How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Book or Article

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Book or Article

Published by on 2021-07-13 11:41:05

Many students dream of having the freedom of expressing their point of view, but teachers and professors impose the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ opinions backed by other scholars, scientists, or other prominent personalities.

If that sounds unfair for you and you feel disappointed when you get a poor grade for expressing your viewpoint that doesn’t meet the commonly accepted framework, it’s your time to shine. A reflection paper is a great chance to finally say what you really think without any punishment from the teacher’s side.

Today you’ll figure out how to write a good reflection paper that would be highly evaluated. We’ll share the structural, formatting, and writing tips so you could perform this type of the written assignment without breaking a sweat.

A Closer Look at a Reflection Essay

If you are reading these lines, there is a great chance that you’ve never written this type of essay. Perhaps, you even do not really know what a reflection paper really means. But do not worry as we’ve done the homework for you and compiled this article that carries all details about this academic work.

So, what is a reflection paper? In brief, this is a piece of writing that incorporates your thoughts, ideas, and feelings about a specific book or article. The greatest dissimilarity between this type of paper and other academic works is that it allows the student to reflect their own reaction towards the academic work or literature piece.

There are three facets of the reflection paper you can incorporate:

  • objective: you state the facts from the work you observe;
  • subjective: you share how those facts or other phenomena made you feel;
  • analytical: you express your ideas about what was good or bad, successful or failed;
  • pragmatic: how you would apply the knowledge or experience in real life.

As you see, the reflection essay is not an ordinary book or article report. This is a sort of informal paper that concentrates on your own experience and perception of the material delivered in the work you are studying. But do not let the word ‘informal’ mislead you. You still have to keep in mind that this is a part of your academic assignment, and you should follow certain rules when submitting your paper.

Any Requirements for Formatting Your Reflection Paper?

As we stated earlier, it’s better to keep in mind that the reflection essay is a part of your academic work. Thus, the use of slang words and other inappropriate stuff is not allowed.

Also, consider the formatting of your paper. Even though this is a creative type of task and you might assume that you can apply any formatting you like, we would recommend following the generally accepted norms, which include the following:

  • an easy-to-read and simple font like Times New Roman, Arial, Georgia, or Calibri;
  • moderately-sized font ranging from 11 to 14-points size;
  • 1” margins on all sides;
  • indents for the first word of a new paragraph;
  • double line spacing.

If you are wondering ‘How long should a reflection paper be?’, we’ll address this question as well. Usually, a standard college reflection paper is 2-3 pages long, which is around 500-800 words in total.

Don’t Forget to Get Prepared

Writing a reflection paper without preparation is the same as fighting the well-armed army without any equipment. So, before you start the writing process, there are several things for you to do to simplify the process.

Use stickers when reading a book to be able to easily find the information you will need to support your ideas in the paper. 

You can also take pictures of the paragraphs you think are important and add them to apps like Trello or similar tools. If you are crazy about keeping things organized, you can even create a list and add notes with your thoughts. Again, Trello allows attaching images that you will be able to find easily when you need a quote for your paper.

As you are reading an article, you can write down the brightest ideas in your notebook or use a file.

Should You Follow a Specific Paper Outline?

The reflection paper gives you the freedom to develop any ideas in the form that seems the most suitable for you. This might create an illusion that you are free to structure your work the way you want it. Nevertheless, we would recommend keeping your paper cohesive and following the classic essay structure.

Just remember that the reflection essay allows you to deliver your own ideas in a relaxed form, but it is still a kind of an academic paper and should have all the features that are inherent to this type of educational assignment.

So, we’ll share some tips on how to write a reflection work so that it adheres to the academic standards. We’ll help you grasp how to structure your piece of writing so that it looks professional yet is tuned with your thoughts and reflections.


The art of writing a powerful introduction is a mystery for many students. Along with having doubts about what to tell in the first paragraph, learners might be stressed enough to look at the blank page.

The introduction frustration is fueled by the fact that everyone expects this part to be fascinating and excellent. You frequently hear that an introduction should have a hook, and that is something that would intrigue the reader and encourage further reading.

We won’t be lying to you. The introduction is probably the most challenging part of any academic work. Because before you set to writing, you should already have a full idea of your paper and what statement you will be proving.

Nevertheless, writing an introduction is a mandatory step, so here is what we will recommend to include:

Idea 1. You’ve probably had some expectations towards the article or book. So, you can share your insights about how your expectations were transforming as you were advancing through the work. It’s a sort of a before/after effect, where you will be showing how your initial attitude to the work or the topic has changed.

Idea 2. Tell a story of your own that is closely related to the key statement you will be supporting in the paper. Perhaps, you had a major mindset switch after you finished the book. Or an interesting situation happened to you that is similar to what the author of the book or article is describing.

Idea 3. Give some fundamental information about the article or a book. Perhaps, there are some exciting facts no one is aware of. But make sure you can relate them to the general message of your essay.

Tips for Writing an Introduction

You are here to find some handy tips that would show you how to write a reflective essay on a book or any other work. Grab the recommendations that would facilitate the introduction-creation process:

  • do not be too emotional in the introduction. Even though you are supposed to express your viewpoint, follow the academic tone;
  • keep the introduction short. An average introduction would be between 7-12 sentences;
  • if introductory words don’t come easy, start with another part of your paper. Come back to your introduction when you are done with the rest of the work or when you feel that you are ready;
  • your introduction should have a statement; that is the core idea of the whole reflection paper you will be presented from different angles using arguments.


If you follow a classic outline of the essay, your body should contain at least three paragraphs. If you are questioning why so many, just keep on reading, and we’ll give some hints on what to dwell on in these passages.

But first, let us remind you what the essay body should be about. Keep in mind that you should explore the statement from different angles in the reflection paper body. Just remember that this is not freewriting, and you should focus on the thesis and do your best to show it from different perspectives. Here is how to do a reflection paper body.

Share your reading experience in the first paragraph. Then, explain how it made you feel in the second passage. State what impressed you the most and provide a quote to support your feelings. If you have any negative emotions or there is something you didn’t like or you disagree with, combine it in the third paragraph.

Clever Tips for Writing a Paper Body

You are dying to know how to write the body flawlessly, right? So grab these tips and enjoy the process.

Before you write the body, organize your ideas. There are different techniques for doing that, and here are the most popular ones:

  1. Mind map. Create the mind map using free online resources or use a piece of paper. Write the topic of the essay in the middle and add several branches, that would be the paragraphs. Give a title to every branch and add more child nodes that would give you hints on what to write about.
  2. Scheme. Break down the piece of paper into three columns. Use the first column to note the key ideas you would like to express in your essay. Then, specify how those ideas are expressed in the original text. The third column would include your own reflections on those ideas.

Rely on quotes when crafting your paper body. They are the best supportive materials that would be assisting you in delivering your point of view.

Keep all the paragraphs logically connected. Add transitional sentences between the passages to create a unified picture rather than put separate pieces of the mosaic together.


You started with the general vision of the problem in the introduction, then detailed the viewpoints, and it’s time to get back to where you started in the conclusion.

In this section, you should sum up how the work you are reflecting on affected the general vision of the subject. Also, restate the thesis and bring all the arguments you used in the paper to this section. If you can think of the situations where you will be applying the acquired knowledge, do not be too shy to share them with a reader. You can end the conclusion with a rhetorical question or a call to action.

Effective Tips for Writing a Conclusion

A conclusion should have been the easiest section of the paper because you have already done a lot of work. The goal of the conclusion is to deliver the idea of the whole paper in a condensed and short form. At least, that’s how most students think.

In fact, most structural mistakes happen in the conclusion, when students try to reinvent the wheel and cram this paper part with everything that comes to their mind.

If you would like to know how to write a philosophy reflection paper conclusion, stay around and grasp these tips:

  • keep the conclusion in harmony with the whole paper in terms of style and ideas;
  • show how you revealed the statement throughout the whole work;
  • stay away from introducing any new ideas.

Do You Feel Like That’s Too Much for You?

So, now you know how to write a reflection paper on an article or a book. But this doesn’t make the situation any better. You still feel confused and you feel like you do not have time to thoroughly study the original work and write your reflection on it.

Let us calm you down! There is a smart solution that would help you maintain your performance without the need to write the paper on your own.

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