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How to Write a Literature Report

by Leyla Norman, Demand Media

    The purpose of a literature report is for you to present your point of view about a piece of literature. Character development, stylistic elements and theme are just a few of the ideas you could explore in your report. Present a clear argument that flows naturally and logically. Your ideas about the work do not have to match that of every other critic. Any idea you put forth, however, must be supported by evidence from other literary review writers and by the piece of literature about which you are writing.

    Step 1

    Write your thesis statement. It should be debatable, not merely factual. A literature report evaluates a certain aspect of the work critically. Draw connections between the plot and characters, or follow a character’s development, for example. Place it at the end of your introductory paragraph.

    Step 2

    List supporting arguments for your thesis. Keep these next to you as you research your topic. Your ideas should make up the bulk of the report. Avoid writing your paper to follow the literary criticism you read in your research.

    Step 3

    Link evidence from the work you are analyzing or any outside research directly to your thesis statement. Explain how evidence you give in support of your thesis is relevant. Direct quotations or textual evidence from the literary work do not by themselves support your thesis.

    Step 4

    Follow citation guidelines given by your teacher, or follow the Modern Language Association’s standards, which are generally used for literary essays. Citations indicate the source of your information and help prevent accidental plagiarism.

    Step 5

    Write in the present tense and in the third person. Literature is considered to exist now, even though it was written in the past.

    Step 6

    Underline or italicize titles of books, plays, films and television shows. Place quotation marks around titles of sections of plays, short stories and essays.

    Step 7

    Connect all of your arguments in your report back to your thesis in your conclusion. Avoid introducing material in your conclusion that you have not discussed elsewhere in your report. Write a relevant comment about the work you are discussing.

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    About the Author

    Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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