The format for writing a book report allows students to share critical information about the books they read. Although there can be flexibility in how one can design a book report, there are some general formatting guidelines that will show you understood the main ideas and themes of the book. Following a clear, simple format for writing a book report will make important information stand out.
Before you start writing your report, follow these three steps to help set the stage for an A+ result.
This is the most important step and the easiest to mess up. If you have an assigned text, that's one thing. But if you have a chance to choose, it's your best opportunity to set yourself up for a good grade. Pick something that fits your interests. Be honest with yourself about how much time you're willing to spend reading. If you don't have any ideas, spend five minutes with your English teacher or a librarian.
Planning on going to SparkNotes or Study.com? Let us tell you a secret: teachers always know. It's their job to separate the students who put in the work from the ones who skimmed a summary. Cheating costs you. In our experience, reading the actual book, even if you can't finish it or there are parts you don't follow, is worth a full letter grade. Maybe two. You just don't get the depth and nuance you need for a good report from a cheat sheet.
Here's where you get your actual cheat sheet. The best part? It's not cheating. Writing an outline is maybe 20 minutes of work and it makes everything easier. Stumped on how to make one? Our article on how to construct an argumentative essay outline is a great place to start. From there, follow the guidelines below to put together your best book report.
Students often ask which information should go where? What information is important, and what is not? How should I build my report so that it's easy to read - and I get a great grade? Here are the basic formatting guidelines for a book report.
The following outline is good, but it's not gospel. If you want to change some parts around, have at it. As long as you stay within the guidelines of your assignment, you'll be set. That said, if you're not feeling creative, feel free to follow this format precisely. This isn't cheating! You still have to write the thing. This is tutoring.
"Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them." As a rule, it's older than dirt and more relevant than ever. The introduction to your book report is where you lay out the basic premise of your essay and provide your all-important thesis statement. Here's the skeleton of a good intro paragraph.
In the main body of the book report describe the characters of the book, the purpose of the book, and the plot. You could trace a character's experience throughout the book, analyze a motif or theme of the book, or juxtapose one character's experience with another's.
At the middle and high-school level, most teachers typically expect three body paragraphs. With the intro and conclusion, that's the classic five-paragraph essay. If you're lucky, your teacher may only want one body paragraph for a book report. If you're unlucky, they may want more than three. In any case, follow this format:
The conclusion effectively functions as a mirror image of the introduction, summarizing important points, or what you have learned. Would you recommend this book?
Above all, the point of a book report is not only to prove that you read the book, but also that you took the time to analyze and understand it. Don't just copy what you find online; you'll get busted and nobody wants that. That includes us, by the way. Use our outline, by all means, but if you swipe that thesis and use it verbatim, you're gonna have a bad time. Teachers have Google.
The best way to prove you did the work is to provide details. Doing so also shows your teachers you have a personal investment in the book. If you're blanking on what to include, think about these possibilities:
Our outline is written to be as general as possible. Just about everybody will accept a report crafted like this. That said, make sure you follow any format your assignment requires. Change our outline around if you need to. Failing to follow stated rules is a fast route to a zero.
If your teacher hasn't provided a specific format, you can wow them by using MLA format. The Modern Language Association (MLA) style is the standard format for high school and college English classes. Getting this right is another power move. Here are the main rules:
For detailed MLA rules, check out our bibliography guide.
Book reports aren't usually as formal as classic five-paragraph essays. If your teacher allows some creative freedom, don't be afraid to express yourself. It's your report, after all. Every book affects every person differently. If you liked it, say why. If you didn't like it, likewise. As long as your report is detailed and well-written, you can and should make it your own.
For more literary help, check out our Examples of Tropes page and see how many pop up in your book of choice. For example, does the villain wear black?