How to Write an Abstract


An abstract is a summary of an article. Readers use abstracts to determine whether or not an article contains information of interest to them. Therefore, abstracts have to be well written, informative, and concise!

  1. Your abstract should be as short as possible and grammatically correct. It must also be legible.
  2. By reading the abstract, the following should become apparent:
    1. the subject or problem being investigated;
    2. the hypothesis or proposal being tested (if any);
    3. the methods used in these types of investigations;
    4. the results and conclusions of the investigation.
  1. Abstracts should contain 100 words or less unless the article being abstracted is over 6 to 8 pages in length. In that case, the abstract may contain more than 150 words. Definite and indefinite articles and numbers count as full words. A hyphenated word counts as just one word. Words in the title are not counted in the 100 word limit. YOU MAY TAKE A MAXIMUM OF 200 WORDS WHEN YOU WRITE YOUR ABSTRACT.
  2. The title, which goes at the center and top of the page, should contain the following information:
    1. the authorís name (last name first)
    2. the date (year) of the article or book
    3. the title of the article in quotation marks
    4. the name of the journal or book underlined
    5. the volume number, if a periodical
    6. the pages on which the article is found
    7. your name should appear in the upper left hand corner


Dupuis, E.M. and C. Geisler. 1988."Biotechnology and the small farm". BioScience 33(6):406-41 BioScience 38(6):406-411

Marx, J.L. 1988. "Cell growth control takes balance." Science 239:975-976




You are to write three abstracts over the course of this semester. They are due on the dates listed on the laboratory schedule. Your abstract can be from any article of biological interest. The library has a number of journals (current periodicals) which have interesting articles. DO NOT use encyclopedias, Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies Home Journal or Readerís Digest articles. Journal articles should be from June 1997 to the current time. Attach a photocopy of the article to your abstract.

At the time indicated on the laboratory schedule, students will have an opportunity to explain one of their articles to their classmates during the regularly scheduled laboratory period. These discussions are designed to last from two (2) to five (5) minutes and are required.