Do you have an opinion on a product or service? Then you should write a review! But while there is plenty of, um, interesting customer feedback on the internet, writing a good review is a specialist skill.
In this post, then, we offer five top 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 putting anything down in writing.
Listening to an album or reading a novel once, for example, will give you a general sense of what it is like. But doing it two or three times will help you gain a deeper sense of what it is like. But if you don’t have time for that, you can at least make sure to pay close attention and take notes.
2. Consider Your Audience
As well as knowing what you’re writing about, think about who you’re writing for. This may include:
Whether you’re writing for a specialist audience or the general public
What kind of information your typical reader will 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, too. 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 relevant points so that your reader can understand why you’ve formed your opinion. Another tip here is to compare and contrast whatever you’re reviewing with something similar, as this will give readers useful context.
Find this useful?
Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.
4. Short Is Good (Usually)
As a general rule, most people won’t want to read a 20,000-word treatise before deciding whether they’ll see the most recent Adam Sandler film. In fact, many publications require reviews to be written in 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 review to go into detail and discuss 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 five, ten or one hundred. This offers the quickest way possible for readers to get a sense of how good (or bad) the thing being reviewed may be.
We’re tempted to say not to worry about this at all (review scores have been causing controversy lately). But many people find a score helpful, so you should at least consider it.
Which system to use depends on the situation. If you’re writing for a website or publication, they may give you guidelines on how to score reviews. But if you’re self-publishing or blogging, consider creating your own explainer so readers know the logic behind why you give a certain score.