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:
Frequently Asked Questions about APA abstract page
📑 Should an abstract have the same font and size as the paper's body?
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.
🌫️ Can an abstract be divided in sections?
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).
🐛 How many keywords can I include in an abstract?
You can include three to five words, phrases or acronyms as keywords.
🐣 What is the required content of an abstract?
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)
🔥 What is the word limit of an APA style abstract?
An APA abstract should have between 150-250 words.