Shorten your abstract or summary

Date published by Date updated: March 24, 2017

You can shorten your abstract by not using cumbersome or excessively long sentences. Avoiding the following five things is an easy way to make your text more concise.

1. Avoid passive sentences

Passive sentences are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them both shorter and clearer by transforming them into active sentences.

To make a passive sentence active, reword it so that the person or thing doing the action comes before the verb. Also make sure than an active verb (without an auxiliary) is used.

Passive Active
The house is painted by Joe.Joe paints the house.
The ERP system is tested by the respondents.The respondents test the ERP system.
The hypothesis is confirmed by the results.The results confirm the hypothesis.
A partial answer is provided through the SWOT analysis.The SWOT analysis provides a partial answer.
In the recommendations section, solutions to the problem are offered.The recommendations section offers solutions to the problem.
Both qualitative and quantitative research methods are used in the study.The study uses both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

2. Avoid the noun style

Using the “noun style” often makes a sentence unnecessarily long or difficult to understand. It’s therefore advisable to utilize the “verb style” instead.

Noun style Verb style
The study provides a definition of the term.The study defines the term.
The results were supportive of the hypothesis.The results supported the hypothesis.
The legislature took a decision that the strategy should focus on reducing waste.The legislature decided that the strategy should focus on reducing waste.
Tourists should reduce their use of cannabis.Tourists should use less cannabis.
This approach has led to an improvement of the gorillas’ situation.This approach has improved the gorillas’ situation.

3. Avoid long sentences

Many students write unnecessarily long sentences that include superfluous words and elaborate constructions. Try to write shorter, stronger sentences instead.

Unnecessary or cumbersomeExample Short and strongExample
A majority ofThe majority of politicians felt that…MostMost politicians felt that…
As a result ofThe interview was cancelled as a result of illness.Due toThe interview was cancelled due to illness.
At all timesHe must guard against a relapse at all times.AlwaysHe must always guard against a relapse.
At the present time/At this point in timeThis research is of great importance at the present time because…Now, currentlyThis investigation is currently important because…
Be of/have the opinion thatThe president is of the opinion that the law should be adopted.Believe, thinkThe president believes that the law should be adopted.
By means ofThe students were brought to the site by means of a bus.ByThe students were brought to the site by bus.
Due to the fact that/as a result of the fact thatThey could not call someone due to the fact that their mobile phones were dead.BecauseThey could not call someone because their mobile phones were dead.
For the reason thatThey refused to work for the reason that they did not agree with the method.BecauseThey refused to work because they did not agree with the method.
Have an effect/influence onThe module has an effect on the students’ opinions.Affects/influencesThe module affects the students’ opinions.
Have the opportunity toThe teachers have the opportunity to use online testing.CanThe teachers can use online testing.
In comparison with/as compared toOxford students have better outcomes compared to students from XYZ.ThanOxford students have better outcomes than students from XYZ.
In order toThe monkey completed the puzzle in order to receive a banana as a reward.ToThe monkey completed the puzzle to receive a banana as a reward.
In the year YYYYHe was very lonely in the year 2010.In YYYYHe was very lonely in 2010.
Make a decision onJan has to make a decision on the current state of affairs.Decide onJan has to decide on the current state of affairs.
On two occasionsThe database search was conducted on two occasions.TwiceThe database search was conducted twice.
Small/large in sizeThe car is small in size.Small/largeThe car is small.
The reason whyThe reason why the students failed the exam is unknown.The reasonThe reason the students failed the exam is unknown.
Until such time asThe model will be used until such time as a better one is developed.UntilThe model will be used until a better one is developed.
Whether or notThe goal was to determine whether or not the variable played a role.WhetherThe goal was to determine whether the variable played a role.
With the goal/aim ofThe researchers analyzed the system with the aim of discovering the bug.ToThe researchers analyzed the system to discover the bug.

4. Avoid repetition

It’s likely that you are repeating yourself more than you think. Reading your abstract aloud might help you to discover repetition that you had not caught before.

Replacing nouns with pronouns and combining two sentences into one are often easy ways to shorten your text by reducing repetition.

With repetition Without repetition
In conclusion, based on this study it can be determined that…This study shows that…
The results indicate that the HRM strategy has a negative effect on the satisfaction of the employees. The employees indicated that…The results indicate that the HRM strategy has a negative impact on the satisfaction of the employees. They indicated that…
Once the current situation was researched, a strategy for achieving the desired position was formulated.The research results in a strategy to achieve the desired situation.
The research results are obtained by means of a survey. These test results are subsequently analyzed with the aid of SPSS.The research results from the survey are analyzed using SPSS.
The problem is that the companies in the Netherlands have a lack of knowledge with regard to the demand for sweet fillings in the Netherlands.The problem is that the Dutch companies lack insight into the demand for sweet fillings in the Netherlands.

5. Avoid detailed descriptions

An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions or background information. Keeping this in mind may help you to keep your summary short.

For detailed descriptions Summary
Jannsen Ltd., which was founded by Geert Jannsen in 2010, is a dairy farm that aims to produce milk for the population in a sustainable way.The Jannsen Ltd. dairy farm aims to produce milk in a sustainable way.
The value strategy that is currently being used is not adequate. A value strategy is a strategy that a company employs to create added value and distinctiveness in comparison to its competitors.The company’s current value strategy is not adequate.
The product mix, which represents all of the different products that a company delivers to different markets, depends on the capacity of Jannsen Ltd.The product mix is dependent on Jannsen Ltd.’s capacity.

6. Example of an abstract

We’ve prepared an example of a dissertation abstract that takes the above points into consideration.

See the example abstract

Is this article helpful? (your vote is anonymous)
Processing your vote...
Your vote is saved :-)
You have already voted. Thanks :-)
One visitor thinks this article is helpful.

Your dissertation without language mistakes and blunders?

Get help from a professional Scribbr editor.
More info & rates » Trustpilot score of 9.8
Scribbr prof

Article by Lou Benders

Lou is <a href=”https://www.scribbr.com/about-us/”>Scribbr’s Product and Quality Manager</a>. With her many years of experience as a language teacher and editor, she is keen to explain how to use language in academic texts.

Comment now