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The Basic Format of an APA Abstract with Examples

The first thing you'll notice on an APA abstract is the running head, in all caps. Directly to the right of it, you'll see the page number, which should be "2".

This is because the running head and page number are required in all APA papers, and continued at the top right-hand side of the page in all capital letters, along with the page number denoting the second page of the paper, following the title page.

Basic format of an APA abstract

In the basic format of an APA abstract, the word "Abstract" is centered and without additional font changes. Then the abstract content begins beneath it—all in one paragraph with no indentation and one-inch margins on either side.

Here is an example of the basic format of an APA abstract:

This is the format all APA abstracts should follow
This is the format all APA abstracts should follow.

Notice that the running title of the paper and the page number are at the header of the page. The abstract itself is beneath the title "Abstract", which is centered and without additional format at the center of the page. Additionally, the keywords are included at the bottom—this time with an indentation and the word "Keywords" italicized. Each keyword is separated by a comma.

The abstract, itself, should be correctly formatted. Specifically, it should be one paragraph that is NOT indented, and it should include the following information:

  • An introduction to previous studies
  • The main problems with the previous studies that are address in the new study.
  • How the new study has been conducted.
  • What the new study reveals that adds to previous studies.
  • Conclusions of the new studies that add to the literature on the topic.
  • Keywords related to the topic, indented, with the title of "Keywords" italicized and the keywords themselves separated by commas.

Below is an example of a correctly formatted and written APA abstract.

This is a sample APA abstract in the field of Education
This is a sample APA abstract in the field of Education.

This shows you the formatting required for an APA abstract, as well as an example abstract written. Notice how the opening sentence summarizes what the paper explores. The second and third sentences state the problem in research that the paper aims to address. And the abstract closes with the final aims of the paper, along with the results of the study.

Keywords are then included at the bottom. Notice how they are indented and separated by commas.

Also notice the white space at the bottom of the page. This is what you should aim for when writing your abstract. An abstract that takes up an entire page is often an overwritten, wordy one—and one that goes beyond the recommended 150 to 250-word abstract.

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