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How to Write a College Book Report: an Ultimate Guide

How to Write a College Book Report

March 1, 2023

Constructing a book report for school can be a tough challenge, but learning how to write a college book report will make it much easier for you. For this reason, we will discuss each part of the book report in a separate section to help you grasp the basics better and organize your writing step by step.


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Since it is a common practice that proved to be efficient, this article provides gradual immersion in the art of composing an excellent book report. We recommend reading this text in a consecutive order – from top to bottom.

Infographics: How to Write a College Book Report

Basics of Book Report Writing

The moment you get the task to write a report about a book, you start feeling anxious and uncertain. It usually happens when you lack knowledge or training in this particular area. To get yourself together and start working on your report, you will have to fill the gaps in your writing expertise.

Learning how to write a college book report paper is a necessary starting point for every student. You cannot simply read a book or its review and reflect on it in writing. There is much more to composing a fine book report than just reading and jotting down your thoughts. That is why you need to begin with the basics.


So what is a book report for college students? It is an informative piece of writing that provides an objective discussion of a book. Book reports usually take up from 250 to 500 words. They describe the major plot, characters, and central theme of the book.


Book report aims at discussing the main idea of the book, giving a factual account of the plot and introducing the characters. It is also meant to offer a helpful recommendation to the potential readers. Unlike a book review, a book report focuses on delivering a clear and impartial description of the events happening in the book.

How to Start a College Book Report: Preparation Routine

Before you go on and write college book report as you please, make sure to read this section. A careful and adequate initial preparation will make the writing process less painful and much faster.

Reading the book

So how to start off a college book report? Obviously, you should read the book first. If you are not closing in on a deadline, you should take your time to read it from cover to cover. To make the reading most efficient, try doing at least one of the following:

  • Highlight or use sticky notes to mark the meaningful parts
  • Create a scheme to follow a plot
  • Write out the characters’ names and their roles in the book
  • Highlight or write out quotes you liked and their page numbers

When you decide to read the whole book, it is natural to start wondering how to write a book report chapter by chapter. Such method of writing better suits lengthy reports given the book contains many chapters. However, it also provides a more detailed description of the plot and characters. So if that is what you need, go for it but remember to make notes while reading.

In case you are tight on time, you should read an extended summary of the book. It can be useful to check out a couple of reviews from different sources to ensure all crucial points are covered. Here is the list of useful websites:

Researching the background

Having read the book, you will need to learn the information relevant to the book and its author. For this, you might want to browse the reviews of this book provided by the reputable sources. It is beneficial to collect interesting facts that can help you write a ponderable report.

Composing a thesis statement

Creating a solid thesis statement is the most important part of the whole writing process. Your thesis should inform the audience about the main idea of your report. It should not be longer than two sentences. The thesis statement is located at the end of the introductory paragraph.

College book report rubric is usually based on the argument presented by the thesis statement. Since your main arguable point defines the intention of your report, it should also be clear from the title. That is why you need to ensure your argument is original and does not repeat any of the reviews and articles you have previously researched.

Creating an outline

To create a logical college book report layout, you should work on an orderly structure of your report outline. If you manage to put together a comprehensive outline, it will be much easier for you to follow your ideas and complete the final draft.

As a rule, a basic book report outline contains:

  • A thesis statement
  • Factual information about the book and its author (to be used in the introduction)
  • Topic sentences of the body paragraphs
  • Main points for the conclusion (thesis restatement, summary, and recommendation)

What to Include In a College Book Report: Structure

College Book Report Writing

So what does a college book report look like? Well, it looks like a regular 5-paragraph essay. The length of the report can vary depending on the instructions you get from your teacher. So how long should a college book report be? A traditional book report takes up from two to four pages. Even though it may have more than five paragraphs, introduction, body, and conclusion are its invariable constituents.


The introductory paragraph should introduce the main bibliographic information, a brief summary of the book, and thesis statement. You should inform the reader about the title and genre of the book, author’s name and the name of the publisher. If needed, you can also mention the number of pages and year of publication.

After you are done with the formal part, state why you have decided to write a report on this book. Having explained your reason, move on to the most vital part – your thesis. Remember to make it one or two sentences and focus on the main argument you are going to present.


The body of a classic college book report can be divided into three parts:

  • Main characters
    Introduce the main characters and their roles in the story. You can also choose to bring the characters in while summarizing the plot. In that case, the paragraphs should be logically divided so that each one describes a certain event or set of the related events.
  • Other characters
    Make sure to mention the characters who play the key roles in the story even if they are not the main ones. Sometimes it is enough to list their names if they do not contribute greatly to the plot development.
  • Plot summary
    This paragraph can be the most difficult to write. However, if you made notes while reading (as suggested in “Reading the book” section), it won’t be that hard. Your task here is to describe the main events in a coherent manner so that the reader can easily follow the plot line.

Attention! Here comes the secret of how to write a good college book report: the summary of the plot should take up the most of the report. This is what makes it different from a book review, so keep an eye on the size of your summary part.


The conclusive paragraph should be devoted to expressing your thoughts about the book. It is also the part where you choose to recommend this book or not. Remember to revisit your thesis as your conclusions should be based on your main argument.

Editing and Proofreading

Having written the first draft, it is advisable to take a break. You should get back to the paper in at least few hours to proofread and edit it. Ideally, a good friend of yours who is competent to do it for you would be a great idea. Anyway, editing and proofreading is a must if you want to ensure your report is error-free.

Format of a College Book Report

By this time, you might be wondering how to format a book report for college. Since students often confuse a format with a formatting style, you should know the difference.

A college book report paper format is usually associated with the basic 5-paragraph essay. It means that there should be an opening paragraph, at least three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. As a rule, your instructor provides the necessary additional requirements in the assignment sheet.

Typically, a college book report format does not differ greatly from the traditional essay format: 1-inch margins, 10 or 12pt font, and title page. If your teacher indicates a specific style to be used such as MLA or APA, make sure to check an appropriate manual and format the paper accordingly.

Check our Example of Book Report

Writing a book report can be interesting and pleasant if you devote enough time to it. The initial preparation will also help you get through this task faster and easier. So don’t skip straight away to writing and enjoy the process. Also you can ask our professionals “Write My Book Report for College” and they will write your paper perfectly!

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