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Literature Reviews

Organize and Plan the Written Review

Ask Yourself

  • In what order should I talk about the main themes?
  • Why that order?
  • In what order should I talk about the sub-themes?
  • Why that order?

Consider what is the most logical order and what order will best help the reader follow your synthesis.

Take the time to organize the information you find will help to keep your discussion, thoughts, and conclusion(s) clear for the reader and easier to synthesize.


Organize your review at the local and global level.

Develop a mind-map of the review to help you see a logical way to organize the themes and how they are related.


Keep your review focused on the topic.

Build an argument, not a library.


Consider why and for whom you are writing your review.


Use signposts (headings) throughout the review so your readers understand where you are taking them. More information can be found in the LC guide for "Headings."

Tables and Figures

Tables, figures, and appendices can be used effectively to show similarities and differences between articles and themes. More information can be found in the LC guides "Tables," "Figures," and "Appendices."


Watch this 3-minute video for an introduction to organizing your findings in a literature review.

Salter, J. [Dr. Jodie Salter]. (2016, March 14). Writing the literature review: A banquet hall analogy [Video]. YouTube.


Watch this 10-minute video to learn about using reverse outlining to help you check your organization as you write your literature review.

Badenhorst, C. [cecile badenhorst]. (2019, January 12). Reverse outlining [Video]. YouTube.