format-your-literature-reviewEven if you postpone your literature review until the last moment, you will need to finally face the truth and do this task. However, now that you’ve come across this article, you do not need to worry about your literature review format anymore. A few lines below, you will find miraculous solutions, which can save your papers even in the most miserable situations.

Literature review format: why you should care about it

What is a literature review? A literature review is a thorough and well-organized summary of the research that was previously conducted by experts in the field. When working on your literature review, you will need to find relevant articles, critically analyze them and divide them into categories, according to the positions and perspectives taken by different scholars.

After doing this, you may feel sick and tired. Still, there is one more important aspect deserving your consideration. It is the literature review format, the manner in which you should present your findings. The arrangement of data and the proper use of a citation style may influence your grade dramatically, and you should care about it.

Literature review format should not be confused with:

  • a book review format (a book review summarizes only one book, whereas a literature review analyzes and synthesizes several or -even better- plenty of sources);
  • an annotated bibliography format (an annotated bibliography contains separate entries for separate sources in an alphabetical order; a literature review requires combining data from different sources, comparing and contrasting findings of different scholars).

Before you think of literature review format

Before you think of literature review format, you might ask how to do a literature review. For example, if you are assigned a literature review on the influence of background music on shopping behavior, you might use the following strategy:


  1. Define your topic. Narrow down the broad theme. For example, you may investigate the role of background music in supermarkets or online shops. Alternatively, you may focus on the role of tempo and rhythm of background music.
  2. Choose keywords and search for relevant sources. For example, the keywords for the first topic may be background music, supermarkets, impact (influence, effects) shopping behavior (consumer choices, decisions).
  3. Look through the abstracts of the articles you found and divide them into different categories. For example, the first category might contain the articles which agree that the impact of music can be dramatic. The second category might contain the articles which deny the impact of background music or conclude that the impact of music is insignificant.
  4. Systematize your findings, write an introduction and a conclusion for your literature review. In the introduction, clearly define your research problem. In the conclusion, briefly summarize the main points made by different scholars.

Literature review format: organization

These are some important recommendations to follow when organizing a literature review:

  • Consider the citation style. Different styles have different literature review format requirements (font, margins, page number, spacing and so on).
  • Include properly formatted in-text citations when discussing certain sources.
  • Include three main parts into your literature review (introduction, main body and conclusion).

By using these simple solutions, you will easily find and systematize the necessary information and thus properly format your literature review.