Barbara P
Barbara P

How to Write an Abstract - Simple Writing Guide with Samples

9 min read

Published on: Apr 19, 2023

Last updated on: Jun 6, 2023

How to Write an Abstract

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Abstracts are important to write because they summarize your entire paper in a nutshell. They let readers know what your work is about, without reading the entire thing.

Are you struggling to write an abstract for your next paper? You're not alone. This is a notoriously difficult task, but you can learn to write winning abstracts every time with a little guidance and practice.

In this blog post, we'll provide a simple guide to know how to write an abstract, along with some samples to help you get started. We'll also share tips on making your abstract stand out from the competition.

Read on and get started with your abstract within a few minutes.

What is an Abstract?

An abstract is a short summary of your research that tells the readers its central point and describes how you plan to investigate it. A strong abstract will allow readers to have detailed information about a particular study's findings.

The abstract is the most important part of any paper. It helps your audience to decide whether they want to continue reading about what you're saying. This passage should be between 150 to 250 words long, and it follows the title page, acknowledgments section, and table of contents.

So, what makes a good abstract?

A good abstract will give readers a brief overview of what your paper is all about and allow them to decide whether they want to read on. It's an essential part of any research publication and thesis that needs completion!

To summarize a research paper in an abstract, it is important to include the critical parts of your work. This includes summarizing what you will be discussing during each section and including any major conclusions or recommendations based on this information.

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Characteristics of a Good Abstract

“What are the four main characteristics of a good abstract?”

An abstract should be:

  • Brief
  • Concise
  • Objective
  • Balanced

Types of an Abstract

There are four main types of abstract in research.

Descriptive Abstract - It is used to summarize the information in the work. This means it does not analyze or judge any conclusions drawn from research but provides some highlights about what's found within it. Here, the strict word limit is less than 100 words.

Critical Abstract - The critical abstract gives the reader a chance to evaluate your paper and analyze ir critically. It provides a more in-depth analysis of the study's validity, reliability, or completeness. It should be about 400-500 words long.

Highlight Abstract - This abstract is written in a way that captures the reader's attention from beginning to end. It provides all the information needed to completely capture readers’ comprehension and understanding.

Informative Abstract - This is a brief overview of the research findings, emphasizing what you can expect from reading further. It provides the discussion of all major points of your project to its audience. This abstract word limit should not exceed 300.

How to Write an Abstract?

It is important to write an engaging abstract for your research paper. If it's not interesting or creative enough, reviewers might reject you before even getting started with their assessment process!

Most students ask, ‘how do you write an abstract? And how do you write an abstract for a research paper?’

Here are the important steps you should follow to write a good abstract.

1. Read Every Instruction Carefully

The instructions that come with every research paper serve as guidelines to make sure you follow all of the proper forms and procedures.

Follow these rules when writing your abstract, or else it might get rejected by your professor!

These guidelines may include the following:

      • The kind of abstract
      • A proper pattern to follow
      • Any structure-specific rules that must be followed
      • The word count required
      • Formatting and style requirements

Following these instructions will engage readers to continue reading your paper.

2. First Write Your Research Paper

The abstract should be written at the end of your paper to ensure that readers are fully informed about what they will read.

It summarizes key points from every paragraph, making them easy-to-understand and brief enough not to distract from any important information.

3. Include Background of the Research Study

When writing an abstract for your research, keeping the information brief and concise is important. To avoid being boring or irrelevant, you must add some background information on your topic into the abstract.

Make sure this doesn't contain any lengthy details and keep things brief. But it must be focused enough not to give off unnecessary information.

The facts you choose should be related to your study. This will help explain the significance of its expected outcome in a way that captivates readers.

4. Explain the Research Problem and Objectives

Start your abstract by clearly describing the purpose and objectives of your research. Then, explain its significance in terms of society, people in general, and the questions you will answer.

This can be done using words such as evaluate, analyze and investigate. The passage can either be written in simple past or present tense but not future perfect form because it describes an action that has already occurred.

While stating your research problem, answer the following questions:

      • Why are you carrying out this study?
      • What will the study add to the field?
      • Why should the audience read the entire document?
      • What is the main issue that your research is attempting to address?
      • What is the study's scope, i.e., specific or broad?
      • What is your research’s main argument?

5. Mention the Research Methods

Every research study follows a specific methodology. The abstract will discuss the methods you have used to answer your question. Readers of this document need to know what they can expect when reading/following your work.

The part of your paper should be no more than two sentences long. Make it clear and concise without going into too much detail. This will help keep readers engaged with what you have written!

This section aims to give an overview of how you conducted your research. It can be qualitative or quantitative and will typically utilize more than one approach, depending on the project’s best.

It should always include some kind of case study as well! Just explain why these methods benefit your study specifically.

6. Analyze Previous Researches

The abstract should summarize the relevant and previous research on a particular topic. It's important to identify what makes your work unique, but not too much detail goes into this section.

The abstract is the mini version of your research. Make it interesting, creative and engaging to keep readers engaged!

7. Summarize Findings and Results

Summarize your study’s major findings, results, and conclusion in this section. You should write it using the simple past tense, avoiding vague qualitative terms like "they say" or 'it was discovered.'

Moreover, identify the contribution of your study in concrete terms. For example, saying that you proved or disproved certain claims with statistics and data analysis is a great way to share what you learned from research.

8. Write Your Conclusion

The final section of the abstract should answer your research question and problem.

Many researchers have noted the limitations of their sample size or methodology. This is important for readers because it can help them understand how credible your research is compared to other studies on a similar topic.

The researcher's goal in this section should be to provide insight for future research. It should offer practical suggestions on contributing to advance knowledge within your field and call out any gaps that need filling.

9. Add Keywords to Attract the Audience

Give your abstract a unique feel by adding keywords at the end. The keywords you use in your abstract should be the most common and relevant terms.

This will make it easier for potential readers to find your paper during their searches, so include 5-10 short words related directly to what they're looking for!

Keep in mind, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA) style has some specific requirements for formatting these keywords.

10. Read Some Abstract Samples

Learning anything is easier when you can see examples of how it should be done. So, before writing your paper's abstract, read some online samples related to different subjects. These subjects include science, social sciences, and humanities.

While writing a literature review, reading samples gives a good idea of the type of abstract that each subject should have.

11. Create a Rough Draft First

Creating a rough draft is a great way to get ideas for your full paper. It's also good practice in brainstorming and coming up with new content when you have limited time or space!

‘What should not be included in an abstract?’

Do not include the following elements in the abstract.

      • Extensive background information
      • Unnecessary phrases, adverbs, and adjectives
      • Repeated information
      • Abbreviations or acronyms
      • References to previous research
      • Incomplete sentences
      • Jargon language or ellipticals
      • Citations to other people's work
      • Image, table, or illustration of any kind
      • Definition of keywords and terms

After you have written, reviewed, and revised it thoroughly, remove anything that gives away too many details. Make sure your content is concise but provides just enough information in each section's main points to intrigue readers into reading more.

12. Proofread Before Submission

The final step in any writing process is proofreading. Proofread your work carefully to ensure no errors or typos before submitting it!

It is essential to proofread your work before submitting it, as this will help you avoid any grammatical errors. In addition, a couple of hours spent checking for mistakes could save a lot of time in the long run!

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Abstract Page Template and Examples

The abstract template and different examples of writing an abstract for a paper are provided below. If you want to learn more, read them.

Tips for Writing an Abstract

Below are some useful tips for writing an effective abstract for a paper.

  • It is important to use a reverse outlining process when writing an abstract. The first step in this type of outline includes making keywords that summarize the central argument and then revising them for clarity before moving on with other parts.
  • Read through other sample abstracts to get a sense of the style and structure of the abstract.
  • A good way to make your writing more engaging and easier for readers is by avoiding jargon language. Make each sentence focus on one major argument so they can better understand what you're trying to say!
  • Discuss the original contributions of your research and avoid talking about others' work.

Now that you know how to write an abstract, why not put your skills into practice and give it a try?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How to write an abstract sentence?

The abstract sentence should begin with a brief but precise statement of the problem or issue. Then, move on to a description of the research design and method, the major findings, and the conclusions.

Is abstract the same as introduction?

An abstract is a summary of your entire study. In contrast, an introduction includes only some elements of a paper.

Do you need citations in the abstract?

Citations are not allowed in the abstract. The abstract should focus on presenting new research rather than summarizing other works. The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without referring to other sources.

Barbara P


Barbara P, Literature, Marketing

Barbara's qualifications include a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university and extensive experience working practically in the medical field. With her research experience on various health issues, she is skilled in writing papers that offer new perspectives on healthcare topics. Many of her works have been published across multiple renowned publications.

Barbara's qualifications include a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university and extensive experience working practically in the medical field. With her research experience on various health issues, she is skilled in writing papers that offer new perspectives on healthcare topics. Many of her works have been published across multiple renowned publications.

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