Types of Nonfiction

As a person who reads books, you might have wondered what are the different kinds of books available, that will be interesting, useful to read and help us in some way. It is the content of the book that makes a difference in our outlook on life. So, what are these types of useful nonfiction book genres that are different in their content?

Which are the types of Nonfiction genres?

Genre means a type or category of something and nonfiction means real. Real or nonfiction can be presented in books, documentaries, interviews, podcasts, and others, while it can be about history or any topic. 

Also read: Difference between Fact and Opinion

Nonfiction refers to content that is not fiction, it is real and based on facts and statistics or true reliable information. Nonfiction is presented in printed material through diverse formats like real photographs, maps, graphs, statistical tables, diagrams, descriptive information, reports, recipes, manuals, guides, articles, essays, debates and others.

Usually, content in nonfiction books is presented in a structured manner with headings, sub-headings, and special features supported by tables and graphs wherever required. But there are some nonfiction books where real information is presented like a story, which are these? Here, let’s read about 10 types of nonfiction.

1. Biography

Sometimes, we need to know information about a famous personality to find out where they were born and what education they had or their achievements. At such times, we look for biographical information about them. A source of true information about any person’s major life events written by another person is a biography.

A biography is a detailed book or a brief online listing, with few details about another person’s major life events, typically including the following information.

  • Full name, 
  • Place of birth, 
  • Education,
  • Family details,
  • Personal life,
  • Work,
  • Awards,
  • Achievements.

It tells about the different things a real person did and what happened in their life, but it’s more than just a list of facts. It comes to life with great real stories from the beginning to the end. The point of a biography is to tell people about the life of someone else. 

Also read: Types of Writing Styles

2. Autobiography

An autobiography is similar to a biography, the difference being the author writes about their own life. The book usually covers the author’s entire life story or until the current in their life. 

For example, “Willthe autobiography of Hollywood actor Will Smith, and Never Give Up – A Life of Adventure, an autobiography of Bear Grylls.

3. Memoir in types of nonfiction

A memoir is similar to an autobiography because it is mostly written by the author but does not cover their entire life. Rather it is an account of specific periods of their life.

For example, I came upon a Lighthouse a memoir of Ratan Tata written by Shantanu Naidu and Sanjana Desai and Unfinished a memoir by international actress Priyanka Chopra.

Also read Visual Prompts for Narrative Writing

types of nonfiction

4. Magazines 

The magazine format is a periodical, which means a new updated issue is published at regular intervals. Every issue of the magazine could have features that continue in every issue, for instance, letters from the editors, and comic strips. Even then, the contents are different in every issue. 

Various types of nonfiction magazines exist, for instance, health magazines, technology magazines and so on. These are for the general reading. While another category is academic and research journals that publish peer-reviewed research papers and academic papers. 

For instance, 

  • ProQuest, 
  • Chemistry Today, 
  • Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 
  • InnoHealth magazine.

Also read: List of Magazines for Teenagers and Children’s Reading

5. Newspaper in types of nonfiction

These are dailies so newspapers are published every day, while some are published weekly or fortnightly. Nonfiction material in newspapers includes the latest news updates, and opinions of writers and editors on issues. 

For instance, The Hindu, New Age Weekly, The Week.

6. Reference Material in types of nonfiction

The reference material includes (nonfiction) encyclopedias, yearbooks, gazetteers, newsletters and other materials that an information seeker refers to in order to find specific information on something. Before the PC, the internet and smartphone made it easy for people to get information, it was the reference desk at public libraries and university libraries, that was the source for seeking information through reference material. Even then, reference books continue to be published and stay relevant despite the internet.

7. Travelogue in types of nonfiction

These are real accounts of travels by the author, recounting their past travel experience and could give out information about hotels and sightseeing. It includes their reflections and their personal opinions about places they visited. So, the author can express their feelings, original pictures, their reviews of a hotel or place, the history and culture of a place in their knowledge, and so on.  

For example, Walking in the Clouds by Kavita Yaga Buggana is about her travel to mount Kailash and lake Manasarovar. One life to Ride by Ajit Harisinghani is about his motorcycle journey to the Himalayas. Shivya Nath’s The Shooting Star is about her slow travel experience after she quit her corporate job to travel the world.

8. Self-help books in types of nonfiction

Motivational, productivity, self-improvement and self-help books are highly popular with the young generation who want to take their life to the next level. These books are as valuable as friends, philosophers and guides that we seek to find answers and get real leads on how to scale our journey. They provide actionable steps, techniques, practises and stories that give ideas and help the readers.

For example, Do it Today and Think Straight by Darius Foroux, Deep Work by Cal Newport, and Karma a Yogi’s Guide by Sadguru.

9. Atlas

These are the map books that give us several details about countries, continents and regions with several approaches like geographical, physical, political, agricultural, mineral produce, etc. 

10. Topical Subject Books are types of nonfiction

These include academic subject books like textbooks and other books by experts. Textbooks are part of the academic curriculum and are restricted in their scope. Information is explained systematically and in a structured manner. There are chapters, headings, sub-heading, and questions.

Other topical books are for additional reading if required. They are outside the academic curriculum. Some authors write question banks, and supplementary reading books based on curriculum and competitive exams, while others write general books on subjects of their expertise.

Also read related article: Difference between Fiction and Nonfiction


This article gives information on types of nonfiction material that help us navigate the world of real-world information and knowledge. The author’s purpose influences the style of writing nonfiction and how ideas and information are presented.

The author’s purpose could be to persuade, inform or entertain, for which the author could use several writing techniques and tools. Purpose of writing a nonfiction text makes the author present their ideas and text in a particular manner, this and the type of information presented makes each of the types of nonfiction distinct from each other.

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