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Kendra Cherry

How Long Should an Abstract Be?

By April 6, 2011

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Question from a Reader:
"I remember being taught than an abstract should be no more than 120 words, but now that I'm back in school I'm seeing that many websites state that it should be between 150 and 250 words. Just needed some clarification. I heard that the newest APA book was full of major errors and I don't know when or if that has been fixed."

The sixth-edition APA manual suggests that an abstract be between 150 and 250 words. However, they note that the exact requirements vary from journal to journal. If you are writing the abstract for a class, you might want to check with your instructor to see if he or she has a specific word count in mind.

Psychology papers such as lab reports and APA format articles often require an abstract. Think of an abstract as a one-paragraph summary of your paper. The abstract should include all of the major elements of your paper, including an introduction, hypothesis, methods, results, and discussion. Although the abstract should be placed at the beginning of your paper (right after the title page), you will write the abstract last, after you have completed a final draft of your paper.

Find more information in this article on how to write an abstract.

Also, the first printing of the new publication manual did contain some errors, but it looks like the copies that are being sent out now have been corrected. A number of online retailers currently offer the APA Style Manual (Compare Prices).

More About APA Format

Comments

February 27, 2012 at 3:04 am
(1) Willie Fiscus says:

I googled how long an abstract needs to be in APA format and this article more than answered my question. Thank you.

March 10, 2014 at 8:22 am
(2) Moa'bite says:

Thanks for this article. Are there other authorities that publishes guidlines regarding the length of abstracts? Thanks.

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