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Format Your Paper
Download and use the editable templates for student papers below: .
- APA 7th ed. Template Document This is an APA format template document in Google Docs. Click on the link -- it will ask for you to make a new copy of the document, which you can save in your own Google Drive with your preferred privacy settings.
- APA 7th ed. Template Document A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly according to APA 7th edition.
- APA 7th ed. Annotated Bibliography template A Microsoft Word document formatted correctly for an annotated bibliography.
Or, view the directions for specific sections below:
Order of sections (section 2.17).
- Title page including Title, Author, University and Department, Class, Instructor, and Date
- Body (including introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion)
- Appendices (including tables & figures)
Margins & Page Numbers (sections 2.22-2.24)
- 1 inch at top, bottom, and both sides
- Left aligned paragraphs and leave the right edge ragged (not "right justified")
- Indent first line of each paragraph 1/2 inch from left margin
- Use page numbers, including on the title page, 1/2 inch from top and flush with right margin
Text Format (section 2.19)
- Times New Roman, 12 point
- Calibri, 11 point
- Arial, 11 point
- Lucinda Sans Unicode, 10 point
- Georgia, 11 point
- Double-space and align text to the left
- Use active voice
- Don't overuse technical jargon
- No periods after a web address or DOI in the References list.
Tables and Figures In-Text (chapter 7)
- Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1)
- Give each table column a heading and use separating lines only when necessary
- Design the table and figure so that it can be understood on its own, i.e. it does not require reference to the surrounding text to understand it
- Notes go below tables and figures
Title Page (section 2.3)
- Include the title, your name, the class name , and the college's name
- Title should be 12 words or less and summarize the paper's main idea
- No periods or abbreviations
- Do not italicize or underline
- No quotation marks, all capital letters, or bold
- Center horizontally in upper half of the page
Body (section 2.11)
- Align the text to the left with a 1/2-inch left indent on the first line
- As long as there is no Abstract, at the top of the first page, type the title of the paper, centered, in bold , and in Sentence Case Capitalization
- Usually, include sections like these: introduction, literature review or background, discussion, and conclusion -- but the specific organization will depend on the paper type
- Spell out long organization names and add the abbreviation in parenthesis, then just use the abbreviation
- Spell out numbers one through nine and use a number for 10 or more
- Use a number for units of measurement, in tables, to represent statistical or math functions, and dates or times
Headings (section 2.26-2.27)
- Level 1: Center, bold , Title Case
- Level 2: Align left, bold , Title Case
- Level 3: Alight left, bold italics , Title Case
- Level 4: Indented 1/2", bold , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text.
- Level 5: Indented 1/2", bold italics , Title Case, end with a period. Follow with text.
Quotations (sections 8.26-8.33)
- Include short quotations (40 words or less) in-text with quotation marks
- For quotes more than 40 words, indent the entire quote a half inch from the left margin and double-space it with no quotation marks
- When quoting two or more paragraphs from an original source, indent the first line of each paragraph a half inch from the left margin
- Use ellipsis (...) when omitting sections from a quote and use four periods (....) if omitting the end section of a quote
References (section 2.12)
Begins on a new page following the text of your paper and includes complete citations for the resources you've used in your writing.
- References should be centered and bolded at the top of a new page
- Double-space and use hanging indents (where the first line is on the left margin and the following lines are indented a half inch from the left)
- List authors' last name first followed by the first and middle initials (ex. Skinner, B. F.)
- Alphabetize the list by the first author's last name of of each citation (see sections 9.44-9.49)
- Capitalize only the first word, the first after a colon or em dash, and proper nouns
- Don't capitalize the second word of a hyphenated compound
- No quotation marks around titles of articles
Appendices with Tables, Figures, & Illustrations (section 2.14, and chapter 7)
- Include appendices only to help the reader understand, evaluate, or replicate the study or argument
- Put each appendix on a separate page and align left
- For text, do not indent the first paragraph, but do indent the rest
- If you have only one appendix, label it "Appendix"
- If you have two or more appendices, label them "Appendix A", "Appendix B" and so forth as they appear in the body of your paper
- Label tables and figures numerically (ex. Table 1, or Table B1 and Table B2 if Appendix B has two tables) and describe them within the text of the appendix
- Notes go below tables and figures (see samples on p. 210-226)
Double-space the entire bibliography. give each entry a hanging indent. in the following annotation, indent the entire paragraph a half inch from the left margin and give the first line of each paragraph a half inch indent. see the template document at the top of this page..
- Check with your professor for the length of the annotation and which elements you should evaluate.
These elements are optional, if your professor or field requires them, but they are not required for student papers:
Abstract (section 2.9).
- Abstract gets its own page
- Center "Abstract" heading and do not indent the first line of the text
- Summarize the main points and purpose of the paper in 150-250 words maximum
- Define abbreviations and acronyms used in the paper
Running Head (section 2.8 )
- Shorten title to 50 characters or less (counting spaces and punctuation) for the running head
- In the top margin, the running head is aligned left, with the page number aligned on the right
- On every page, put (without the brackets): [SHORTENED TITLE OF YOUR PAPER IN ALL CAPS] [page number]
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Writing a Literature Review
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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.
Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?
There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.
A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.
Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.
What are the parts of a lit review?
Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.
- An introductory paragraph that explains what your working topic and thesis is
- A forecast of key topics or texts that will appear in the review
- Potentially, a description of how you found sources and how you analyzed them for inclusion and discussion in the review (more often found in published, standalone literature reviews than in lit review sections in an article or research paper)
- Summarize and synthesize: Give an overview of the main points of each source and combine them into a coherent whole
- Analyze and interpret: Don’t just paraphrase other researchers – add your own interpretations where possible, discussing the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole
- Critically Evaluate: Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources
- Write in well-structured paragraphs: Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts.
- Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance
- Connect it back to your primary research question
How should I organize my lit review?
Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:
- Chronological : The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time, which helps familiarize the audience with the topic (for instance if you are introducing something that is not commonly known in your field). If you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order. Try to analyze the patterns, turning points, and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred (as mentioned previously, this may not be appropriate in your discipline — check with a teacher or mentor if you’re unsure).
- Thematic : If you have found some recurring central themes that you will continue working with throughout your piece, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic. For example, if you are reviewing literature about women and religion, key themes can include the role of women in churches and the religious attitude towards women.
- Qualitative versus quantitative research
- Empirical versus theoretical scholarship
- Divide the research by sociological, historical, or cultural sources
- Theoretical : In many humanities articles, the literature review is the foundation for the theoretical framework. You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts. You can argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach or combine various theorical concepts to create a framework for your research.
What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?
Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .
As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.
Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:
- It often helps to remember that the point of these kinds of syntheses is to show your readers how you understand your research, to help them read the rest of your paper.
- Writing teachers often say synthesis is like hosting a dinner party: imagine all your sources are together in a room, discussing your topic. What are they saying to each other?
- Look at the in-text citations in each paragraph. Are you citing just one source for each paragraph? This usually indicates summary only. When you have multiple sources cited in a paragraph, you are more likely to be synthesizing them (not always, but often
- Read more about synthesis here.
The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.
How To Structure Your Literature Review
3 options to help structure your chapter.
By: Amy Rommelspacher (PhD) | Reviewer: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | November 2020 (Updated May 2023)
Writing the literature review chapter can seem pretty daunting when you’re piecing together your dissertation or thesis. As we’ve discussed before , a good literature review needs to achieve a few very important objectives – it should:
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the research topic
- Identify the gaps in the literature and show how your research links to these
- Provide the foundation for your conceptual framework (if you have one)
- Inform your own methodology and research design
To achieve this, your literature review needs a well-thought-out structure . Get the structure of your literature review chapter wrong and you’ll struggle to achieve these objectives. Don’t worry though – in this post, we’ll look at how to structure your literature review for maximum impact (and marks!).
But wait – is this the right time?
Deciding on the structure of your literature review should come towards the end of the literature review process – after you have collected and digested the literature, but before you start writing the chapter.
In other words, you need to first develop a rich understanding of the literature before you even attempt to map out a structure. There’s no use trying to develop a structure before you’ve fully wrapped your head around the existing research.
Equally importantly, you need to have a structure in place before you start writing , or your literature review will most likely end up a rambling, disjointed mess.
Importantly, don’t feel that once you’ve defined a structure you can’t iterate on it. It’s perfectly natural to adjust as you engage in the writing process. As we’ve discussed before , writing is a way of developing your thinking, so it’s quite common for your thinking to change – and therefore, for your chapter structure to change – as you write.
Need a helping hand?
Like any other chapter in your thesis or dissertation, your literature review needs to have a clear, logical structure. At a minimum, it should have three essential components – an introduction , a body and a conclusion .
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
1: The Introduction Section
Just like any good introduction, the introduction section of your literature review should introduce the purpose and layout (organisation) of the chapter. In other words, your introduction needs to give the reader a taste of what’s to come, and how you’re going to lay that out. Essentially, you should provide the reader with a high-level roadmap of your chapter to give them a taste of the journey that lies ahead.
Here’s an example of the layout visualised in a literature review introduction:
Your introduction should also outline your topic (including any tricky terminology or jargon) and provide an explanation of the scope of your literature review – in other words, what you will and won’t be covering (the delimitations ). This helps ringfence your review and achieve a clear focus . The clearer and narrower your focus, the deeper you can dive into the topic (which is typically where the magic lies).
Depending on the nature of your project, you could also present your stance or point of view at this stage. In other words, after grappling with the literature you’ll have an opinion about what the trends and concerns are in the field as well as what’s lacking. The introduction section can then present these ideas so that it is clear to examiners that you’re aware of how your research connects with existing knowledge .
2: The Body Section
The body of your literature review is the centre of your work. This is where you’ll present, analyse, evaluate and synthesise the existing research. In other words, this is where you’re going to earn (or lose) the most marks. Therefore, it’s important to carefully think about how you will organise your discussion to present it in a clear way.
The body of your literature review should do just as the description of this chapter suggests. It should “review” the literature – in other words, identify, analyse, and synthesise it. So, when thinking about structuring your literature review, you need to think about which structural approach will provide the best “review” for your specific type of research and objectives (we’ll get to this shortly).
There are (broadly speaking) three options for organising your literature review.
Option 1: Chronological (according to date)
Organising the literature chronologically is one of the simplest ways to structure your literature review. You start with what was published first and work your way through the literature until you reach the work published most recently. Pretty straightforward.
The benefit of this option is that it makes it easy to discuss the developments and debates in the field as they emerged over time. Organising your literature chronologically also allows you to highlight how specific articles or pieces of work might have changed the course of the field – in other words, which research has had the most impact . Therefore, this approach is very useful when your research is aimed at understanding how the topic has unfolded over time and is often used by scholars in the field of history. That said, this approach can be utilised by anyone that wants to explore change over time .
For example , if a student of politics is investigating how the understanding of democracy has evolved over time, they could use the chronological approach to provide a narrative that demonstrates how this understanding has changed through the ages.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you structure your literature review chronologically.
- What is the earliest literature published relating to this topic?
- How has the field changed over time? Why?
- What are the most recent discoveries/theories?
In some ways, chronology plays a part whichever way you decide to structure your literature review, because you will always, to a certain extent, be analysing how the literature has developed. However, with the chronological approach, the emphasis is very firmly on how the discussion has evolved over time , as opposed to how all the literature links together (which we’ll discuss next ).
Option 2: Thematic (grouped by theme)
The thematic approach to structuring a literature review means organising your literature by theme or category – for example, by independent variables (i.e. factors that have an impact on a specific outcome).
As you’ve been collecting and synthesising literature , you’ll likely have started seeing some themes or patterns emerging. You can then use these themes or patterns as a structure for your body discussion. The thematic approach is the most common approach and is useful for structuring literature reviews in most fields.
For example, if you were researching which factors contributed towards people trusting an organisation, you might find themes such as consumers’ perceptions of an organisation’s competence, benevolence and integrity. Structuring your literature review thematically would mean structuring your literature review’s body section to discuss each of these themes, one section at a time.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when structuring your literature review by themes:
- Are there any patterns that have come to light in the literature?
- What are the central themes and categories used by the researchers?
- Do I have enough evidence of these themes?
PS – you can see an example of a thematically structured literature review in our literature review sample walkthrough video here.
Option 3: Methodological
The methodological option is a way of structuring your literature review by the research methodologies used . In other words, organising your discussion based on the angle from which each piece of research was approached – for example, qualitative , quantitative or mixed methodologies.
Structuring your literature review by methodology can be useful if you are drawing research from a variety of disciplines and are critiquing different methodologies. The point of this approach is to question how existing research has been conducted, as opposed to what the conclusions and/or findings the research were.
For example, a sociologist might centre their research around critiquing specific fieldwork practices. Their literature review will then be a summary of the fieldwork methodologies used by different studies.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself when structuring your literature review according to methodology:
- Which methodologies have been utilised in this field?
- Which methodology is the most popular (and why)?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the various methodologies?
- How can the existing methodologies inform my own methodology?
3: The Conclusion Section
Once you’ve completed the body section of your literature review using one of the structural approaches we discussed above, you’ll need to “wrap up” your literature review and pull all the pieces together to set the direction for the rest of your dissertation or thesis.
The conclusion is where you’ll present the key findings of your literature review. In this section, you should emphasise the research that is especially important to your research questions and highlight the gaps that exist in the literature. Based on this, you need to make it clear what you will add to the literature – in other words, justify your own research by showing how it will help fill one or more of the gaps you just identified.
Last but not least, if it’s your intention to develop a conceptual framework for your dissertation or thesis, the conclusion section is a good place to present this.
Example: Thematically Structured Review
In the video below, we unpack a literature review chapter so that you can see an example of a thematically structure review in practice.
In this article, we’ve discussed how to structure your literature review for maximum impact. Here’s a quick recap of what you need to keep in mind when deciding on your literature review structure:
- Just like other chapters, your literature review needs a clear introduction , body and conclusion .
- The introduction section should provide an overview of what you will discuss in your literature review.
- The body section of your literature review can be organised by chronology , theme or methodology . The right structural approach depends on what you’re trying to achieve with your research.
- The conclusion section should draw together the key findings of your literature review and link them to your research questions.
If you’re ready to get started, be sure to download our free literature review template to fast-track your chapter outline.
Psst… there’s more!
This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Literature Review Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .
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Great work. This is exactly what I was looking for and helps a lot together with your previous post on literature review. One last thing is missing: a link to a great literature chapter of an journal article (maybe with comments of the different sections in this review chapter). Do you know any great literature review chapters?
I agree with you Marin… A great piece
I agree with Marin. This would be quite helpful if you annotate a nicely structured literature from previously published research articles.
Awesome article for my research.
I thank you immensely for this wonderful guide
It is indeed thought and supportive work for the futurist researcher and students
Very educative and good time to get guide. Thank you
Great work, very insightful. Thank you.
Thanks for this wonderful presentation. My question is that do I put all the variables into a single conceptual framework or each hypothesis will have it own conceptual framework?
Thank you very much, very helpful
This is very educative and precise . Thank you very much for dropping this kind of write up .
Pheeww, so damn helpful, thank you for this informative piece.
I’m doing a research project topic ; stool analysis for parasitic worm (enteric) worm, how do I structure it, thanks.
comprehensive explanation. Help us by pasting the URL of some good “literature review” for better understanding.
great piece. thanks for the awesome explanation. it is really worth sharing. I have a little question, if anyone can help me out, which of the options in the body of literature can be best fit if you are writing an architectural thesis that deals with design?
I am doing a research on nanofluids how can l structure it?
Beautifully clear.nThank you!
Brilliant work, well understood, many thanks
I like how this was so clear with simple language 😊😊 thank you so much 😊 for these information 😊
Insightful. I was struggling to come up with a sensible literature review but this has been really helpful. Thank you!
You have given thought-provoking information about the review of the literature.
Thank you. It has made my own research better and to impart your work to students I teach
I learnt a lot from this teaching. It’s a great piece.
I am doing research on EFL teacher motivation for his/her job. How Can I structure it? Is there any detailed template, additional to this?
You are so cool! I do not think I’ve read through something like this before. So nice to find somebody with some genuine thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!
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Free, Downloadable Educational Templates for Students
Published on June 16, 2022 by Tegan George . Revised on July 23, 2023.
We have designed several free templates to help you get started on a variety of academic topics. These range from formatting your thesis or dissertation to writing a table of contents or a list of abbreviations .
We also have templates for various citation styles , including APA (6 and 7), MLA , and Chicago .
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NH-720 Research for Clinical Practice
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Writing a Literature Review
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Unless you have a reason to present the literature chronologically (to show development over time, perhaps), the preferred method for organizing your literature is thematically.
Step 1 : Identify your themes.
Step 2 : Identify the articles that address those themes
Step 3 : Identify the similarities and differences among the articles within the themes
A Literature Synthesis Matrix will be especially helpful in this process.
In essence a synthesis matrix is a way to organize your literature by theme, which is generally the way writers organize their whole literature reviews.
North Carolina State has a very nice description and example of the process.
This YouTube video also explains the process.
Get started with a synthesis matrix template below. You can choose a template in Word or Excel format.
- Lit Matrix Spreadsheet A Literature Synthesis Matrix in spreadsheet form. Can be used in applications like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets.
- Lit Matrix Doc A Literature Synthesis Matrix in document form. Can be used in applications like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
This video gives examples of how to write an evidence synthesis.
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The IHP Writing Tutor can help you write your literature review. Help is provided via e-mail. Contact the writing tutor at [email protected] .
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Literature Review: Conducting & Writing
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Sample Lit Reviews from Communication Arts
Have an exemplary literature review.
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Apa Literature Review
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Should you use Excel, Google Sheets, or Citavi for Your Literature Review?
If you’re wondering ‘what is a literature review’ or trying to figure out how to write a literature review, you’ve come to the right place. While a literature review can be a summary of sources, it can also discuss published information in a variety of formats on a specific subject area and tends to have an organizational pattern that combines both a summary (a recap of the information) and a synthesis (a re-organization or the information).
The literature review for your article, thesis, or dissertation requires keeping track of sources, their important points, and their links to each other – for hundreds of journal articles, books, research papers, videos, scholarly articles, and other references. So, it’s no surprise grad students and researchers frequently struggle with how to write a literature review.
Many university guides on the subject recommend creating a synthesis matrix for keeping track of sources, ideas, and quotations. Traditionally, this matrix was often created as a Word document, and you’ll still find many templates available online. However, more and more academics now seem to be using spreadsheets instead.
This blog post will look into the advantages and disadvantages of using Excel and Word, explore the reasons for why researchers use spreadsheets, and discuss the benefits of using a specialized writing and reference management program like Citavi.
Pros and Cons of Using a Spreadsheet as a Literature Tracker
Advantages of using excel.
Proponents of the Excel approach are quick to tout the many benefits. First, there’s no need to pay for a new piece of software, since if you already have Microsoft Office installed on your computer, you also already have Excel. Otherwise, you can also use Google Sheets which has all the options you might need.
Then, there’s the simplicity and flexibility of using a spreadsheet. Set up time is pretty low. You simply create a few columns and can get started using your literature tracking system in a matter of minutes.
Another benefit is how easily customizable the solution is – you can make the categories be exactly what you want. Need a column to track the location of a study or a specific intervention? You just need to add it. Even though Excel can get complicated if you set up formulas or other customizations, for a literature review spreadsheet you usually can just use it as a simple table.
So far, the advantages listed apply to Word as well, but Excel and Citavi have one crucial advantage over Word: it lets you search, sort, and filter. Have a vague recollection of a note you wrote but only remember one term you used in it? Use Excel’s “Find” feature. Want to sort all your notes by year of publication of your source? Nothing could be easier than sorting your “year” column in ascending order. Want to find clinical trials with female participants with a statistically significant intervention? If you set up your Excel sheet as described below under “Version 2” such combinations of queries are possible, and in Citavi, setup is even easier as it lets you save sources directly into the program and organize your literature review outline in the knowledge organizer.
Citavi interface showing outline, sources, reference meta data, and an article PDF.
So, with all these advantages, how does the Excel method work in practice?
Version 1: Simple but Effective
When you search for “Excel literature review”, Dr. Elaine Gregersen’s 2016 blog post “How I use Excel to manage my Literature Review” about her personal literature tracking system is one of the first results to pop up. It’s an approach that’s still often praised in discussion threads about Excel literature tracking methods. In her own words, it’s a simple approach, but that’s what makes it work. Her approach uses a literature review spreadsheet in addition to a reference manager. She uses one sheet only and includes columns for basic citation information, keywords, objectives, methods, and conclusions. In addition, she adds in four personalized categories: happy thoughts, unhappy thoughts, her own ethical concerns, and the author’s ethical concerns. These last two columns perfectly align with her field of Autoethnography. The happy thoughts column is for notes, such as how findings relate to her own work, while the unhappy thoughts column is for times when she disagrees with an author, among other uses.
Dr. Raul Pacheco uses a similar one-sheet method, which he calls the Conceptual Synthesis Excel Dump (CSED) technique since he tosses in any literature he might be using for analysis. His setup overlaps in some ways with Gregersen’s but has a few differences; he has columns for the concept (i.e. theme), citation, main idea, three columns for notes (which function similarly to Gregersen’s happy and unhappy thoughts), cross-references, quotes, and page numbers.
A useful tip is to create a dedicated column for quotations to help separate out the authors’ exact words from one’s analysis of them or the article as a whole. This can help you inadvertently misrepresent an author’s ideas as your own when you’re later writing your literature review.
Taking the models laid out by Gregersen and Pacheco as a jumping off point, it’s easy to make some tweaks for even better usability for your own projects. Obviously, you’ll want to create columns that fit your needs. Instead of a column “main theme” you might have several “key takeaways” columns. Or a highly-personal column for how each article relates to your own work. For example, you might include only the author names and year of publication for an article rather than the full citation (in which case we’d highly recommend saving the full details in a reference management program!). Some people might want to copy the abstract the authors provide, while some will choose to write their own summaries. You can add “notes” columns or distinguish between paraphrases, comments, and direct quotations. Beyond that there are a lot of other small things you can do to make your spreadsheet work better for you, such as linking from a citation to the actual PDF, adding comments to cells, or adding drop-down lists to make data entry easier.
If you struggle with organizing your notes and memos, you could benefit from a reference management software like Citavi. Citavi lets you make notes within the program and easily connects your notes, memos, and quotes to your sources – helping you keep track of all your thoughts and research.
In Citavi, see all your notes and comments about a source in one place.
Version 2: Advanced, but Complex, Set-Up Option
If you want to take your basic Excel spreadsheet up a notch, you can do so in several ways. For one, you can make use of multiple sheets in the same workbook. Dr. Kathleen Clarke describes her method which involves a major spreadsheet for tracking all the high-level information about a source along with minor spreadsheets which are more granular. She describes her method as a mix between Gregersen’s and Pacheco’s, but she also includes additional sheets on different but related topics and for studies she wants to read later on. One other notable addition is the use of a numbering system for her sources which corresponds to the article file names on her computer.
Some General Tips
While there’s a lot of freedom in how you set up your Excel files, there are still some best practices you’ll likely want to follow. First, you should set up your table so that headers are marked as such. This way they won’t be sorted along with the other cells if you sort the column by A-Z, for example. Also, you’ll want to apply word wrap formatting to cells to keep content from spilling over into neighboring empty cells. This just keeps everything looking a lot tidier and makes it easier to skim through. Another handy option recommended by McQuilliam is to set up endless scrolling which keeps your column headers visible, even when you’re adding entries at the bottom of your list.
The columns you include are more or less up to you, but you’ll need a column for source information for sure to avoid inadvertent plagiarism or having to hunt down sources later on. In addition, a year column is invaluable for sorting your literature chronologically in preparation for writing your lit review. To keep track of how authors build upon and discuss each other’s work, a cross-references column can also be helpful. It’s important to make it very clear which analysis and thoughts are your own and which are those of your author.
If you’re planning on using filter features later on to search by study type, keyword, or some other criteria you’ll need to use controlled vocabulary, i.e. each concept should be referred to by a single term rather than using a bunch of different synonyms. You can define this at the start in a key on a separate sheet of your Excel workbook so that you can easily refer to it as needed. Each time you decide to add new terms, just add them to your key.
To save time, a streamlined option for organizing and categorizing your source information, notes, and quotes is Citavi, and we’ll look further into the benefits of using Citavi at the end of this post.
Disadvantages of the Excel Approach and Why It’s Not Sufficient for a Quality Lit Review
It’s hard to argue with the advantages of ease, simplicity, and flexibility that the Excel method gives you. But, there are still some big downsides to consider.
First, you have to set everything up yourself – it’s not already set up for you in a way that should fit most workflows. If you try something and later decide to take a different approach, you may need to go back and add in additional information for many sources you already examined.
Although search, filtering, and sorting options in Excel are much better than they would be in a Word table, the program is still a spreadsheet at heart which means that it’s “flatter” than a database. In other words, it’s less relational which makes it difficult to create complex search strings to get a subset of items that fit multiple criteria or that use more complicated search techniques such as Boolean logic or wildcards.
Another drawback is that the Excel approach involves a lot of manual entry. While some amount of manual work will always be necessary, for example, when you type up your comments or key takeaways, you won’t be able to directly extract information from PDFs (such as direct quotes or images) without using an additional PDF reader. Moreover, there are no time-saving automation options for adding source information that you might be accustomed to from your reference manager.
Speaking of reference managers, in many of the Twitter discussions around the Excel note-taking approach, there will always be a few comments asking why the person didn’t consider using their referencing software for their notes. Many proponents of the Excel approach stress that they do indeed use a reference management program to keep track of their source information but that they prefer to keep their notes and analysis in a separate Excel file. One of the reasons is that even though many reference management programs let you group references into folders and tag them with specific terms, they don’t let you easily keep track of and categorize notes on a particular source. You basically get a single notes field and that’s it. No way to categorize, group, or tag the note itself, just the source as a whole.
While this is true for many reference manager programs, there’s one that goes above and beyond its competitors – Citavi! While we’ve explored how it’s possible to create a literature review with Excel and Word, it is not the most efficient way available. With Citavi, you can easily keep track of, categorize, and connect your sources – all in one place.
Advantages of Using Citavi for Your Literature Review
Citavi is a reference management program that has been designed with extensive knowledge organization for any number of sources in mind and may, in many cases, be a better alternative to the Excel method.
Citavi lets you automatically add source information for most journal articles. Then, you can read PDFs and save notes and memos directly in the program. Annotating in Citavi is as simple as how you would on paper as you can highlight sections of text in colors that indicate whether it’s an important section, a section you might want to cite, or a passage that you’d like to analyze more closely. The only difference from annotating on paper is that these notes – which can be summaries, indirect quotations, direct quotations and comments – are always linked directly to their location in the PDF, so if you ever have to look up the context for one of your own comments or a direct quotation again, one click takes you directly to where you need to go and makes it easy to create your annotated bibliography.
Page numbers are saved automatically, as long as the PDF metadata includes that information. Otherwise, you just need to enter a page number for an article with the first “knowledge item” you save for it. Citavi will then add all the rest automatically.
Citavi keeps track of your meta data so it’s easy to follow one of the hundreds of citation styles available in the program.
Although the knowledge item types are pre-defined, the many options will fit most needs, and you can also always use either the keywords, categories, or the core statement field to designate the type of note you are adding if you want more customization. Any terms you use can later be searched or used as filters (more on that below). In addition, for the reference as a whole you also have pre-defined fields for keywords, groups, evaluations, abstracts, notes, and cross-references. This lets you classify at both the reference and note level, so, if you want, you can assign different categories or keywords for a source as a whole and for a statement you find in it. If you need additional source fields, there are nine custom fields which you can rename and format with drop-down options.
Where Citavi really shines against Excel is in its search features and integration with Word and NVivo 14. You can create and save complex searches that combine or exclude certain terms, keywords, categories, note type, year, etc. You can make use of advanced search syntax, such as boolean operators, wildcards, and regular expressions. You can rate sources and filter by rating. And, you have full-text search across all of your PDFs.
You can also view project statistics at a glance or use an add-on to do an analysis by author or another criteria. With Citavi and NVivo 14 integration, you can go beyond reference management by creating a springboard to collect references and thoughts, analyze literature, and connect empirical data with NVivo’s analysis tools – helping you dig deeper into your research and speed up your publishing time.
But the best part is that all of this information can be taken directly over to Word. You have all the analysis and quotes you’ve saved in a panel at the left and can just click to insert what you need. Citavi will insert the correct citation formatting and add an entry to your bibliography at the end. If you added your notes to an outline in Citavi, you can use the “Chapter” view to focus on what you need for a particular section. And, if you ever need to double-check the context for a direct quotation or your own paraphrase, you can click a link symbol to jump back to the exact spot in the PDF that you referred to.
If you do need to at some point export your reference information in table format for an appendix in your dissertation (for example, as documentation of the exclusion process for a systematic review), doing so just requires a few clicks. If you’ve previously worked with Excel and want to try out Citavi, importing is just as easy, and you can of course import all of your existing notes as knowledge items.
Last but certainly not least, if you use Citavi, you have the benefit of working with one tool instead of needing to juggle an Excel spreadsheet, a reference management program, and a PDF annotation tool or PDF reader.
We think it’s a no-brainer to use Citavi instead of Excel or Google Sheets to keep track of your reading for a literature review – but then again, we might be ever so slightly biased. What do you think?
Learn more about Citavi or request a free 30-day trial today!
Literature Review Template Literature Review Template
What’s in this doc, ready to get started, how to use this doc, customizing the coding form, exploring your findings, exporting your data.
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Free Literature Review Templates [MS Word]
Home / Education Templates / Free Literature Review Templates [MS Word]
A literature review template is a written document that contains published information about a particular subject matter. In this document, the length doesn’t matter, it can be as short as a summary or can be as long as the number of pages. An outline of the literature review informs the readers that what published information it has.
Table of Contents
- 1 Importance of a literature review template:
- 2.1 Gather and select the appropriate literature:
- 2.2 Themes and connections:
- 2.3 Plan the structure of your literature review:
- 2.4 Chronological:
- 2.5 Thematic:
- 2.6 Methodology:
- 2.7 Theoretical:
- 3.1 Introduction:
- 3.2 Dissertation:
- 3.3 Stand-alone:
- 3.5 Conclusion:
- 4 Strategies for composing your literature review:
- 5 The purpose of a literature review:
- 6 Conclusion:
- 7 Faqs (Frequently Asked Questions)
- 8 Where does the literature review go in the thesis?
- 9 How can you differentiate between a literature review and an annotated bibliography?
Importance of a literature review template:
It acts as a guide about a particular topic. If you have to conduct more research and you don’t have enough time for a literature review then this template provides you with an overview of what you intend to research on. Also, professionals can detect your credibility in a specific field by reading your literature review format.
How to create a literature review template?
Here are some helpful tips that you should follow during creating a literature review;
Gather and select the appropriate literature:
At first, select a topic that you have to narrowly-defined before researching the literature for a review. However, if you have to write a review of research work, then gather information related to the research problem. It is the first step in creating your outline for literature review . Creating a literature review outline isn’t that difficult. You just have to pay attention and come up with a question that directs your search. Also, your question should be answerable.
Now, start your process. Make a list of relevant keywords for the research topic. Then, go online and search the articles by using a reference list to find other relevant articles. It is also not possible for anyone to read all articles. So, you just have to read the abstract and identify if the article are for your use or not. Do evaluation that either the articles are of value and relevant to the question. Additionally, the scope of your work depends upon the discipline and the topic you have selected. From each cited source, write a paragraph the summary and the analysis. This will remind you about what you have read.
Themes and connections:
You should determine the relationships between all the articles that you have read during organizing a literature review format. Look for the following on the basis of what you have read and the notes you have taken;
- Patterns and trends
- Conflicts and debates
- Pivotal publications
By using above factors make questions and answer them for organizing the structure of the literature review. You can also include that how your research enhance your existing knowledge.
Plan the structure of your literature review:
Before writing your review, plan the structure of your literature review. Use the following strategies depending on how long your review will be;
It is the simplest strategy in which you can map out the development of your topic over a particular period of time. By using this strategy, you can avoid summarized your sources chronologically. Analyze the patterns, key points, and turning point that has affected the direction of the field. You can also provide your own ideas about the developments.
In the course of your research, if you have discovered some recurring themes, then you can organize your literature review into subsections. These subsections will address the different parts of your topic.
If you are drawing sources from various disciplines and using different research methods, then you can end up with different results and conclusions. Analyze the results and compare them that came from different approaches.
For theoretical framework, literature review has become the basis. You can use this strategy to talk about definitions, theories, and models of important concepts. Use different theoretical ideas to make your own framework for research.
What to include in your literature review?
Depending upon your objective, include the following things in your literature review;
This section explains the main objective and purpose of the review.
If you have written the review as the part of the thesis or dissertation, then reiterate the central problem.
In this section, write a short background and significance regarding the topic. Provide the scope you plan to review along with the objective.
For the lengthy review, divide this section into sub-sections and also include sub-headings for each of them.
In the conclusion, write a summary of the key points you have derived from the literature. Also, emphasize the significance.
Strategies for composing your literature review:
Let us discuss some strategies for composing your literature review;
- The literature review is like a piece of paper on which you organize both around ideas not the sources themselves. It means that writing a review is not just listing your sources. Use different themes and issues to connect your sources together.
- It doesn’t have the usual thesis statement , but you still have to inform your readers what your main organizing principle is. Therefore, include the statement which indicates the main principle.
- In your review, sometimes you may include additional sections. But some sections don’t fit into the body’s organizational strategy. However, it depends on which section you want to add. Below are some sections that you may want to include in your review;
- Current situation
- Methods or standards
- Questions for further research
The purpose of a literature review:
The main purpose of a literature review is to build a theoretical framework and methodology for your research. It enables you to explain your familiarity with the topic and its scholarly context. It provides you a chance to show your work in relation to other researchers and theorists.
Moreover, you can indicate through a literature review that your research addresses a gap or contributes to a debate. Also, it allows you to assess the current state of research and explain your knowledge of the scholarly debates around your topic.
In conclusion, a literature review template is a written document of scholarly articles on a specific subject matter. It gives a general summary of information related to a specific problem. This document saves your time and effort because it provides you with an overview of what you intend to research on.
Faqs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Where does the literature review go in the thesis.
The literature review usually comes at the start of your thesis i.e. after introduction.
How can you differentiate between a literature review and an annotated bibliography?
A literature review is basically a survey of credible sources on a specific topic. It is used in the thesis and research papers and helps you to determine relevant theories and methods.
On the other hand, an annotated bibliography is a list of references for each of the sources. They have a short description.
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Free Reading and Literature Templates for Google Docs
- by Alana Domingo
With numerous school districts choosing to go online for parts of the school year, many teachers have been searching for digital English language arts resources to use with distance learning.
To help you make the transition to remote learning, we’ve created free Google Docs templates—perfect for independent reading assignments or class-wide literature units. Each Google Docs template is fully customizable to fit your needs.
To add these files to your Google Drive account, simply click on the “Make a copy” button in the pop-up window. Please note that you must have a Google account to copy the documents. If you do not have a Google account, you can create one for free at this link .
Reading Progress Journal
The reading progress journal is a great resource for holding students accountable for their reading assignments. Designed to be easily copied for multiple entries, this template includes thoughtful response questions to help students think deeply about what they’ve just read.
The dialectical journal encourages students to identify and analyze significant quotes, events, and literary devices as they make their way through an assigned text. Multiple types of entries might prove valuable, including entries that pose questions, make predictions, interpret meaning, draw connections to personal experiences, and analyze the effects of language and literary choices.
Figurative Language Journal
The figurative language journal gives students a space to record examples of different types of figurative language found in the text. However, rather than simply catalog examples, students are asked to consider the author’s purpose for the figurative language and the effect that it has on elements such as characterization, plot, imagery, tone, and mood. This journal template also includes a glossary of common types of figurative language.
Literary Devices Tracker
For each entry in this tracker, students will record an example of a literary device found in the text and comment on its effect. Then, they’ll choose an alternative device and use it to rewrite the excerpt. This exercise will help your students begin to think about the “how” and “why” of specific language choices in the text.
Literary Theme Tracker
This theme tracker helps students take note of thematic elements within a text. As students read, ask them to record examples of the universal idea and related motifs. As these elements develop into a theme, encourage students to begin drawing conclusions about the message that the author is trying to convey. These conclusions should take the form of a theme statement at the bottom of the sheet.
How else are you using Google Docs this year? Let us know in the comments!
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24 Google Docs Templates That Will Make Your Life Easier
Posted: November 14, 2023 | Last updated: November 14, 2023
Work templates, health templates, home templates, travel templates, streamline your work with google docs templates.
Formatting Google documents is a time-consuming task. There are already some excellent templates available for your use. Rather than trying to create your documents manually, use these 24 time-saving templates in Google Docs.
These free Google Docs templates are split into four sections: Work, Health, Home, and Travel. So feel free to scroll to the section that's most relevant to you. On to the Google Doc templates.
Formatting resumes can be a real test of patience (and design skills). You can use this professional template for that. It includes all the sections needed to help you land that dream job. Describe your career objectives, experience, education, skills, and references (you can modify these sections if necessary).
For more options, take a look at these free resources for customizable resume templates .
2. Business Letter
When it comes to any type of business letter, you want the appearance to be professional. You may be writing to a client or customer, contacting a vendor or manufacturer, or creating a cover letter to accompany your resume.
Within Google Docs, there are a number of business letter templates to choose from, and you can even password-protect your docs on Google if they contain confidential information.
Often, the hardest part of creating a presentation is formatting your slides. Fortunately, Google Docs has a ton of presentation templates that do what they say on the tin and can even be edited offline. Once you've selected your template, to add another slide, right-click the second slide, and select Duplicate slide .
You can choose to show the presentation in a new window, or you can download it as a PowerPoint file or PDF (among other formats). Then, confidently open your presentation wherever you are. There are many other uses for Google Slides presentations .
4. Meeting Agenda
Keep your meetings efficient by having an agenda template in Google Docs ready to roll at a second's notice. This meeting agenda template in Google Docs includes the agenda (obviously), attendees, scribe name, minutes, action items, and next meeting items.
You can also invite other team members to add agenda items directly to the template to streamline the process further.
5. Project Timeline
If you've been tasked with creating a project timeline and have no idea where to start, then this template is a life-saver. Organize the timeline of your project with this straightforward Gantt chart.
With tasks split into different phases, and a weekly timescale, understanding the overall structure of your complex project—at a glance—is a picnic.
6. Project Tracking
Similarly, this spreadsheet offers a fast way of keeping up with which tasks are still open and complete, when they were started, who's responsible, and the task difficulty.
Using this kind of tracking spreadsheet, alongside the project timeline, offers a pretty comprehensive toolkit for keeping everyone on track.
7. Business Plan
Get straight into the nitty-gritty of fleshing out your business propositions with this template. The major sections are all there, from market analysis to financial projections, along with plenty of export options.
Whether you want to add a couple of sparklines to your document or link to full-blown graphs, this is easy to do.
If invoicing isn't yet causing a problematic bottleneck in your company, this simple template can save you the hassle of transferring your invoicing to a dedicated, more comprehensive platform. Simply complete the invoice, download it as a PDF, and email it to your client or customer.
If you use Google Docs for your business, then you’ll love this newsletter template. You can add your company details in just minutes, insert photographs, and let your clients or coworkers know what’s new.
It’s short and sweet at two pages, which is usually just enough for an informative company newsletter.
A brochure may not be something you create daily, but this attractive template comes in handy when you need one. It's among several Google Docs options for work-related brochures and more on GooDocs .
Add your own photos, as well as an overview and key features, and wrap up with all the necessary details for your product or service. The template simplifies everything.
1. Weight and Measurement Tracking
For those who are looking to bulk up or become leaner, this fantastic spreadsheet allows you to record any positive or negative changes in body composition, from your weight loss percentage to how much further you need to go to reach your goal.
After each entry, the overall change is calculated automatically. You can use this template to track your weight loss journey with a partner, too.
2. Weight Training
This ready-to-go weight training regimen gives you specific instructions to follow throughout the week. Obviously, the overall weight of each set should be adjusted according to your needs, but as far as set workouts go, you can't go wrong.
1. Household Chores
Prevent arguments around the house by keeping track of household chores (and even offering financial incentives!). This nicely designed template keeps things simple, bold, and clear-cut, helping you always run a tight ship.
2. To-Do List
Using this Google Docs task list template, you can start working on your to-do list as soon as possible while viewing each task's due date, priority, and status.
It's basic, but it does the job, allowing you to get on with crossing things off that list rather than spending time creating it. If you want a simple Google Docs to-do list template, this is it.
3. House Moving Calculator
We all know that moving can cause a huge amount of stress. Much of that stress can come from not properly understanding how the move will affect you financially.
This home cost evaluation template lets you financially assess your new purchase, so you can more effectively weigh your options.
If, for whatever reason, you'd like to have your calendar stored and managed in Google Sheets, there are a number of great templates that'll get you started in no time.
You can browse them in the gallery or open a new Google Sheet and instead of creating a calendar from scratch, select New > From template gallery . Here, you'll find a whole host of Google Sheet templates, including the current year's calendar.
Each month of these calendars is on a separate worksheet, and it's also designed for print. While the calendar will change each year, there are always new templates being added, so keep your eyes peeled.
5. Family Budget Planner
If you need to keep a closer eye on your family or personal income and expenses, this template works much like a corporate sales forecast but has been adapted for home use.
Overall, you'll know how much cash you'll have at the end of the period and can adjust the plan to reach your saving or spending goals accordingly.
There's also a personal version of the Google Docs spreadsheet (rather than aimed at families) available. Keeping track of your expenses with Google Sheets has never been easier.
6. Wedding Checklist
Weddings: another stressful life event. Help yours go more smoothly with this detailed Google Docs checklist template.
By creating a checklist in Google Docs, you ensure that you don't forget anything crucial, such as arranging childcare or transportation ahead of time.
7. Savings Calculator
This calculator quickly lets you see savings projections in different situations, the aim being to show you how this can lead to early retirement if you save carefully. Simply change the blue numbers around and see the effect on the graph.
8. Guest List
Keep track of your guest list with this handy guest list template in Google Docs. Easily add their contact details and even track who you have already sent invites to and whether they have responded.
9. Car Comparison
Struggling to compare a few different car models? Add their stats and pictures to this spreadsheet, so you can have them competing head-to-head without the need to constantly flick through different tabs to find the relevant information.
1. Vacation Planner and Checklist
Vacations should be a relaxing experience. Use and edit this Google Docs checklist template so that you can keep your packing stress-free, preventing you from arriving at your hotel only to realize you've forgotten your phone charger.
2. Travel Itinerary
If you're heading out on an extended trip or visiting multiple places during one vacation, it's best to get everything out of your head, and written down somewhere reliable.
This template allows you to see the important details of any booked transport, plus the dates of your travel, and where you'll be each day. This will make organizing outings and hotels much less arduous.
3. Road Trip Planner
Road trips have never been particularly easy to plan in detail, which makes this template awesome as it includes fields for planning the distances and costs of your travels.
You fill them in with your estimates, and the spreadsheet automatically calculates the total cost of your journey. You can add dates, destinations, activities, mileage, and more to your trip log.
Hopefully, one or more of these free Google Docs templates have your task covered. The Google Docs templates can also be downloaded and exported into formats like PDF and PowerPoint. If you need additional templates, you can browse the Google Docs template gallery.
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