What is the Difference Between an Autobiography and a Memoir?

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14 Mar 2019

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND A MEMOIR?

Autobiography and memoir: two terms that seem to be constantly confused and used interchangeably.

While the confusion between the two is definitely understandable, there are a few differences that can help you identify whether it is a memoir you are writing, or if it is actually an autobiography.

Autobiography:

An autobiography is generally a personal narrative that tells the story of the author’s life. An autobiography:

  • Is usually written chronologically
  • Details the author’s entire life (up until present day)
  • Focuses mainly on presenting facts and history
  • Is more formal and informational
  • Is a collection of facts
  • Can be written in either first or third person

Memoir:

Like an autobiography, a memoir is also a personal narrative about the author’s life. A memoir, however, generally focuses on a specific window of time within the author’s life. A memoir:

  • Can be written chronologically, but frequently hops around through different periods of time
  • Is generally more emotionally focused; highlighting specific experiences and the feelings that went along with those experiences
  • Is less formal and more conversational
  • Is written more from the perspective of the author, and less from a factual perspective
  • Is a collection of memories (with facts intertwined)
  • Is written in first person
Author
Jennifer Rizzo 
Jennifer Rizzo is a Denver based writer with a background in Healthcare, International Tour Management, Genealogical Research, and a passion for travel and languages. She studied Spanish at the University of Guadalajara in Guadalajara, Mexico and also lived and studied in Ancona, Italy. After spending nearly a decade working in the health care field, Jennifer has a well-rounded knowledge of hospital functionality, medical terminology, and disease processes. She has extended work experience with government medical benefits as well as Social Security law, which has allowed her to fine-tune her ability to sort through large amounts of medical records, research, and data, and turn that information into well written reports and case briefs. Since joining The Writers for Hire, Jennifer has written on vast array of topics and has done many in-depth ancestry research and family history projects. She has worked as Project Manager for various client websites, family history books, and RFPs, as well as other projects. She enjoys working closely with clients, and loves any opportunity that allows her to indulge her creative side.

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