How to Write an Abstract: 6 Simple Steps and Examples

Professional and academic pieces of work have many components and take a lot of time to write and organise. An abstract is one of these components and it is essential to include one to completely organise a larger body of work. Having the work separated into different sections breaks it up and allows the different sections to play their part. The abstract is one of the first things a reader will see when they encounter a long piece of work, so it is crucial that you get the abstract right.

The following article will introduce what is an abstract, when and how to write an abstract in an essay with 6 easy steps.

How to Write an Abstract

What Is An Abstract?

An abstract is a descriptive, self-contained, short summary of a larger work. An abstract differs from an introduction because it is more concise. It gives a brief overview of the longer work that the person is about to read and informs them of all the key information that they should know going into it.

An abstract is purely descriptive, so it makes no analytical points or judgements. It should detail the aims and outcomes of the work that it precedes, but it should not provide any statistics or other specific results because the reader will discover those by reading the longer work.

The abstract should describe just enough about the larger work to make the reader feel informed and confident about what they are going to read. Therefore, an abstract is essential.

When to Write an Abstract

An abstract is usually written for a research article, a university thesis, a conference proceeding, a review, and any other in-depth professional or analytical piece of work.

You always place the abstract at the beginning of a manuscript, even though you write it last.

The Steps to Writing an Abstract

Once you know what an abstract is and when it is necessary to include one, you can move on to writing one.

Below is a step-by-step guide to writing a successful abstract:

Step 1- Always write it last

The abstract may appear at the beginning of your manuscript, but it is best to always write it last. This is because you will be able to take all the information you need from the main body of work to construct the abstract. That way, you will know that your abstract is accurate to everything else you have written and can simply transpose your work into a concise, descriptive summary.

Step 2- Set yourself a word count

An abstract is brief for a reason: it introduces the work without saying too much about it. Setting yourself a word count for your abstract will prevent you from writing too much and force you to be concise. An abstract is usually only 150-300 words long, so very condensed. If you are writing for an institution, like a university or a company, then you will likely be given a word count anyway.

Step 3- Start by introducing the topic

You should make a statement at the very start of the abstract to introduce the topic of the work to the reader. Ensure that it links closely to the title of the work but doesn’t plagiarise your introduction section.

Step 4- Cover the aims

You should then move on to describe the aims your writing was working towards and how you went about achieving these aims. State any methods or major research. Remember to describe, not discuss, for an abstract.

Step 5- Cover the major outcomes

Remember, you are writing the abstract with hindsight of the whole project and then placing it at the beginning of your manuscript. Therefore, you should describe the major outcomes of your research after covering the aims and methods.

Step 6- Briefly mention the conclusion reached

Finally, mention the conclusion that your work has reached to give the reader a complete condensed overview of what they are about to read. Again, make sure that you don’t plagiarise your conclusion when ending your abstract and instead briefly segue into what the conclusion will be talking about.

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