Tips on Writing a Response Paper

An assignment that involves writing a response paper is something you are likely to be required to do by one – if not more - of your tutors during each term or semester. This means reading an article or book or watching a movie or television show and then writing a paper that sets out your reaction to what you have read or seen – very likely your course instructor will ask for two specific things: summarizing the content and recording documenting your own response. This article explains the two parts commonly associated with response essays.

Writing Response Papers

I. First Part: Summarizing a work

Developing the first section of this type of paper requires you to:

  • When writing a response paper begin by stating the work’s title and name of the person who created or authored it author’s name as well as, within parentheses, the name of the publisher and date of publication. In the case of magazines, provide the publication date.
  • Summarize the material in an informative manner.
  • List the work’s main and supporting ideas or points so that you have a condensed version.
  • Highlight key ideas in your response papers quoting directly from the book or movie.
  • Avoid going into any particular aspect in too much detail, and remember to refer to other points that are just as important.
  • Keep your summary as factual and objective as possible. Avoid giving your own reaction to the particular work in this first section; the second section will be based on your subjective view or impression.

II. Second Part:

When you have to write a response paper, here is what is needed in the paper’s second section:

  • Your focus when creating response essays should be on all or any of the next questions. Ask your course instructor if they want you to draw special attention to particular points.
  • Does the work relate to points or ideas covered in the course you are taking, and how?
  • Does the work relate to current real-world problems, and how?
  •  Does the material relate to your own life, ideas, feelings, and experiences and, if so, how?
  • Has the material given you a better understanding about a specific issue? Has it changed your outlook in some way?
  • Assess the work on its merits: the significance of any points made, their organization, their accuracy, how the material is organized, etc.
  • Indicate as well whether you recommend this work to your readers or not, and give your reasons for recommending it or not.

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Points to Consider when Preparing Response Essays

The expert response paper writers at suggest you consider the following elements when writing your response paper(s):

  • Keep the four fundamental principles of good writing in mind (i.e. write clear, coherent, unified, error-free and supported sentences).
  • In each response paper task do your best to ensure each main paragraph sets out and develops one key point. For instance, in our sample paper, the first (introductory) paragraph sums-up the work while the subsequent three body paragraphs set out three different reactions of the writer. The paper then ends with a brief closing paragraph i.e. the conclusion.
  • If you express any attitudes or make any points, support these with specific details and reasons. Such statements as “I am in agreement with this article’s primary idea” or “I thought this book extremely interesting” have little meaning if you do not provide evidence to show why you think or feel in a certain way.
  • Your paper’s material needs to be organized. Adhere to the basic organizational principle described above: sum-up in a paragraph or two, provide your response in a paragraph or two, and write a concluding paragraph.
  • Carefully edit your paper carefully for possible punctuation, spelling, grammar, word usage, and mechanical errors.
  • Quote or cite paraphrased passages from the article or book you are respond to, or from some other work, using whatever style of documentation is appropriate.
  • The use of quotations is permissible in the paper’s summary and subsequent response sections, but do not over-rely on these. They should only be used to draw attention to main points or ideas.
  • Published material may be included in parentheses or as footnotes at the end of a page. Ask your course instructor to clarify what published information is needed and where this needs to appear.

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