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Writing Abstracts for a Literature Review in APA Format


While developing your APA style school research paper, follow the specific formatting guidelines to finalize your paper. This citation example focuses on writing abstracts for an APA style paper. Learning how to write abstracts is a good skill to have, as it helps you develop the ability to summarize the important points in your paper. A busy student can read abstracts to determine if it’s worth the time to read the full paper.

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Sectioning Your APA Research Paper

In APA style, a research paper has four sections:

  • Title Page
  • Abstract
  • Main Body
  • References
Note: You will include a “running head” on each page, including the abstract page.

Types of Research Papers

students learning about abstracts

You may be asked to prepare several types of research papers as a student, including:

  • Empirical Study
  • Theory-Oriented
  • Methodological
  • Case Study

A literature review paper is one you’ll be asked to write frequently, as many times there is not enough time in a class setting to complete extensive research.

Formatting an APA Abstract

The abstract page is the second page of your report, right after the title page. This page is numbered 2 on your report.

On the first line of the page, center the word Abstract.
*Do not underline, bold, italicize or otherwise format the title.

On the second line, start your abstract.
*Do not indent.

Inserting Keywords into an APA Abstract

In today’s digital world, it is important to think about ways readers can find your work online. Adding keywords at the end of your abstract guides online searches. After the abstract paragraph, type Keywords: italicized and indented.

Keywords: digital print, online sources

Abstract Word Limits

The maximum word count for an APA abstract is 250 words. However, your instructor may ask for fewer words or provide you with additional guidance. In fact, some instructors or publications  may restrict the word count to 150.

Writing the Abstract

The abstract is a concise summary of your paper. Write it after you have finished your paper, so you have a clear idea of what to include in this short paragraph.

Note: Do not include evaluative remarks or add any information.


Examples of APA Abstracts

Following your instructor’s guidance, include these elements in your APA abstract:

  • First, briefly state the research topic and questions.
  • Then, using the primary studies in the literature you reviewed, include the participants in the studies and the main results.
  • Remember to include the conclusion of your literature review.
  • Finally, finish with a sentence about any implications or future research that developed from the research presented in your paper.

APA Abstract Example


This article is an examination of the history of gender demographics in the field of librarianship. The historic development and subsequent “feminization” of librarianship continues to influence the gender wage gap and the disproportionate leadership bias in the field today. This article examines the stereotyping of librarians and the cyclical effect of genderizing the profession. Consideration of current trends and data in librarian demographics demonstrates a consistent decrease in gender diversity, accompanied by a troubling lack of women leaders and executives. Additionally, this article explores options for combating the gender perceptions that negatively impact women in library and information science fields, including management and negotiation training in graduate programs, increased emphasis on technological skills, and professional organization advocacy.

Mars, P. (2018). Gender demographics and perceptions in librarianship. School of Information Student Research Journal 7(2). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/slissrj/vol7/iss2/3


Abstract Example With Keywords


The future of books and libraries is put into question by the increasing popularity of e-books and the use of computers as text platforms. In an effort to anticipate which reading platform—print, e-readers, or computers displays—will dominate in the coming years, recent research and experimental data on the suitability of each reading platform for reading comprehension will be considered, from the perspectives of optical issues, cognition, and metacognition. It will be shown that, while printed books are most conducive to learning from longer, more difficult texts, e-readers and computer displays offer convenience and some distinct advantages to readers in particular situations. This synthesis of current research will be helpful to librarians working in digital and print book purchasing and collection development, as well as those making long-range planning decisions.

Keywords: books, digital books, e-paper, reading comprehension, cognition

Tanner, M. J. (2014). Digital vs. print: Reading comprehension and the future of the book. SLIS Student Research Journal, 4(2). Retrieved from http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/slissrj/vol4/iss2/6


A Crucial Element

Your APA abstract is a critical part of your school research paper. Thus, you should put a lot of thought into creating your abstract and make sure it includes all the required elements. As always, be sure to follow your teacher’s guidance for length and format.

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