Notes on Writing an Abstract - University of Minnesota Duluth

University of Minnesota Duluth
Department of Chemical Engineering
ChE 3211/4211
Labs 1 & 2
Prof. Davis
Notes on Writing an Abstract1
The abstract can be written only when the paper or report is otherwise complete. It is
placed immediately after the title page.
In a published paper or report the abstract (with the title) should be suitable for use as an
abstract by information services. If you write an abstract that is too long, someone else
will shorten it and they may leave out things that you consider important. Remember,
also, that if someone refers to your paper or report in a book or review they reduce your
conclusions to one sentence or to a phrase. Can you provide a suitable sentence in your
Great care is needed in the preparation of the abstract because, after the title, this is all
that most readers will see. It must be complete, interesting and informative without
reference to the rest of the report, except that information given in the title should not be
Your abstract should be as short as possible but everything new and everything you
particularly want people to know must be mentioned. The problem should be stated; and
the main findings and conclusions should be included in the same order as in the report.
No table numbers, figure numbers, references or citations should be included. There
should be no information, ideas or claims other than those in the report.
The treatment of the subject may be indicated by such words as preliminary, detailed,
theoretical, and experimental. When experiments are reported the methods used should
be mentioned. For new methods, the basic principles, range of operation, and degree of
accuracy should be given. Statements of conclusions and inferences should be
accompanied by an indication of their range of validity.
The abstract should be in the third person, in complete sentences, and in words that will
be understood by everyone for whom the report is intended. Ask someone who has not
read your report to read and comment on your abstract for appropriate feedback.
Adapted from “Scientists Must Write,” by R. Barrass, 1978, Chapman and Hall.