A good summary includes the key points of a document without providing unnecessary detail. The APA style has a specific format for the summary page, so you should be aware of this format if you are writing a document in APA style. In addition, there are other details to keep in mind on how to write an effective summary. Here is what you need to know.
Part 1 of 2: Basic Format
Step 1. Make sure you have a header for the page
The header must be included at the top of each page.
- A short version of your document title should be aligned to the top left of the page. The number of characters must not exceed 50, including spaces and punctuation.
- Each letter in the heading must be capitalized.
- The page number should appear at the top right of the page. An APA-style summary should be the second page of your document, so the number 2 should appear in the corner.
Step 2. Use a standard font
Unless your instructor or teacher instructs you otherwise, you should use the Times New Roman font, size 12.
Some teachers will also accept the Arial font in size 10 or 12, but remember to review this with your teacher before deciding to choose it
Step 3. Write the text in double space
All text in the abstract should be double spaced.
- "Double space" means that the lines of the texts are separated by a blank line.
- Apart from the abstract, the entire document must be double-spaced.
Step 4. Center the word "Summary" at the top of the page
The word should be below the heading as the first line of normal text.
- The first letter of the word must be uppercase, but the rest of the word must be lowercase.
- Do not make text bold, italic, or underlined. Don't use quotes. The word must be single in normal font.
Step 5. Begin the text of your abstract under the word "Abstract"
On the line after the word "Abstract", the first line of your abstract should appear. Do not use indentation in the paragraph.
Write a short text. A standard APA-style abstract contains 150 to 250 words, contained in a single paragraph
Step 6. Include keywords below the abstract text
If required, put a list of keywords on the abstract page immediately after the abstract text.
- Use indentation as if you were starting a new paragraph.
- Type the word "Keywords" in italics. Capitalize the letter P and put a colon after these words.
- In normal type, without italics, write three to four keywords that describe the document. These keywords must appear in the abstract text. Separate them using commas.
Part 2 of 2: Write a Good Summary
Step 1. Write your summary at the end
Since the abstract is a synthesis of the content of your document, you should write it once you have finished the content.
- To reflect the fact that it is a synthesis, your summary should be written in the present tense when referring to the results and conclusions; it should be written in the past tense when referring to methods and measurements. Don't use the future tense.
- Reread your essay before writing the summary to jog your memory. Pay attention to the purpose, methods, objective, results, conclusions and recommendations mentioned in your document.
- Write a draft of your abstract by directly viewing your document. This will help you summarize, without copying, the key statements in your document.
Step 2. Know what type of summary you need to write
A summary can be either informative or descriptive.
- An informative summary states the purpose, methods, objective, results, conclusions, and recommendations included in the report. The summary should highlight the essential points to allow the reader to decide to read the rest of the report or not. Its total length must be 10 percent or less of the length of the report.
- The descriptive summary includes the purpose, methods and objective defined in the report, but does not include the results, conclusions or recommendations. This abstract is less common in the APA style and is usually less than 100 words. The purpose is to introduce the subject to the reader, essentially motivating the reader to read the entire report to see the results.
Step 3. Ask yourself questions about your document
In order to write a thorough informational summary, you need to ask yourself several questions about the purpose and results of the work.
- For example, ask yourself why you did the study, what you did, how you did it, what you found, and what those findings mean.
- If your paper is about a new method, ask yourself what are the advantages of the new method and how well it works.
Step 4. Include only details used in your essay
The abstract exists to synthesize your document, so including information in the abstract that is not in the document would look like a fake advertisement.
- Even if the information is attached to the information cited in the document, it does not go well in the summary.
- Realize that you can and should use different words in your summary. The information must be the same as the information in the document, but the manner in which the information is cited must be different.
Step 5. Let the abstract stand alone
The abstract should be dense and written in a way that allows it to be read on its own.
- Avoid phrases like: “This document is intended to…” Since the summary is very short, you should go straight to the facts and details of the document rather than spending effort explaining the connection to the document.
- Do not repeat or paraphrase the title as the abstract is almost always read in conjunction with the title.
- The abstract must be complete as it is often read separately from the document.
Step 6. Don't comment on your findings
Report your results instead of commenting on them.
You can and should declare your results, but don't try to justify them. The document should be used to justify the results and give additional information and support, not the abstract
Step 7. Avoid writing in the first person
Don't use "I" or "we". Instead, use the third person as "it," "they," "he," "she," or "one."
- You should also use active verbs rather than passive verbs.
- For example, the strongest statement in an abstract should be: "Research shows …". Avoid using phrases like "I have investigated" or "was investigated."
Step 8. Avoid using abbreviations
Although abbreviations and acronyms may appear in the text of the essay, they should not appear in the abstract.