The reflective paper is a work that discusses personal past experiences. These experiences are related to a central question or topic. These papers combine personal opinion along with philosophy, psychology and personal growth in the form of what was learned through the experience. Formatting a reflective paper is similar to formatting other paper types and each professor or instructor will have slightly different requirements that must be followed closely.


Create an introduction to the paper providing the reader with information including the subject of the paper, general feelings you had prior to the experience and a hint at the way the paper will conclude.

Write the body of the paper. The body of the paper includes the details of the experience. The important aspects and what was learned, opinions and observations need to be included in the body of the paper. A three-section or three-paragraph body is typical. The sections should flow well into each other and cover three separate topics or ideas. For example, a three-section body may involve activities experienced prior to beginning such as getting ready for the experience, a narrative of what happened during the experience and your immediate reaction after the experience concluded. The instructor will provide information on paper length requirements which will determine if more or fewer sections are required.

Add a conclusion to the paper. The conclusion should restate the subject, touch on each section of the body of the paper and make a statement of what was learned or how it relates to the class being studied. The conclusion must tie all the pieces of the paper together and relate to the reader why the experience was important.

Verify that the resources and any citations used in the paper match the correct format. The instructor will let you know which format, such as APA or MLA, is required for the paper. Use books or online resources such as Purdue's Online Writing Lab to find rules and examples for these styles.