How to Write a College Book Report Outline

They key to writing a great college book report is preparation. The more work you do before you write, the easier the writing will be. There are two essential steps you need to take in the pre-writing process: brainstorming, and outlining. Brainstorming is easy, because there are no rules. Just do whatever makes the most sense to you. But many students skip the step of creating an outline, and their papers suffer for it. An outline makes your paper more orderly, logical, and easier to follow. You can think of your outline as the skeleton for the body of your paper: it's the essential support structure. Or you can think of it as a map: it shows clearly how you go from point A to point B.

Once you've brainstormed to come up with ideas, you need to decide which ideas are most important, and which ideas can be grouped with other ideas. An outline accomplishes this by putting everything in a hierarchical order. Keep in mind that book reports are generally short, so you won't have the space to explore a ton of ideas. Keep it simple. You need one main idea as a thesis, and then several points which help demonstrate that thesis, supported by evidence from the book.

A book report can be broken down into 3 basic sections:

  1. The Introduction: For a book report, your introduction should be a single paragraph that gives the name and author of the book, as well as a brief summary of what the book was about. It should end with a thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the single most important part of your paper. It states your main point about the book as clearly and precisely as possible. 
  2. The Body: In most cases, the body will be between 3 and 5 paragraphs. Each paragraph should be devoted to explaining a single idea. For your outline, write out the main points of your essay. Underneath each point, give some evidence from the text to support the idea. You'll also want to think about what order of your ideas. It's important that the paper flow logically from one paragraph to the next. 
  3. The Conclusion: The conclusion is a single paragraph that sums up the paper as a whole, and restates the thesis. Be creative, and don't just repeat the introduction.