Opinions: as half of the old saying goes, everyone’s got ‘em. Whether it’s on Twitter, on Yelp, or in Facebook posts from your great-aunt’s best friend, we’re constantly subjected to other people’s opinions—so if you want to share your take with a wider audience, it’s worthwhile to think about how to make it stand out. And if you zoom in on an opinion, build it out, and give it structure, you’ve got yourself a review.
You can review basically anything if you find the right outlet for it, but the best way to present your thoughts depends on what you’re writing about and who your audience is. But with most types of reviews, there’s a simple structure you can stick to in order to help you get started:
1 A thesis
Before you write, make sure you know the general message you want to convey. A simple thesis will help keep your review from straying off-topic. This could be as straightforward as “I really liked this meal!” or as complex as “These shoes took a while to wear in.” Think to yourself: If I were telling a friend about this, what would I want their main takeaway to be?
2 Likes and dislikes
In the most glowing review, you may not include any dislikes. If the review is critical, try to find at least one positive to include, just to provide a break in between your incredible zings.
3 Your recommendation
A star rating may be the first thing most people see, but when folks skim your review, they’ll probably check the bottom for an idea of whether or not you’d recommend the meal, album, hike, or movie to others. You could also include a short explanation, like “I knocked it down one star because my utensils were dirty,” or “I’d recommend this play, but only if you’re as big of a musical theater buff as I am.”
If you need more direction, Grammarly has a few great places to start.
Writing a book review? Grammarly has tips and tricks for how to keep your review informative, enlightening, and kind.
Remember that you’re reviewing a book that another human poured their heart and soul into to write. Express your honest opinion, but don’t be nasty about it. Imagine if it were your book being reviewed, how would you want a reader to express their critique?
If you’re writing a movie review, Grammarly can help keep you from getting too stressed about how to rate the film you just watched:
Rather than grasp for an arbitrary value, state plainly what a movie called to mind, or how it didn’t quite land with you, and explain why.
Writing a review of your new favorite restaurant? You may need to paint a bigger picture of your experience than for the review of the tub of cheese puffs you ordered on Amazon.
Avoid vague words and phrases like “The service was bad” or “The pie was great.” Instead, provide specific details like, “The server was friendly but inexperienced and botched our drink order” or “The lemon meringue pie had a wonderfully flaky crust, a tart and tangy filling, and dreamy melt-in-your-mouth meringue.”
No matter what kind of review you’re writing, here are a few more quick tips:
- Judge the product, restaurant, escape room, or dog park for what it is. If you’re reviewing a McDonald’s, don’t complain about how you weren’t waited on hand and foot. Write your review based on reasonable expectations.
- Assume the best. You’re often assessing someone’s execution of their vision or product of their hard work, especially when it comes to art or food. You’re also more than likely writing this review on the internet, where the creator could probably find and see it in just a few clicks. We’re all human—assume the people who made this thing weren’t out to get you.
- Check your writing. Reviews reflect back on you, and readers might not take your opinion seriously if your spelling is all over the place or you use the word “ambiance” three times in one sentence. Grammarly can help you make sure your review is as effective as possible.
More from #HowToWrite: