Biographical Essay Writing: Organization And Sequence Of Work


A bibliographical essay is a paper that describes the life and work of a person. The author of the essay gets a unique opportunity to study in detail the bibliographic facts about this or that person and tell the readers about it. As a rule, such an essay is written about well-known figures of science and culture, historians, politicians, researchers, writers, composers, actors, etc.

Writing a bibliographical essay may seem simple at first glance, but it really isn’t. Students completing this assignment often face all kinds of writing difficulties. Taking this into account, we will provide a complete guide to writing a bibliographical essay in this article. We recommend that you study the information below carefully. This will allow you to create a unique masterpiece!

General Requirements for The Bibliographical Essay

There are some general requirements for the bibliographical essay:

  • The relevance of the theme, its compliance with the current state and the prospects for the development of a particular branch, practical tasks;
  • Clarity of construction;
  • The logical sequence of the material presentation;
  • The depth of research and completeness of issue coverage;
  • The persuasiveness of arguments;
  • Concise and accurate wording;
  • Concrete presentation of work results;
  • Evidence of results and validity of recommendations;
  • Competent design.

Organization of Essay Execution

Let’s consider how the bibliographical essay execution organization takes place, analyzing each stage in detail.

Choosing a Bibliographical Essay Topic

The preparation of the work begins with the definition of its theme. It is easier to determine the theme during the search and preliminary study of literature on the topic of interest to you. The topic at the beginning of the search can be broad, but it should be elaborated later. For example, the topic “Famous American Writer of the 20th Century” is very broad. A search for publications on such a theme will lead to many sources that are almost impossible to study and use in work. Therefore, when preparing a bibliographical essay, the topic should be significantly narrowed down already at the literature search stage.

Shorten this list if it is too long. To do this, you can limit the search parameters either only to journal articles or on publications of the last 5-10 years. You can brainstorm a list of possible topics. To do this, write down a list of possible topics: the more, the better. Write whatever comes to mind without thinking critically about how realistic and feasible it is. You can involve comrades in the discussion. Then critically evaluate these ideas. Sometimes combining ideas from a brainstorming session leads to an interesting topic.

The search for a theme is closely related to its formulation. Provide a provisional title for the topic in a written form. After identifying the available sources, you can revise the topic and make it more specific. It should correspond to the main idea and purpose of the research.

Use the words ‘influence’ and ‘effect’ with caution in the wording of the topic. In the exact sense, these words can only be used when the study identifies causal relationships between variables. The experiment is usually used to identify such connections. In other cases, such as in a correlation study, it is rarely possible to prove causality.

Organization, Work Planning, and Sequence of Its Implementation

Having decided on the topic, the student proceeds to write a biographical essay; the range of questions to be studied is clarified, a research plan is drawn up.

The first version of the work plan is not final; it may be partially changed; its individual sections can be expanded, concretized, specified, and supplemented.

The following structural elements are distinguished in the plan:

  • Introduction;
  • The main part (consists of separate paragraphs);
  • Conclusions.


The introduction reflects the work’s main characteristics: problem, relevance, goals, objectives, and practical significance. Thus, the introduction substantiates the choice of a topic, determined by its relevance, forms a problem (as an awareness of a contradiction), and a range of issues necessary for its solution. The biographical essay’s purpose is determined, with its division into an interconnected set of tasks to be solved. This section’s volume should not exceed 3-5% of the total volume of the text.

Main Part

The work on the main part of a biographical essay, as a rule, begins with the selection, initial acquaintance with the necessary literature, and other sources. A bibliography is a list of books, journals, articles indicating the source data. A scientific source is any reliable source that contains information on a selected theme. All sources are conventionally divided into primary and secondary.

Primary sources include:

  • Published:
  • non-periodical publications (books and brochures) (monographs, collections of documents, popular science publications, materials of scientific conferences, official publications);
  • periodicals (magazines, newspapers);
  • publications that continue to be published (bulletins, serial collections, scientific notes);
  • Unpublished (reporting scientific and technical documentation, dissertations, deposited manuscripts, preliminary publications, technological instructions, archival documents, etc.).

Secondary sources include:

  • Information publications (signal information, abstract journals, express information, bibliographic cards, reviews (abstract and analytical));
  • Reference books (encyclopedias (general and industry-specific), reference books, dictionaries);
  • Catalogs and card indexes (main (alphabetical, systematic, subject), auxiliary (alphabetical, thematic by type of publication));
  • Bibliographic publications (periodical, non-periodical).

Primary sources contain, as a rule, new scientific and special data, and secondary sources – the results of the analytical-synthetic and logical processing of primary documents. Studying the literature is as follows: in most cases, one begins with an acquaintance with works of a more general nature and then moves on to sources that highlight any particular problems.

Then the factual material on solving the issues posed in the biographical essay is consecutively provided. Here the work results are represented, an analysis and a brief generalization are made for each of the tasks, followed by a comparison of own results with the literature data. The conclusions are drawn up.

As the individual subsections are written, the student corrects and supplements the paper.

The volume should not exceed 60% of the total text.


The final section clearly and unambiguously formulates the conclusion based on the results of the work. The most significant results are presented here, which should contain the main formulation of the solved task, its significance for science and practice. This part also indicates the goals and ways of further research. The volume should not exceed 3-5% of the total work volume.

Language and Style of the Biographical Essay

A biographical essay should be written competently, in a scientific style, using a professional language. The main characteristics of a scientific text are coherence, integrity, and semantic completeness of the material provided. The important means of expressing logical connections include special functional-syntactic means of communication, indicating:

  • The sequence of the development of thought (first …; first of all …; then …; firstly …; secondly …; means …; so … and others);
  • A contradictory relationship (however …; meanwhile …; while …; nevertheless …);
  • A causal relationship (hence …; therefore …);
  • The end, the conclusion (so …; in this way …; summing up …; means …; in conclusion, we note …; all that has been said allows to conclude …; it should be said …).

In the process of writing a biographical essay, it is really cored to pay attention to the clarity of presentation, that is, the ability to write in an accessible and intelligible way. Many ambiguities arise when instead of comments, the authors use ‘etc.’ – when they don’t know how to proceed with the listing; ‘quite obvious’ – when they cannot present the arguments; ‘in a known way’ – when they do not know-how.

The violation of the presentation’s clarity is caused by the desire to give one’s work a scientific character. Hence, the absolutely unnecessary pseudoscience, when simple, well-known subjects receive complicated names.

Brevity is another necessary and indispensable quality of a biographical essay. The realization of this quality means the ability to avoid unnecessary repetitions, detailing changes, and verbal garbage. Therefore, words and phrases that do not carry any semantic load should be completely excluded in the text.

What Is the Style of the Text of a Biographical Essay?

It is helpful to start each section with an introductory sentence. The forms of its construction can be different. The text of each section should not represent a collection of extracts from the read sources. First, it is necessary to arrange their content in a certain logical way; secondly, one should strive to retell their content more or less close to the original text, trying to convey, first of all, the ideas and facts of the source. This can be achieved by partially reformulating the phrase, simplifying it, expressing the main idea by omitting fragments, words, expressions that are insignificant for your work. Simultaneously, it should be clear in the text which authors and which works you rely on; that is, the content of the work should not be impersonal.

How to Diversify the Presentation?

To expand the lexical variety of presentation when analyzing sources, comparing points of view, referring to statements and ideas of the cited authors, as well as expressing your attitude towards them, you can use such verbs as:

  • analyzes;
  • objects;
  • expresses an opinion;
  • adds;
  • proves;
  • admits;
  • asks a question;
  • expounds;
  • states;
  • hopes;
  • finds;
  • begins;
  • etc.

In this review, we have tried to provide you with as much up-to-date information as possible regarding writing a biographical essay. Use it correctly; apply our advice. And most importantly, believe in yourself, and you will definitely succeed. And remember that if you need help, you can contact us anytime and get the best professional assistant.