How to Write an Essay Abstract

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An abstract is a brief summary of a longer essay, book chapter, or research report. Its purpose is to inform readers as to the argument your paper sets forth or the conclusion of your research. This article simplifies the process of writing a concise, informative abstract.

  • An essay, article, report, or chapter of a book that requires summarizing Highlighting pen Access to a word processing program such as Microsoft Word

1 Write down the main idea

Write down the main idea or research problem addressed by your essay.

2 Reread your essay

Reread your essay. As you read, highlight key sentences that support your thesis statement or explain your research methodology.

3 Write a concise summary

Write a concise summary of the information conveyed in the key sentences.

4 Type

Type your draft into a word processing document for ease of editing and to establish a word count.

5 Revise your draft : trim excess detail

Revise your draft: trim excess detail, rephrase overly technical language or jargon, and eliminate repetitive word usage. Aim for a draft that meets your word count/optimal length.

6 Scrutinize your draft

Scrutinize your draft again and revise to make connections between sentences smooth and logical.

7 Edit for spelling

Edit for spelling, grammar, and format.

  • Do not include any information in your abstract that does not appear in the paper.
  • A good abstract will convey why your research/argument is important, the conclusion you reached, and how you came to this conclusion. Decide what you want your reader to remember about the paper; this is the crucial information for your abstract.

Rachel Levi is a writer, editor and aspiring yoga instructor residing in Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Webster University, and a Master of Arts degree in humanities from the University of Chicago. She is the author of "Killing Fixie-Prairie," and numerous pieces of literary criticism.