Q. I need to write an abstract. What is that? How do I do it? Where do I put it in my paper?


What is an Abstract?

According to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7th ed., an abstract is a "brief, comprehensive summary fo the contents of the paper" (American Psychological Association, 2020, p. 73).  Including an abstract allows a reader to quickly assess whether the article will be of interest or fulfill a particular information need.

What is included in an abstract?

Generally, it is one paragraph ranging from 150 to 250 words.  A well written abstract should be:

  • Accurate
  • Nonevaluative
  • Coherent and readable
  • Concise

An abstract begins on its own page and is placed immediately after the cover page and before the text of the paper.




This is the abstract, or summary, of your entire paper. It is usually no longer than 250 words in length. You should choose your words carefully so that the abstract does not get too long. Notice that there is no indentation in the abstract. It is one paragraph and the left margin is flush and the right margin is ragged (not justified). The abstract is written in the past tense and should include general overview of the paper you wrote. It also should include any major hypotheses and your method(s), if applicable. Be sure to write your results in a general style, without using numbers. The abstract should end with a very brief concluding statement.


See the Quick Lesson on Abstracts in APA Academic Writer for more information.



  • Abstract and Keywords

    Learn how to write an abstract and how to select keywords, including how to achieve the appropriate length, content, and format.

    Academic Writer

    © 2016 American Psychological Association.

  • Last Updated Jul 16, 2020
  • Views 4933
  • Answered By Suzanne Schriefer, Education & General Education Librarian

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