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How Long Should an Abstract be?

By Laura Brown on 14th February 2019


To be aware of the required abstract length, it is mandatory to understand the word “abstract”.

What is an Abstract?

The brief summary of any paper is termed as an abstract. It can contain all the main points of the paper that’s why it is the most vital part of any writing piece. In some publications, it is also termed as synopsis or a précis. A good abstract is that which gives all the information of paper. It gives the idea to the reader whether he should read the complete paper or not.

To write a good abstract, few things must be kept in mind. An important point to consider is the word count of an abstract. It should not exceed more than the required limit. The length of an abstract varies with the discipline, the word count and requirement of the publisher.

How Long Should an Abstract be?

How Long Should an Abstract be?

The length of an abstract fluctuates with the requirement. However, the typical length of an abstract is from 100 to 500 words but it is suggested that abstract should not be more than one page. Rarely, it can go more than one page but just fewer words.


According to APA style manual, the suggested word count an abstract should be between 150 to 250 words. However, some professors may have definite word requirement so it is better to ask. Also, the abstract should be written in paragraph format.


Most of the MLA abstracts ranges between 150 – 250 words. It is also said that too long abstracts are useless because they do not give specific information of the complete written paper.


In Harvard styles, abstracts mostly ranges from 100 to 300 words in length. But it is better to ask from professor because some universities have their own requirement for the abstract.


As per AMA style guidelines, the abstract length is restricted to 175 words. The abstract in AMA style should give key components of the complete research.

How Long an Abstract in Chicago Style?

In Chicago style, the synopsis or abstracts word count must remain below 300. But it is compulsory to put all the essential points in the synopsis.

In a Scientific Paper

Every paper has its own requirements, where the scientific paper is concern; the abstract length of scientific papers is limited to 250 words maximum. So, it is better to write fewer words than the given limit.

10,000 Word Dissertations

As mentioned above that the word count of an abstract also varies with the size of a dissertation. If your dissertation is around 10,000 words then the abstract should be 300 – 350 words long. It is because, such dissertations contain much information and making the summary of all the information requires some more words.

For a Conference Paper

As abstract is a snapshot of complete paper, it should be concise and informative. The requirement of length of an abstract paper varies with the publisher requirement. However, the suggested range is maximum 250 words.

Thesis / Dissertation

After completing dissertation, the last part should be an abstract. It gives the brief idea and highlights the main points of the whole dissertation. It usually embraces reader to read the rest of the dissertation. So, not to take much time of reader; the abstract should be of 200 to 350 words in range. Also, it is suggested to not write the abstract in future tense.

Journal Article

The range of abstract of journal articles is between 75 to 150 words. It is good to present all the information in most concise way so it is suggested to not go beyond the limit.

Lab Report

The abstract of lab report should be of one paragraph like 100 – 200 words. The report abstract should contain important facets of the report. It can include, purpose, key findings, significance and conclusion.

For a Literature Review

The summary of literature review should be according to the length of the literature. Typically, literature review ranges from 3000 to 5000 words so the abstract should be between 100 – 150 words. The abstract must not evaluate the original work, it just summarises it.

How Long Should an Abstract be in a Research Paper?

Abstract recaps the major and important aspects of whole research paper and it should not be more than 300 words. However, it is good that words should be less than 300 words.

For a Presentation

The length of the presentation abstract should be around 200 to 250 words. The abstract for presentation should contain concise and informative information.

Any Other Paper

The abstract of paper should be 100 – 500 words long. Just make sure that the all essential points should be covered in the same abstract.


APA: https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-write-an-abstract-2794845
MLA: https://www.wikihow.com/Write-an-Abstract-in-MLA-Style
Harvard: https://gsas.harvard.edu/degree-requirements/dissertations/formatting-your-dissertation
AMA: https://www.ama.org/journal-of-international-marketing-submission-guidelines/
Chicago: https://www.ieee-pvsc.org/PVSC46/authors-abstracts.php
Scientific Paper: https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/science-fair/how-to-write-a-science-fair-project-abstract
10,000 Words Dissertation: https://www.sfu.ca/~jcnesbit/HowToWriteAbstract.htm
Conference Paper: https://www.ul.ie/ctl/sites/default/files/how_to_write_an_abstract_for_a_conference_paper.pdf
Lab Report: https://advice.writing.utoronto.ca/types-of-writing/lab-report/
Research Paper: http://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/abstract
Presentation: https://study.com/academy/lesson/how-to-write-an-abstract-for-a-presentation.html

Author Bio:

Laura Brown, a senior content writer who writes actionable blogs at Crowd Writer.