How Many Words Are Typically Expected In A Literature Review?

In simple words, a literature review is about what other people have written about a particular topic. It is like reading many books and articles to learn what experts have said. The review helps you understand what is already known and what is not about your topic. You use this information to build your ideas and research. But sometimes, you wonder, how many words should a literature review be? Is there a right limit? Let us explore this together.

Purpose and Importance of a Literature Review

A literature review helps in gaining an understanding of prior research on a subject. If you ask someone to write My Dissertation UK standard, it is similar to reading a tonne of books and articles to see what has already been discovered. It helps in developing an awareness of what is and is not previously known. 

It also assists in the identification of knowledge gaps that is, areas that require more research. Therefore, it directs your research. Hence, you can improve your research and bring new perspectives to the discussion by reviewing the work of others.

Factors Influencing Word Count

Writing a faulty literature review is one of many ways to derail a dissertation. (Randolph, 2019) Factors influencing word count for literature review vary and are not singular. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the following aspects in detail: the scope of the topic, disciplinary norms, depth of analysis, research objectives, and expectations of academic institutions.

  1. Guidelines and Expectations from Institutions

Institutions have guidelines that tell students about the expected length of literature review. These guidelines can differ from one institute to another. These rules help students understand how much detail to include. Following these guidelines is important because it ensures the review meets the particular standards and helps students focus on what is most important.

  1. Discipline-Specific Requirements

The word count of a literature review often depends on the specific discipline. Different fields have unique standards and expectations. For example, a literature review in the humanities might be longer because it needs to cover a wide range of sources and theories. In contrast, a literature review in the sciences may be shorter and more focused on recent studies. Understanding these discipline-specific requirements helps students write reviews that meet their field’s expectations.

  1. The Scope of the Review

The scope of the review greatly influences the word count of a literature review. A broad review covering many topics will need more words to discuss all the important points. A narrow review focusing on a specific area will require fewer words. The depth of analysis and the number of sources also affect the word count. Therefore, understanding the scope helps determine how long the literature review should be to cover everything properly.

  1. Balancing Depth and Breadth

Balancing depth and breadth in a literature review is important because it affects the word count. Depth means covering a topic in detail, while breadth means covering many topics more generally. If you go too deep, the review may become too long. If you go too broad, it might miss important details. The best literature reviews find a good balance, giving enough detail to be informative but staying focused to keep the word count within limits.

Strategies for Managing Word Count

It is easy to understand that a literature review covers 30% of the total word count in a dissertation. (helpwithdissertation, 2024) Below are some of the strategies you can use to manage the word count of your literature review while maintaining its quality and coherence.

  1. Stay Focused on the Topic

Your literature review must be carefully focused on your core subject or research issue. Consider whether the material will directly assist your theme before adding it. If your review is on how social media affects teenage mental health, don’t talk about unrelated social media topics like how it affects political campaigns. 

  1. Summarize Key Points

Instead of providing extensive details from each source, summarize the main findings and arguments. This helps in keeping the review concise and focused on the big picture. Rather than describing an entire methodology and results, briefly state the conclusion and its relevance to your topic.

  1. Combine Similar Ideas

When multiple sources present similar findings or arguments, group these sources together and discuss them as a collective. This avoids repetition and saves space. If three studies conclude that social media usage is linked to increased anxiety in teenagers, combine their findings in one paragraph rather than writing three separate paragraphs.

  1. Use Clear and Concise Language

Writing in a clear, straightforward manner helps to convey your points efficiently. Avoid using complex sentences or jargon that can be replaced with simpler and easy words. These words merely add length and complexity to your dissertation. 

  1. Edit and Revise

After writing your draft, go through it to eliminate any redundant phrases, irrelevant details, or overly complex sentences. This step ensures that every word contributes value to your review. During revision, you might find that two sentences are saying the same thing in different ways. Combine them into one concise sentence to reduce word count.

Emphasize Quality versus Quantity

When writing a literature review, focus on quality over quantity. It is more important to include relevant, important sources than to have many pages. Choose articles and books that directly relate to your topic. Summarize their main points clearly and briefly. 

Avoid adding information that doesn’t help explain your topic. By emphasizing relevance, your review will be stronger. This approach helps readers understand the key points without getting lost in unnecessary details. Quality sources make your review valuable and informative.


Managing the word count in a literature review is important for staying focused and clear. You can keep your review brief and impactful by sticking to the primary concept, summarising important aspects, merging related ideas, using simple language, and carefully revising. Recall that quantity is not as essential as quality. A concise, well-structured literature review is more beneficial than a lengthy and chock-full of extraneous information. Following these strategies can help you produce an effective and influential literature review.

Works Cited

helpwithdissertation. (2024, January 26). How Long Should A Literature Review Be In A 10000 Word Dissertation?

Randolph, J. (2019). A GUIDE TO WRITING THE DISSERTATION LITERATURE REVIEW. Practical assessment, research, and evaluation, 14(1), 13.