Book Report Outline: Steps, Elements, Templates

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For a start, let’s discuss what a book report is. A book report is an overview of the key characteristics of a book, such as a topic, theme, ideas, arguments, characters, events, etc. A book report is a very common task in high schools, colleges, and universities. Professors love to give students this exercise as it teaches them how to read books attentively, analyze and interpret their contents, and how to objectively express what they have read.    

That academic experience will come in handy in life as there are many well-paid jobs, which require an understanding of complex concepts, solid reading comprehension skills, and the ability to express oneself clearly and down to the point. 

The goal of a book report is to communicate to the readers most efficiently and effectively about key contents of a book, so that readers can have an understanding of what a book is about and whether they should start reading it in full.

Before you start writing a book report, be sure to read it. Reading between the lines, or getting to know a summary made by someone else, is not enough for a good report. Only a complete (or better, repeated, with highlighting key points) reading will allow you to form your own understanding and to express it in a clear outline.

Book report elements 

To write a book report correctly, we advise you to stick to the following elements: 

  • Bibliographic description (title, author, author’s previous experience, year of publication of the book, volume, publisher). 
  • “Technical” characteristics: design, cover, illustrations. 
  • A brief retelling of the plot (without “spoilers” or disclosure of the main intrigue). Artistic features of a literary work. 
  • The main advantages and disadvantages of the book. 
  • Conclusion about whether the book is worth reading, how interesting/useful it is and for which audience. 

These are the main elements in writing a book report; however, this list is not dogma. You are free to change or supplement it. For example, compare the analyzed book with previous works of the writer or with other books on the same topic.

Book report steps

Writing a book report requires decent planning. Be sure to cover these steps when making a book report outline:

1. Getting to know the author. Before even starting to read your assigned book, we recommend obtaining some basic information about the author, such as writing style, genre, previous famous books, country of origin, time of main writing, etc. This will help to make a better report on the current book.

2. Reading the book. Make sure to read the book carefully and thoughtfully. While you read, make notes of the most important points: events, characters, ideas, thoughts, etc. 

3. Outline the main elements, such as:

  •  data about the author (pseudonym / real name, years of life, creative heritage); 
  • the plot of the book (heroes, their characters, and actions); 
  • quotes characterizing the essence of the book and the author’s ideas;
  • own opinion about the book, which will be supported by evidence

4. Writing the book report using the above-mentioned book report elements as a guideline. Of course, you can come up with your own elements – there is no limit to creativity! Though, try to be concise and accurate in your report, as, after all, this is a report, not a book review.  

In order for the report to include all the necessary parts, we recommend that you read the book several times using a pencil, bookmarks, and even stickers. So you will highlight the main points, mark the necessary statements and select the necessary material to prove your opinion.

Book report templates

Remember, the key to a good report is an interesting start. In your introduction, avoid platitudes like “A new book by a famous author was published a few days ago.” Better start with an unusual fact: “According to the statistics of tattoo parlors, the most popular among women are tattoos of the feline family: lions, tigers, and common cats. However, the most popular book of 2009 was “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Swedish author Stig Larsson.” 

The same goes for the conclusion. Instead of the usual “The book will be of a significant interest to fans of action and detective stories,” write the following: “The book is likely to be appreciated by those who are not afraid of intellectual challenges and are ready to fight for the truth along with a charming detective.”