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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Difference Between Bibliography and Biography

Some terms can be 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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Knowing the fundamental difference between them is imperative to use them properly.

Bibliography vs Biography

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

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

Bibliography vs Biography

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The comparison table below shows the other features that differentiate between a bibliography and a biography.

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 comprises all the primary and secondary sources.

Students and researchers are taught the importance of a bibliography to avoid plagiarism. They have been adequately trained in the format of writing the bibliography section, 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 noted in your career. It may contain the name of books and publications you have referred to.

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

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

In an annotated bibliography, you mention a list of all the sources from books, articles, and research papers, along with a short description. This description aims 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, differs in these two styles.

bibliography 1

What is Biography?

A biography is a published story about someone’s life written by somebody. The biography of a person usually contains his life experiences, 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 exceptionally inspired by famous personalities and want to know more about their lives. 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 and may be facing disappointments and hurdles in life.

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

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

Let us discuss four types of biographies here:

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


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what is bibliography biography

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what is bibliography biography

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Encyclopedia Britannica

Descriptive bibliography

Critical bibliography.


Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Read a brief summary of this topic

bibliography , the systematic cataloging, study, and description of written and printed works, especially books.

Bibliography is either (1) the listing of works according to some system (descriptive, or enumerative, bibliography) or (2) the study of works as tangible objects (critical, or analytical , bibliography). The word bibliography is also used to describe the product of those activities: bibliographies may take the form of organized information about a particular author’s works, about all (or selected) works on a given subject, or about a particular country or period. A bibliography may also consist of meticulous descriptions of the physical features of a number of books, including the paper, binding , printing, typography, and production processes used. These bibliographies are then used by students and scholars to gain access to information about material for study in a given area and to help establish such facts about a book or other printed work as its date of publication, its authenticity, and its value for textual study.

The primary purpose of descriptive bibliography is to organize detailed information culled from a mass of materials in a systematic way so that others can have access to useful information. In the earliest bibliographies, the organizing principle was simply that of compiling all the works of a given writer into a list created either by the works’ author (autobibliography) or by an author’s biographer. The Greek physician Galen (2nd century) and St. Bede the Venerable (8th century) were among the earliest Western compilers of autobibliographies. One of the first biographers to include bibliographies in his lives of church writers was St. Jerome in his 4th-century De viris illustribus (“Concerning Famous Men”).

Bibliography was manageable when books were still manuscripts copied out in the scriptoria of medieval European monasteries. After the invention of printing in the 15th century, however, books proliferated, and organizing information about them became both more necessary and more practical. As early as 1545 the idea of a universal bibliography that would include all past and present writers roused the Swiss writer Conrad Gesner to compile his Bibliotheca universalis (1545; Universal Bibliography ). Three years later he published a second volume, Pandectarum sive partitionum universalium libri XXI (“Twenty-one Books of Encyclopaedias or Universal Divisions [of Knowledge]”), in which the entries, arranged alphabetically in the earlier volume, were rearranged under 21 subject headings. Gesner’s attempts at both universality and classification earned him the title “the father of bibliography.”

The vast numbers of books published in the 20th century required elaborate methods of classification, with the Dewey Decimal Classification , the Library of Congress Classification (based on its collection), and the Universal Decimal Classification becoming the most widely used. In the last quarter of the 20th century, the widespread use of computers in processing this systematized information revived the possibility of creating a universal bibliography.

Critical, or analytical, bibliography began early in the 20th century when scholars developed techniques to study the physical features of books. They were first successful at dating, identifying, and authenticating the earliest printed books, known as incunabula , which date from the second half of the 15th century. Methods pioneered at the British Museum and the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library were accurate in assigning early hand-printed books not only to countries and towns but to specific printers. Such methods were later extended to the study of the physical features of machine-printed books. The application of the techniques of critical bibliography to rare editions, questionable chronologies, and false editions has had important results for textual criticism .

What's the difference between and  


Finding Biographical Information on Authors

What is a biography.

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A biography is an account of the special and important events in a person's life (not to be confused with bibliography, which is a listing of books and articles on a topic). Biographies may be brief and cover only basic information about a person's life such as dates of birth and death, education and vocation. A biography may also be very detailed, and cover the cultural background, outstanding accomplishments, and historical significance of an individual. Biographical sources cover living and deceased persons, notable persons in particular countries, persons in specific occupations, celebrities, and civil and government leaders.

It is helpful when searching for biographical information to know:

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What is the Difference Between Similar But Different Things, Terms, and Objects

What is the Difference between Autobiography Bibliography Biography and Memoirs

We have different hobbies, some like to collect plants, tickets and different other items. Many people adopt reading as their hobby, as they love literature and want to know about different things. When we talk about literature some terms are commonly used, for instance, Autobiography, bibliography, biography and memoirs. They all are different and we cannot take them as one. Here we are discussing the difference between these terms.


When someone writes a book about his life, it is called as autobiography. He writes about his experiences of life and how he spent his life. Autobiographies of many great people are really famous.


When we do academic study of books, and take then as cultural and physical objects, this practice is called as bibliography. It is concerned with the sources of books, which were consulted for writing a particular book. It is very important for the authenticity of a book.

When an author writes life story of a person, it is called as biography. It is not only about the work of that personality, rather it is about the life experiences of that person. This is not considered as fiction, but fiction style can also be used to describe a person’s personality.

The term memoirs and autobiography are used interchangeably but they are slightly different. A memoir is about the life of a person, which he writes about himself, but it is more flexible and focused.

Autobiography vs Bibliography vs Biography vs Memoirs

Autobiography and memoirs are almost similar, where the writer writes about his life story but memoirs are more focused than autobiography. On the other hand, biography is also about the life of a personality, but it’s not written by the person himself unlike autobiography that w person write about its own life himself. Usually, only those people try to write autobiography, who have some previous and famous written work. Bibliography is also about life experiences of a person, but usually in non-fiction style. Bibliography of a person is also an effort of some famous author rather than its own effort.

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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 a bibliography and a biography is that bibliography is a list of sources cited at the end of

  3. Bibliography

    Bibliography as a discipline, is traditionally the academic study of books as physical, cultural objects; in this sense, it is also known as bibliology

  4. Bibliography of Biographical Resources in ALIC

    This page provides a bibliography of biographical resources available at the Archives Library and Information Center.

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

  6. Bibliography

    bibliography, the systematic cataloging, study, and description of written and printed works, especially books. Bibliography is either (1)

  7. 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

  8. What is a biography?

    A biography is an account of the special and important events in a person's life (not to be confused with bibliography, which is a listing

  9. What is the Difference between Autobiography Bibliography

    Usually, only those people try to write autobiography, who have some previous and famous written work. Bibliography is also about life experiences of a person

  10. Reference Works, Bibliographies, and Biography

    Organized by broad time periods of the state's history, this bibliography lists and provides brief annotations for books, periodical articles