The Thesis Abstract: An Art Form

People in thesis writing make a big deal about abstracts. Those familiar with APA thesis style are no doubt very familiar with writing them. They’re not as scary as they look. Writing up an abstract quickly turns into a miniature form of art. Not really. But it’s not as hard as it looks, either. What is an abstract? An abstract is short summary or introduction that precedes any kind of APA-formatted paper. It has very specific formatting with a pretty uniform definition of content.

What does an abstract look like?

  • 1″ margins

  • 100 – 150 words

  • “Abstract” at the top of the page

  • Addresses key points that will be covered in the text

  • The word “keywords” followed by the keywords

The abstract should be formatted the same way everything else in an APA-style paper is formatted. This includes the one inch margins standard of most essay styles and Times New Roman or Arial font.

The abstract should be 100 – 150 words long. Sometimes, if the paper is short, the abstract can be shorter. It should never be shorter than 70 words, unless your instructor or professor gives you alternate instructions.

Print the word “abstract” at the top of the page. Center it. Do not bold, italicize, or underline the word. Make sure everything is properly double spaced.

Address the key points of your paper. Also, include the sources that you will be using. For help determining your key points, just try looking at the thesis outline you have written for this paper.

What is the purpose of an abstract?

Abstracts make it easier for people to figure out what they are getting in an essay. It makes it easy to find relevant information and remain on topic in research. It also helps people classify and understand the information in context with other writings.

Abstracts serve as a brief summary of the ideas and methods of research that will be examined in the paper. Without an abstract, it would take a considerably longer amount of time to process and organize the essays written.

When you are writing your abstract, try to keep these key points in mind.

  • Be concise. You have an entire paper to examine every minute detail. You can spend as much time as you want on these things within your essay or article. Your abstract is not the place to ramble.

  • Be clear. If no one understands you, there’s no point in having an abstract. In fact, if you are unintelligible, there isn’t any point in writing a paper at all. Make sure it’s possible to get the main points of the paper from the abstract.

  • Be approachable. Don’t use language that is too complicated for the people you think will be reading your paper. An overly complicated abstract will turn them off, and they’ll never get to the actual research you have done.

Good luck writing your abstracts. Following the steps above will greatly simplify the process.