Free Download 📥
Literature Review Catalogue (Excel Template)
Crafting a high-quality literature review is a lot of work. Failure to keep track of all the literature you consume can result in a lot of wasted time. You need to get (and stay) organized – in other words, you need a literature review catalog.
We developed a template, just for you.
Now you can keep on top of your literature using our intuitive literature review spreadsheet-based catalog template. The spreadsheet will not only keep everything organized; it will also provide a summary of key metrics. Best of all, it’s free.
Need a template for the actual literature review chapter? You can get that here.
Need a helping hand?
See how Grad Coach can help you...
How to use the Excel template effectively.
A quick overview. The first tab (labelled “Literature”) is where you’ll record specific details of all the reading you’ll do. The second tab (labelled “Literature Summary”) will auto-populate with descriptive statistics of the input as you enter data.
The last two tabs are simply scratchpads for you to dump any additional resources you find along the way. In particular, we’ve made a tab for theoretical frameworks (you can simply dump screengrabs here and caption them) and a tab for measures and scales (the same principle applies). Measures and scales are specific to quantitative methodologies, but you could just as easily use this tab to jot down existing questionnaires if you’re taking a qualitative approach.
The process is straightforward. For every piece of literature that you read, you log it as a line item. We’d encourage you to record everything you read. Something might seem irrelevant at first read, but you’ll be surprised how the focus of your research can change over time, leading you to inevitably ask the dreaded question, “where did I see that article again?”. Therefore, log every piece of reading, regardless of perceived relevance at the time of reading. You’ll thank yourself later.
While you’re doing this, we’d encourage you to simultaneously capture the literature piece in your reference manager. We usually recommend Mendeley, but any of the popular reference management tools will do the trick. The key thing is to capture the references while you’re reading (and not when you’re writing, as this breaks your flow).
What goes where.
For every piece of literature you read, you’ll need to capture the following details:
- Author – Enter the author(s) surname(s). The format you use here is up to you – just be consistent.
- Year – Straightforward. Enter the year of publication only – no month is required.
- Title – Enter the title exactly as it is shown on the book cover, journal article front page, presentation deck, etc. If you can copy and paste, do so. It’s easy to make mistakes on the long titles.
- Category 1, 2 and 3 – Here, you’ll create categories and subcategories, which you can use at a later stage to help you find relevant literature. It is up to you what categories you want to use and how much detail you want to add here. At the very least, your choice of categories should be logical, comprehensive and mutually exclusive.
- Document type – Click the drop-down arrow next to the cell and select an appropriate document type, for example, journal article, blog post, etc. If nothing matches your document type, you can use the “Other” field.
- Publication setting – the two main options here are academic and practitioner. Academic refers to the classic academic sources such as textbooks and journal articles, while practitioner refers to publications such as industry reports, company reports, industry magazines, etc. There is also a mixed option here.
- Knowledge type – You can choose from two main options here – empirical and theoretical:
- Theoretical refers to situations where an author is proposing a hypothetical theory or concept, but not testing it.
- Empirical refers to situations where an author is testing the said theory by using some form of real-world observation.
- Naturally, some literature will feature both of these (i.e. a model is hypothesized and then tested empirically).
- Key arguments – Here you need to note the key takeaways of the respective piece of literature in relation to your research question(s) and objective(s). This is the most important column, so spend some time providing rich, detailed notes here. Keep in mind that you will be able to search and filter this column at a later stage, so use keywords that make sense.
- Context – Here you should briefly note the context of the specific literature piece. For example, what industry, country, competitive context, etc. did it take place in? When it comes time to justify why your research is worth undertaking, you will likely need to draw on this column’s contents to demonstrate that research has not been undertaken within your specific context (i.e. is it unique?).
- Methodology – Use this drop-down to note the primary methodology (qualitative, quantitative or mixed) used within the specific literature piece. As with the previous item (context), you will likely draw on this when you justify the choice of methodology for your research (i.e. which methodology is commonly used in the field?).
- Key quotes – If there are any specific author quotations that you feel might be useful in your dissertation, add them here. Remember to include the page number if you’re using the Harvard referencing system.
- My notes – Lastly, if there is anything else you feel might be useful, drop it here. You can also create additional columns if you need them.
Finding what you need.
Over time, you will build up a substantial list of literature. When you need to find something, whether it’s a specific piece of literature, a collection of literature within a category, or a summary of a specific author’s publication, you can use the following Excel features:
- Find (Ctrl + F) – good for searching for specific keywords
- Filter – good for filtering groups (for example, categories 1- 3, methodology or publication setting)
- Sort – good for arranging numerical data (for example, publication year)
Once you’ve completed your reading, remember to have a look at the second tab (“Literature Summary”) for an overview of key statistics. As mentioned previously, some of these statistics can help you justify your choice of topic or methodology. Additionally, a review here may reveal that your literature is aged, or that you need to improve your balance of academic and practitioner literature.
Hi, I can’t open the excel file, can you please check it?
Thank you so much for your helpful contents!
Sure, no problem. We’ve checked the file and it is opening correctly. Please give it another go.
Hi,do you have a vidoe on how to popolate the informatino in the spreed sheet ?if you have it i will like to have one.
The Theoretical Framework of the Excel File is empty, sir…
This document is a template for you to populate with the relevant literature, models and frameworks from your reading. As such, it doesn’t contain any literature.
Thank you for such a useful video tutorial. Learnt a lot!
you are amazing….the way you patiently reply to almost every enquiry is remarkable. Keep it up Derek.
Very helpful as usual. Thank you so much.
I need an examplary literature review in mycology (botany) if you can provide it on any botanical topic so I would be able to start my Lit.review.
Why don’t you just ask him to do your thesis for you?
What an invaluable presentation. Makes literature review so simple.
Thanks for the feedback, Tebogo. Good luck writing your literature review 🙂
Very useful! Thanks.
Pleasure, Maureen 🙂
Great tips! Just starting mine now….so I am using your template….to a mil!!
I need this tamplate, its amazing, I will need your consideration on related work. Thank you
Hello, I am trying to download the excel but I am not receiving the email. Can it be that there is a technical problem or does it take some time to send it?
Thanks for your comment. It can take a few minutes for the email to go through. Please also check your spam box.
Yes, I am also facing the same problem brother. Just check it once.
Thanks for this very nice explanation
Great to hear that 🙂
Glad to hear that 🙂
Thanks for the template. It helped in organizing my literature review and writing process
Hi, thanks for sharing this file, very helpful! I’d like to share it with my students. Could you please advise on how to give proper credits (reference) to your work?
That’s great. Here’s the Harvard reference:
Jansen, D., 2019. Literature Review Excel Template (Spreadsheet/Matrix) – Grad Coach. [online] Grad Coach. Available at: <https://gradcoach.com/how-to-manage-the-literature-review/> [Accessed 6 April 2020].
Thank u Derek
Your lectures are effectively informative and easily understood. They are clear and organized.
I’m so glad I came across this website. Thank you Derek !!!
You’re welcome, Rabia 🙂
Thanks for your extremely useful video tutorials. Please can you send me a link to open your Lit Review Excel Templates.
Thanks for your feedback. You can download the template following the instructions in the orange box.
All the best with your studies!
Thank you for this document. I am in the beginning stages of the dissertation process.
You’re welcome, Jerry 🙂
The video on literature review was very useful. I especially like the cataloging suggestion.
Great to hear that, Rishi. All the best for your research!
I`m busy writing my minor dissertation my master’s in engineering. I’m following your videos on youtube for writing a literature review. I’m looking for the excel sheet to save a list of references.
The literature video was helpful. Thank you. I haven’t received the excel template its been a week now . Please assist me .
That’s very unusual. At most, it should take a few minutes. Please re-attempt the download (use an alternative address if need be).
Thank you for the template. it seems useful to organize my literature review.
You’re very welcome.
Thank you for this informative site and all the tips. Very useful for my research.
You’re welcome, Feyi.
Currently writing a dissertation for a masters in social sciences. Found the youtube videos which are of great help.
You’re most welcome 🙂 Good luck with your literature review.
Thank you very much for the support!!
your videos are great helpful.
Glad to hear that! Good luck with your lit review.
You are the BEST
Thanks for the feedback, Annie. I wish you best of luck with your literature review.
where is the download link for the excel template?
The download is below the first image. Good luck with your literature review!
Your videos literally saved me!!!! Due to recent issues, most of my classes were cancelled and i was completely lost.
No words can explain how much grateful i am to you!!
Glad to hear we helped you! Good luck with your literature review.
You guys are the kinds of people who should survive covid-19. You are the type of people we really need in this planet. You are a star. You really saved me from many headaches. Thank you very much for the useful videos and the literature organisation spreadsheet.
Thanks for the kind words, Abel. All the best for your literature review!
Thanks so much for your video. I have consistently received comments that my arguments don’t flow well and I could never figure out how to successfully fix this issue. Now I feel I have a plan and someone to help me and provide feedback if I still don’t get it quite well. Looking forward to getting an improved mark on my next Lit review
Great to hear that, Helen. Good luck with your future literature reviews!
Thanks Biren – good luck with your literature review
i have watched your video on three steps to write a literature review and i found it very useful. thank you for sharing. keep it up.
Thank you for providing such excellent information and sources. Your videos helped me so much. I was on the verge of quitting. Thank you again for your videos and recommended tools.
Great to hear that, Tanya. All the best for your literature review, and for your research.
The video was very informative and timely for me. I am about to start, so Gradcoach is a source I will be revisiitng
Thanks, Nina – glad to hear that. Good luck with your literature review 🙂
hey your video is awesome I had to make an assignment on literature Review and it helped me to get an outline on how I should start ! i was fed of reading books and online articles. Your video served as a boon and clarified my thought process – how I should move forward .Thank you so much!
Great to hear that, Kavita. All the best with your literature review!
Hi Derek, I have tried unsuccessfully to download the Excel template but it keeps bringing me back to this comment section. Is it a technical issue? Kindly help.
Sorry about that. Can you please send me a screenshot of what you’re seeing – firstname.lastname@example.org. I will send you the template as well.
Best of luck with your literature review.
This is so very helpful!! I am writing my first lit review within a proposal (rather last minute, yikes) and this is so helpful to stay organized!
Pleasure. Good luck with your lit review 🙂
Hi i like the video,it is very helpful especially now that I am working on my proposal for thesis project….Hope I will be able to use the excel template to organize for my literature review
Great to hear that, Faith. All the best with your literature review!
hey Derek this video is absolutely amazing. One problem though I’m one of the few that are struggling to download excel. I keep clicking on it and nothing happens.
Thanks for letting us know. Please email me a screenshot of your error and I’ll sort you out – email@example.com
Thanks a lot! Very well explained and easy to follow…now I guess I have no excuse to actually do the work 😉
Thanks for your comment! Good luck with your literature review.
Your video is very informative and useful. Thanks a lot. I also want to try the template but I can’t the find the download link…
The download button is below the main image.
Best of luck with your literature review.
Very helpful thank you
Hi! It is a big help for beginners, such as me. Thanks a lot for sharing!
Thank you. All the best with your literature review.
This is brilliant,
Pls sir, in writing a review article, how deep can u go.
Is it necessary to go down to the inception of your area of research?
How do I know the country/region of research article?
This will usually be covered somewhere in the article itself.
Best of luck with your literature review.
I would like this free resource
You’re welcome to download it. The download button is below the main image.
Good luck with your literature review 🙂
I’d love to have this resource pls. Thank you so much
You’re welcome to download it. The download button is below the main image.
Thanks for the you tube videos. they are very informative
Thank you so much for the full tutorial with so much detailed information. I’m a Ph.D. Candidate in China. The whole syllabus of the Ph.D. program sucks. Thanks again for sharing all this helpful information. I hope your team will getting better in the future!
You’re very welcome. Good luck writing your literature review.
It’s such a big help for me. Thank you!
You’re most welcome 🙂
Good luck with your literature review.
I’ve watched your video on writing a research proposal. I am interested in the lit review excel template.
I have watched your lecture video on writing a research proposal. I am interested in the literature review excel template and the book write smarter not harder.
It is very helpful. Thank you for your experience sharing.
You’re welcome – good luck with your literature review 🙂
I recall listening/seeing in 1 of your videos *of saving the abstract (PDF) together with the excel database.
How do you do this? is it also with this excel sheet
Thank you ..your videos are a confidence booster
*How To Write A Literature Review In 3 Steps (Full Tutorial)
Wonderful work !!! Please share more !!!! I will be very happy.
Thanks so much for your precision in your presentation. I have not yet started practicing but it’s one of the best I have come across. More grease to your elbows.
I love every video on research that you ve made so far. Thanks a lot
انت رائع جدا
You’re welcome. Good luck with your literature review 🙂
Excellent work. Very helpful. I am starting in this beautiful activity of writing papers with my research . I am learning a lot. Thank you very much.
Glad to hear that. Good luck writing up your research papers!
Thank you so much for the free Excel document! It’s such a huge time-saver!
You’re most welcome, Rebecca. Good luck writing your literature review 🙂
I am so grateful that I have found you on YouTube!
In the meantime, is it better to make another excel file for another variable of the same thesis or just put all articles of all variables in 1 excel file?
Thank you very much!
The notes have been very helpful to me thank you very much for sharing
You’re most welcome, Juan 🙂
Just recently seen your youtube video. Its very information. I usually gets running out of words while writing literature review.
Example: XX et al investigated, YY et al shown that, ZZ et al demonstrated…….. After 4-5 references, I feels like again am repeating the words investigated, demonstrated…
Could you please shoe some references with a set of vocabularies that can be used while writing literature review section.
Thank you in advance
Thank you so much.
Amazing tutorial. Am feeling educated now. Lol…
Glad to hear that, Frank. Good luck with your literature review!
Very helpful stuff, thank you so much for the free Excel! I’m going to use it for my DBA and get your YT channel.
Hi, thank you for the great insights! I was unable download the template even though I completed the form. Would you be able to help me?
Derek thanks for sharing your sacrifices. I love the clarity and confidence, it takes experience to do such.
I just downloaded the excel template for LR coupled with the explanation on how to use. I found it useful, thank you!
Do you have any recommendations for adding Key quotes from a reference ?
Great content. Template very useful
Awesome! An answer to my prayer. I found this in time I need it most. Thank you for the spirit of service.
You’re most welcome, Jojo. Good luck with your literature review.
I am really impressed. This discussion helped me a lot to reconsider a lot of issues.
Thanks for the kind words. Good luck with your literature review!
This is amazing! I really like the guidance you are giving here. However, can you throw more light on the ‘category’ columns for me? I’m really nit clear on that. Thanks
Thanks for your comment. Please see my reply to Sasquia’s question re the same thing.
Good luck with your research!
I have been sitting on an enormous amount of articles for months with difficulties in organizing them until i discovered your video on literature review (YouTube). It brought me to this page where you also had a free template for us. Research process is so much bearable now than i expected. Highly recommended for all researchers. Thank you very much.
Great template. Quick question: Are the categories KEYWORDS that I draw from each source? or pre-planned TOPICS that I come up with to organize the source content?
Thanks for your comment. You can use the category columns in whichever way works for you. It would be different for each student depending on the nature of their research and their research objectives.
Good luck with your research!
Hi there, can you suggest how the corresponding literature resources are best saved into a document folder for retrieval later.
I have seen some suggesting using a unique identifier in a master tab in the spreadsheet so as to be able to create a separate tab for quotes or similar thus using the id as the link
But no one has gone on to say if they are also saving the source document in a folder and naming it 57 or author last name, title or other.
I checked out your Literature Kickstarter and the screen shot of the articles didn’t look to correspond with the catalogue. Have been meaning to sort out my reference folders for sometime and am inspired by the use of an excel spreadsheet but not sure what to name files (currently saved in theme folders) Any help would be gratefully received. Thanks
I am happy if I get a catalogue excel template on the research are of zeolite synthesis from local clay for water treatment mechanism. I need help.
I love the template! But I would like to change the name of some of the headings, used in the dropdown, i.e. change “Audio Recording” to “Podcast”. How could I do that?
Great!!! Very handy.
Thankyou so much. The excel file is really helpful. This really means and is helping a lot for me.
please, how can i get your excel document to catacogue the ideas for my literature review.
Can you also assist on how to build the methodology section of my literature review?
Thank you in advance.
I’m a student from Indonesia..This is very useful for me.. Thank you Derek..
What is the better, download all literatures and then log them into the excel sheet or do that for one by one?
I was utterly stressed when taking on an MSc Educational Leadership distance learning degree after 30 years of no academic studying. However, I found your literature review tutorial on Youtube and I immediately experienced a sense of calm direction. I am working full time in the Cayman Islands and am native Afrikaans speaking, so it was such a great help with my literature review for my first assignment. However, I have to write an evaluative essay for my second module and can not find any tutorial done by you about this. Do you perhaps have a template I could use? I have also used your services for editing and proofreading and am super grateful for the amazing help I have received! THANK YOU!
Hi Mr Derek,
It really really helps me to summarise my LR in Excel form and start-up writing
I have tried to download the template and it has failed to. I am not receiving the email either, could this be network issues.
I have been able to download the template. thank you for all your support. let me get started
I have downloaded the template. I would like to print out the guide so I can easily follow. Hope that is fine with you.
THANKS A LOTTTTT
This template is exactly the one I needed when reading the literature review for my Bachelor’s dissertation
Thank you so much for your support ,I have downloaded your template and it is amazing .
Derek, The products you and the team members have put together continue to provide exemplary help as I finish the journey toward completing my dissertation! I wish I would have known of GradCoach during both of my MBAs. It could have helped alleviate a lot of time and frustration! I look forward to learning and seeing new things as I complete the dissertation.
Thanks for the kind words 🙂
Can data will be entered in excel sheet automatically like in Mendeley or i have to enter manually, pl?
Thank you GRADCOACH, I’m keenly following your tutorials as I’m about to start my literature review. These videos have been very helpful.
So for the literature review you recommend only checking abstract, introduction and conclusion of the relevant literature?
Thanks for providing such an amazing resource.
I wish I knew about this when I was doing my masters. I’m doing my PhD now and sitting on Word files of reference lists and quotes I made for my MEd. This catalog will help me to keep everything more organized in one place. I’ve already started making your template my own by adding additional columns that are important for my research topic. One of the best features of your template is the Literature summary page. My question is how do I get the information I put into my new columns to auto-populate with descriptive statistics on the Literature Summary page?
Hi, I still don’t understand what you would put as ‘Category 1’, ‘Category 2’, ‘Category X’. Are they like the sort of big topics covered in the paper?