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An abstract serves as a brief overview of the discussion in a text; it also "enables persons interested in the document to retrieve it from abstracting and indexing databases" (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 25). Depending on the expectations of the document, an abstract is typically 150-250 words long (p. 27).

For more information on writing abstracts, please see the following resources from the University of Maryland, Baltimore Writing Center:

Abstracts (PDF worksheet) 
How to Write an Abstract: Intro: What is an Abstract (YouTube video)
How to Write an Abstract: Content (YouTube video) 
How to Write an Abstract: Writing Style (YouTube video)

For the APA Style perspective on writing abstracts, please see pages 25-27 in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (American Psychological Association, 2010), as well as "Making a Concrete Abstract", "Brevity Is the Soul of Lingerie (and Abstracts)", and "Gimme Structure" from the APA Style Blog.

Finally, if you're writing an abstract for a conference, please see "How to write a conference abstract: A five-part plan for pitching your research at almost anything".

To search for additional information, please visit WriteAnswers and search the FAQs. If you're a RRU student, you can also use the WriteAnswers contact form to send your questions directly to the Writing Centre. We'll send you a private reply as soon as we can, which is typically within one business day of receiving the message.


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.