Do you know what a review is? Have you ever written one? Basically, it’s a constructive criticism of a work, which can be: a book, a film, a video game… But what are the parts of a review?
In this article, besides explaining what a review is, we explain what its parts are and what each of them consists of . Finally, we propose a series of guidelines for writing a good review.
What is a review?
Before explaining what the parts of a review are and what characteristics each has, let’s explain what a review is.
A review is a writing or an informative text about a literary, cinematographic work … It is a constructive criticism of it, a kind of evaluation, which can be positive or negative (depending on its author).
Its extension is rather short. In it we can find different elements of this work: summary, ideas of the same, concepts, relevant aspects, comments, analysis… In addition, we also find the personal opinion of the author or author of the review itself.
Reviews can vary greatly from one author to another, depending on the typology of the work and also depending on the work in question that is being analysed. However, the parts of a review are usually the same every time (although there may be small variations from one review to another).
Parts of a review
Now, let’s see what the parts of a review are, as well as their fundamental characteristics.
The first part of the review is the title . The title usually includes a short sentence that summarizes the work being reviewed; ideally it should not be too long, should have some impact on the reader and should arouse curiosity to read the review.
On the other hand, it is advisable that the title is not simply the title of the work in question, but that it is accompanied by other words (we should also avoid simply giving the title “review”).
2. Header or data sheet
The second part of a review is the header or fact sheet (also called the bibliographic reference). Here you will find the title of the work reviewed, as well as the relevant data of the work, such as
- Publisher/recording company…
- Number of pages
- Place and year of edition/production
The data in the technical sheet will be ordered according to the citation rules for the bibliographic references, which are specific to each sector.
3. Summary of the work to be reviewed (commentary)
The third part of the review consists of a kind of “synopsis” of the work or film in question. Thus, it describes the original work, in a synthesized way. It includes data such as: background of the author, objectives of the work, sources, structure, content, techniques used, etc. The order in which these elements are presented may vary from one author to another.
Let’s see, in summary, what each of these elements included in the summary consists of:
The background includes relevant data on the author of the work under review, for example the subjects it usually deals with, the languages it speaks, previous works, professional career, etc.
Strategies are the methods and techniques used by the author of the work to carry it out. It includes the research carried out, the phases to gather information, etc.
From them comes much of the information that the author collected to make his or her work.
The objective is the purpose of the work, its goal. What did the author want to achieve with his or her work?
Here the author of the review exposes the theme of the work, its plot, the events that occurred in it, etc.
3. 6. Organization / structure
Finally, in the organization or structure we find the order of events in the work (chapters, scenes, maps, etc.).
4. Critical commentary on the work
The next part of a review is the critical commentary of the work; it consists of a series of explanations and arguments to “defend” or “praise” the original work, or to “criticize” it.
It would be a kind of argumentative text, and constitutes the most important part of the review. Here the author analyses the work critically (both positively and negatively), and sets out his or her arguments or ideas for doing so. That is why in this part the arguments take a very important weight (they must be solid).
Thus, the critical commentary highlights the weaknesses of the work and also its strengths .
In the conclusions section, another part of a review, includes the previous information, but in a synthesized form, and with a series of comments or added ideas that the author logically extracts as a result of his or her arguments and the work itself.
In other words, the opinion and judgment of the author is included, referring above all to the strengths and weaknesses of the work already mentioned.
In this section, the author of the review includes his or her point of view regarding whether or not he or she should recommend this work . In addition, he or she can also recommend his or her own review and explain why. As for the work, in this part the author includes the reasons for seeing/reading/listening to it, or the reasons for not doing so. This is a very personal section.
7. Identification of the reviewer
The last part of a review is the identification of its author . This shows relevant information about the author, including his or her professional career, other reviews, etc.
Their contact details are also included (e-mail, social networks, Internet profile…), all depending on the author’s own choice. The fact that your contact details are included makes it easier for readers to comment on or respond to your review.
How to make a good review?
We have known the different parts of a review, but would you dare to write one?
Are you considering writing a review, or do you simply want to improve the reviews you already do? Here are some tips or steps that can help you write a good review (ideally, follow them in order) :
- Choose a play and a theme that motivates you.
- Look closely at how the play is structured.
- It determines which elements are key to the work.
- Research about its author.
- It investigates what strategies the author has used to produce his or her work.
- View (or read, listen…) the work in detail.
- Write down the most relevant data of it, as well as ideas that may arise.
- Organize your notes.
- Write a short script about the points you want to cover in your review.
- Start drafting.
- Use correct language and well-founded arguments.
- Correct the review and review it carefully.
- Make whatever changes you feel are necessary, don’t be in a hurry.
You can submit your review now!
Cervera, Á. (1999). Guía para la redacción y el comentario de texto, Madrid, Espasa Calpe.
Navarro, F. and Abramovich, A.L. (2012). The academic review. UNGS: 39-59.
Sanmiguel, A. U. and Barrios, G.C. (2008). Text theory and discursive typology. Sign and thought, 53: 295-313.