Last Updated on February 19, 2022
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How To Write A Bibliography About Yourself
A personal bio is a great way to express to people who you are and what you do. Whether your bio is for a college application, a professional website, or a social media account, take your time and be thoughtful about what you write so you get the right message across.
Writing a Professional Bio
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Identify your purpose and audience. Before you get started writing, you need to know who you’re writing for. Your bio is your first introduction to your audience. It should quickly and effectively communicate who you are and what you do.
The bio you would write for a personal web page might be very different from the bio you would write for a college application. Adjust your tone to make your bio appropriately formal, funny, professional, or personal.
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Look at examples directed toward your target audience. One of the best ways to understand what your audience will expect from your bio is to look at the bios others in your field have written. For example, if you’re writing a professional bio for your website to market yourself and your skills, look at websites created by others in your field. See how they present themselves, and determine what you think they do well.
Good places to look for professional bios could be professional websites, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn pages, and PlumeBio pages.
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Narrow down your information. Be ruthless here—–even the most interesting of anecdotes may not be appropriate. For example, an author’s bio on a book jacket often mentions past writing accomplishments, whereas an athlete’s bio on a team website often mentions the person’s height and weight. While it’s typically okay to add a few extraneous details, they should not make up the majority of your bio.
Remember that your credibility is important here. While you may enjoy going on pub crawls with your buddies on a weekend, that may not be what you want to advertise in a bio aimed at finding a job. Keep your details relevant and informative.
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Write in the third person. Writing in the third person will make your bio sound more objective – like it’s been written by someone else – which can be useful in a formal setting. Experts recommend that you always write professional bios in the third person.
For example, begin your bio with a sentence such as “Joann Smith is a graphic designer in Boston,” rather than “I am a graphic designer in Boston.”
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Begin with your name. This should be the first thing you write. Assume that the people reading the bio know nothing about you. Give your full preferred name, but avoid nicknames.
For example: Dan Keller
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State your claim to fame. What are you known for? What do you do for a living? How much experience or expertise do you have? Don’t leave this to the end or make your readers guess—they won’t and may well lose interest quickly if it’s not upfront. This should be explicitly stated in the first or second sentence. Usually, combining it with your name is easiest.
Dan Keller is a columnist for the Boulder Times.
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Mention your most important accomplishments, if applicable. If you have earned achievements or awards that are relevant, include them. However, this element is tricky and might not be applicable in all situations. Remember that a bio is not a resume. Do not simply list your accomplishments; describe them. Remember that your audience may have no idea what these accomplishments are unless you tell them.
Dan Keller is a columnist for the Boulder Times. His 2011 series “All that and More” earned him Boulder’s prestigious “Up-and-Comer” award for innovation.
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Include personal, humanizing details. This is a nice way to invite the reader to care. It’s also your chance to get some of your personality across. However, avoid too much self-deprecation in your tone, and don’t include details that are too intimate or potentially embarrassing for either you or your audience. Ideally, these personal details will serve as conversation-starters should you meet your audience in real life.
Dan Keller is a columnist for the Boulder Times. His 2011 series “All that and More” earned him Boulder’s prestigious “Up-and-Comer” award for innovation. When he isn’t glued to a computer screen, he spends time working in the garden, learning French, and trying very hard not to be the worst pool player in the Rockies.
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Conclude by including information on any projects you have in the works. For example, if you’re a writer, state the title of the new book you’re working on. This should be kept to a sentence or two.
Dan Keller is a columnist for the Boulder Times. His 2011 series “All that and More” earned him Boulder’s prestigious “Up-and-Comer” award for innovation. When he isn’t glued to a computer screen, he spends time working in the garden, learning French, and trying very hard not to be the worst pool player in the Rockies. He is currently working on a memoir.
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Include contact information. This is usually done in the last sentence. If it’s to be published online, be careful with the email address to avoid spam. Many people write email addresses online as something like: Greg (at) fizzlemail (dot) com. If space permits, include a couple of ways of contacting you, such as your Twitter profile or a LinkedIn page.
Dan Keller is a columnist for the Boulder Times. His 2011 series “All that and More” earned him Boulder’s prestigious “Up-and-Comer” award for innovation. When he isn’t glued to a computer screen, he spends time working in the garden, learning French, and trying very hard not to be the worst pool player in the Rockies. He is currently working on a memoir. You can reach him at Keller (at) email (dot) com or on Twitter at @TheFakeDKeller.
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Aim for at least 250 words. For an online blurb, this is just enough to give the reader a taste of your life and personality without becoming bored. Avoid a profile that is longer than 500 words.
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Proofread and revise. Rarely is writing perfect the first time it hits the pages. And because personal bios are only a small snapshot of a person’s life, upon rereading your bio, you might realize there was information you forgot to include.
Have a friend read your bio and give you their feedback. This is important because they can tell you if all the information you want to get through is coming across clearly.
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Keep your bio up to date. Every once in a while, go back and update your bio. By putting in a little work frequently to keep it up to date, you’ll save yourself a lot of work when you need to use it again.
Writing a Bio for a College Application
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Tell a story. The structure outlined above probably won’t apply for most college entrance exams: though its simplicity makes it very handy for quick, inconspicuous bios, the whole point when applying to college is to stand out. The best way to do this is to make the structure your own by telling a story, not outlining key factoids. There are many possible structures to choose from, including:
Chronological: This structure starts at the beginning and ends at the end. It’s the most straightforward and works well if you’ve had an interesting life that has taken you from A to B to C in unusual or impressive ways (for example, truly beating the odds).
Circular: This structure starts at an important or climactic moment (D), backtracks (A), and then explains all the events leading up to that moment (B, C), eventually bringing the reader full circle. This is good for building suspense, especially when Event D is so strange or unbelievable that the reader doesn’t mind being led around for a bit.
Zoomed In: This structure focuses on one critical event (for example, C) to symbolically tell a larger story. It might use a few small, surrounding details (a, d) to orient the reader, but otherwise, the moment is significant enough to stand on its own.
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Keep the focus on yourself. Colleges want to hear your life story so that they can figure out whether you’re a good fit for them. That said, showing how good a match you are for the school doesn’t mean getting sidetracked by trying to describe the school as well.
Incorrect: “UCSF has one of the top-ranked research-based med schools in the world, which would provide me with the foundation necessary to achieve my lifelong dream of becoming a doctor.”
The school you’re applying to already knows what its programs and facilities are like, so don’t waste the reader’s time. Moreover, praising the school at the expense of describing yourself makes you sound unworthy to attend.
Correct: “Watching a trauma surgeon save my brother’s life at the age of five is a moment I’ll never forget. Since that day, I’ve known undoubtedly that I would dedicate my life to medicine. My brother was lucky that his surgeon studied at one of the best programs in the country. By doing the same, I hope to one day mean to another family what Dr. Heller does to mine.”
This description of the narrator is on-point, personal, and memorable. Though it still subtly praises the UCSF facilities, it doesn’t sound like it’s trying to score brownie points.
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Don’t say what you think the board wants to hear. Even if you manage to do it well, which is hard when you’re not inspired by truth, the best that will happen is that you will seem like hundreds or thousands of other students who used the same strategy. Instead, talk about what’s real and what matters to you. Don’t have the most wonderful life? Embrace it – and whatever you do, don’t fight above your weight class. Trying to force a ho-hum story to be more dramatic will just make it look silly, especially compared to the truly epic tales some of your co-applicants will have.
Incorrect: “Reading The Great Gatsby was a pivotal moment in my life that made me completely rethink my preconceptions about what it means to live in modern America. Thanks to that assignment, I now know I want to pursue American Studies.”
Correct: “My family’s ties to this country aren’t particularly glamorous. We didn’t arrive on the Mayflower or have our surname butchered at Ellis Island, or receive amnesty after fleeing a foreign dictatorship. What we did is settle in four states across the Midwest, where we’ve lived happily for over a hundred years. The magic of that simple act isn’t lost on me, which is why I’ve chosen to major in American Studies.”
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Don’t try too hard to sound smart. That’s what your SATs were for. While you shouldn’t use slang or dumb your essay down, your content should speak for itself; going nutty with the vocabulary will just be a distraction. Plus, the admissions board slogs through you-don’t-even-want-to-know-how-many essays every year, and the last thing they want to hear is another person trying to wrestle a five-syllable word into a place where it has no earthly business.
Incorrect: “Having had a rather minimalistic upbringing, I find that I continue to assiduously value hard work and frugality above all else.”
Unless you’re a Dickensian countess or one of Jane Austen’s comic relief characters, this just doesn’t work. It sounds like you’re trying too hard.
Correct: “Growing up very poor taught me that hard work and thrift are sometimes the only things a person can afford.”
Impactful and to-the-point – all with no words longer than two syllables.
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Show, don’t tell. This is one of the most important things you can do to help your bio stand out. Many students will state things like “I learned a valuable lesson from this experience” or “I developed a new understanding of X.” Showing through concrete detail is much more effective.
Incorrect: “I learned a lot from my experience as a camp counselor.”
This says nothing about what you learned, and is a sentence that will probably be in hundreds of college bios.
Correct: “I came out of my time as a camp counselor with a better understanding of empathy and connection than I had previously. Now, when I see my younger sister acting up, I understand better how to help her without sounding bossy or controlling.”
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Use active verbs. The “passive voice” occurs when you use forms of the verb to be, and it usually makes your sentences wordier and unclear. Using active, present-tense verbs make your writing more alive and interesting.
Consider the difference between the following sentences: “The window was broken by the zombie” and “The zombie broke the window.” In the first, you have no idea whether the window by the zombie just happened to be broken. The second is obvious: the zombie broke the window, and you need to hit the road.
Writing a Personal Bio
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Consider your purpose for writing. Are you writing to introduce yourself to a particular audience, or is your bio to provide a general introduction to whomever? A bio written for your Facebook page will be very different from a bio written for a website.
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Understand any length restrictions. Some social media sites, such as Twitter, restrict your bio to a certain number of words or characters. Make sure you use that space to make the biggest impact possible.
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Consider what details you want to share. This information will vary depending on who you’re targeting as your audience. For a strictly personal bio, you can include details such as hobbies, personal beliefs, and mottos. For a bio that falls somewhere between “professional” and “completely personal,” consider sharing details that give a sense of who you are but are not likely to alienate others.
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Include your name, profession, and accomplishments. Like a professional bio, your bio should give your reader a clear idea of who you are, what you do, and how well you do it. However, you can be more informal in your tone than you would in a professional bio.
Joann Smith is a passionate knitter who also happens to own and run her paper supply company. She has been in business for over 25 years and has won multiple awards for business innovation (although never any for knitting). In her copious spare time, she enjoys wine tastings, whiskey tastings, beer tastings, and wine tastings.
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Avoid buzzwords. These words are so overused that they have ceased to mean anything to most people, and they’re too general to convey real meaning: “innovative,” “expect,” “creative,” etc. Show through concrete examples, don’t just tell.
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Use humor to express yourself. A personal bio is a great place to connect with your audience through the use of humor. This can help break the ice between you and your reader and convey a sense of who you are in a few short words.
Hillary Clinton’s Twitter bio is an excellent example of a very short bio that conveys a lot of information in a humorous tone: “Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”
how to write a bibliography introduction
What is an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is an enhanced list of citations that briefly summarizes each article, book, or other source of information and explains why it is important for your topic. It can be divided into two distinct parts: the annotation and the bibliography.
- A bibliography is a list of articles, books, and or other sources of information that have been used for researching a topic. This list is called “References” In APA format or “Works Cited” in MLA format. All academic papers should have a bibliography that lists the sources used for its creation.
- An annotation is a short paragraph that summarizes a source and describes how it is relevant to your research. To annotate literally means “to make notes.”
There is not an official format for annotated bibliographies, though usually the bibliographic citation is written in APA or MLA format. If this is being done for a class, ask the instructor which format you should use.
- Example of an Annotated BibliographyThe William Morris Collection at the Archives and Rare Books Library, University of Cincinnati
- More Examples
Example of entries on an Annotated Bibliography
Henderson, R., & Honan, E. (2008). Digital literacies in two low socioeconomic classrooms: Snapshots of practice. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, (7)2, 85-98.
Provides snapshots of digital practices in two middle-level classrooms within low socioeconomic suburbs in Australia during one school term. Ethnographic research techniques were used to investigate (1) teachers’ pedagogical approaches to using digital literacy practices with low-income students; (2) students’ access to digital technologies at home and at school; and (3) how home literate practices compared to the practices valued in school. Results underscore the need to disrupt teachers’ deficit views of these students’ home digital literacies so that school practices can be built upon the knowledge and literacies students already have.
Frazen, K., & Kamps, D. (2008). The utilization and effects of positive behavior support strategies on an urban school playground. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 10, 150-161. doi: 10.1177/1098300708316260.
This study examined the effectiveness of a school-wide PBS recess intervention across three grades—2nd, 3rd, and 4th. The intervention included a token economy system for following five operationally defined, positively stated school rules. A multiple baseline design across grades was used to determine the effectiveness of the swPBS recess intervention on inappropriate behaviors. Intervention was implemented across the three grades at staggered times. When intervention was implemented, inappropriate behavior demonstrated a change in level for all grades and a decrease in variability for one grade (2nd). Trend was relatively stable across all phases for two classrooms and a slight increasing trend was observed during baseline for the 4th grade that stabilized once the intervention was implemented. Experimental control was demonstrated when (1) baseline behavior remained consistent despite the implementation of intervention in other grades, (2) only when intervention was implemented was a change in behavior level observed, and (3) experimental control was demonstrated at three distinct points.
Why are Annotated Bibliographies useful?
An annotated bibliography demonstrates your understanding of a topic. It’s easy to add a source to a reference list and forget about it when you just need a citation, but you will read and evaluate that source more carefully when you have to write an annotation for it. Since annotations need to be more than just a summary and explain the value of each source, you are forced to think critically and develop a point of view on the topic. Writing an annotated bibliography is a great way to start preparing a major research project because you will see what arguments have already been proposed in the literature and where your project can add something new to the larger body of work.
Reading published scholarly annotated bibliographies is an efficient method for starting research since they will provide a comprehensive overview of a topic and introduce what other researchers are saying about a topic.