The aim of this review is to identify a comprehensive set of variables that can describe the range of different plantation types, specifically (but not exclusively) in the context of forestry. The typology was developed based on a participatory and iterative analytical process involving several expert stakeholders. The variables that contribute to constructing the typology are presented and explained in light of their influence on ecological and socio-economic outcomes. Variables include the following: (1) characteristics of planted organism (tree/non-tree), (2) species composition (monoculture/mixed), (3) origin of planted species (native/exotic), (4) plantation purpose (economic, social and environmental), (5) plantation intended use (provisioning, regulating and cultural services), (6) land ownership (public and private), (7) management responsibility (public and private), (8) management intensity (high-medium-low), (9) scale (large-medium-small) and composition (monoculture/mixed) in landscape, (10) original initiator of plantation establishment (external and internal) and (11) level of institutional arrangements (high-medium-low). The typology is then tested using three case studies. A code system is presented that scholars and practitioners can use to classify plantation types and provide the basis to aid further analyses.