MLA Response Paper Format: How to Write a Response Paper in MLA

A response paper is a short academic essay where the writer expresses and reveals their opinions on an article or several articles you have studied. In simpler terms, in a response paper, the writer evaluates and critics another piece of writing.

You can only come across two types of response papers, a single-text or a multi-text response paper. In a single-text reaction paper, you react to an individual text by analyzing and closely examining the text.

However, in a multi-text reaction paper, your reactions are in respect to several texts, and you try to explain how the texts relate to each other.

That said, you can write a response paper in the MLA response paper format, the APA response paper format, or the Harvard response paper format. In this article, much focus goes on how to write a reaction paper in the MLA format. In addition, you will learn more about short responses.

How to Write a Response Paper in MLA Format

Like any other regular reaction paper, a response paper in MLA format consists of the standard outline of introduction, summary, organizing argument, and conclusion.

The main difference between an MLA response paper format and other styles is formatting your page and citing your sources.

Before you start writing a response paper in MLA format, you ought to observe several aspects of the formatting. First, your writing should leave a 1-inch margin from all the sides; the top, bottom, and both the right and left sides.

Secondly, all your sentence lines should be double-spaced throughout the paper. Finally, all your headings and subheadings should coordinate consequently with the biography list.

Your paper should be formal, and the tone you use should be analytical because it is academic. Therefore, make sure to incorporate outside sources as proof and to back your writing.

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Moreover, when citing your sources, employ in-text parenthetical citations. Here, use quotation marks whenever you reference a text, and at the end of your response paper, include a works cited page.

Below is an outline of how a response paper in MLA format should look like.

  1. Introduction 

Write a solid introductory paragraph with an overview of the main ideas that you will discuss in your paper. In your preceding sentence, introduce both the title of the text you are reacting to and the author of that text; employ quotation marks when referencing.

The last sentence of the introductory paragraph is where you write the thesis statement where you mention the main point that you will examine in your response paper.

  1. Summary 

Your summary should be one or two paragraphs. It should be informative, and here you illustrate the main ideas of your response paper concisely. In summary, include your paper’s thesis and support it with evidence by citing the author’s quotes and examples.

Since it is an MLA response paper format, ensure you use parenthetical citations by correctly punctuating the texts you cited.

  1. Organizing Argument

Here, express your personal views on the subject matter by either agreeing or disagreeing with the author of the text you are responding to. Tell your reader if you subscribe to the author’s ideas or not, and address what makes the text compelling, influential, or farfetched to you.

Nevertheless, you have the liberty to express common arguments conceived by most people if you lack sufficient knowledge of the subject. Again, you can employ famous examples to support your views.

  1. Conclusion 

This is the part you conclude your response paper where you outline the results of your reactions concisely. Remember, your conclusion should be closely linked to your summary and your organizing argument.

Speak with finality on whether you agree or disagree with the author’s ideas and beliefs based on the opinions and pieces of evidence you have provided earlier in the paper.

Finally, your closing statement should reaffirm your thesis statement.

How Do You Start a Response Paper?

Writing an authentic and exciting response paper is not a walk in the park. The process calls for adequate preparation and a deep understanding of the text you are about to react to.

That said, below are tactics you could employ to guide you on how to start writing a response paper.

  • Read the article you intend to react to severally. Read the first time to get an overview of the text and several more times to understand profoundly and analyze the author’s ideas, intentions, beliefs, feelings, and values.
  • Write down your sentiments. As you continue reading the text you want to respond to, write down your thoughts on each main idea you come across. Write down the parts you agree with and those you disagree too. These points will come in handy when you start your analysis.
  • Take the notebook that you have written your thoughts, study, and reflect on them. You will get a rough idea of what you should write in your response paper when you do so. These rough ideas will help you hypothesize the concepts and create your own interpretation of that text.
  • Create an outline and start writing the reaction paper. After building a clear picture of what you want to write, an overview will help you to be organized when writing your first write-up. Start with the introduction, the body, and finally, the introduction.

How Do You Write a Short Response?

A short response is an essay paragraph where the writer reacts to an article, a poem, or a short story. Below are the steps to utilize if you want to write a short response.

  • Understand the question clearly. Read the question more than once to understand the question’s instructions. Before you begin the process, ensure that you have a clear grasp of what the query needs you to write about.
  • Write your thoughts. Get a notebook and note down the ideas that you get from understanding the question. Use these thoughts to create a draft of what to include in your short response.
  • Create an outline. Write down a design that you will use to write the short response. In your plan, include the introductory statement, body, and concluding statement. An outline will help you organize your writing and make it relatively more straightforward.
  • Construct the paper. Start writing your short response, beginning with the topic sentence where you introduce your main idea and mention what your essay is about. Write your supporting sentences to back the topic sentence. Finally, write your concluding statement to summarize your short response.

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  • Proofread and edit the paper. Before submitting the brief response, proofread to identify any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling mistakes and confirm that your points are flowing smoothly. Edit your work where you notice such errors.

What Are the Parts of a Short response?

A short response consists of five pertinent parts. These parts include;

  • The introductory sentence. The preceding sentence is usually a hook that captivates the reader’s attention and introduces them to the short response.
  • Thesis statement. The thesis statement informs the reader of what to expect in the short response.
  • Research detail. Here, the writer directly answers the question and provides evidence to the reaction. This party is usually 2-4 sentences.
  • Interpretation. The interpretation part is usually 3-6 sentences. In this part, the writer defends his responses from his reasoning and thoughts.
  • Closing statement. Here, the writer concludes the short response by expressing their overall view on the subject matter.

How Long should a Short Response Be?

A short response should be one or two paragraphs. A one-paragraph short response consists of about 150-400 words, while a two-paragraph consists of approximately 250-600 words.

This length translates to one or two pages depending on the format you employ and line spacing.

How Many Sentences Are in a Short Response?

A one-paragraph consists of 5-10 sentences with an average of 8 sentences. Nevertheless, a short response with an additional paragraph has more sentences.


After reading this article, you are wiser because you have a better understanding on response papers and short responses. More importantly, you can now write a response paper using the MLA response paper format.