How to write and format an APA abstract (6th edition)

This article reflects the APA 6th edition guidelines. Click here for APA 7th edition guidelines.

An APA abstract is a summary of your paper in 150–250 words. It describes the research problem, methods, results and conclusions of your research. For published papers, it also includes a list of keywords.

Write the abstract after you have finished your paper, and place it on a separate page after the title page.

The formatting of the abstract page is the same as the rest of an APA style paper: double-spaced, Times New Roman 12pt font, one-inch margins, and a running head at the top of the page.

APA format abstract example

SCRIBBR APA ABSTRACT EXAMPLE RUNNING HEAD1

Abstract

What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations. What is the problem? Outline the objective, problem statement, research questions and hypotheses. What has been done? Explain your method. What did you discover? Summarize the key findings and conclusions. What do the findings mean? Summarize the discussion and recommendations.

Keywords: example keyword, example keyword, example keyword

An APA abstract must be formatted as follows:

  • Include the running head aligned to the left at the top of the page
  • On the first line, write the heading “Abstract” (centered and without any formatting)
  • Do not indent any part of the text
  • Double space the text
  • Use Times New Roman font in 12 pt
  • Set one-inch (or 2.54 cm) margins
  • If you include a “keywords” section at the end of the abstract, indent the first line and italicize the word “Keywords” while leaving the keywords themselves without any formatting

How to write an APA abstract

Simply answer the following questions and put them together, then voila! You have an abstract for your paper.

If you need more guidance writing your abstract, read our detailed instructions on what to include and see an abstract example.

How to write an abstract

Scribbr Citation CheckerNew

The AI-powered Citation Checker helps you avoid common mistakes such as:

  • Missing commas and periods
  • Incorrect usage of “et al.”
  • Ampersands (&) in narrative citations
  • Missing reference entries

Learn more

APA abstract keywords

At the end of the abstract, you can also include a short list of keywords that will be used for indexing if your paper is published on a database. Listing your keywords will help other researchers find your work.

Make sure that your keywords:

  • Accurately represent the content
  • Are specific to your field

APA abstract keywords example

Here is an example of an APA format paper published as a chapter in a book, where the author has included a set of keywords. The author has chosen the terms listed in the title as keywords as well as several other related keywords that feature in their research.

Book chapter title: Nonparalytic Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome

From: Post-Polio Syndrome: A Guide for Polio Survivors and Their Families (pp. 21-26), Julie K. Silver, Yale University Press (2001)

Keywords: Polio, Paralysis, Symptoms, Postpoliomyelitis syndrome, Medical diagnosis, Legs, Physicians, Strokes, Misdiagnosis

Is this article helpful?
Courtney Gahan

Courtney has a Bachelor in Communication and a Master in Editing and Publishing. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2013, and joined the Scribbr team as an editor in June 2017. She loves helping students and academics all over the world improve their writing (and learning about their research while doing so!).

Your paper without awkward language mistakes?

Scribbr's professional editors can help!
Learn more
Trustpilot score of 4.9

1 comment

Courtney Gahan
Courtney Gahan (Scribbr Team)
November 6, 2020 at 6:34 PM

Thanks for reading! Hope you found this article helpful. If anything is still unclear, or if you didn’t find what you were looking for here, leave a comment and we’ll see if we can help.

Still have questions?

Please click the checkbox on the left to verify that you are a not a bot.