Write an Outstanding Reaction Paper in APA Style

By: Tasha Kolesnikova

10 min



Write an Outstanding Reaction Paper in APA Style

If you’re studying criminology, sociology, linguistics, psychology, or other social sciences, you have to deal with different written assignments.

Some students find this fact disappointing; they think these fields are much more interesting than just sitting and writing (or typing). Why should you struggle with various papers when you can work with real cases?

The answer is simple: there are common academic standards. You should have not specific knowledge only, but formulate your thoughts, build convincing arguments, and view problems from different angles. Whether you’re a future sociologist or economist, you will also have a lot of paperwork. So, your university wants to ensure you’re ready.

One of the most popular tasks you’re going to face is the APA reaction paper. We’re going to tell you everything we know about it and provide you with some actionable tips to go!

What is Reaction Paper

An APA reaction paper is a written assignment that involves a brief review of an article, book, abstract, etc., as well as the student's personal opinion about it.

On the one hand, this task has similarities with writing a summary because you need to summarize the original text's main points. On the other hand, you should write a reaction paper that contains your thoughts.

Such assignments help professors understand how deeply students analyzed the meaning of the text and how they use their analytical skills. You may think that it is not so difficult to write your opinion, but there are many features to consider. For example, APA format. There are specific rules you should follow to provide an essay according to academic standards.

How to Title a Reaction Paper APA Style

The title page is the cover of your essay that gives readers a first impression.

Accordingly, it should contain the most crucial information, such as your article's topic, your name, the names of co-authors (if any), the name of your college or university.

The APA format assumes that the title page is the first page. Accordingly, you need to indicate this in the center of the sheet. Another important requirement is the double spacing between all lines. You can also add a note in which you express gratitude and indicate your contacts if readers want to enter into correspondence with you.

How to Format the Main Writing Part in APA Style

The latest version of the Publication Guidelines does not impose strict font requirements. But you should decide on one type and use it throughout the article. Also, make sure it's readable. For example, Times New Roman or Arial are good options, but Comic Sans is not suitable for academic writing. You may ask your professor which font type and size one prefers.

Writing an introduction, you should begin the new page. Center and bold the word “Abstract” on the first line. Don’t use italics, quotation marks, or underlining. It should be a single paragraph with double spacing. If you want to provide keywords, begin a new paragraph, and write this word in italics.

The main part of your APA reaction paper begins on Page 3. Type the whole text flush-left, but indent 5-7 spaces for the first line of each paragraph. You don't need to hyphenate words at the ends of the line.

How to Use Quotations in APA

Your report in APA format should be unique, without plagiarism. That’s why it is essential to provide citations and format them correctly. You should indicate the author and the date of the source. If you use someone’s words, you must duly and officially recognize all ideas.

If you use short quotations (fewer than 40 words), it is important to add quotation marks around the sentence and incorporate it into your article. Don’t insert an ellipsis (if it is not part of the quotation).

Longer quotations have more requirements. For example, you shouldn’t use quotation marks, but it is important to start a block on a new line, indent it 0.5 in. from the left margin, double-space it, etc. Read the guidelines with all requirements and examples to make sure you cite correctly.

Your Bibliography in APA

Citing various sources to write the essay, provide a list with all of them in alphabetical order. Look for simple guidelines with all APA requirements related to sources. For example, the first line of each reference should be flush left. You shouldn’t bold the word reference, and so on.

Preparing your paper in APA format, write down all sources in advance. Mention the author, the year of publication, the edition, or an accurate website. It will save you time when compiling a bibliography.

Create an APA Format Template for Your Essay

If you need to regularly deal with papers in APA format, you can save yourself a lot of time. Just create a template in Microsoft Word and use it every time you write an essay.

That means you can set specific settings, including the font and spacing, cover page format, the heading, the abstract, the reference page, etc.

It will most likely take you some time, but you shouldn’t worry about the right font or size once you've created your template. If you haven’t made a mistake in the process, of course. Besides, you should always have the most relevant data because several APA guidelines differ. Maybe it will be better for you to rely on the professional editor to make your research paper in APA format flawless.

Do I Have to Use Only APA Format for a Citation?

APA is one of the most popular formats that are used for the media or psychology papers. Three styles are common in academic society:

  • MLA;
  • Chicago;
  • Turabian.

However, usually, you don’t choose the style to follow. Your professor will instruct you in the right format and provide you with all requirements.

Reflection Paper Outline

The outline is the plan you should develop before start writing a reaction paper. You can’t just put your thoughts from the head on the sheet, it is important to structure and organize them.

Reaction papers usually consist of 5 paragraphs. Just 1 paragraph for the introduction with a thesis and summary, and the 3 of them for the main body. You can also create your sub-paragraphs to formulate your ideas better. Remember about the format you should adhere to. When it goes about APA style, it is important to provide a list of references as well.


Don't neglect the introduction, even if it doesn't seem like an important part of the article. In fact, it lays the foundation and therefore can determine the success of your essay. Since these are the first sentences people will read, they should be engaging.

The most important thing you need for a successful start is a strong hook. This is 1 or 2 vivid phrases, such as a rhetorical question, quote, statistic, joke, etc.

As you begin working on this section, think about what purpose it has. You need to give your audience some background information: what is the piece you plan to discuss in your essay? Who is the author? What were the prerequisites for creating the original text? Why have you chosen this particular topic?

Do not rush to express your response in this section, as it is intended to put readers in context. But it would help if you prepared a thesis containing the key points that you will reveal in the central part.

Main Body

This is the part of your APA reaction paper where you start going into details.

It is important to work out the body scheme well such that the text flows logically and transitions smoothly. If you have three paragraphs to write, come up with three ideas for each one. They must be relevant to the thesis you presented earlier.

Try to make a list of the main points you want to discuss in your essay before writing the main body. Add examples and evidence to each item. This will help you understand which ideas are more vital and which are weaker.

However, take your time to use the best ones. Read some reaction paper examples. Perhaps someone has already used the same arguments, and you will not contribute anything new. Remember that simple ideas always come to mind first. But if you dig a little deeper, you can find a more effective solution.


If you've gotten to this stage, you've already done a lot of the work. You have already presented your response, and now you have a slightly different task. The purpose of the conclusion is to summarize the main points of your reaction essay. At the same time, you do not need to repeat or explain them again. Try to find words that will restate your thesis statement.

The most important thing you should remember is your original purpose. Did you want to convince readers of a particular point of view? Give them a new look at the source? Suggest a critic angle? Your conclusion should be based on the analysis of whether you’ve reached this goal.

Top 5 Rules for Writing Hook Reaction Paper

  1. Try to stay brief. Even though you describe your opinion, reaction, you need to make sure that it is logical and understandable.
  2. Write down all topics and ideas. This is necessary to keep your paper in APA format organized enough. While your thoughts live only in your head, you risk forgetting some important details for the article.
  3. Read the source carefully several times. Most likely, during the first reading, you will miss some important information. The second, third, and subsequent readings will give you a lot more information to think about.
  4. Check out the criticism. Before you start paper writing, you need to understand how original your ideas are. However, try to develop a genuinely fresh vision without repeating someone else's argument.
  5. Use professional help. If you don’t know how to come up with an APA-style paper, you shouldn’t run yourself ragged. It is better to rely on a professional writing services with seasoned writers who will provide you with a fantastic result.

Mistakes to Avoid in Your Reflection Paper

  1. Don't try to retell the source. Of course, you can briefly describe some of the ideas to give the reader context. But focus on analyzing the content and your own opinion on the problem.
  2. Don't be afraid of conflict. There is nothing wrong with confronting other people's opinions. You don't have to support someone's ideas. If you are writing an APA reaction paper for a source that differs sharply from your position, you can honestly state this.
  3. Don't be superficial. Your ideas seem logical and understandable to you because they are yours. Sometimes we do not notice which path our brain goes through before it accepts a particular belief. But your readers have not gone this path, so you need to become a guide for them. You can ask a fellow student, a relative, or a friend to read your research paper and provide you with feedback.

Tips and Tricks to Write a High-quality Reaction Paper

Paper writing is a real art. But it doesn’t mean you should give up if you’re not an artist. Remember that practice makes perfect. We have some brilliant ideas that will help you on this path.

Develop Your Critical Thinking Skills

Critical skills are important to all students, no matter what writing assignments you are dealing with.

But they are also essential when it goes about the reaction essay writing. You should read different sources, analyze them, understand why you support or don’t support the author, highlight the main thesis, etc. That’s why you should have as much practice as possible. Read different articles, write down key points, analyze hot topics to develop pro and contras arguments. It would be a great idea to visit the debate club. Don’t miss a chance to share your opinion and defend your arguments.

Understand Your Feelings

It is not enough just to read the source and write down your thoughts. You need to understand their nature. For example, there are many different reasons for prohibiting the death penalty. Reading the research report of a journalist who advocates lethal injection to dangerous criminals, just think: why are you against it? Perhaps the journalist is using arguments that do not resonate with you? Does he or she overlook essential details that matter? Or do you feel something personal about this that prevents you from accepting someone else's position? Understanding your feelings, you can better explain them to your readers.

Consider the Second Side

If you want to convey your opinion to the audience, you need to understand other options. You may not accept an alternative perspective, but it may be close to a large part of your readers. Do you know why? Do your research to cover the topic from different angles.

P.S. How to write a reaction paper? We know!

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I studied sociology and marketing at Europa-Universität Viadrina (Germany) and Universidade da Beira Interior (Portugal). When I was a sophomore, back in 2018, I decided to put what I've learned into practice, so I got my first job in digital marketing. I currently work in the content marketing department at Studybay, building strong, effective, and respectful communication between the platform and our clients.

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