Posted: January 7th, 2023

How to write a reaction paper guide

Are you having challenges drafting your reaction paper? Are you struggling with how to write a reaction paper? When writing any paper, prior preparation is needed. You need to research and structure your essay according to the laid requirements. They will enable you to present a persuasive essay that will fetch you the highest grades possible. 

In your studies, you might be required to read a book or an article and then record your response by writing a reaction or response paper. You will be expected to summarize the material and detail your reaction to it. The following pages will explain more about the reaction paper and how to write a successful essay.

reaction paper

In this guide, you are provided with an outline for formatting a response paper in paragraphs. You will also find tips for writing a successful reaction paper. Examples have been provided to help you understand more about how to structure your reaction paper.  

What is a reaction paper?

A reaction paper is your response or opinion regarding a given piece of work or topic. Your report should include a summary of the work, but the main focus should be your thoughts on the central issue discussed in the original text. 

You are needed to analyze the work and follow it with a well thought out reaction. You should also back your arguments with outside sources where applicable. You need to convince your reader that you are right through your opinion on the matter. 

A reaction paper has two audiences—the reader of your work and the referee who chooses the articles to post. Reaction papers are used for references by other authors. Therefore, it would be best if you came up with explicit content. 

Things to note about reaction papers

You need to understand what a reaction paper is before you draft it. It is easy to mistake a reaction paper for an article, book review or event. A reaction paper is your chance to explain your point of view and understanding of an idea through writing.

What you write has to be about a book, a research paper or a movie. You speak of your vision and ideas in the source. Of importance is to connect the subject you are discussing with your personal experience.

Take an artistic approach while writing a response paper. Take time to think, analyze and share your experience by transforming the content of the book or article or movie into a meaningful experience that is relatable to your reader. 

A response paper help is not a test of how well you understand a subject or a review. It is not a summary of what you have read per se. It is a response paper that tells of your thoughts on the concepts discussed, how you understood them and what you learnt from the author’s writing. 

Consider it a letter to the author, where you write about what has inspired or influenced you. A good response paper should answer these questions:

  • What meaning does the author want me to understand?
  • What is my opinion and attitude towards what the author has told?

How to write a response paper

Many scholars have expressed their opinions on how they find a reaction paper somewhat hard to understand, despite having encountered this paper several times in their career. Every action elicits a reaction, which is the same case with reading. What you are being asked to do is show your ability to review the work of other authors and give your personal opinion on the subject matter. 

For example, you may be asked to give a critique about a particular subject, and this constitutes a reaction paper. You could also be asked to review a literature book; this is also in the same group. 

Before reacting to the subject, you need to analyze the issue and acquire helpful information before you provide a critique on the matter. In writing a reaction paper, the key thing is giving an opinion on the subject and supporting your statement to the reader’s satisfaction.

If you are asked to read a book or an article and record your response or reaction to the material, you are expected to do two things: summarize and detail your response. 

Summary of the work

You might confuse between a reaction essay and a summary essay. These two types of essays are different in that a reaction essay is based on your opinion as a writer, while a summary essay is about rewriting the original text.

It is recommended that you summarize the first paragraph of the primary text. The beginning of a section gives your reader an idea of the original text before engaging them in your opinion. To summarize your report, below are the things to do


  • You are required to identify the author. You should also include the publisher and the date of publication. If it is a magazine you are reacting to, have the publication date
  • Your summary should be informative such that by reading it, one gets an idea of what the whole report is about
  • Narrow your work by highlighting the main and supporting key point
  • Quote directly from the creation to illustrate essential ideas
  • For the reader to get a general sense of the critical aspects of the original work, summarize the material
  • Keep the summary objective. Your subjective impression forms the basis of the second part of your paper. Do not include your reaction in the first part of your paper

Your response to the work

The following are things to do to develop the second part of your reaction paper

  • Focus on the following points. Consult with your instructor if you are required to emphasize specific points  
  • is the assigned work related to ideas discussed in the area in which you are preparing the paper?
  • How is the work related to problems in the modern-day world?
  • Is there any relation between the material and your life, feelings, ideas and experiences? Were any emotions aroused in you?
  • Was your understanding of a specific issue increased through the work? Did that change your perspective in any way?
  • Evaluate the merit of your work, the importance, accuracy, completeness etc
  • Indicate whether you would recommend others to work and why

How to write a good response paper

Writing in a professional and impersonal voice is expected when you are writing any type of an essay. Regular rules, however, change when you are writing a response essay. The paper differs as it written in the first person.

Phrases like” I thought” and “I understand “is encouraged in a reaction paper. A reaction paper spotlight your personal reaction as a viewer.

It is essential to read the original text that you respond to before writing your reaction paper. Remember that every author has a clear point while promoting their idea, value and position, which you may or may not agree with. 

Draft your thought on the original text

Free write your reactions to the author’s ideas. Put down your thoughts on what you think the author is trying to do and figure out your stand on the matter. Do you agree or disagree, and why? Proceed to explain why you think that way.

Drafting is a great way to get your ideas on a paper before your start writing. Re-read your drafted copy. Establish your most potent and most convincing reactions, as this will help you prioritize your points  

Pick a stand

Reactions papers are critical. You need to evaluate the text. Failure to which you will simply be summarizing what you read. Once you have drafted your essay, decide on your stand on the subject. Keep asking yourself the same question to craft a reaction. Why did the author write this article as they have and in this structure? How does this article relate to you personally and to everyone else?

Determine your thesis statement 

Shape your draft and your position on the subject into an argument. What is that interesting thing you have to say about what your read or heard? Start by stating why you said what you read is interesting and why it is crucial. A thesis statement is the core of your reaction paper. 

Your points, observations, views, and opinions combined will state your claim. Your thesis statement should explain what you will analyze, criticize or prove about the original text. It will ensure your reaction paper remain focused.

Explain the original ideas and position of the author

You not only show your reader that you have read the book or article, but you have tried to analyze and tell your thoughts and view based on what the author said. You have to respond to the author’s idea at the start of your paper.

Write a reflection on ideas

From the first paragraph, you should allow the reader to understand your point of view. Think strategically to tell how you can or cannot relate to the subject. Explain how you connect the author’s ideas and position and if they have impacted your thoughts or personal life. 

Gather quotations 

Once you have your ideas, find quotations that will support your arguments, back up your claims with evidence-based on the original text. Look for quotes that will help your thesis.

In your paper, introduce paragraphs that have quotations. Analyze and comment on them 

Structure your paragraphs

A topic sentence should always start your paragraphs. You then decide how to structure the rest of the section. You can choose to start with the author’s text then your reaction—alternatively, you with the author’s text followed by the contrast of your response. Generally, please begin with the author’s words then follow them up with your reaction.

The best way to structure your paragraph is through detail, quotation, evaluation, repeat.

Write the outcome and lessons learnt. 

In this last step, you tell of how the author’s ideas have influenced you and if you relate to them in your own life. You should know if you agree with the author’s position and views if there is any similarity or difference to yours. 

If anything the author has written has changed your beliefs and overall view and vision, let me know. Your opinion is your reaction, and you have to tell what you understood and learned. To start and write an influential reaction paper, consider these steps.

Reaction paper structure 

Prior planning helps create a good paper. It ensures that you structure all the parts of your paper without missing the key points. This guide will offer sections that will help you structure your response essay. Your reaction paper should consist of four main parts. Namely

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion
  4. list of sources and citations 


The introduction serves to outline your ideas and stir up your reader’s interest. Usually, an introduction takes up 1-2 paragraphs and starts with an attention grabber or hook to grab the reader’s attention. 

A good place is to start by naming the author and the work you are reacting to by highlighting the main focus of your discussion. Tell about the author’s vision but in an inspiring way so that the reader reads on.

This part has about 3-4 sentences, and you close with a thesis statement. Let your thesis be clear and concise. You will be referencing the main idea thought out your paper. To determine if your introduction was successful, compare these against these two criteria.

  • Availability of a hook 

In the introduction, you must show your reader that you have the intellectual ability. Don’t write favouring your reader by assuming their opinion on the topic. Express your own opinions. Find exciting and known facts about the work. It will indicate that you have researched your paper.

  • Argumentative statement

A thesis statement is significant in structuring a text. It must be strong, but you must write about something you can argue over. You need the reader to agree with your opinion. Prepare the arguments well in advance so that your article is believable. 

The body of a reaction paper

The body is the central part of a paper. It is where you write the main points about the source you are responding to. You express your opinions on the critical topics in the body. If applicable, you need to back up the evidence of ideas you are reacting to with reliable sources and quotes. 

State whether you agree or disagree with the author’s position. The most crucial section of the paper is your analysis. In the last paragraph, indicate whether you are in support of a specific idea or not, confirm what the author has said, tell your reader what makes it persuasive or unconvincing to you. Let your reaction answer a question that relates to real-life situations. 


This final part of your reaction paper is an outcome of your thoughts on the subject matter. It is the most meaningful and influential part of your paper. Touch on the significant points in the conclusion. You should state your final facts and tell your reader what you have learned and if you have been inspired. 


There are different ways to make a citation, and each style defines how. Check the format you have to use first. You can use the internet to check the specifications of the layout. In every paper, grammar is essential as it signifies knowledge and respect for the language. There are sites available where you can get grammar tips. Help is an excellent way to improve your performance. 

Tips on how to write a reaction paper

In this guide, you are provided with valuable tips that will help you feel less stressed as you write your reaction paper. The best way to ensure a successful piece is to follow a two-step approach; reading and writing parts.

How to read the source (article, movie, magazine, book, newspaper, poem etc.)?

  1. Draft down main ideas as they come to mind 
  2. Write your initial thoughts and feeling
  3. Consider your response
  4. Do you have any experience related to the event or ideas described by the author?
  5. Have you seen or heard anything similar to what the author describes. Can you discuss it in another way?
  6. Does the book or article offer enough evidence and facts to support the claims?

Reaction papers are written works, and they take effort and time. There are many ways you can find to guide your writing process and assist you in creating an exceptional piece. What you need to know is that these essays are about your view. Originality will make them unique and stand out. 

How to plan your reaction paper?

  1. Start by writing your thesis statement and the idea you want to be the focus of your topic 
  2.  write down the points you wish to respond to
  3. Quote examples and references to the author’s work. You can also include your own experiences. 
  4. Use topic sentences to make a logical flow of your reaction paper
  5. Ensure that the last sentence in each paragraph connects to the first paragraph of the following paragraph
  6. Keep in mind that your conclusion paragraph should connect your central thesis with the lesson you have learned 
  7. Use your own experiences as you analyze the author’s writing and make a contrast where applicable  
  8. Remain creative. Use drafts, revise and proofread your work and also have someone proofread for you 
  9. Ensure you are applying the basic standards of effective writing (unity, clear, concise sentences, supporting facts) when writing

Difference between a summary response essays

The summary

A summary is a concise paraphrase of the main ideas. Usually, the author and the title are cited in the first sentence. A resume contains the essay’s thesis and supporting arguments. A summary may use direct quotations of the author’s concise statements. It will, however, not cite the examples given by the author or the supporting ideas unless they are crucial to the main idea. 

Most summaries outline the main points in the same order the author made them. They also refer back to the text being summarized. The summary shouldn’t take more than one-third of the work being translated. 

A response

A response is an evaluation or critique of the author’s essay. Unlike the summary, a reply comprises your opinion concerning the article being summarized. It examines the ideas you agree with and those you disagree with. It further identifies the strengths and weaknesses in the essay’s logic. 

A good response is persuasive. You have to convince your reader to adopt your opinions, views and beliefs. It should further cite facts, examples, and personal experiences that support or refute the article you respond to.

Reaction paper format 

To make your response paper accurate, you need to format it correctly. A straightforward layout will ensure you can meet the academic writing demands. To ensure that you organize and adhere to the writing standards, follow the outlined points.

Reaction essay format 

A reaction essay is an academic piece. It has to be presented following the required format, including font size, page size and margins. Several institutes have established styles that are used frequently. They include

MLA style: this format is by modern language association. This style is applied in artistic pieces. It regulates several aspects like font size (12pts) and the margins (1inch)

APA style: this is the frequently used format created by the American psychiatrists association. It establishes that the page size must be a letter, the font must be times new roman, and the margin must have 1 inch.

Vancouver style: this style is used in the health field. The national library of medicine created it. It is applied in articles, books, papers, and any medicine related text. 

The format of a paper depends on the institution’s protocols or the supervisor.

Introduction format of a reaction paper 

All the essential information is to be placed in the introduction. The first sentence in your introduction should have the following. 

  • Title 
  • Author’s name
  • Position
  • Date
  • Related information on the original publication 

Information under each should summarize what you have read, quotes and points to introduce the main idea. 

The format of the body of a reaction paper

Below is a scheme on how to format the body of your response paper.

  • The key idea, details from a book or article 
  • Evidence of your position
  • Analysis
  • transition
  • Supporting quotes

Key ideas 

Share critical ideas that are relevant to the topic. Include labels and arguments. Titles will signify that you are yet to finish your discussion. Views and examples reinforce your thesis. Evidence will make your reaction paper serious.   

Evidence of your position

There are two types of evidence you can include in your response paper

  • Direct proof

Direct proof is an immediate deduction from the basis according to the inference rules of a thesis, truth or falsity.

  • Indirect proof

Indirect proof consists of substantiating the truth or falsity of a particular position about the thesis. Through this, the validity or error of the idea is indirectly established.


Explain why the evidence you have provided is robust. Ensure that the proof supports the main idea of the paragraph. Let your reader know what the evidence means to you.


A transition is a logical bridge between paragraphs. Use words such as after all, finally, eventually, in general, etc., at the beginning of each section.

Format your paragraphs in the body of your reaction paper such that you start with the author’s vision, followed by your vision of it. You can also write the author’s view in contrast to yours. 

 The conclusion format of a reaction paper follows this structure

The conclusion part should feature the following

  • A summary of the article in 2-3 sentences 
  • A statement of the outcome 
  • Support of the main idea 

The final sentences should reflect on what you have learned. Tell your reader if the author’s writing has influenced or inspired you. Do not include new information in your conclusion. it will make your introduction appear incomplete.

You can also ask a rhetorical question in your conclusion. it will make the reader ponder over your words. You can equally thank your reader for paying attention to the paper.

Bottom line 

To create a quality response paper, you need to understand what elements the article consists of. You need to equally know the factors to be considered before starting the writing process. s

 A reaction paper requires you to evaluate something, express your opinion on the subject, add arguments and draw conclusions. This paper allows you to develop writing skills. Through writing, you learn to create and analyze information better. You also know to express your personal opinion freely.

Your thoughts should be the guide while writing a reaction paper. You can see the purpose of the article from the title. You will be required to create a chain of reactions you are experienced with the subject assessment. I you need help writing a reaction paper place order now.

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