How to Write an Abstract in APA Style: A Comprehensive Guide

Writing an abstract in APA style can be a daunting task, especially for those who are new to academic writing. An abstract is a concise summary of a research paper, thesis, dissertation, or any other type of academic work. It provides readers with a brief overview of the study’s purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions. If you’re not familiar with the guidelines for creating an abstract in APA style, it can be easy to make mistakes that could impact your work’s credibility. Therefore, this post aims to provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to write an abstract in APA style. You’ll learn about the different types of abstracts, the components required, tips for effective writing, and common mistakes to avoid. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to create a well-written and accurate abstract that meets the requirements of APA style.

What is an Abstract and why it is important?

An abstract is a concise summary of a research paper, article, or thesis that outlines the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of the study. In APA style, an abstract is typically required for academic writing in the social sciences and is located on a separate page before the body of the paper.

The importance of an abstract cannot be overstated. It provides readers with a quick overview of the research and helps them decide whether to read the entire paper. A well-written abstract can attract readers who might otherwise overlook the work and can also help establish the author’s credibility as a researcher.

For example, imagine you’re a graduate student submitting your thesis for publication. Your abstract will be the first thing potential readers see, and it needs to convince them that your work is worth their time. An effective abstract should provide a clear and concise summary of your research, including its importance, methodology, and findings.

In addition to attracting readers, an abstract can also help researchers stay organized while writing their paper. By summarizing the key points of the study, authors can ensure that they are addressing all the necessary components in their writing and can avoid getting sidetracked by irrelevant details.

Overall, an abstract is a critical component of any research paper or article written in APA style. It serves as a gateway to the rest of the content, providing readers with a snapshot of the research and establishing the author’s credibility. So, spending the time to craft a clear and compelling abstract is well worth the effort.

Types of Abstracts

Types of Abstracts

Abstracts are short summaries of a research paper or article that provide readers with an overview of the study’s purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions. In APA style, there are two different types of abstracts: descriptive abstracts and informative abstracts.

Descriptive Abstracts

A descriptive abstract is a brief summary of a research article, thesis, review, conference proceeding or any in-depth analysis of a particular subject or discipline. It provides information about what was done, but not what was found or what it means. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, typically ranging from 100 to 150 words. They are generally used for shorter papers such as technical reports or brief research articles.

Informative Abstracts

An informative abstract, on the other hand, provides a summary of the research study itself, including its purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions. It is much longer than a descriptive abstract, usually ranging from 250 to 300 words, and is commonly used for longer research articles, dissertations, or theses. The informative abstract usually includes a few sentences on each of the following elements:

  • Background and purpose of the research
  • Methodology used to conduct the research
  • Results of the research
  • Conclusion drawn from the research

Informative abstracts also often contain keywords, which help readers find the article when searching online databases.

APA Style

No matter which type of abstract you are writing, it should be formatted according to APA style guidelines. This means double-spacing the text, using Times New Roman font in 12-point size, and including a page header with the title of the paper, the author’s name, and the page number. Additionally, the first line of the abstract should not be indented.

In summary, descriptive and informative abstracts serve different purposes, so it’s important to choose the right type of abstract for your research paper or article. Following APA style guidelines for formatting will ensure that your abstract looks professional and is easy to read.

Components of an Abstract

Components of an Abstract

An abstract is a brief summary of a research paper, thesis, or article that provides readers with a quick overview of the key points covered in the work. In APA style, there are specific components that must be included in an abstract to ensure it accurately reflects the contents of the paper and is useful to readers.


The title of the paper should be included at the top of the abstract page, centered and formatted in boldface. It should be identical to the title used on the title page and throughout the paper, to ensure consistency and clarity for readers.


The author’s name should also be included in the abstract, directly below the title. Use first name, middle initial(s), and last name. If there is more than one author, list them all, separated by commas.

Institutional Affiliation

After the author’s name, include their institutional affiliation. This refers to the organization they are affiliated with, such as a university or research institution. For example, “Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles”.


In APA style, keywords are included at the end of the abstract, before the start of the main text. These are words or phrases that help readers quickly identify the main themes or topics covered in the paper. They should be listed in alphabetical order, separated by commas, and lowercase (with the exception of proper nouns).

Abstract Body

The abstract body is the main part of the abstract and should summarize the key points of the paper. It should be concise and provide enough information for readers to understand the purpose, methods, results, and conclusion of the study. The abstract body should be no longer than 250 words and should not contain citations or quotes from the paper.

In conclusion, understanding the components of an abstract in APA style is crucial for writing an effective summary of your work. By following these guidelines, authors can ensure their abstract accurately reflects the contents of their paper and provides readers with a clear understanding of their research.

Tips for Writing an Effective Abstract

When it comes to writing an abstract in APA style, clarity, conciseness, and accuracy are key components of an effective abstract. In this section, we will explore some tips that can help you create an abstract that meets these criteria and stands out from the rest.

First and foremost, keep in mind the purpose of your abstract: to summarize the content of your paper in a clear and concise manner. To achieve this, make sure your abstract is no more than 250 words, and that it includes the main ideas and conclusions of your paper. Avoid including unnecessary details, as they may distract the reader from the main message of your work.

Another important aspect of an effective abstract is clarity. Use language that is clear and easy to understand, avoiding jargon or technical terms that may confuse your audience. Make sure your sentences are well-structured and that your ideas flow logically, so that the reader can easily follow your thought process.

Finally, accuracy is crucial when it comes to writing an abstract. Make sure the information you provide is correct, and that it accurately reflects the content of your paper. Avoid making claims that cannot be supported by your research, and make sure you do not misrepresent your findings in any way.

In summary, to write an effective abstract in APA style, you need to focus on conciseness, clarity, and accuracy. Keep your abstract short and to the point, use clear language and well-structured sentences, and make sure your information is accurate and reliable. By following these tips, you can create an abstract that effectively summarizes the content of your paper and engages your readers.

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Writing an Abstract

When it comes to writing an abstract in APA style, there are some common mistakes that many people make. In order to ensure that your abstract is effective and accurately represents your research, it is important to avoid these mistakes.

One of the most common mistakes is including inaccurate information in your abstract. This can include incorrect statistics, misleading information or simply stating something that is not supported by your research. It is important to carefully review your abstract to ensure that all the information provided is accurate and supported by your research.

Another mistake to avoid is missing information in your abstract. It’s important to remember that your abstract should provide a complete summary of your research, so make sure that you have included all the relevant information such as research methods, results and conclusions.

Excessive detail is also a common mistake that should be avoided. While it may be tempting to include every detail of your research in the abstract, this can cause the abstract to become too long and lose its effectiveness. Instead, focus on providing a concise but clear summary of your research.

In conclusion, avoiding mistakes when writing an abstract is crucial for ensuring that your research is effectively communicated. By avoiding inaccurate information, missing information, and excessive detail, you can create an abstract that accurately represents your research and engages your readers.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, writing an abstract in APA style can be a challenging task. However, by following the guidelines and tips mentioned above, one can create an effective and concise abstract that accurately represents their research paper.

When writing an abstract, it is important to keep in mind that it is the first impression of your paper for readers and reviewers. Therefore, it should be clear, concise, and accurately represent the content of the paper.

Additionally, it is crucial to follow all the components required for an abstract, which includes the title, author, institutional affiliation, keywords, and the abstract body itself.

While writing an abstract, it is easy to make common mistakes such as including inaccurate or missing information, or providing excessive detail. It is important to avoid these mistakes and ensure that the abstract is error-free.

Overall, writing an abstract in APA style requires attention to detail and adherence to specific guidelines. However, with practice and patience, you can master the art of writing an effective abstract that accurately reflects the essence of your research paper.
The abstract is a crucial component of any academic paper, and writing it in APA style can seem intimidating at first. But by following the guidelines outlined here, you can master the art of crafting an effective abstract that accurately summarizes your work while adhering to APA standards. Remember to keep your abstract concise, clear, and accurate, and include all the required components such as keywords and institutional affiliation. Avoid common mistakes like providing too much detail or inaccuracies, and you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of writing an abstract in APA style. With this guide, you have the tools you need to confidently tackle your next academic paper and impress your readers with a well-written abstract.

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