Biographical Sketches --- What are They and

how do you write them?


By D. A. Sharpe





Usually, a biographical sketch is autobiographical …. composed by the person about whom the sketch is describing.  Occasionally, other writers do the composition.   What is composed should be whatever you would approve being published in a public place, such as in your local newspaper, a magazine or a bulletin describing a program event.  Do not include items you would not want the general public to read, as biographical sketches, generally, are intended for public consumption.


There are several venues which serve as frameworks for biographical sketches.  The various types of biographical sketches are defined by the reading audience that is expected and the reason that a biographical sketch was created.  Here are several different kinds of biographical sketches in my perception.  


If you are preparing your biographical sketch at someone else's request, discover something about the length they expect you to produce.




Personal Life


Your time and place of birth is cited, usually identifying parents and even grandparents.  Naming siblings is useful, and placing yourself in the family unit …. you are the third of six children, etc. 


Identifying the city or cities in which you grew up, perhaps citing why your family was in those (that) location(s).  For example, your father was a civil engineer working at a construction company there. 


Your educational experience is good.  Naming grammar, middle, junior high and high schools attended and year of high school graduation may be useful.  Included should be any post high school education, naming the various institutions and the degrees or certifications gained. 


Your marriage should be mentioned, if you are married, giving when (the year) and where such took place and listing children who may have issued from the marriage.  In the case of multiple marriages, you should be selective what is said, as sometimes the endings of earlier marriages are unpleasant.  You may be in your third marriage, but can choose to describe only your current marriage situation.

 Making mention of your life’s work or profession is good, without going into the detail usually reserved in a Professional Biographical sketch.   Any other special interests. hobbies, community actlivities or experiences may be described.




Professional Life


This sketch usually gives focus on the various occupations or professions you have pursued.  It can cite from where you came (grew up in Kansas City, MO), and describe college and post graduate accomplishments. 

 The kinds of information would be what an audience would like to know about you as a speaker or presenter in a work situation or conference. It can cover a reange of different vocartional pursuits you've followed.  This type of biographical sketch is distributed, usually, in the preparation of an event that you will be addressing. 





Professional, Current


This biographical sketch is confined to describe the settings within your current employment.  Identifying the employer or reason for your functioning occupationally (being an independent consultant) at that place is useful in websites, for example, of sketches of the primary staff of an organization. 

 If you’ve served in that organization for a long time, often there are several positons served that can be described, with focus being given to the current endeavors.  






Community Life


This type of biographical sketch is describing your activity in and on behalf of organizations in your community.  It may have to do with volunteers at your children’s schools, your leadership in civic organizations, or specialties, such as historic or hobby activities. 


Besides your experience in these events, describing roles you’ve served is good.  Have you been elected to leadership positions, etc.?  Are there any certifications or awards which give credit to your presence in these community activities? 






Political Life

If you have activity in political circles, this is where you can detail that path, usually displaying it in a Chronological order, but possibly have the lead sentences surround your current position.




Genealogical Life


As a specialized hobby, sometimes you are involved in tracing the ancestry in the family lines from which you are descended.  Sometimes, these sketches are useful for audiences you will be addressing about your heritage or about a subject of genealogical interests. 


Generally, this would cite the heritage from which you came.  Were your ancestors of eastern or western European links, of African links, of Hispanic links or those from the Orient?  The earliest dates in your information often is of interest.  Does your knowledge of ancestry go back to your great grandparents, or maybe back to your 10th great grandparents? 


Are you a member of groups such as the Sons (or Daughters) of the American Revolution?  Perhaps you are a Son (or Daughter) of the Republic of Texas, etc.  Maybe you are a member of the Mayflower Society.  Often these are viable groups active in your area with organizations in which you might have served in leadership roles. 






Spiritual Life



A spiritual biographical sketch is not exactly the publication of your spiritual testimony.  Your Christian testimony, for example, may have elements in the spiritual biographical sketch, but the sketch usually is intended to introduce you to a reading or expected listening audience with interests in those spiritual matters. 


Your spiritual testimony is different, in that it is expected to be a stand-alone article or a verbal message you deliver to a listening audience.


Give description about your spiritual orientation growing up in your family, etc.  Where and when did your spiritual maturity and understanding began to flourish for you, personally?  Briefly, what were those circumstances? 


A citation often is included about roles or activities you currently pursue in the structure of your spiritual life and motivations. 









Hopefully, these guidelines will help you create whatever biographical sketches you need.


Here’s a sample of my own Biographical Sketches




Suggestive Guidance developed by:


Dwight Albert (D. A.) Sharpe

805 Derting Road East

Aurora, TX 76078-3712



            Dwight Albert Sharpe