MLA Formatting: How Do I Do: An Abstract

This resource can help you with questions you may have around MLA; this document will show you have to properly format in-text citations, form block quotes, structure a cover page, etc. Think of it as your MLA "cheat sheet"!

What is an Abstract?

Here is some information you should know when formatting your abstract:


          An abstract is a condensed summary of your entire paper, which can be found immediately after your title page, if you are required to have these components. Since the abstract is the first thing that your readers will come across, make sure that your writing is clear, impactful, and succinct. When you are witting an abstract for a paper, you must first make sure to check what the guidelines are from your professor or instructor, to make sure that you are following the directions given and meeting the requirements needed to grading. Since abstracts are not always required with MLA, nor are cover pages, be sure to check these items if they are required for submission or not. If you are not given specifics, here are some basic guidelines that you can follow when forming your abstract:


  • Generally, an abstract should be written within 150-250 words. This amount can vary if you are given specific directions otherwise.


  • Your abstract should be easy to follow when reading it; it should match the order and flow in which your writing does with what you talk through in each section of your entire paper. Your abstract should read like your paper would.


  • When writing an abstract, focus your sentences to be more reporting, rather than commentary; your reader is deciding if the information you present in your work is relevant to what they are interested in, save the commentary for the bodies of your writing and focus the abstract on factual information.


  • Make sure that you are saying something in your abstract; although this is only going to be a single, doubled spaced paragraph that is not indented, make sure that it is a powerful summary of your writing, and not something that comes across as vague and incapable of telling the reader what you are communicating.


  • Your abstract should focus on your findings and your original work, so save the additional work done by others for your writing; do not include citations in your abstract


  • You may have key words included at the end of your abstract, but note that they count towards the word count you are given.


  • You will need to include a page number for your abstract, but do not for your cover page. The page number will be in little roman numerals, since it is prefacing your writing. Your page numbers officially begin on the first page of your written work, everything that comes prior to that (excluding the cover page) is to be numbered in small roman numerals.

Brain Food : MLA Guidelines in Writing