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Guidelines on Formatting a Literature Review

In school or college, you will be tasked with completing academic research in different forms. One of them is a literature review.

What Is A Literature Review?

In simple terms, a literature review is a piece of writing that researches a particular topic as part of a larger essay or bibliographic scholarly journal. The purpose of a literature review is to support the content and help the reader interpret points made in an essay and help build the methodology of the report. This is the author demonstrating the research they had completed prior to presenting an essay of their own on a topic.

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Why Do You Need To Do A Literature Review?

A literature review is completed to help an author explain in the form of research why they have approached a topic in the way they have. The review builds-up to the content of their work and answers questions that have originated from the literature. It is a good way to educate the reader on a topic and bring them up to date on the status of the research in question.

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Formatting A Literature Review

Before writing your research, review and consider your literature review format and think about what the text needs to contain. It is helpful to have an outline to ensure your work answers all the requirements.

Questions to ask yourself

  1. What is already known in the field of research?
  2. Are there any gaps in the knowledge in the field of research?
  3. Has any further study been carried out by other researchers that you would like to mention?
  4. Who are the key researchers on the topic?
  5. Is there a general consensus on the topic?
  6. Are there any hotly debated subjects on the topic?
  7. Are there any methods or issues in the field that may affect your research?
  8. Does the literature give you direction on the type of methodology to use?
  9. What is the current status of the field of research?
  10. Are there any key facts and figures you wish to include?

There two major formatting styles when writing a literature review which dictates exactly how the research should be presented:


An APA format literature review is a style often used by academic establishments across the US. It is a defined structure in terms of margins, line spacings, font sizes and the headings in which should be used in the writing. There are plenty of sources available that show an example of a literature review so if you are unsure on how to write a literature review in APA style, then refer to these. There are also APA style citation guidelines within the literature review example that you can follow.


An MLA format literature review is a style similar to APA, but with a few minor differences. Again the formatting focuses on line spacing, margin spaces and the specifics can be found in detail on literature review writing service websites.

So there you have our guidelines for writing a great literature review for your essay. Remember that you are building the foundation for your work and supplying the reader with background information so they can read and understand your work with ease. Keep these tips in mind to guide you, and you will be writing great literature reviews in no time.


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