How to Write a Reaction Paper: Rules to Follow, Mistakes to Avoid

How to Write a Reaction Paper. Dos and Don’ts

What Is a Reaction Paper? Why Write It?

A reaction paper is just what it says on the box: your written reaction to a book, an article, a TV show, or a movie. Still, many students struggle with this type of paper, even if they know this simple answer to the question: What is a reaction paper? There is no need to deal with definitions and specifications of the essay if you choose to hire a paper helper. Nonetheless, if you are ready to accept the challenge and expand your vision, the following information may be critical. 

The trouble is that many students confuse reaction papers with online reviews, book summaries, and research papers that serve different purposes and require other approaches to writing. Instead of focusing solely on your experience, retelling the storyline, or analyzing what others say about the same work, you need to combine all three into a cohesive piece. 

Writing reaction papers is excellent practice for giving useful feedback, a skill you will require after getting your first job. This assignment trains you to provide hard evidence to support your opinions while at the same time convincing others of the credibility of your point of view. Think of all the ways these skills will help you when you need to give feedback to your coworkers or subordinates, and you’ll see the value of learning how to write a reaction paper.

If you can’t wrap your head around this seemingly easy assignment without getting outside essay help, you are in luck! We have prepared a detailed guide for you to follow. And you can also read a reaction paper example or two in our database.

Reaction Paper Format and Outline

If you’ve ever sneaked a peek at a professor’s rubric, you know structure and format are among the core requirements for any paper type. If you turn in a rant filled with sidenotes that’s extra hard to read because of a tiny, elaborate font, you won’t get any brownie points from your professor. 

Your pre-writing routine should start with asking the right questions:

How long does your paper need to be? 
What is the appropriate format? 
How many secondary sources do you need to cite? 

Once you know the right word count, you can work on your reaction paper outline. The introduction and conclusion are usually one or two passages long, up to 150 to 200 words each. Deduct the appropriate number from the desired word count and divide by the number of core points you wish to make, and you get an approximate length for each of the body paragraphs your reaction paper will have. For maximum impact, make your first and last body passages the strongest, and sandwich your weakest points between them.

Once you get a clear answer on the appropriate formatting style, look up the guidelines online. APA, MLA, Harvard, Chicago, and other styles have lots of tiny details that make them difficult to cover in a short blog post. If you’re unsure where to begin, look up the font size, line spacing, and page margins. These alone will make your paper look good, though using the right title page layout is also important to make a great first impression.

Start by Summarizing the Work in the Introduction 

You don’t have to rack your brain wondering how to start a reaction paper. It’s quite simple: the first part of a reaction paper template is usually one or two paragraphs long. This section should answer the question: What are you reacting to? Your introductory passage should include the title of the work and its author. Provide publishing information according to your instructor’s requirements.

Create a summary of the work, highlighting its main ideas and supporting points. Your readers should be able to get a general idea of the work you are describing. Think of this paragraph as a short abstract.

Dos and Don’ts:

  1. Support your summary with direct quotes, if necessary. Don’t provide lengthy quotations that will artificially increase the volume of your paper.
  2. Mention all crucial aspects of the work. Don’t go into great detail about any of the main points.
  3. Make your summary objective and factual. Don’t include your subjective reaction to the work in the first part of the paper; you will have plenty of room for that later.

Describe and Analyze Your Reaction in the Body Paragraphs

Depending on the reaction paper format you have been assigned, the second part will consist of two or more paragraphs and deal with your analysis and reaction to the original work. You should quickly analyze the work’s structure and main points without turning your reaction paper into a critical analysis essay. You can discuss whether the writing was convincing, whether it was balanced or biased, well-researched or based purely on conjecture.

You can discuss many aspects of the original work and your reaction. The goal here is to share a personal experience with the readers. To help you better structure your thoughts and make your writing more streamlined, check out our list of questions. Ask your instructor which answers you should expand on in the reaction paper.

  • Did you find the work exciting or boring?
  • Did the piece stir strong emotions in you? If so, which feelings were they?
  • Did you come to any realizations after reading the work?
  • Did the piece raise any questions for you?
  • Did the work relate to your experience, ideas, and feelings?
  • Did the work influence your perspective on the issues described in it?
  • Is the piece still relevant in modern-day and age?
  • How is the work related to the material you have studied during the course for which you are writing a reaction paper?

Writing a reaction paper is easier than most assignments. However, it can still bring you bad grades if you don’t pay attention to the rules of good writing. Here are some quick reminders before you start writing.

Dos and Don’ts:

  1. Support your reaction, ideas, and thoughts on the work with specific reasons; detail them for every paragraph. Don’t use general unsubstantiated phrases, such as ‘I support many of this book’s ideas’.
  2. Devote each body paragraph to a single reaction, supporting it through additional details or examples. Don’t mix different opinions or ideas in a single passage; this will make your writing confusing and sloppy.
  3. Check out a reaction paper sample or two in our base to get a better understanding of the format and style you should use. Don’t rely on your gut feeling to get it right.

Include Final Thoughts and Recommendations in the Conclusion

Writing a reaction paper cannot be finished without a strong conclusion. Instead of paraphrasing the introduction, include a couple of parting thoughts or ideas that occurred to you and that you wish others to remember. You can also include a recommendation, highlighting groups of people who might enjoy the work as much as you did. Alternatively, you may list a couple of relevant works that invoked similar reactions in you and recommend them to those who share your opinion.

Dos and Don’ts:

  1. Complete your conclusion with recommendations for people who would enjoy the original work. Don’t repeat the full summary from your first paragraph.
  2. Set aside some time for careful editing and proofreading to weed out inconsistencies in your writing. Don’t submit the paper immediately after you have finished writing it.

Formatting Is Key in Writing a Perfect Reference List 

Regardless of the subject of your reaction paper, you need to cite the primary reference, be it a book, an article, a movie, or a work of art. Other entries on your reference list may include similar pieces or secondary sources containing critiques. If you use any quotes, ideas, or data from secondary sources, you must include in-text citations and list them in the reference section.

Pay attention to the required reference style in the assignment prompt and look up appropriate reaction paper guidelines and citation rules. Remember, in-text citations are as important as the reference list, and you must include all pertinent publication information according to the formatting style guide. We recommend using automatic citation generators as long as you take your time checking every entry to ensure they match your sources.

Make the Most of Our Reaction Paper Example Library

Are you still struggling with a reaction paper? If our advice doesn’t help, maybe its practical application will. Check out the examples of reaction paper in our library, and see our tricks put to use by your fellow students. Use the search bar to find samples for your class and topic, or browse the category to get inspired and find good ideas for your assignment. We encourage you to borrow ideas, outlines, arguments, references, and more from our examples database. As long as you don’t try to turn in any of the samples as your work, you should be perfectly safe. Remember, students wrote most of our sample papers, so be on the lookout for typos and small mistakes to avoid transferring them to your piece.

And if you are tired of tedious writing, order an essay online and make the most of your student life while our writers pick up the slack and complete this assignment for you.