While there is plenty of interesting feedback online, writing a review is a skill. But what goes into a good review? And how can you write one? In this post, we offer five tips for writing reviews like a professional.
1. Immerse Yourself
First impressions are important, but a good review will not stop there. Whatever you’re reviewing, make sure you have experienced it fully before writing anything. And this usually means giving it a bit of time!
Listening to an album or reading a novel once, for example, will give you a sense of what it is like. But doing it two or three times will help you gain more depth of insight, giving you time to notice small details and think about what you’re reviewing from different angles. If you don’t have time for that, though, you can at least pay close attention and take notes.
2. Consider Your Audience
As well as knowing what you’re writing about, you should think about who you’re writing for. This may include the following:
- Whether you’re writing for a specialist audience or the general public
- How much your assumed reader is likely to know already
- What kind of information your assumed reader would want to know
If reviewing an electronic device, for example, a specialist audience may want all the technical details. But a general audience will just want an easy-to-understand overview of the product.
3. Examples and Evidence
Having opinions is good. But you need to back them up with examples and evidence. For instance, in a restaurant review, it’s not enough to say that the food was “bad.” Your reader would want to know why it was bad. Were the ingredients fresh? Was it served cold? How was the overall experience? Did you raise the issue with staff at the restaurant?
Make sure to go into detail on a few points so your reader can understand why you’ve formed your opinion. Another tip is to compare whatever you’re reviewing with something similar, as this will give readers useful context.
4. Short Is Good (Usually)
As a rule, most people won’t want to read a 20,000-word treatise before deciding whether they’ll see the most recent Adam Sandler movie. In fact, many publications require reviews to be under 300 words! Keeping your reviews focused and concise is therefore a good idea.
That said, longer reviews let you go into much more depth, so they can be more interesting and informative. But in an in-depth review, you should:
- Briefly outline what you are reviewing in the first paragraph
- Use the main body of the text to go into detail about your opinions
- Finish with a short summary of your evaluation
The opening and closing passages will give the reader a quick overview of the review as a whole. You may even want to include a separate summary.
5. Score Systems
Many reviews come with a score out of 5, 10, or 100. This offers a quick way for readers to get a sense of how good (or bad) the thing you’ve reviewed may be. We’re tempted to say not to worry about this (review scores have been causing controversy lately). But many people find a score helpful.
Which system to use depends on the situation. If you’re writing for a website or magazine, they may give you guidelines on how to score reviews. But if you’re self-publishing or blogging, consider creating an explainer so readers know how your rating system works.
And if you have written a review of anything, why not have one of our expert proofreaders check it to make sure your writing is the best it can be?