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How To Format A Literature Review

Literature reviews can be both an explanation and a summary of the current status on the knowledge of a specific topic just like in journals and academic books. They are usually of two types. The first one is the standalone type; the student is required to a single paper assignment in the course for research purposes. The other one is usually written as preparation or introduction for a much longer work, usually a research report or thesis. The kind of review you're writing determines the perspective and focus your review will take or the kind of thesis argument or hypothesis.

You need to understand the difference between these two types of literature reviews, and the best way to do that is to go ahead and read some of the published literature reviews or the first chapters of dissertations and thesis in your subject area. Take your time and analyze the argument structure as you appreciate how the issues are being addressed.

Below are steps on how to format a literature review.

Why Literature Reviews?

Literature reviews give readers the freedom to research on specific topics by choosing the best available articles that are relevant, important, valid and meaningful and be able to do a summary in one complete text.

It's an excellent starting point for beginners in research as it forces them to make a summary, evaluate and compare some of the researches in that topic.

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  • Keeps the researchers off duplication
  • Literature reviews can give guidelines or recommend areas for future research.
  • Point out some of the key findings
  • Literature reviews identify conflicting ideas, gaps and some of the limitations in the literature.
  • They provide a constructive analysis of the methodology and approaches made by other researchers

What is a Literature Review APA?

Literature review format APA is some of the structure guidelines to follow on how to write a literature review. It involves vital attention to certain key elements on how to format a literature review.

Elements like:

  • Table of contents; the APA style preferences for an article review format can vary for both the undergraduate and postgraduate class. They can vary based on the university, discipline, and instructor. Instructors usually provide formatting guidelines just in case they require you to write a table of contents.
  • Title page; this includes typically five elements and is numbered as the first page; it consists of the title, running head, author, the institution, byline, and the author's note. In cases where instructors require some extra information on the title page, the students should be supplied with examples for the preferred literature review format APA.

To understand more on what is a literature review APA, you could go online and check out some of the literature review format APA style examples.

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Classic Article Review Format Outline

1. Introduction

This section establishes the importance of the subject and explains the focus. The introduction generally discusses the kind of works that have been done in that field. The introduction provides the background information and history. An introduction ends with a thesis statement or purpose. In cases of Single-paper literature reviews, the thesis statement will summarize and analyze the current situation of the research. For the introductory literature reviews, the thesis statement makes it clear how the review will eventually lead to future research the writer intends to do.

2. Body

This section is usually divided by headings and subheadings. The body paragraph in the review paper format functions to summarize and evaluate the current status of the topic in question. Some of the critical trends, significant topics, and themes, and research findings that researchers question or agree to are noted in this section. For cases where the literature review format is preparatory to your research project or thesis, then the body should be able to defend your intended research and will therefore only discuss the research leading directly to your project.

3. Conclusion

In the review paper format, the conclusion summarizes the ideas presented and their significance. In the case where the review is preliminary to your research, then the conclusion will point out the gaps in the research and show how some of the previously done research has led to your current research project and choice of methodology. If the literature review format is a single paper, the conclusion should suggest the practical implications of the research as well as the likelihood for future research.

Steps on How to Format a Literature Review

  1. Have a working topic; analyze your specific area of study, reflect on what interests you the most and what's the best study ground? Go an extra mile and talk to your instructor for guidance and read more on some of the recent advances your field.
  2. Review the work; have databases relevant to your discipline and come up with a good reference list.
  3. Narrow your topic; consider your interests, other people's interests, and your research timeframe and choose a study that is due for a review.
  4. Patterns and topics; note the common findings, important trends and some of the influential theories
  5. Working thesis; write one or two sentences summarizing the conclusion you've arrived at based on the significant trends.
  6. Write the body; follow the plan you've created making sure that the sections link to each other logically and that you've divided your work into topics and themes.
  7. Look at what you've written; once you're done writing, go through the article review format and assess whether there's a clear position to your writing and the logic from the beginning to the end and if it doesn't, come up with a new outline.


With careful attention to these guidelines on what is a literature review APA and article review format, your review should be able to able to provide a critical written account of the current state research on particular topics.

By now you have a rough idea of what is a literature review APA? You have to practice to be an expert writer. How do you format your literature reviews? We'd like you to share some insights with us.

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