How to Write a Reflection Paper: The Ultimate Guide with Examples

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Do you want to write a reflection paper for college or school?

Are you struggling with a reflection paper?
This article by our Homework Mules experts will help you ace this task. Here, you will find:

  • A guide on how to write a reflection paper
  • Outlining and formatting tips
  • Reflection paper example and template

What is a Reflection Paper?

A reflection paper is a paper that requires you to write your opinion supporting it with your personal experiences and knowledge. Additionally, you analyze your feelings and attitudes towards the subject. It helps you to understand how to put theory learned in class to practice.

There are three types of reflection paper. The tone you write in them can be slightly different. They include:

  • Educational reflective paper. In this type, you write feedback about a book, movie, or seminar you attended. You must write it in a way that teaches the reader about it.
  • Professional reflective paper. Usually, people who work in education or psychology write this paper. For example, it can be a reflection of someone’s behavior.
  • Personal reflective paper. It explores your thoughts and feelings about your own’s subject.

The ability to use reflective thinking is vital for a reflection paper assignment. It means you should be able to look back at and analyze;

  • What you did
  • How and why you did it
  • How it made you feel
  • What you could have done differently

When choosing a topic, a reflective paper topic may be about things such as;

  • An analysis of your work
  • Your personal experience that has influenced your perspective
  • A solution to a problem
  • The steps to improve your academic progress

Once you have the topic idea, the next step is to prepare writing;

How to Write a Reflection Paper on a Book

First, remember this assignment is not about summarizing the plot. It’s about analyzing and connecting the ideas in the text based on your knowledge.

Here are the steps to follow;

  1. Analyze the text. Check on the ideas, purpose, and the book’s theoretical framework. Highlight its main point precisely and clearly.

Then discuss the most exciting information you have read about the book. Mention what emotion it evokes and state the ideas in the book are new to you.

  1. Expand on your Ideas. Talk about how this information shapes your understanding of the subject. Then states how whether you agree with the author’s statement.
  2. Establish connections. It shows how the book has helped you to expand your skills and understanding. Mention whether it challenges your assumption.

 How to Write a Reflection Paper on an Article

This type of reflection paper critiques a written text or speech. Here are the strategies that will help you to write a reflection paper on an article;

  • Focus on the attitudes and feelings towards the article. You can mention the expectations from the article and whether they were met or not.
  • Refer to the passage that interests you the most. You can quote it directly, paraphrase or summarize it.
  • Make sure you include your subjective opinion but don’t overdo it.
  • To make your writing more impressive, combine formal and informal language.

How to Write a Reflection Paper: Step-by-Step Guide

Reflection paper Writing: Before you Begin

Before you begin writing your reflective paper writing, focus on the following crucial strategies.

Step 1: Brainstorm Ideas

Identify your central theme and write a summary of important points;

Example, Main theme: Psychological reasons for smoking cigarettes.


  • Usually, I smoke cigarettes when I’m anxious.
  • I have read that people who feel anxious and depressed try to substitute it with drugs.
  • Watching a documentary has evoked my interest in this topic.
  • My attitude towards cigarettes has changed after research.

 Step 2: Analyze your Ideas

Try to connect your experiences with theoretical knowledge. Here is a list of experiences that will help you navigate your responses.

  • What do I expect from the following experience?
  • What challenges may I experience?
  • How will I prepare myself for this experience?
  • How do I feel?
  • What am I learning right now?
  • How does it change my perspective on the issue in question?
  • Am I coping with challenges properly?
  • What do I feel after this experience?
  • What was the most important part?
  • What could be done differently?
  • What knowledge have I gained?

Step 3: Organize your Reflection Essay

Here are do’s to keep in mind while planning to include in your paper:

  • Summarize the crucial details.
  • Ask yourself critical questions.
  • State your feelings, emotions, and attitudes.
  • Relate your experiences with theoretical knowledge.
  • Mention your expectations.
  • Cite all sources and include supporting evidence.
  • Use appropriate language and tone.
  • Use relevant transition words.

Reflection Paper Template: The Essay’s Structure

Your paper should consist of an introduction, main body, and conclusion.

  1. Introduction

The introductory part of your paper should be catchy, informative, and well-organized. First, Begin with a topical sentence. The sentence must introduce the topic of your paper. It should be specific and eye-catchy. It must get readers to be interested in the best part of your paper.

Then include background information. Here, discuss crucial facts or details related to the issue, general themes, your biases, expectations, and possible challenges.

Finally, write a thesis statement at the end of the introduction. The statement should cover conclusions and reveal a clear position on an issue. Also, it should include a plan to defend opinions throughout the paper.

  1. Body paragraphs

Cover one idea per paragraph and provide necessary supporting evidence. It’s essential to have no more than three paragraphs. Include the following in this part;

  • Evaluation of your experiences.

Mention what you liked or disliked about the experience. You can compare and contrast those experiences.

  • Knowledge analysis.

Reflect on issues you have learned. Connect your previous knowledge with the newly acquired. Use direct quotes or paraphrase important information from books and articles.

  • Critique of the sources

Feel free to critique someone’s theory or opinion, but ensure you provide relevant information.

  • Causes and effects explanation

Mention what influences your conclusion. Also, mention some possible effects these opinions may have in the future.

 3. Conclusion

It is the last section of the reflection paper. Check out the following tips;

  • Summarize the major points of your reflection essay. Restate your thesis statement and mention essential issues in each body paragraph.
  • Identify your knowledge gaps. It will help you to focus on the future.
  • Explain how you’re going to fill these gaps.
  • Present the practical steps you’re going to take in the future.

Reflection Paper Formatting Tips

After completion of your essay, you need to format it appropriately. You need to know which citation style to use.

The most common styles to use are APA and MLA.

  1. APA Style

This format is mostly used in sciences, psychology, and education. The APA style should have the following structure Title page, Abstract, main body, and references.

  • Title page. Type it in boldface using standard capitalization. Make sure to center it on the upper part of the page. Add the author’s name, the institution affiliation, the name and number of the course, the instructor’s name, date when the assignment is done.
  • On a new page, type the word Abstract on the first line, centered and boldfaced. It must not exceed 250 words and should be a single paragraph.
  • Double space the paper in double space with a 1-inch margin. Create a page header with page numbers flash right. Use 10-12point font.
  • In-text citations. Follow the author-date format. To quote directly from the source, add the number of pages. For example; According to Freud(1997), “A reminiscence of the concept….”(p.6)

If you want to summarize or paraphrase the information, list the author’s name, and publication date in brackets. For example, life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim. (Bertrand Russel)

  • Type the word references in bold in the center of a new page. In each of your entries, start with the author’s name in an inverted format. If there are many authors’ names, separate them with a comma and an ampersand before the final game. Include the year of publication in brackets after the author’s name. Capitalize the first word of the source’s title. Italicize longer work titles. List the sources in alphabetical order.

2. MLA Style

It is usually, used in humanities. Here are some tips when formatting in this style

  • Title page. A title page is not required. Write your details and essay’s title on the page where your text starts. In the right-upper hand corner, write your name, the instructor’s name, the course name, and the date. Write the title of your page in the center. Use standardization capitalization.
  • Abstract. Never include an abstract unless the professor requires it
  • Use double space with 1-inch margins. Use any legible font. You can use 12-point Times News Roman. Number the pages in the right corner.
  • In-text citations. Use the author-page format. To quote direly or paraphrase information, list the author’s name and page number in brackets. For example, Life is nothing but a competition to be a criminal than a victim (Bertrand 6). If there is more than one author, use the abbreviation “et al”.
  • Type the words “Works Cited” in the center of a new page. Start each entry with the author’s name starting with first name and last name. State the publisher’s name and year of publication. Use standardization capitalization for source titles. Use the titles of the shorter works in quotation marks. Italicize the titles of the more significant works such as books. Here’s a full MLA referencing the entry. Freud, Sigmund. The interpretation of Dreams.Wordsworth Edition, 1997.

We hope this article on a reflection paper has made things clear for you. We wish you the best of luck with your assignment. If you still need help with your reflective essay, just contact us. We are ready and happy assists you.

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