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101 Of An APA Abstract: All That You Need to Know

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Founded by the American Psychological Association, the APA style is used in the fields of psychology and branches of social sciences. What sets this style apart from other referencing styles is that APA demands an abstract that summarises the key details of an academic paper. These style guidelines specify different aspects of a document’s presentation and layout,

That brings us to the next segment – the purpose of writing an APA abstract and how it enhances the quality of an academic paper.

What is an abstract in APA style? Definition and Purpose

Often overlooked, the APA abstract is an integral part of an academic paper. The purpose of an APA abstract is to offer a brief overview of an academic paper so that the person can determine what to expect. Since the abstract is the first written page that the reader will encounter, it seals the fate of your paper – will the reader go through the rest of your paper or not.

Now, APA is already a confusing referencing style, with separate formatting guidelines for the abstract. For most of you, writing it becomes an additional burden because you do not know how to write an APA abstract. In what follows, we will try to break down the complex process of writing an abstract in APA format. Let us start with the guideline basics of preparing an abstract in APA style.

Basics of the APA Format to Write an Abstract

An APA abstract should be like a summary that describes the research problem, methodologies, results and conclusions of your academic research or report. Here are some of the basics to keep in mind if you do not know how to write an APA abstract:

  • The abstract should be within 150 to 250 words.
  • It should follow the title page of an academic paper, therefore being the second page of the assignment.
  • It should be brief but packed with the vital information to create maximum impact on the reader’s mind.
  • It should be objective and accurate and should report instead of providing commentary.
  • It should be written as one paragraph, without any breaks or indentations.
  • Use double spaces and a one-inch margin.
  • Write it using the Times New Roman font in 12 pt. size.
  • In the case of published papers, an APA abstract must also include a list of keywords. 

Since the abstract will tell your reader whether your paper is worth reading or not, make sure that each sentence adds maximum impact. Focus on four or five of the essential points included in the body of your paper to fit the necessary literature within 250 words.

When you know the basics of an APA format abstract, writing it will surely become less of an ordeal. To make things even simpler, we have enlisted the steps to write an APA abstract. Read on!

How to Write an Abstract in the APA Format?

Although the abstract is the second page of an academic paper, do not make the mistake of writing in at the start. Instead, write the entire paper and then pen down the abstract in the end.

Once you have completed the final draft of the academic paper, follow these steps to write the abstract.

  1. Start on a new page

Mention page number 2 in the top right corner of a page. Write the word “Abstract” at the top of the page and middle-align it.

  1. Know the word limit

As mentioned before, an APA abstract should not exceed 250 words, usually. However, the word count may vary from one subject to another. Again, it may vary as per the type of academic paper you are writing – less for a lap report, more for a research paper. So, it would be best to ask your professor about the specific word requirements.

  1. Structure in the order of your paper

Just as the paper proceeds, the abstract should follow the same structure. For an elaborate research paper, summarise the introduction first and then move to the methodologies, results, and discussions of your paper.

  1. Write a rough draft

Now, before you start writing, look up the official website of APA for the rules of an APA abstract’s format as per the type of your paper. Aim for brevity, and write one to two sentences for each section of your paper. Once you have the rough draft ready, edit the length for better clarity.

  1. Read over the abstract

While you may be writing the abstract in the end, you must remember that it is the first thing that the reader will be going through. So, you must ensure that there are no mistakes in the abstract. Check your abstract and see where you can enhance its quality. Most importantly, weed out grammatical errors and misinterpreted facts.

If you still cannot figure out how to write an APA abstract, then let us look at some APA abstracts samples for a concrete idea. Since the format and components vary from one type of paper to another, we have discussed what should an APA abstract include for each kind.

Experimental Report Abstracts Example in APA Style

The format of an APA abstract depends on the type of paper. So, what should an APA abstract include for an experimental report? Let us find out.

  • Start by identifying and stating the problem you will be investigating along with a fitting hypothesis.
  • Mention how many participants have taken part in the experiment and on what basis where they selected.
  • (Example: “200 postgraduate students were randomly chosen as the participants for the study”)
  • Describe the techniques and methodologies that you have used. 
  • (Example: “In the study, within-subjects and mixed designs were used.”
  • Give a brief preview of the primary findings and results of your paper. 
  • Provide the implications of the study and what the results indicate about future research.

Literature Review Abstracts APA-Style Example

For a paper that is based on a meta-analysis or is a literature review, an APA abstract should do the following:

  • Explain the reason you have set out to investigate the problem in your analysis or review.
  • Elucidate the factors that you have used to select the studies for your paper. 
  • Inform the readers about the participants by identifying them. Mention demographics like age and sex and mention why they were selected.
  • Offer the readers a quick peek at the results section. Maintain the mystery by providing a summary of your main findings. 
  • Describe the implications and what they mean. Give a brief overview of what they reveal about the existing body of research on the topic.

APA Abstract Example – How should it look


Studies have been conducted on non-readers and how they can develop a habit of reading and improve their literacy skills (Benson, 2011; Simons, 2009). These studies have revealed that mandatory library time for students is the best way to develop a reading habit among the young generation. However, it has been noticed that encouraging non-readers to read beyond class hours have been quite a challenge (Elton, 2001; Greene, 2004). To evaluate the tendencies and come up with better solutions, we surveyed 300 non-readers who also happen to be undergraduate students between the age of 18 to 21. The results concluded that the best remedy would be to make it a habit within the classroom.  On that note, we have offered strategies that college teachers can adopt to find relevant reading material that the students can connect with and learn from.

Keywords: non-readers, reading strategies, reading material

You can study more samples on academic websites to understand how to write an APA abstract. You can also go through the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association to ensure that you have written the abstract using the correct APA formatting rules.

For more assistance, do not hesitate to ask for help from your mentors, instructors and online experts.

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Hi, I am Ethan, a nerd by nature, a data scientist by profession and, a gadget lover at heart. Thanks for stopping by and sparing a few minutes to know me. I would like to let you know, apart from being a Maths lover and a tech freak I have a fetish for English writing. I am into everything that spells maths, technology, and essays. I have an experience of 10 years as a data scientist and that of 5 years as a freelance English essay writer at I like sharing my experiences with people, which further makes me an occasional blogger. 

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