How to Format a Literature Review Correctly for APA Format

How to Format a Literature Review Correctly for APA Format

Published by on 2021-06-24 10:23:34

Literature review writing is nothing to worry about. Composing this type of assignment is much easier than it might seem. The same idea works when speaking of formatting a literature review properly.

Before moving on to the latest APA guidelines, let’s talk about the assignment they want you to write. The formatting requirements remain the same regardless of the work you do as a student or scientist. So, once you try them out on a literature review, it will become much simpler to apply them to essays, research papers, and other works.

What Is a Literature Review Paper?

This type of academic paper is about picking a particular topic and coming up with a thorough overview of scholarly sources touching it. It’s an assignment perfect for conducting an in-depth study of the chosen topic through getting acquainted with the works of acknowledged experts. A literature review is a way to improve your qualification and expertise by analyzing concepts and methodologies available while simultaneously locating the knowledge gaps to determine your future research direction.

To complete this type of paper well, you need to go through five essential milestones. The way is divided into:

  1. Finding the literature that is suitable and relevant.
  2. Evaluating the revealed and chosen knowledge sources.
  3. Coming up with topics, controversies, and knowledge gaps.
  4. Thinking over the paper structure.
  5. Writing a good review.

Formatting a Literature Review

The point is a worthy literature review is not focused on summing the existing sources up only. As an author of this paper, you need to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate them all to draw a clear image of the situation with the current knowledge and research state in the chosen field. And, of course, a good paper would be impossible without proper formatting.

How to Write an APA Literature Review: Intro Words

The APA style is the type of academic paper formatting introduced and supported by the American Psychological Association. Currently, it definitely stands among the most popular formats used to shape scientific papers and research studies.

It can be quite challenging to understand all the demands and nuances of APA. However, the professional guidelines available further in this article will help you craft a worthy APA publication.

How to Format a Literature Review in APA

APA formatting is about keeping up with multiple nuances and lesser details, such as the font sizes, line spacing, margins, and headers. It is critical for a student to know them all. That knowledge will not only bring you better grades but will come in handy if you decide to continue your career as a scientist and researcher.

APA Style: How to Format a Literature Review Title Page

Obviously, the title page should be your first point of focus. To begin, place the title at the center of the page. Make sure it is not more than 12 words long. Then, hit Enter and add your first and last name. One more Enter and the name of your school should be added in the next line.

The entire document should have double spacing and center page alignment obligately. Additionally, know that titles do not contain intro phrases or abbreviations here.  

Headings in APA Literature Review: Running Head

The top of the title page is the place to insert a header. It contains the short paper title (50 symbols with spaces max). This one aligns to the left and goes with all caps.

Headers should apply to every page. On the first page, the header contains the phrase “RUNNING HEAD” before that shortened title. All other pages get only the title itself. The page number should be placed in the top right corner of the header. Again, all pages need to be numbered.


An abstract starts on a new, second page, with a title saying “Abstract” aligned to the center. It consists of 150 to 250 words. It is the short description of your paper providing info about the goal, methods, results, and conclusions that the reader will find there. Make sure you don’t use underlined, italic or bold fonts there.

How to Write a Literature Review in APA: Main Text

The main text font size is 12, and the font itself is serif. The most popular one here is Times New Roman. Sans serif fonts can be used to type titles and picture subscriptions. Arial will cut it quite well, for instance.

Writing an APA Literature Review

Double spacing applies here as well as for all other elements of the paper including headers and titles, citations, references, and illustration signatures. The first line indent for every paragraph should be set to ½ inch. Left alignment works here, just like we mentioned previously.


A reference list is a must for every academic paper, including literature reviews. So, compose it thoroughly and add it to your work. Make sure your references start with the word “References” on the new page aligned to the center. Press Ctrl + Enter to go to a new document page in Google Docs or Microsoft word if necessary, don’t leave those multiple empty paragraphs. They’re weird.

Type the A-Z list of authors. In case there is no author known for the source, use the first title letter. Text editing software apps mostly have built-in APA templates, including references. You can format them with no problem and unnecessary effort.

Keep in mind that APA formatting may have some variable requirements for citations from different sources. Always consult your supervisor about the most relevant demands.

To Conclude

Where does the literature review go in an APA paper formatting rules? Now you know the answer. Keep up with the guide above, and your paper is bound to be flawless.

By the way, you can always ask pros for some help in literature review writing whenever you feel the need for it. Experts available online are here to assist you with any academic assignment and their formatting.