How To Format a Literature Review

How To Format a Literature Review

Literature reviews in general terms are writings that research on specific topics as part of a larger book or scholarly bibliography. Literature reviews serve to bring out the content clearly and help readers understand it. This is the author demonstrating the research completed before presenting an essay of their own on a topic.

A literature review is usually completed to help the author explain the reasons why a certain specific topic has been approached in the way they have. The literature review not only builds up the content of their work but also answers questions that have originated from the literature. Literature reviews are an excellent way to educate readers on certain topics of interest and bring them an update on the status of the research topic in question.

This article focuses on what’s expected concerning literature review format and some of the literature review format APA to adhere to.

How to Format a Literature Review

Before you pick up your pen to do the writing, look out for the review paper format and reflect on what the instructor expects of you. You can go ahead and create an article review format outline to aid your writing process.

As yourself the following questions:

  • What has already been covered in your field of research
  • Are there any knowledge gaps in that field?
  • Has there been any further study carried out by researchers in that topic that you’d like to mention in your writing
  • Any sensitive subjects highly debated in that topic?
  • While considering the type of methodology to use; does the literature give you direction?
  • What is the current situation of your research?
  • Any key figures and facts you wouldn’t want to leave out?

What is a literature review APA? The literature review format APA is among the styles used in formatting literature reviews. There are two major formatting styles used when writing a literature review that dictates how the research should be presented.

  1. Literature Review Format APA

Literature review format APA style often used by most academic establishments in literature review format. Its structure is based on line spacing, margins, font size and the headings to be used in writing. If you are unsure on how to use the literature review format APA, there are sources online with examples you could read through and understand. To add on, APA citations are also present to help you understand what the instructor expects of you.

      2. Article Review Format MLA

This format is almost similar to APA, but with some few differences. The review paper format MLA focuses on almost identical aspects as the APA style; margin spaces, line spacing. For more details, you can go online and read further on the MLA guidelines.

Developing a Good Literature Review Format

Once you’re already familiar with the article review format APA, now let’s go ahead and develop a coherent essay. Look out for the following factors:

  • Make sure your review is not too long. If it is, then be sure to provide an overview at the beginning of the literature review.
  • At the beginning of the review, bring out precisely what will and will not be covered in your writing.
  • Early in the review, make your point of view clear. This mainly serves as a thesis statement of the review.
  • Subheadings are necessary, use them whenever possible.
  • To make the reader easily trace your argument, use appropriate transitions.
  • If, for instance, your topic of choice cuts across different disciplines, then try reviewing articles from different disciplines separately.
  • Always have a conclusion. In your article try providing closure such that your argument ends in a conclusion. The reason for you writing the literature review will determine how you will end the review. If it was written as a single paper, just like term papers or reviewed articles for publication, then it should bring out precisely how the content in the body paragraph has supported the propositions stated earlier on. On the other hand, a review in a journal article, dissertation or thesis, presenting the original research usually leads to questions that need to be addressed.

Cover the Basic Categories

Just like most academic papers, the literature reviews must also contain the three essential elements; Introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction contains some background information on what is expected. The body has typically 5 paragraphs and includes the literature review discussion of the sources, and support for the argument posed. Then lastly the conclusion or recommendation section to end the paper.

  1. Introduction

This usually gives a rough idea of the topic in question, more like the central theme or the organizational pattern. Start your introduction with a broad idea and then narrow down gradually to the main idea.

      2. Body

The body usually contains the discussion of the sources. Covers most of the literature review, like 80% of the whole text. The body is usually organized chronologically, methodologically or thematically.

     3. Conclusion

This is the recommendation section in the literature review format. Here you discuss what you have gathered from the literature review so far. The introduction usually helps the reader determine where the discussion should lead and even pushes further investigations.

Remember to consider the organization. You already have a focus which you’ve stated clearly and directly. Now it’s time to look out for the best appropriate ways of bringing out the information. The topics and relevant disciplines your literature review should tackle and the order of presentation? We’ve given you guidelines on how to format a literature review that will help you sort all these questions to help you develop a good organization for your review at both local and a global level.


So there you have it an answer to the question, What is a literature review APA as well as guidelines on literature review format have been brought to light in this step by step guide. What you need to do now is work on your research, and you can rest assured your review would be excellent.

Do you know how to format a literature review? Are there any strategies that have worked for you? Please share some insights with us by commenting below.