top of page

Main Differences Between a Summary and an Abstract

Writing for an abstract may have similar steps to writing for a summary, but they have different objectives and requirements. While an abstract is a short, descriptive paragraph overviewing your entire paper from introduction to the findings or future studies, a summary includes your entire paper and its visuals, just in a shorter length and more concise than it’s original document. This article will discuss the key parts to include in an abstract and a summary.


The abstract should summarize the main points of your paper without specific detail. So it should communicate, if relevant: main question of your paper, methods, major results or findings, the importance of results or findings, and how they shape a theory or answer your question.

-Start with the main point: The beginning statement should describe the main point you are trying to communicate to the reader. Sometimes, this may be the thesis, or it may be the research topic, all depending on what kind of paper you are writing.

-Keep it concise: This is meant to briefly discuss your article, and only talk about the main points between the introduction, body, and conclusion.

-Remember the length: This abstract is meant to be a paragraph; therefore, each piece of information given in the summary should be short, key parts of the article.

-Follow the same order: Make sure your abstract follows the same order that your paper is written in.

-Keep it to the facts: Keep in mind to only use factual statements or observations and avoid using opinions, repetition, and any ‘fluff’ content.

-Create an effective ending: The last sentence should be able to effectively wrap up the findings of the article.


On the other hand, the summary is a much longer version of the abstract, containing more details, visuals, and opinions.

-Follow the same order: Again, this should follow the same order as your paper.

-Keep in mind the length: Remember the length that the publication is asking your article to be at. With publishing for MiMJ, we are asking for a 2-3 page, 1000 word limit. With this, try to be concise and only have information that is key to conveying your message in your paper.

-Facts and opinions allowed: Unlike writing for an abstract, you are not limited to what kind of information you will be giving; you can include any fact, opinion, or finding, as long as it is a key piece of information that still allows your paper to be concise.

-You can use visuals: The use of visuals is welcomed while writing your summary. However, make sure they are necessary to convey your message to the reader due to the fact that summaries need to be concise (do you think I mentioned that your summary needs to be concise enough?). Secondly, make sure each visual that is used is explained well, as summaries are for a general audience.

-Remember the format: You still have to organize your paper in the format that is required by the publication you wish to publish your article with. With publishing with MiMJ, we require your paper to be written in 7th edition APA format.

-Remember your citations: As any paper would include, citations are an important way to credit the sources you used to create your wonderful paper. In addition, make sure your citations abide by the format you are using. This also ties in having a literature cited page as well.

In conclusion, your summary should be a shorter, more concise version of your original paper that still includes all important information and effectively translates the message from your paper. Whereas the abstract should be a short paragraph that presents all key facts and information. In the future, try to refer to this post as a mental checklist after writing any abstract or summary, or even while you are writing!

Furthermore, have you previously used any of these ideas while writing your summary? Are there any other tips that have helped you while writing a summary?


Muhammad Ayaan
Muhammad Ayaan
Mar 07, 2022

This is a great explanation of Abstract and Summary.


This is very helpful information!


I think this is a very interesting paper discussing the differences between the two formats! Does anyone know if certain publications will prefer one type over another (ex: an abstract over a summary)? Or is it considered industry standard to include both?

bottom of page