How to Write a Paper About a Famous Person

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The basic lives of most famous people have been written about extensively. Make your paper stand out by finding and including interesting information about your subject that hasn't received much coverage. For example, most people realize Benjamin Franklin was an impressive inventor and statesman, but people might be intrigued to hear that he was a volunteer fireman who came from a large family with a stepmother and 16 siblings.

1 Compelling Introduction

A compelling introduction does more than introduce a text’s content. It should quickly grab the reader’s attention and keep him reading. A surprising fact, interesting anecdote or quote can do the trick. For example, the reader of a paper about Einstein is probably expecting a text explaining his brilliant accomplishments. You might surprise the reader with this thought-provoking Einstein quote: "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." A short anecdote, such as the story of the doctor who kept Einstein's brain after his death, hoping to discover the source of his brilliance, can also engage readers from the start.

2 Respected Sources

Use respected sources for information about famous people. Do not repeat gossip, tabloid reports or unverifiable facts no matter how interesting they are, as you will be unable to prove and support them. College and university libraries often have online and hard-copy resources, including scholarly journals and other peer-reviewed publications, that include biographies. You can trust that facts in these sources have been verified by experts on the subject. Check all facts using multiple, reputable sources to verify that the information you use is accurate.

3 Making Connections

Rather than listing common biographical information such as your famous subject's birth date, birth place and education, look for information about the person that people can connect with. Write about the person’s influence on history, connections to other famous people, interesting hobbies or struggles with an illness or hardship, for example. Some websites organize biographies according to culture, profession, newsworthy facts or other topics that make finding interesting information easier.

4 Text Organization

Many people write biographies in chronological order, but that's not always the most interesting structure. Consider other organizations and formats for writing your paper. For example, you could write the paper as if it were a journal entry written by the famous person. Or you might focus on his accomplishments rather than when they happened. For example, if the person is a famous artist but also a scientist, the paper could be organized around those skill sets. Another choice is to write the paper in reverse order, starting with her death or most significant accomplishment and working backward in time.

Elizabeth Stover, an 18 year veteran teacher and author, has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Maryland with a minor in sociology/writing. Stover earned a masters degree in education curriculum and instruction from the University of Texas, Arlington and continues to work on a masters in Educational Leadership from University of North Texas. Stover was published by Creative Teaching Press with the books "Science Tub Topics" and "Math Tub Topics."