Free advice on how to write a reaction paper in APA format

Free advice on how to write a reaction paper in APA format

A reaction paper is a written response towards a piece of work. It is a kind of prompt, which could be a question, current event or media document like movie or video clips. In most cases, a lecturer will assign you a reaction paper to know your thoughts about a topic or concept. Importantly, writing an academic reaction paper is different because you have to deliver a high quality paper for grading. You must include references and format your paper according to a particular style, mostly APA. Thus, you need a guide on how to write a reaction paper in APA format to overcome the challenges that arise from such assignments.

In this handout, you will find the following:

  • Tips on APA writing
  • Hints on how to write reaction papers
  • Sample reaction papers

Do not be in a hurry as you read this paper. Take your time and understand every step. Let us hit the road now…

The essentials of how to write a reaction paper in APA format

Every academic paper adheres to a specific writing style or format. It is important to follow the rules of every format or ask your tutor for a preferred style if you are not sure. The following are common writing styles:

  1. APA- Americana Psychological Association
  2. MLA – Modern Language Association
  • Chicago/Turabian writing style
  1. Harvard Writing style

Most lecturers and universities around the world expect you to use APA especially in cases where your assignment does not specify a format. Even if you do not follow every APA requirement as you draft your response paper, remember to do the following:

Add a cover page to your paper. This is the first page of your finished paper. It bears your name, course, topic, year of study, due date, your university, and lecturer’s name. Always consult with your tutor to confirm the kind of details to include on your title page.

Proper APA in-text citation – Remember to acknowledge your sources within the body of your reaction paper.

Good reference page – This comes at the end of your reaction paper. It gives bibliographical information of all the sources you consult as you work on your paper. We shall look at this in details as we explore guidelines on how to write a reaction paper in APA format in coming sections.

Examine the following selected reaction papers before we move to the next sections:

Instructions to follow when writing a reaction paper in APA format

As aforementioned, APA format is widely used in academic writing. It has been used since 1920s when it was developed. As you work on your reaction paper, have in mind the following basic rules of APA writing:

  • Center the title of your piece
  • Align your paragraphs to the left
  • Use I inch margin all round your paper
  • Indent the first line of every paragraph
  • Place your page numbers to the top right corner
  • Your font should be Times new Roman, size 12, regular (not bold)
  • Double-space your reaction paper throughout
  • Use correct in-text citations
  • Avoid long quotations
  • Your bibliography page should only have sources, which you quoted in the paper
  • Generally, use past tense when writing your paper

As you can see from this list, the rules are easy to understand and follow to help you come up with a standard reaction paper. Once you master these rules, you will find all your assignments easy as you will be able to tackle any theme or topic across all academic fields.

Note that adhering to APA rules is one thing and writing good reaction papers another. This means it is possible to master APA format of academic writing but have difficulties in writing a compelling reaction paper.

At its minimum, a good reaction paper ought to be well researched, well written, and well organized. Always aim at responding to the matter or piece at hand to get the best reaction paper. With these tips on how to write a reaction paper in APA format and by making APA manual your friend, you should be able to craft a winning response paper.

3 steps of writing your reaction paper in APA format

Having looked at the essentials of APA writing in the previous section, let us discuss the steps to follow when working on your reaction paper. Remember these are well-researched suggestions and not strict rules to follow. Be flexible and make adjustments where necessary to depending on your assignment demands.

Step 1: Summary/Synopsis

What are you reacting to? Convince your reader that you understand the document you are analyzing. Bring out the author’s thesis statement, main ideas and evidence from the piece you are examining. As you orient your reader on what you are writing about, reveal the following details:

Give bibliographical information, including the author, title, publisher, year of publication and city.

Topic or subject of the document – tell the reader what the piece is all about in a few words, without getting into details. Spare the details for the body of your reaction paper.

The author’s purpose – Bring out the author’s motive of writing the piece.

Thesis Statement – clearly state the author’s main idea in the document. This could be similar to the purpose of the author in writing the document.

Supporting ideas – Discuss the evidence, which the author uses to back his or her arguments.

You ne a good summary to wet the reader’s appetite to read the rest of the paper. Do not be boring, instead, pique your audience and move with them throughout the paper. Let us look at example before we continue with this discussion on how to write a reaction paper in APA format.

Example: Reaction Paper

A Reaction Paper of Man’s Search for Meaning by Laura Beres

“Man’s Search for Meaning” is an account of the writer, Viktor E. Frankl’s experience as an inmate during the Holocaust. Throughout the essay, the author fuses his expertise as a doctor and psychologist to tell the story from a prisoner’s perspective…

The author’s main purpose is to describe the psychological reactions of an average prisoner in a concentration camp… The writer makes overarching generalizations, which an ordinary prisoner cannot understand… He also uses technical language in certain instances, making it impossible for average readers to comprehend his essay…

Adapted from

From the introduction, Laura Beres identifies the title of the essay and the author. She also gives a sneak preview of what the author is discussing.

His psychological theories are interesting to read and he generally does a good job…

From these extracts, the writer makes the reader understand the text in terms of the theme and main ideas. She also synthesizes the essay and gives personal opinion by gauging the author’s overall work.

The above example is a good piece to help you master the art of how to write a reaction paper in APA format.

Step 2: How to write a reaction paper in APA format

Evaluate the document. At this stage, focus on the author’s strengths and weaknesses. However, you can only tell how well or bad an author delivers his message, if you understand the piece. Seek to understand the document prior to making any judgment.

Answer all the ‘w’ questions, including the following:

  • Is the piece convincing? Why or why not
  • Was the research conclusive?
  • Does the author use authentic sources to back his arguments?
  • Did the author overemphasize or assume anything in the piece?
  • Is the author biased?
  • Is the author fair in presenting his ideas?

Step 3: Presenting your reactions

Here, show your reactions at a personal level. Bring out ways the document relates to your personal experience. This section gives you the freedom to share personal experiences and impressions wit h your readers.

Here are some guiding questions as you make your reactions:

  • Was the piece interesting?
  • Did the document annoy or impress you?
  • What comment would you give the author?
  • What did you learn from the piece?
  • What questions emerge after reading the piece?
  • Does the piece remind you anything?

With these examples and rules of how to write a reaction paper in APA format, your next assignment should be a walk in the park. Make this handout your best friend and see yourself rise to the top of your class. See you at the top. Cheers!

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