How to Write an Abstract

An abstract must be written at the very beginning of your work even though it is not a part of the text itself. It is not mentioned in your thesis’s organization or table of contents.

An abstract is said to be a succinct overview of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding, or any in-depth investigation of a certain subject and is frequently used to help the reader immediately determine the paper’s aim.

It is safe to say that it serves as a seller to your work, since it is the first part of your work to be read.

Why Write an Abstract

The purpose of an abstract is to provide a concise summary of the key points of your research paper’s background, structure, methodology, data analysis, and findings. There shouldn’t be any suspense in the abstract because doing so will make it easier for the reader to assess the significance of your article.

Abstract Format

To write an outstanding abstract you must know what format to use, the most popular of which is The American Psychological Association (APA) format. Here’s what the 7th edition Publication Manual of the association has to say about formatting abstracts:

  • Double-space your text.
  • Set page margins at 1 inch (2.54 cm).
  • Write the word “Abstract” at the top of the page, centered and in bold font.
  • Don’t indent the first line.
  • Keep your abstract under 250 words.
  • Include a running header and page numbers on all pages, including the abstract.

Keywords for abstracts also have their guidelines,

  • Label the section as “Keywords:” with italics.
  • Indent the first line at 0.5 inches, but leave subsequent lines as is.
  • Write your keywords on the same line as the label.
  • Use lowercase letters.
  • Use commas, but not conjunctions.
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The Content

Since there’s a limit to how long your abstract should be you must be able to persuade the reader that your study is important and that the results are applicable. When writing your abstract, you must be transparent and make it extremely apparent to the reader what to anticipate from your work, particularly about the outcomes.

The abstract should highlight key points from the paper, such as the;

  • Research question,
  • Purpose,
  • Scope,
  • Limitations,
  • Study design,
  • Methods,
  • Main results,
  • Main idea or message,
  • Key interpretations,
  • Implications,
  • and validity

The Structure

Being as precise as you can while crafting an abstract is essential. Each of the following elements listed below should be briefly discussed in no more than two sentences.

Abstract structureContent
IntroductionResearch question, research context, the gap in the literature, hypotheses
MethodApproaching (and attempting to close) the gap in the literature: methods, study design, and data analysis (e.g. coding, statistical analysis)  
ResultsMain results (positive and negative)
DiscussionInterpretation of results: limitations and weaknesses, practical implications, suggestions for future research, discussion of theoretical aspects, etc.
Table (cf. Kruse 2007:186)


When people pick up your abstract, they want to know what you aim to achieve, what propelled you to pick that topic, and also to see if you were able to find a solution to it. Thus, you must ensure that your goal or aim of writing on the topic has been well communicated to your audience, and the results of your research can be proven, tested and accepted, all this must be included in your abstract.

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You’ll agree with me that getting to summarize a whole research work in less than 250 words can be very tasking, but with the knowledge provided above you can say its an easy task.

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