A Bio-Bibliography. Bio-Bibliographies in Music 91. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 2002.

Richart, Robert W. György Ligeti: A Bio-Bibliography. Bio-Bibliographies in Music 30. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1990.

Saffle, Michael. Richard Wagner: A Research and Information Guide. 2nd ed. Routledge Music Bibliographies. New York: Routledge, 2010.


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Automatically Generate Citations Within Databases

Free citation software on the web.

You must always cite information you use from other sources for the following reasons:

1. You need to let the reader or your instructor know the original source of information. Citing sources strengthens your paper and lets your instructor know that you did the work.

2. Citing is a service to the reader. The reader may be stimulated by a reference you have used in your works cited page and will be able to identify and access the sources you have used for his/her own use.

3. You want to give credit to the person whose ideas you have used.

For help with citing sources consult the following citation style guides available online:

Some databases will automatically generate a citation in MLA and other formats. Others will only provide the basic information, and it's up to you to do the formatting. Look for links like "Cite" or "How to cite" within the databases and on article pages. Also check the top and bottom of the page or article for citation info.

Warning: Most of the citations in databases, web services, etc., are produced automatically using a computer algorithm. That means that if the data is incorrect, the resulting citation is incorrect. You have the final responsibility of checking that the citation is fully correct using the guidelines provided by your professor (or publisher).

These websites have forms where you can fill in the needed information and get a formatted citation to cut and paste into your documents.

Zotero Free and easy to use. Allows you to collect citations and format a bibliography

Bibme BibMe is a free automatic citation creator that supports MLA, APA, Chicago, and Turabian formatting. This bibliography maker auto-fills and is very easy to use. And it's free!

Son of Citation Machine The Citation Machine will do APA, MLA, Chicago, and Turabian style citations for the most common types of sources: books, book chapters, articles, webpages, images, videos, etc. Both in-text (parenthetical) references and the full citation for the bibliography are produced and ready for copying and pasting into your document.

NoodleBib Express Free citation formatting from the makers of NoodleTools. NoodleBib Express does MLA, APA, and Chicago, and has options for dozens of types of sources, from books and articles to patents, letters, and TV programs.

CiteMaker CiteMaker does APA, Harvard, and MLA citations and covers a wide variety of types of sources, from corporate advertising to musical scores, as well as the usual books and articles. There is also an account version.

EasyBib SCSU subscribes to EasyBib. You can use EasyBib to create bibliographies in APA, MLA, and Chicago/Turabian citation styles. EasyBib will also suggest more scholarly references for your paper. 

EndNote Basic EndNote Basic (formerly EndNote Web) is a free version of EndNote available to SCSU because we subscribe to the ISI database,  Web of Science . EndNote allows you to collect and manage your references and to create bibliographies in a variety of styles. 

biography is bibliography

See H. G. Nicolson, The Development of English Biography (1928); E. H. O'Neill, A History of American Biography (1961); A. Maurois, Aspects of Biography (tr. 1966); P. Honan, Authors' Lives (1990); S. Weinberg, Telling the Untold Story (1992).

Sections in this article:

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2023, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Literature: General

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What's the difference between and  

Reference Sources in the Social Sciences and Humanities

General Biographical Indexes

Biographies - politics and government, biographies - literature, biographies - the arts, biographies - education.


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  1. What is the difference between biography and bibliography?

    Biography is a documented life the author writes about. A bibliography; a list of sources used to formally cite ideas that are not personal.

  2. Difference Between Bibliography and Biography

    Bibliography vs Biography ... The difference between bibliography and biography is that bibliography is a list of sources that are cited at the

  3. Bibliography of Biographical Resources in ALIC

    Biography and genealogy master index: a consolidated index to more than 3,200,000 biographical sketches in over 350 current and retrospective

  4. Biography: Citation & Writing Manuals

    Biographical Writing · Encyclopedia of Life Writing: Autobiographical and Biographical Forms by Margaretta Jolly (Editor) · How to Do Biography by

  5. Bio-Bibliographies and Composer Resource Manuals

    As is evident from the name, bio-bibliographies usually consist of two major components: a biography providing a linear overview of the composer's life and

  6. Bio-bibliography

    A book or article combining an account of a person's life with a discussion of works written by or about that person. American Heritage® Dictionary of the

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  8. biography:

    Bibliography. See H. G. Nicolson, The Development of English Biography (1928); E. H. O'Neill, A History of American Biography (1961); A. Maurois

  9. Bibliography vs Biography

    is that bibliography is a section of a written work containing citations, not quotations, to all the books referenced in the work while biography is a person's

  10. Biography

    Biographies, bibliographies, and critical analysis of authors from every age and literary discipline. Covers more than 120,000 novelists, poets, essayists