What to do First

You might be overwhelmed by the idea of describing your entire research process in just a few hundred words. If you’re not sure where to start, write the rest of your report first, and then use the abstract to summarize what you wrote.

On the other hand, if you’re having trouble writing your report, you can write the abstract first to center your thoughts and clarify the main elements of your research.

Whatever approach you take, remember that your abstract is only meant to highlight the key points of your report. Don’t try to describe every aspect of your research, just the most important parts.

Most abstracts have a character limit, but don’t tie yourself down to these limits at first. Write the best abstract you can and then look for ways to cut out unnecessary words until you’ve reached the right length.

We’ll talk more about abstract length and format requirements on the next page.