Writing a personalized bio can be a fun way to expose yourself and there is nothing better than having something that reminds others of you. Whether you want to write a personal biography or a biography for your college entrance application, the writing process is relatively straightforward.
Method 1 of 3: Write a professional biography
Step 1. Identify the purpose and target audience
Before you start writing, you need to know who you are writing for. Your biography is your first presentation to the public. It needs to communicate quickly and effectively who you are and what you do.
The biography you would like to write for your personal webpage will be very different from what you might write for your university application. Adjust the tone of the bio to make it more or less formal, fun, professional or personal
Step 2. Look for examples written for the audience you are targeting
One of the best ways to understand what your audience will expect from your bio is to read biographies written by others in your field. Look at how they present themselves and try to find the strengths of their bio.
You will find professional biographies on professional websites, on Twitter and LinkedIn accounts
Step 3. Limit Your Information
At this point you have to be ruthless, even the most interesting anecdotes might not be appropriate. For example, a writer's biography on the cover of the book often mentions works he has previously written, while an athlete's biography instead mentions height and weight. While you can usually add additional details, they shouldn't make up the entire bio.
Remember that your credibility is important. Even if you probably like scouring the bars on weekends with your friends, this is probably not the kind of information you want to put in a biography that you will hand out during a job search. Make your information relevant and informative
Step 4. Write in the third person
Writing in the third person will make your bio more objective (as if it were written by someone else), it is a technique that can be useful in a professional setting. Subject matter experts recommend that you always write the biography in the third person.
For example, you can start your biography with a sentence like: Jean Dupont is a graphic designer living in Lyon rather than I am a graphic designer living in Lyon
Step 5. Start with your name
It should be the first thing you write. Suppose the people who are going to read your bio don't know anything about you. Write your full name, but avoid nicknames.
For example: Jean Dupont
Step 6. Mention your celebrity
What are you recognized for? What are you working in? How much experience or know-how do you have? Don't mention it at the end by letting your readers wonder while reading the bio, they won't read it until the end and will quickly get bored if you don't mention it early on. You must mention it explicitly in the first or second sentence. In general, it is easier to talk about it by combining this information with your name.
Jean Dupont is a freelance writer at La Dépêche du Midi
Step 7. List your most important successes, if so
If you have received any relevant awards or recognition in this area, mention it. However, this element can be tricky and might not be relevant in all situations. Remember that your biography is not a CV. You don't just have to list what you have achieved, you have to describe them. Remember, your audience has no idea what you did unless you tell them.
Jean Dupont is a freelance writer for La Dépêche du Midi. His series of articles on the aeronautics industry and the place of young people enabled him to receive in 2011 the prestigious journalistic innovation award awarded by this newspaper
Step 8. Include personal and emotional details
It's a good way to invite the reader to come closer to you and give clues about your personality. However, avoid using a self-deprecating tone and don't mention details that are too intimate or that might embarrass you or your audience. These details would ideally be used to start discussions if you were to meet your audience in real life.
Jean Dupont is a freelance writer for La Dépêche du Midi. His series of articles on the aeronautics industry and the place of young people enabled him to receive in 2011 the prestigious journalistic innovation award awarded by this newspaper. When he's not glued to his computer screen, he spends time gardening, learning Chinese and training to become the worst pool player in the Lyon region
Step 9. Write a conclusion
Include in this section information about the projects you are working on. For example, if you are writing, mention the title of the book you are writing. It should only take a sentence or two.
Jean Dupont is a freelance writer for La Dépêche du Midi. His series of articles on the aeronautics industry and the place of young people enabled him to receive in 2011 the prestigious journalistic innovation award awarded by this newspaper. When he's not glued to his computer screen, he spends time gardening, learning Chinese and training to become the worst pool player in the Lyon region. He is currently working on writing a dissertation
Step 10. Include your contact details
You usually write them down at the end of the biography. If you are going to publish the biography on the Internet, be careful with your email address to avoid spam. Many people write their email addresses on the Internet like this: jean (dot) dupont (arobase) fizzlemail (dot) com. If you have enough space, mention other ways to contact yourself, for example on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Jean Dupont is a freelance writer for La Dépêche du Midi. His series of articles on the aeronautics industry and the place of young people enabled him to receive in 2011 the prestigious journalistic innovation award awarded by this newspaper. When he's not glued to his computer screen, he spends time gardening, learning Chinese and training to become the worst pool player in the Lyon region. He is currently working on writing a dissertation. You can contact him on jean (point) dupont (arobase) fizzlemail (point) com or on Twitter at @JeanDupontPigiste
Step 11. Try not to write less than 250 words
For an internet bio, this will be enough to give your reader a feel for your life and personality without boring them. Avoid biographies longer than 500 words.
Step 12. Check your spelling and correct your biography
It is rare to write your biography perfectly the first time. Since biographies are just small snapshots of your life, after rereading your bio, you might find that you forgot some information.
Ask a friend to read your bio and give you their opinion. This is an important step because he can tell you if the information you wrote down seems clear enough
Step 13. Keep your biography up to date
Every now and then, re-read your bio and update it. By working a little on your bio every now and then, you'll save yourself a lot of work when you need to use it again.
Method 2 of 3: Write a biography for a university application
Step 1. Tell a story
The structure that has been described above is unlikely to apply to most college entrance exams. While its simplicity makes it perfect for short, unobtrusive biographies, your goal when submitting your college application is to stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this is to make the structure of the biography your own by telling a story, not by pointing out facts. There are several types of structure from which you can choose the one you prefer.
- The chronological structure: this structure begins at the beginning and ends at the end. This is the most straightforward solution, but it only works well if you've had an interesting life that took you from A to B, then to C in unusual or awesome ways (such as when your life has gone beyond all expectations.).
- The circular structure: it is a structure which starts at an important moment (D), which goes backwards and which explains to the reader all the events which led to this moment (B, C), possibly by passing the reader in a narrative circle. This is a great way to create suspense, especially if Event D is so strange or unbelievable that the reader doesn't mind going back.
- Zoom in: this structure focuses on a single critical event (e.g. C) to symbolically tell a larger story. She could use other small details around this event (A and D) to orient the reader, but otherwise this moment is important enough to be the center of the story.
Step 2. Keep the light on you
Universities want to hear your story so they can decide if you are a good candidate. That being said, showing that you are a good fit doesn't mean you have to turn away from your story by trying to describe the school as well.
- Incorrect: UCSF is one of the most sought-after medical schools in the world, which could help me get the basics I need to fulfill my dream of becoming a doctor. The school you are applying to already knows its programs and facilities, so don't waste the reader time. Plus, praising school instead of describing yourself makes you lose value.
- Correct: I will never forget watching at the age of five the courage of a surgeon who saved my brother's life. Since that day, I have known without a doubt that I want to devote my life to saving lives. My brother was lucky because this surgeon had studied in one of the best schools in the world. By doing the same, I hope I can save a life like Mr. Heller saved my brother's. This description is made from the narrator's point of view, it is personal and memorable. Even though she always praises the school in a subtle way, the contestant doesn't seem to be overzealous.
Step 3. Be yourself
Don't say what you think the nominators want to hear. Even if you succeed, which can be difficult if you are not inspired by the truth, the best that can happen is that you are going to look like hundreds or thousands of other candidates using the same strategy. Instead, talk about what's true and what's important to you. Is your life not the most interesting? Be proud of it and whatever you do, don't fight harder than you. If you tried to make a mundane story more dramatic, you'll look silly, especially if it gets compared to epic stories the other contestants have sent in.
- Incorrect: Reading the Great Gatsby was a key moment in my life that made me completely reconsider our way of life in modern America. From this reading, I now know that I want to continue studying American Literature.
- Correct: my family's ties to this country are not particularly glamorous. We didn't make it to the Mayflower, our last name wasn't scratched on Ellis Island, and we weren't given refugee status because we fled our dictator-ridden country. We have lived in four different states across the Midwest, where we have lived happily for hundreds of years. I haven't lost the magic of this simple thing and that's why I chose American literature.
Step 4. Don't overdo it to look smart
Your baccalaureate is there to prove it. While you shouldn't use slang or swear words in your essay, its content should speak for you. The use of a certain vocabulary will only distract the reader. Plus your reader is going to read thousands of applications a year and the last thing he wants to see is another smart guy trying to put a five syllable word in a place where he has nothing to do with it.
- Incorrect: Despite my rather minimalist upbringing, I found myself diligently cherishing well-executed work and frugality above all else. Unless you're a character escaped from a Stendhal book, that's not going to work. You will seem to be doing tons of it.
- Correct: growing up in poverty taught me that sometimes work and savings are the only things a person can afford. You had the impact you wanted and went straight to the point, without using words full of syllables.
Step 5. Show, don't tell
This is one of the most important things you can do to make your bio stand out. Many students will say things like: I learned a good lesson from this experience or I developed a new understanding of X. But it will be much more effective to show it using concrete details.
- Incorrect: I have learned a lot from my experience as a summer camp leader. It does not describe what you have learned and it is sure to end up in hundreds of biographies.
- Correct: I came away from my summer camp leadership experience with a better understanding of empathy and connecting with others. Now, when I see my little sister doing hers, I understand better how to help her without appearing to be teaching her.
Step 6. Use active verbs
You write in the passive voice when using the verb to be, which often increases the number of words in the sentence and makes it less clear. Instead, use active verbs in the present tense to make your bio more lively and interesting.
Look at the difference between these two sentences: the window was broken by the cat and the cat broke the window. The first sentence seems heavier than the second, while the second goes straight to the point
Method 3 of 3: Write a personal biography
Step 1. Think about why you want to write
Do you write to introduce yourself to a certain audience or is it a biography to give a certain person a general introduction to your topic? A biography that you write for your Facebook page will be different from a biography that you write for your website.
Step 2. Note the length restrictions
On some social networking sites, like Twitter, you will need to shorten your bio to a certain amount of characters. Be sure to use this space to cause the best possible impact.
Step 3. Think about the details you want to share
This information will vary depending on the audience you are targeting. For a strictly personal biography, you can add details like your passions, personal beliefs, and favorite quotes. For a biography that falls between professional and strictly personal, you may want to consider giving details that describe who you are, without marginalizing other information.
Step 4. Include your name, profession and achievements
Like a professional biography, your personal bio should give the reader a clear idea of who you are, what you do, and what your subject expertise is. However, you can use a less formal tone than what you would use in a professional biography.
Lucie Deschamps is passionate about knitting who owns and manages her own paper factory. She has worked in this field for over 25 years and has won numerous awards for her management innovations (but none for her knits). When she has free time, she enjoys tasting good wines, good whiskeys, good beers and good wines
Step 5. Avoid buzzwords
These words are used so much that they don't mean anything at all to most people anymore, and they have too general a meaning to convey any real meaning: innovative, expert, creative, etc. Show these qualities with concrete examples, not just words.
Step 6. Use your sense of humor
A personal bio is a great place to connect with your audience using your sense of humor. It can help you break the ice between you and your reader while conveying a sense of who you are in a nutshell.
Hillary Clinton's Twitter Biography is a prime example of a very short biography that provides a lot of information in a humorous tone: wife, mother, lawyer, wife and children's advocate, first lady of Arkansas and from the United States, Senator, Secretary of State, Author, Dog Owner, Perfect Hairstyle, Tailor Fan, Women's Rights Advocate, TBC
- While writing, remember who your audience is and what your purpose is, you identified them both in step one. This will help guide your writing.
- If you write on the Internet, include links to the topics you mention, for example projects you have worked on or a personal blog where you write.