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How to Write an APA Abstract
Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
Emily is a board-certified science editor who has worked with top digital publishing brands like Voices for Biodiversity, Study.com, GoodTherapy, Vox, and Verywell.
Verywell / Nusha Ashjaee
- Writing Your Abstract
- How to Use Keywords
An APA abstract is a concise but comprehensive summary of a scientific paper. It is typically a paragraph long, or about 150 to 250 words. The goal of the abstract is to provide the reader with a brief and accurate idea of what a paper is about.
The APA abstract should appear on a separate page immediately after the title page and before the main content of your paper. While professional papers that appear in scientific journals and other publications require an APA abstract, they may not be required for student papers. However, you should always check with your instructor for specific requirements.
What Is APA Format?
APA format is the official style of the American Psychological Association. It is used in writing for psychology and other social sciences. These style guidelines specify different aspects of a document's presentation and layout, including how pages are structured, how references are organized, and how sources are cited.
This article explains how to create an abstract in APA format for your psychology papers or other types of scientific writing. It covers the basic rules you should follow as well as specific guidelines for writing abstracts for experimental reports, literature reviews, and other articles.
What Is an Abstract in APA Format?
In addition to providing guidance for the general style and organization of a paper, APA format also stipulates using an abstract designed to briefly summarize the key details in a paper.
While it is sometimes overlooked or only an afterthought, an abstract is an integral part of any academic or professional paper. The abstract is a critical component of an APA-formatted paper. This brief overview summarizes what your paper contains. It should succinctly and accurately represent what your paper is about and what the reader can expect to find.
Following a few simple guidelines, you can create an abstract following the format. Done well, an abstract generates interest in your work and helps readers learn if the paper will interest them.
APA Format Abstract Basics
The abstract is the second page of a lab report or APA-format paper and should immediately follow the title page . Think of an abstract as a highly condensed summary of your entire paper.
The purpose of your abstract is to provide a brief yet thorough overview of your paper. It should function much like your title page—it should allow the person reading it to quickly determine what your paper is all about. Your abstract is the first thing that most people will read, and it is usually what informs their decision to read the rest of your paper.
The abstract is the single most important paragraph in your entire paper, according to the APA Publication Manual. A good abstract lets the reader know that your paper is worth reading.
According to the official guidelines of the American Psychological Association, an abstract should be brief but packed with information. Each sentence must be written with maximum impact in mind. To keep your abstract short, focus on including just four or five of the essential points, concepts, or findings.
An abstract must also be objective and accurate. The abstract's purpose is to report rather than provide commentary. It should accurately reflect what your paper is about. Only include information that is also included in the body of your paper.
Key Elements of an APA Abstract
Your abstract page should include:
- A running head , which is a shortened version of your title that appears in all caps at the top left of each page of your paper
- A section label , which should be the word "Abstract" centered and bolded at the top of the page
- A page number , which should be the second page of your paper (the title page should be page 1)
- A double-spaced paragraph of about 150 to 250 words
- An indented list of keywords related to your paper's content. Include the label "Keywords:" in italics and list three to five keywords that are separated by commas
How to Write an Abstract in APA Format
Before you write your abstract, you first need to write your paper in its entirety. In order to write a good abstract, you need to have a finished draft of your paper so you can summarize it accurately.
While the abstract will be at the beginning of your paper, it should be the last section you write.
Once you have completed the final draft of your psychology paper , use it as a guide for writing your abstract.
- Begin your abstract on a new page . Place your running head and page number 2 in the top right-hand corner. Center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page.
- Know your target word count . An abstract should be between 150 and 250 words. Exact word counts vary from journal to journal . If you are writing your paper for a psychology course, your professor may have specific word requirements, so be sure to ask. The abstract should be written as only one paragraph with no indentation.
- Structure the abstract in the same order as your paper . Begin with a brief summary of the introduction , and then continue on with a summary of the method , results , and discussion sections of your paper.
- Look at other abstracts in professional journals for examples of how to summarize your paper . Notice the main points that the authors chose to mention in the abstract. Use these examples as a guide when choosing the main ideas in your own paper.
- Write a rough draft of your abstract . Use the format required for your type of paper (see next sections). While you should aim for brevity, be careful not to make your summary too short. Try to write one to two sentences summarizing each section of your paper. Once you have a rough draft, you can edit for length and clarity.
- Ask a friend to read over the abstract . Sometimes, having someone look at your abstract with fresh eyes can provide perspective and help you spot possible typos and other errors.
The abstract is vital to your paper, so it should not be overlooked or treated as an afterthought. Spend time writing this section carefully to ensure maximum readability and clarity.
It is important to remember that while the abstract is the last thing you write, it is often the most read part of your paper.
Experimental Report Abstracts
The format of your abstract also depends on the type of paper you are writing. For example, an abstract summarizing an experimental paper will differ from that of a meta-analysis or case study . For an experimental report, your abstract should:
- Identify the problem . In many cases, you should begin by stating the question you sought to investigate and your hypothesis .
- Describe the participants in the study . State how many participants took part and how they were selected. For example: "In this study, 215 undergraduate student participants were randomly assigned to [the experimental condition] or [the control condition]."
- Describe the study method . For example, identify whether you used a within-subjects, between-subjects, or mixed design.
- Give the basic findings . This is essentially a brief preview of the results of your paper.
- Provide any conclusions or implications of the study . What might your results indicate, and what directions does it point to for future research?
Literature Review Abstracts
If your paper is a meta-analysis or literature review, your abstract should:
- Describe the problem of interest . In other words, what is it that you set out to investigate in your analysis or review?
- Explain the criteria used to select the studies included in the paper . There may be many different studies devoted to your topic. Your analysis or review probably only looks at a portion of these studies. For what reason did you select these specific studies to include in your research?
- Identify the participants in the studies . Inform the reader about who the participants were in the studies. Were they college students? Older adults? How were they selected and assigned?
- Provide the main results . Again, this is essentially a quick peek at what readers will find when they read your results section. Don't try to include everything. Just provide a very brief summary of your main findings.
- Describe any conclusions or implications . What might these results mean and what do they reveal about the body of research that exists on this particular topic?
Lab Reports and Articles
Psychology papers such as lab reports and APA format articles also often require an abstract. In these cases as well, the abstract should include all of the major elements of your paper, including an introduction, hypothesis, methods, results, and discussion.
Remember, although the abstract should be placed at the beginning of your paper (right after the title page), you will write the abstract last after you have completed a final draft of your paper.
To ensure that all of your APA formatting is correct, consider consulting a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association .
Keywords in an APA Abstract
After the paragraph containing the main elements of your abstract, you can also include keywords related to your paper. Such keywords are used when indexing your paper in databases and can help researchers and students locate your paper when searching for information about those topics.
Because keywords help people find your paper, it is essential to choose the right ones. The APA suggests including between three and five keywords.
You can identify keywords by thinking about what your paper is about. For example, if your paper focuses on how social media use is related to depression in teenagers, you might include the keywords: social media, mood, depression, adolescents, social networking sites
A Word From Verywell
The abstract may be very brief, but it is so important that the official APA style manual identifies it as the most important paragraph in your entire paper. Careful attention to detail can ensure that your abstract does a good job representing the contents of your paper. If possible, take your paper to your school's writing lab for assistance.
Nagda S. How to write a scientific abstract. J Indian Prosthodont Soc. 2013;13(3):382–383. doi:10.1007/s13191-013-0299-x
Kumar A. Writing an abstract: Revealing the essence with eloquence . J Indian Soc Periodontol . 2022;26(1):1-2. doi:10.4103/jisp.jisp_634_21
American Psychological Association. APA Style Journal Article Reporting Standards: Reporting Standards for Studies With an Experimental Manipulation .
American Psychological Association. APA Style Journal Article Reporting Standards: Quantitative Meta-Analysis Article Reporting Standards .
Tullu MS. Writing the title and abstract for a research paper: Being concise, precise, and meticulous is the key . Saudi J Anaesth . 2019;13(Suppl 1):S12-S17. doi:10.4103/sja.SJA_685_18
American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). American Psychological Association; 2019.
By Kendra Cherry, MSEd Kendra Cherry, MS, is a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist, psychology educator, and author of the "Everything Psychology Book."
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- How to write and format an APA abstract (6th edition)
How to write and format an APA Abstract (6th edition)
Published on November 6, 2020 by Courtney Gahan .
An APA abstract is a summary of your paper in 150–250 words. It describes the research problem , methods , results and conclusions of your research. For published papers, it also includes a list of keywords.
Write the abstract after you have finished your paper, and place it on a separate page after the title page .
The formatting of the abstract page is the same as the rest of an APA style paper : double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt font, one-inch margins, and a running head at the top of the page.
Table of contents
Apa format abstract example, how to write an apa abstract, apa abstract keywords.
SCRIBBR APA ABSTRACT EXAMPLE RUNNING HEAD 1
What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations.
Keywords : example keyword, example keyword, example keyword
An APA abstract must be formatted as follows:
- Include the running head aligned to the left at the top of the page
- On the first line, write the heading “Abstract” (centered and without any formatting)
- Do not indent any part of the text
- Double space the text
- Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt
- Set one-inch (or 2.54 cm) margins
- If you include a “keywords” section at the end of the abstract, indent the first line and italicize the word “Keywords” while leaving the keywords themselves without any formatting
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Simply answer the following questions and put them together, then voila! You have an abstract for your paper.
- What is the problem? Outline the objective , research questions and/or hypotheses .
- What has been done? Explain your research methods .
- What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions .
- What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations .
If you need more guidance writing your abstract, read our detailed instructions on what to include and see an abstract example.
How to write an abstract
At the end of the abstract, you can also include a short list of keywords that will be used for indexing if your paper is published on a database. Listing your keywords will help other researchers find your work.
Make sure that your keywords:
- Accurately represent the content
- Are specific to your field
APA abstract keywords example
Here is an example of an APA format paper published as a chapter in a book, where the author has included a set of keywords. The author has chosen the terms listed in the title as keywords as well as several other related keywords that feature in their research.
Book chapter title: Nonparalytic Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome
From: Post-Polio Syndrome: A Guide for Polio Survivors and Their Families (pp. 21-26), Julie K. Silver, Yale University Press (2001)
Keywords: Polio, Paralysis, Symptoms, Postpoliomyelitis syndrome, Medical diagnosis, Legs, Physicians, Strokes, Misdiagnosis
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Gahan, C. (2020, November 06). How to write and format an APA Abstract (6th edition). Scribbr. Retrieved November 21, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/6th-edition/archived-abstract/
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Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in APA.
You can also watch our APA vidcast series on the Purdue OWL YouTube Channel .
General APA Guidelines
Your essay should be typed and double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5" x 11"), with 1" margins on all sides. Include a page header (also known as the “ running head ”) at the top of every page. For a professional paper, this includes your paper title and the page number. For a student paper, this only includes the page number. To create a page header/running head , insert page numbers flush right. Then type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including spacing and punctuation.
The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual requires that the chosen font be accessible (i.e., legible) to all readers and that it be used consistently throughout the paper. It acknowledges that many font choices are legitimate, and it advises writers to check with their publishers, instructors, or institutions for guidance in cases of uncertainty.
While the APA Manual does not specify a single font or set of fonts for professional writing, it does recommend a few fonts that are widely available. These include sans serif fonts such as 11-point Calibri, 11-point Arial, and 10-point Lucida Sans Unicode as well as serif fonts such as 12-point Times New Roman, 11-point Georgia, 10-point Computer Modern.
Major Paper Sections
Your essay should include four major sections: the Title Page , Abstract , Main Body , and References .
Note: APA 7 provides slightly different directions for formatting the title pages of professional papers (e.g., those intended for scholarly publication) and student papers (e.g., those turned in for credit in a high school or college course).
The title page should contain the title of the paper, the author's name , and the institutional affiliation . A professional paper should also include the author note . A student paper should also include the course number and name , instructor name , and assignment due date .
Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the upper half of the page. The title should be centered and written in boldface. APA recommends that your title be focused and succinct and that it should not contain abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.
Beneath the title, type the author's name : first name, middle initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees (PhD).
Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation , which should indicate the location where the author(s) conducted the research.
A professional paper should include the author note beneath the institutional affiliation, in the bottom half of the title page. This should be divided up into several paragraphs, with any paragraphs that are not relevant omitted. The first paragraph should include the author’s name, the symbol for the ORCID iD, and the URL for the ORCID iD. Any authors who do not have an ORCID iD should be omitted. The second paragraph should show any change in affiliation or any deaths of the authors. The third paragraph should include any disclosures or acknowledgements, such as study registration, open practices and data sharing, disclosure of related reports and conflicts of interest, and acknowledgement of financial support and other assistance. The fourth paragraph should include contact information for the corresponding author.
A student paper should not include an author note.
Note again that page headers/page numbers (described above for professional and student papers) also appear at the top of the title page. In other words, a professional paper's title page will include the title of the paper flush left in all capitals and the page number flush right, while a student paper will only contain the page number flush right.
Student APA title page
Title page for a student paper in APA 7 style.
Professional paper APA title page
Title page for a professional paper in APA 7 style.
Begin a new page. Your abstract page should already include the page header (described above). On the first line of the abstract page, center and bold the word “Abstract” (no italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should contain at least your research topic, research questions, participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You may also include possible implications of your research and future work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should be a single paragraph, double-spaced. Your abstract should typically be no more than 250 words.
You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your work in databases.
Abstracts are common in scholarly journal articles and are not typically required for student papers unless advised by an instructor. If you are unsure whether or not your work requires an abstract, consult your instructor for further guidance.
APA Abstract Page
Abstract page for a student paper in APA 7 style.
Please see our Sample APA Paper resource to see an example of an APA paper. You may also visit our Additional Resources page for more examples of APA papers.
How to Cite the Purdue OWL in APA
The page template for the new OWL site does not include contributors' names or the page's last edited date. However, select pages still include this information.
In the absence of contributor/edit date information, treat the page as a source with a group author and use the abbreviation "n.d." for "no date":
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). Title of resource. Purdue Online Writing Lab. http://Web address for OWL resource
Purdue Online Writing Lab. (n.d.). General Writing FAQs. Purdue Online Writing Lab. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/general_writing_faqs.html
The generic APA citation for OWL pages, which includes author/edit date information, is this:
Contributors' names. (Last edited date). Title of resource . Site Name. http://Web address for OWL resource
Note: This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), which released in October 2019. The equivalent resource for the older APA 6 style can be found here .
How to Write an Abstract APA Format
Saul Mcleod, PhD
BSc (Hons) Psychology, MRes, PhD, University of Manchester
Saul Mcleod, Ph.D., is a qualified psychology teacher with over 18 years experience of working in further and higher education. He has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
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Associate Editor for Simply Psychology
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Olivia Guy-Evans is a writer and associate editor for Simply Psychology. She has previously worked in healthcare and educational sectors.
An APA abstract is a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of an article, research paper, dissertation, or report.
It is written in accordance with the guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA), which is a widely used format in social and behavioral sciences.
An APA abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of between 150–250 words, the major aspects of a research paper or dissertation in a prescribed sequence that includes:
- The rationale: the overall purpose of the study, providing a clear context for the research undertaken.
- Information regarding the method and participants: including materials/instruments, design, procedure, and data analysis.
- Main findings or trends: effectively highlighting the key outcomes of the hypotheses.
- Interpretations and conclusion(s): solidify the implications of the research.
- Keywords related to the study: assist the paper’s discoverability in academic databases.
The abstract should stand alone, be “self-contained,” and make sense to the reader in isolation from the main article.
The purpose of the abstract is to give the reader a quick overview of the essential information before reading the entire article. The abstract is placed on its own page, directly after the title page and before the main body of the paper.
Although the abstract will appear as the very first part of your paper, it’s good practice to write your abstract after you’ve drafted your full paper, so that you know what you’re summarizing.
Note : This page reflects the latest version of the APA Publication Manual (i.e., APA 7), released in October 2019.
Structure of the Abstract
[NOTE: DO NOT separate the components of the abstract – it should be written as a single paragraph. This section is separated to illustrate the abstract’s structure.]
1) The Rationale
One or two sentences describing the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated. You are basically justifying why this study was conducted.
- What is the importance of the research?
- Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
- For example, are you filling a gap in previous research or applying new methods to take a fresh look at existing ideas or data?
- Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer can experience an array of psychosocial difficulties; however, social support, particularly from a spouse, has been shown to have a protective function during this time. This study examined the ways in which a woman’s daily mood, pain, and fatigue, and her spouse’s marital satisfaction predict the woman’s report of partner support in the context of breast cancer.
- The current nursing shortage, high hospital nurse job dissatisfaction, and reports of uneven quality of hospital care are not uniquely American phenomena.
- Students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) are more likely to exhibit behavioral difficulties than their typically developing peers. The aim of this study was to identify specific risk factors that influence variability in behavior difficulties among individuals with SEND.
2) The Method
Information regarding the participants (number, and population). One or two sentences outlining the method, explaining what was done and how. The method is described in the present tense.
- Pretest data from a larger intervention study and multilevel modeling were used to examine the effects of women’s daily mood, pain, and fatigue and average levels of mood, pain, and fatigue on women’s report of social support received from her partner, as well as how the effects of mood interacted with partners’ marital satisfaction.
- This paper presents reports from 43,000 nurses from more than 700 hospitals in the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, and Germany in 1998–1999.
- The study sample comprised 4,228 students with SEND, aged 5–15, drawn from 305 primary and secondary schools across England. Explanatory variables were measured at the individual and school levels at baseline, along with a teacher-reported measure of behavior difficulties (assessed at baseline and the 18-month follow-up).
3) The Results
One or two sentences indicating the main findings or trends found as a result of your analysis. The results are described in the present or past tense.
- Results show that on days in which women reported higher levels of negative or positive mood, as well as on days they reported more pain and fatigue, they reported receiving more support. Women who, on average, reported higher levels of positive mood tended to report receiving more support than those who, on average, reported lower positive mood. However, average levels of negative mood were not associated with support. Higher average levels of fatigue but not pain were associated with higher support. Finally, women whose husbands reported higher levels of marital satisfaction reported receiving more partner support, but husbands’ marital satisfaction did not moderate the effect of women’s mood on support.
- Nurses in countries with distinctly different healthcare systems report similar shortcomings in their work environments and the quality of hospital care. While the competence of and relation between nurses and physicians appear satisfactory, core problems in work design and workforce management threaten the provision of care.
- Hierarchical linear modeling of data revealed that differences between schools accounted for between 13% (secondary) and 15.4% (primary) of the total variance in the development of students’ behavior difficulties, with the remainder attributable to individual differences. Statistically significant risk markers for these problems across both phases of education were being male, eligibility for free school meals, being identified as a bully, and lower academic achievement. Additional risk markers specific to each phase of education at the individual and school levels are also acknowledged.
4) The Conclusion / Implications
A brief summary of your conclusions and implications of the results, described in the present tense. Explain the results and why the study is important to the reader.
- For example, what changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work?
- How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?
Implications of these findings are discussed relative to assisting couples during this difficult time in their lives.
- Resolving these issues, which are amenable to managerial intervention, is essential to preserving patient safety and care of consistently high quality.
- Behavior difficulties are affected by risks across multiple ecological levels. Addressing any one of these potential influences is therefore likely to contribute to the reduction in the problems displayed.
The above examples of abstracts are from the following papers:
Aiken, L. H., Clarke, S. P., Sloane, D. M., Sochalski, J. A., Busse, R., Clarke, H., … & Shamian, J. (2001). Nurses’ reports on hospital care in five countries . Health affairs, 20(3) , 43-53.
Boeding, S. E., Pukay-Martin, N. D., Baucom, D. H., Porter, L. S., Kirby, J. S., Gremore, T. M., & Keefe, F. J. (2014). Couples and breast cancer: Women’s mood and partners’ marital satisfaction predicting support perception . Journal of Family Psychology, 28(5) , 675.
Oldfield, J., Humphrey, N., & Hebron, J. (2017). Risk factors in the development of behavior difficulties among students with special educational needs and disabilities: A multilevel analysis . British journal of educational psychology, 87(2) , 146-169.
APA style suggests including a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. This is particularly common in academic articles and helps other researchers find your work in databases.
Keywords in an abstract should be selected to help other researchers find your work when searching an online database. These keywords should effectively represent the main topics of your study. Here are some tips for choosing keywords:
Core Concepts: Identify the most important ideas or concepts in your paper. These often include your main research topic, the methods you’ve used, or the theories you’re discussing.
Specificity: Your keywords should be specific to your research. For example, suppose your paper is about the effects of climate change on bird migration patterns in a specific region. In that case, your keywords might include “climate change,” “bird migration,” and the region’s name.
Consistency with Paper: Make sure your keywords are consistent with the terms you’ve used in your paper. For example, if you use the term “adolescent” rather than “teen” in your paper, choose “adolescent” as your keyword, not “teen.”
Jargon and Acronyms: Avoid using too much-specialized jargon or acronyms in your keywords, as these might not be understood or used by all researchers in your field.
Synonyms: Consider including synonyms of your keywords to capture as many relevant searches as possible. For example, if your paper discusses “post-traumatic stress disorder,” you might include “PTSD” as a keyword.
Remember, keywords are a tool for others to find your work, so think about what terms other researchers might use when searching for papers on your topic.
The Abstract SHOULD NOT contain:
Lengthy background or contextual information: The abstract should focus on your research and findings, not general topic background.
Undefined jargon, abbreviations, or acronyms: The abstract should be accessible to a wide audience, so avoid highly specialized terms without defining them.
Citations: Abstracts typically do not include citations, as they summarize original research.
Incomplete sentences or bulleted lists: The abstract should be a single, coherent paragraph written in complete sentences.
New information not covered in the paper: The abstract should only summarize the paper’s content.
Subjective comments or value judgments: Stick to objective descriptions of your research.
Excessive details on methods or procedures: Keep descriptions of methods brief and focused on main steps.
Speculative or inconclusive statements: The abstract should state the research’s clear findings, not hypotheses or possible interpretations.
- Any illustration, figure, table, or references to them . All visual aids, data, or extensive details should be included in the main body of your paper, not in the abstract.
- Elliptical or incomplete sentences should be avoided in an abstract . The use of ellipses (…), which could indicate incomplete thoughts or omitted text, is not appropriate in an abstract.
APA Style for Abstracts
An APA abstract must be formatted as follows:
Include the running head aligned to the left at the top of the page (professional papers only) and page number. Note, student papers do not require a running head. On the first line, center the heading “Abstract” and bold (do not underlined or italicize). Do not indent the single abstract paragraph (which begins one line below the section title). Double-space the text. Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt. Set one-inch (or 2.54 cm) margins. If you include a “keywords” section at the end of the abstract, indent the first line and italicize the word “Keywords” while leaving the keywords themselves without any formatting.
Example APA Abstract Page
Download this example as a PDF
- APA 7th Edition Abstract and Keywords Guide
- Example APA Abstract
- How to Write a Good Abstract for a Scientific Paper or Conference Presentation
- How to Write a Lab Report
- Writing an APA paper
How long should an APA abstract be?
An APA abstract should typically be between 150 to 250 words long. However, the exact length may vary depending on specific publication or assignment guidelines. It is crucial that it succinctly summarizes the essential elements of the work, including purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions.
Where does the abstract go in an APA paper?
In an APA formatted paper, the abstract is placed on its own page, directly after the title page and before the main body of the paper. It’s typically the second page of the document. It starts with the word “Abstract” (centered and not in bold) at the top of the page, followed by the text of the abstract itself.
What are the 4 C’s of abstract writing?
The 4 C’s of abstract writing are an approach to help you create a well-structured and informative abstract. They are:
Conciseness: An abstract should briefly summarize the key points of your study. Stick to the word limit (typically between 150-250 words for an APA abstract) and avoid unnecessary details.
Clarity: Your abstract should be easy to understand. Avoid jargon and complex sentences. Clearly explain the purpose, methods, results, and conclusions of your study.
Completeness: Even though it’s brief, the abstract should provide a complete overview of your study, including the purpose, methods, key findings, and your interpretation of the results.
Cohesion: The abstract should flow logically from one point to the next, maintaining a coherent narrative about your study. It’s not just a list of disjointed elements; it’s a brief story of your research from start to finish.
What is the abstract of a psychology paper?
An abstract in a psychology paper serves as a snapshot of the paper, allowing readers to quickly understand the purpose, methodology, results, and implications of the research without reading the entire paper. It is generally between 150-250 words long.
APA Citations (7th ed.)
- General Formatting
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Need more examples of abstracts?
Check out the APA 7th Ed. Manual! It has multiple sample papers, including abstract examples!
Examples start on p. 50 of the manual (available in the reference section, second floor of the library).
Information on the various types of abstracts for different paper styles begins on p. 74.
Often, abstracts are included in professional papers to provide a short summary of a larger work. Abstracts allow the reader to quickly decide if they want to read the larger work.
For some student papers, you may be asked by your instructor to include an abstract. The page will cover how to format an abstract, the qualities of a good abstract, and an example abstract.
Again, please check with your instructor to know if you need to include an abstract with your paper or research project .
Qualities of a Good Abstract
A good abstract is:
- Accurate : Ensure that the abstract reflects the purpose and content of the paper. If the study extends or replicates previous research, cite the relevant work with an author-date citation.
- Nonevaluative : Report rather than evaluate; do not add to or comment on what is in the body of the paper.
- Coherent and readable : Write in clear and deliberate language. Use active rather than passive voice. Use present tense ro describe conclusions or results. Use past tense to describe variables that were manipulated or outcomes measured.
- Concise : Be brief and begin the abstract with the most important points. Include only the four or five most important concepts, findings, or implications.
Formatting for Abstracts
Follow these rules for correct formatting of your abstract:
- Abstracts should appear on their own page after the title page (i.e., page 2)
- Write the second label "Abstract" in bold title case, centered at the top of the page, and place the abstract below the label
- Abstracts are typically limited to no more than 250 words
- Abstracts may appear in paragraph or structured format. Both are written as a single paragraph without indentation. If you are using structured format, labels are inserted to identify various sections (e.g., Objective, Method, Results, Conclusions).
- Include keywords one line below the abstract if requested. Write the label " Keywords:" (in italics), indented 0.5 in. like a regular paragraph, followed by the keywords in lowercase (capitalize proper nouns), separated by commas. Second line (if needed) is not indented.
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APA abstract page: format and template
An abstract is a summary of the main contents of a paper. This part is the first glimpse of information a person gets before reading the whole paper. An abstract can influence the popularity of a paper, as a well-written one will attract readers and a poorly-written one will drive them away. In order to write a great abstract and captivate as many readers as possible, we gathered the abstract rules for both APA 6th and 7th edition.
APA abstract: quality check
First things first, you have to bear in mind the following points while writing an abstract.
- Be accurate: make sure that the abstract includes only the relevant information regarding the purpose and content of your paper.
- Report, do not evaluate: the abstract has the mere objective of sharing the content of your research. Do not discuss or comment.
- Make it readable: write as clear as possible. The use of verbs instead of nouns (e.g. “studied” instead of “a study of)” and the active rather than the passive voice (e.g. “we show”, instead of “it is shown”) is encouraged.
- Be concise: pack as much information as possible in each sentence. Start the abstract with the most relevant topics and do not repeat the main title.
APA abstract format
Moving on to the technical part, these are the rules to follow to write an abstract for submissions to APA journals. For non-APA journals make sure to check the respective guidelines.
- You should have between 150-250 words .
- An abstract has its own page , usually following the title page making it page 2.
- The preferred font is 12 -point Times New Roman .
- Use double line spacing .
- Set 1 inch margins .
- Include a running head at the top left corner of every page.
- The title of the section should be labeled as “ Abstract ” in bold, centered at the top of the page. The text should be placed right below the title.
- There are two ways of writing the text, as a paragraph or as a structured text . The first should be written as a single paragraph without indentation of the first line. A structured text is also a paragraph without indentation, but this one features labels within the text to classify different sections (e.g. Method, Objective, Results).
- Provide three to five keywords describing the content. Write them in italic one line below the abstract, indent it 0.5 in, followed by the keywords in lowercase capitalizing proper nouns, separated with commas. Keywords are listed in no specific order. If they run onto a second line, do not indent this one.
We created a template of an APA abstract (6th & 7th edition) for you to download:
For more details about APA abstracts not covered in this guide, take a look at the following article and tutorial:
📝 APA abstract and keywords guide (7th edition)
🌐 Basic APA Format Abstract Page
Frequently Asked Questions about APA abstract page
Yes. If you chose to use a 12-point Times New Roman in your paper, then the abstract should have the same font and size.
According to APA 7th guidelines, there are two ways of writing the text, as a paragraph or as a structured text . The first should be written as a single paragraph without indentation of the first line. A structured text is also a paragraph without indentation, but this one features labels within the text to classify different sections (e.g. Method, Objective, Results).
You can include three to five words, phrases or acronyms as keywords.
An abstract in APA style should address the following points:
- key aspects of the literature review
- problem under investigation or research question(s)
- clearly stated hypothesis or hypotheses
- methods used (including brief descriptions of the study design, sample, and sample size)
- study results
- implications (i.e., why this study is important, applications of the results or findings)
An APA abstract should have between 150-250 words.
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How to write an APA abstract
An APA abstract is a short summary designed to help a reader decide if they are going to read the entire paper. An effective abstract will communicate your hypothesis, method, and results while also creating credibility for yourself as the author. An abstract will also make it easier for new readers to find your work.
In this guide, you will learn how to format an APA abstract. It begins with an overview of the key aspects included with an abstract and ends with a set of real APA abstract examples that you can look at.
The information in this guide comes straight from the source: The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 7 th edition. Most of the relevant information comes from Section 2.9.
Here’s a run-through of everything this page includes:
What is an APA abstract page?
How to format an apa abstract, paragraph format vs. structured format, adding a keywords section after your apa abstract, about apa formatting and the apa style guide.
While the abstract page plays an important role in getting the reader interested, it is not a sales pitch. It’s about reporting, not commenting. That means that it should accurately reflect each key aspect of your paper. In other words, it is a concise, comprehensive summary of your paper.
This is where you describe the problem you were exploring, the methods you used to explore it, and the results or conclusions of your exploration. In some cases, you might also be required to state the significance of your conclusions.
Here are some of the key aspects of an APA abstract that might be requested by the publication:
- Basic problem : Why did this work need to be done?
- Clearly-stated hypotheses: What was your hypothesis?
- Methods of investigation: How did you do your research? How did you design your experiment or argument? For scientific papers, include basic sample information.
- Results: What was the result of your study?
- Implications: What is the significance of your findings?
Remember, the specific sections or labels in your abstract might vary based on who you are submitting to.
Qualities of a good abstract
In addition to the formatting requirements, the Publication Manual also provides some guidance on what other qualities make for a good abstract.
Here are the qualities of a good abstract as defined by APA. You can find more information on how to formulate a great abstract in chapter 3.
- Accurate: The most important thing is that your abstract accurately reflects the contents and purpose of your paper. The general rule of thumb for accuracy is, if it doesn’t appear in your paper, it should not appear in the abstract.
- Non-evaluative: The APA instructs us to “Report rather than evaluate” (p.73). It is inappropriate to add any opinions or comments to the abstract.
- Coherent and readable: Your abstract needs to be as clear as possible. Use concise, deliberate language. It helps to use verbs instead of nouns when possible (e.g., “investigated” rather than “an investigation of”).
- Concise: Make sure every sentence is as informative as possible. There should be no “extra” words in an abstract; it’s all about getting the point across as efficiently as possible. Because abstracts are often used for academic search engines, it is good practice to use specific terms that you think people would use to find your paper.
In large part, the abstract page is formatted just like any APA paper. That means that it should be 12pt font and double-spaced the whole way through.
A properly formatted abstract will also be:
- No more than 250 words in length.
- Placed on its own page, immediately following the APA title page .
- Labeled with a bold, center-justified “Abstract” at the top
It is important to note that some publications will have their own instructions on how to format the abstract. In addition, some publications require a statement of significance in addition to the abstract.
If you are submitting your paper to a journal, be sure to check the publication’s author instructions.
The abstract page of an APA paper can be presented in two ways. As the author, you have the option of presenting your abstract in either paragraph format or structured format .
Paragraph format is more common with student papers. This is a single paragraph with no indentation on the first line. The objective, method, results, and conclusions are presented one after another in a simple, narrative manner.
Structured format is similar in formatting with one key difference. This format calls for the insertion of specific labels to identify the different parts of the abstract. In other words, “Objective,” “Method,” “Results,” and “Conclusions” are presented as labels before their corresponding sentences in the abstract.
It’s important to remember that some publications have different labeling requirements. If you’re submitting your paper to a journal, be sure to check the formatting standards.
APA abstract example: Paragraph format
Let’s move on to a specific example of a properly formatted APA abstract written in paragraph format.
The following abstract is from the paper “Movement, wildness, and animal aesthetics” by Tom Greaves. Note how the first line is not indented like a normal paragraph.
The key role that animals play in our aesthetic appreciation of the natural world has only gradually been highlighted in discussions in environmental aesthetics. In this article I make use of the phenomenological notion of ‘perceptual sense’ as developed by Merleau-Ponty to argue that open-ended expressive-responsive movement is the primary aesthetic ground for our appreciation of animals. It is through their movement that the array of qualities we admire in animals are manifest qua animal qualities. Against functionalist and formalist accounts, I defend and develop an account of expressive-responsive movement as the primary perceptual sense of animals. I go on to suggest that the primacy of movement in the aesthetic appreciation of animals is also the primary sense of animal ‘wildness’, and that a key part of the rewilding paradigm should be the development of such appreciation.
In the paragraph above, Greaves uses his first sentence to explain the basic problem, and the next two sentences to describe the method. The fourth sentence presents the results, and the fifth sentence wraps things up with a conclusion.
It’s only five sentences, and it tells the reader everything they need to know about the contents of the paper.
APA abstract example: Structured format
Next up is an example of a properly formatted APA abstract written in structured format. This example uses the same abstract as above, with the addition of identifying labels.
Structured abstracts are only necessary when specifically requested by the class, institution, or journal you are submitting to. For all APA journals, these labels are bold, italicized, and capitalized.
Objective. The key role that animals play in our aesthetic appreciation of the natural world has only gradually been highlighted in discussions in environmental aesthetics. Method. In this article I make use of the phenomenological notion of ‘perceptual sense’ as developed by Merleau-Ponty to argue that open-ended expressive-responsive movement is the primary aesthetic ground for our appreciation of animals. It is through their movement that the array of qualities we admire in animals are manifest qua animal qualities. Results. Against functionalist and formalist accounts, I defend and develop an account of expressive-responsive movement as the primary perceptual sense of animals. Conclusions. I go on to suggest that the primacy of movement in the aesthetic appreciation of animals is also the primary sense of animal ‘wildness’, and that a key part of the rewilding paradigm should be the development of such appreciation.
A paper’s keywords section is intended to help people find your work. These are the acronyms, phrases, or words that describe the most important elements of your paper. Any papers submitted to an APA journal should include three to five keywords.
The keywords section is generally only required for professional papers. However, some professors and universities specifically request that it be included in student papers.
Formatting the keywords section
The keywords are presented on the same page as the abstract, one line below the end of the abstract paragraph. It begins with the label “Keywords:”, and it is italicized and indented 0.5in from the margin.
Next comes a list of the keywords separated by commas. The keywords should be lowercase, unless the keyword is a proper noun. There is no punctuation at the end of a keyword list.
APA abstract with keywords example
Take another look at the abstract example that was provided above. Here is what a set of keywords might look like for that paper, pulling between 3-5 specific terms from the abstract itself.
The keywords are placed one line below the abstract without any additional spaces.
Keywords: animals, animal aesthetics, wildness, rewilding
The information in this guide came from the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7 th ed.). Chapter 2 of this book lays out the basic formatting elements for APA 7, including how to write an APA abstract.
You can also consult chapter 3.3 for more in-depth recommendations on how to formulate your abstract based on what type of paper you are writing.
Published October 27, 2020.
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The Basic Format of an APA Abstract with Examples
The first thing you'll notice on an APA abstract is the running head, in all caps. Directly to the right of it, you'll see the page number, which should be "2".
This is because the running head and page number are required in all APA papers, and continued at the top right-hand side of the page in all capital letters, along with the page number denoting the second page of the paper, following the title page.
Basic format of an APA abstract
In the basic format of an APA abstract, the word "Abstract" is centered and without additional font changes. Then the abstract content begins beneath it—all in one paragraph with no indentation and one-inch margins on either side.
Here is an example of the basic format of an APA abstract:
Notice that the running title of the paper and the page number are at the header of the page. The abstract itself is beneath the title "Abstract", which is centered and without additional format at the center of the page. Additionally, the keywords are included at the bottom—this time with an indentation and the word "Keywords" italicized. Each keyword is separated by a comma.
The abstract, itself, should be correctly formatted. Specifically, it should be one paragraph that is NOT indented, and it should include the following information:
- An introduction to previous studies
- The main problems with the previous studies that are address in the new study.
- How the new study has been conducted.
- What the new study reveals that adds to previous studies.
- Conclusions of the new studies that add to the literature on the topic.
- Keywords related to the topic, indented, with the title of "Keywords" italicized and the keywords themselves separated by commas.
Below is an example of a correctly formatted and written APA abstract.
This shows you the formatting required for an APA abstract, as well as an example abstract written. Notice how the opening sentence summarizes what the paper explores. The second and third sentences state the problem in research that the paper aims to address. And the abstract closes with the final aims of the paper, along with the results of the study.
Keywords are then included at the bottom. Notice how they are indented and separated by commas.
Also notice the white space at the bottom of the page. This is what you should aim for when writing your abstract. An abstract that takes up an entire page is often an overwritten, wordy one—and one that goes beyond the recommended 150 to 250-word abstract.
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