Abstract Writing in APA Format: Research Paper Tips and Ideas

What is an Abstract?

To writers unfamiliar with APA format writing your first Abstract can be a bit daunting, but rest assured, it is not all that difficult once you get the hang of it. I suppose the first question would be, “What is an Abstract?” and to be concise, it is a basic summary of your entire paper. Sounds simple enough right? An abstract in more exact terms is a summary of your topic, research, conclusion, main points, and sometimes further/continued research opportunities.

What do I do now?

It is very short, 150-250 words, and follows a specific format that differs from the rest of your paper in some ways. When setting up a page for an abstract, the page header (running head) for your paper goes in the top left hand corner in all caps, like it would for the rest of the subsequent pages. The first written line of the abstract should say “Abstract” (without the quotations of course). It should not be bolded, underlined, italicized, or anything else. It should simply say “Abstract” and be centered. On the very next line begins your abstract. This paragraph is not indented or centered. The beginning line should be flush with the left side of the page. Finally, the abstract page, like the rest of the paper should be double spaced. The abstract goes after the cover page and before the paper itself when you are compiling the components to your paper. As far as APA formatting goes, that is about it.

Tips for Writing a Good Abstract

Sometimes it can be rather difficult for students to come up with a well written and concise abstract. I have assembled 5 tips for you to try so that you can create a strong, well-written abstract.

  1. First of all, the abstract will actually be the last thing that you write. It is really important that you write your entire paper out first and that you are happy with that before you start your abstract. No one writes a review for a book before the book is written, right?
  2. Make a rough draft. It is really important that you get all your ideas out. Don’t just throw something together in a couple minutes right before you print your paper (or email it) so you have something there to turn in. The abstract sets the tone for the rest of your paper and is just as important as your thesis statement in getting the reader’s attention
  3. KISS. Keep it short and simple. You have 150 – 250 words to summarize your entire paper. Make sure you get all your main points, your thesis, and your conclusion in. You do not need much else. This should be a “strictly business” piece of writing. No Fluff.
  4. Write your abstract in the order your paper is in. To get a good idea of what my abstract will look like, I usually take the first sentence of each paragraph and put it into a “rough abstract,” then edit it to make sense from there. Keep everything in the order you found it in. If it doesn’t make sense in your abstract, it probably doesn’t make sense in your paper either.
  5. Finally, look at other, professionally written, abstracts for inspiration. It never hurts to see if what you’re doing matches up with the real McCoy. Take a look at your friend’s or peer’s abstracts as well, and have them look at yours. Peer support is a great option.

If you follow the format and 5 tips I listed above, you should have no problem writing a fantastic abstract!

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