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Tuesday, 25 November 2014 00:00

How to Write an APA Literature Review

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Your college English Literature teacher in college has made an assignment to create a literature review for your class. She wants it done in APA style. You don’t know how to format the literature review, what it is supposed to consist of, and do not know what APA is. Researching in the library for books on the subject, you can’t find anything. Later, you look to the web, and you find this article online. In this article, you will be taught how to format a literature review in APA format.

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. APA papers are notable in behavioral sciences, education, and social sciences.

A literature review is similar to a book review. It is an explanation of a subject that has been published by scholars and researchers. The goal of a literature review is to communicate to the audience the ideas and knowledge that the topic has established as well as their strengths and weaknesses. The literature review needs to have a certain objective, problem, or thesis that you are arguing as your focal point of the paper.

Before you write your literature review, you need to read the book.  While you read your book, gather the basic information about the book such as the author, number of pages, the publisher, and the year of publication. Take copious notes on each chapter. Think about the characters, the theme, the scenes, and the overall message. Highlight the important points of the book. And, you should give an overall summary of each chapter.

When you are done reading your book, think about the plot, characters, theme, and goals of the book. Read literature reviews and articles about the book. For your literature review, you should use 8.5” by 11” paper with 1” margins on all sides. You should double space the entire paper. Use 12-point Times New Roman or Courier (serif typeface) font for typing.

Number each page, starting with the title page. Page numbers should be placed on the paper on the upper right corner of every page. Next, the running head is the shortened title placed at the top of every page of the book report. The running head’s length should be 50 characters in all capital letters on the title page’s upper left corner. Arrange your paper in this order: Title Page, Literature Review, and References.

The title page of your literature review should be ten to twelve words and concise. The title should be centered on the top of the page and typed in sentence case. Press enter twice, center your first name, middle initial, and last name. If you are named “Jr.” or “III,” place a space between the last name and the suffix. Next on a new line underneath your name, put your college or university. If you do not have a college or university, list the city or state that you are researching.  If your college or university is located outside of the United States, list the city, state or province, and country.

In the research section, announce the book’s title and the author’s name. The literature review needs to accomplish certain tasks, organize around and directly relate to the thesis or research question you are developing, make results into a summary of unknowns and knowns, look at all areas of controversy in the literature, ponder extra questions which need extra research. Arrange the literature review into parts which have themes or identify progressive trends. Have a thesis and supporting clauses in the first paragraph. In subsequent paragraphs, list topic sentences which support your thesis and give evidence for your topic sentence. Conclude with a summary, reiterating the main points of the literature review.

Reference your book with citations, such as (author, page number). Your references page is where you list your sources of your literature review. To properly cite your references, go to the Purdue OWL Writing Lab (

A literature review tells your audience the significance of the book you have read. A literature review serves as an effective critique to your audience

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