At one point in college, we all have to write a reading reflection essay. It’s an exciting project if you know the elements that will make it decent. How to write a reflection paper? What sections should you include? Is it any similar to other academic projects?

If you have any of these questions, this article is for you. I’ll guide you through every section of the paper, every preparation step, and share tips that will help your writing become impeccable.

What is a Reading Reflection?

Basically, you’re assigned an article, poem, book, speech, etc., to read or listen to, analyze, and reflect on. The paper has to contain both academic tone and analysis, as well as personal feelings and impressions. Thus, when writing a reflection, you’ll feel that it gives more freedom compared to other types of papers.

A lot of students think that any paper with the word “reflection” in it is the same. However, when you write a reflection on an article or a book, keep in mind that it’s different from a self-reflection (personal reflection) essay. 

In a self-reflection paper, you express your feelings and emotions about an experience or event in your life. An educational or critical reflection paper contains your take on a book, article, etc.

How to Do a Reflection on a Book or an Article?

The work starts way before actually writing a reflection paper. Pay attention to the prompts you get from your teacher. If there are no specific questions to cover, answer some of the following:

  • Is the goal of the writing clear? Has the author achieved this goal? Why yes/no? 
  • Is writing free from bias? Is it persuasive? (Perform a rhetorical analysis to answer these questions) 
  • What value does this piece present?
  • Did the writing agree with or challenge your take on the article’s topic? (For example, if the article is on overpopulation, you don’t need to give arguments for or against it, as you normally would writing an argumentative essay on overpopulation. Instead, you should specify the author’s position and whether your position is the same/ has changed after reading the piece).  
  • What associations, thoughts did you have when reading the piece? 
  • Does the topic need further exploration?

Any of these will bring you on the right path to write a reflective paper. While thinking, consider making notes and uniting them in a brief reflection that will become a draft for the final version.

Normally, you will not need more materials aside from the assigned article or a book. However, if the writing received critical responses from some credible sources, you may cite them in your essay.  

Reflection Paper Format

The most important step in essay writing is a proper plan. Write your reflection paper outline beforehand to make the essay well-structured. This will make the actual writing very easy as you won’t get carried away. Here is a useful template, which you may fill in with your notes: 

Let’s go through some of the most important sections of your reading reflection format:

  • Title
    The title has to be catchy to awaken interest in your paper. However, you may go for a more clear title, like Critical Reflection to the Article Article Title By Author 
  • Introduction
    The introductory part has to include the title and the author of the article or a book and what it is about (just one or two sentences). You may also write about the expectations you’ve had before reading the assigned piece. Insert an attention hook (“But it turned out to be much more than I expected”) or a question (“Could I have expected the piece would be so…/about…?”).
  • Thesis statement
    thesis statement is the most important part of the intro and the key to understanding your essay. The essence of your essay should be expressed in this concise, interesting sentence.
  • Main body
    Answer the questions mentioned above. Each paragraph should have one clear claim, evidence that supports it, and a concluding sentence. For example, you can claim that the author didn’t fully cover the topic. Thus, name the controversies or subtopics that should have been mentioned in relation to this topic, but weren’t.  Cite the article or a book to provide an example or support your argument, following the rules of formatting and proper punctuation. Conclude by repeating how the omission of these subtopics influenced your response to the reading.
  • Conclusion
    Do not present any new information in the concluding paragraph; summarize the paper in brief and mention if there’s a further development opportunity for the topic.

Tips for Writing a Reflection Paper

After you reflect on an article or a book and fill out the outline, it’s time to come down to writing. Here are the tips to help:

  • Determine the tone of your writing. It can be either a personal opinion or a thorough analysis with only a short summary expressing your feelings;
  • Support every emotion you’re describing with a direct quote or an explanation;
  • Check the paper for plagiarism and make sure it’s unique. Do not download a free essay online, it’s most probably plagiarized. Besides, you’re missing an opportunity to get valuable experience in academic writing;
  • Make use of free online checking tools when proofreading the paper;
  • Mix formal and expressive language to create a balance necessary for this essay.

And here are some things you should NEVER do when writing a reflection:

  • Don’t mix up topics. For example, describing your experience while reading the book and connecting it to another event in your life, devoting a whole paragraph to it, isn’t a good idea.
  • Don’t summarize too much. It’s better to narrow down your topic than writing a general paper that doesn’t really talk about anything in particular.


As you can see, reflection on writing, reading, or listening material isn’t that difficult to create. This type of paper provides much more freedom because you can include personal feelings and insights into it. However, remember that it’s an academic piece, which, first of all, requires analysis and proper format.

I really hope that the guidelines have shed some light on the topic, and now you know how to write every paragraph yourself.

About the Author: Nataly
Hi, I am Nataly and love engaging, fit for purpose, and edited to perfection writing. Feel free to reach out to work with me, suggest topic ideas, or give feedback on Make a Stand - the project I passionately grow for more than 3 years now.
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