Literature Review Format
Literature review formats can vary depending on the style manual one uses and the wishes of the major professor, but students who are attempting to determine how to create a literature review format correctly can beneficially follow a few guidelines.
First, the student should try to find out exactly what his or her major professor expects for a literature review format. The professor may have some specific requirements, such as placement of any bibliographic entries, the presence or absence of a title page, and the manner of citing the work of literature that the student is reviewing. The professor may also prefer a certain length or a certain proportion of summary and analysis within the literature review.
After having consulted the major professor, the student should then refer to his or her style manual for literature review format examples. These examples may remind the student of such minute details as the sequence of identifying information contained in a bibliographic entry, but they may also provide broader help, such as offering suggestions for how to write a literature review.
Students who have exhausted these two sources and know the details for their literature review formats but are still struggling with the broader concept of organizing a literature review should aim to include four elements in their reviews. First, a literature review should contain a brief introduction that catches the reader's attention; this introduction should fill one paragraph but in most cases should probably not spread further than that. Second, a literature review summarizes the work of literature. This section should take up perhaps a third of the length of the review; it should adequately express the main ideas of the text but should not mention nonessential details. Third and most importantly, the literature review should analyze the contents of the work of literature, examining its strengths and weaknesses; this section should take up the bulk of the review. Finally, the student should write a brief conclusion that mentions the main points of the review. Following these steps, the student has a basic outline of standard literature review format.