How to Write an Abstract for a Lab Report

Updated July 12, 2018

An abstract is a short summary of a longer report composed after the lab report is written. Abstracts are meant for others to read. It gives an overview of what happened in the lab and tries to persuade the reader to read the full-text version of the lab report. Some online databases only list abstracts. As technology advances, the ability to write an informative abstract is more important.

Decide on an appropriate style of abstract for your lab report. There are two different types of abstracts: informative and descriptive. A descriptive abstract identifies the scope of the paper. It is rarely used and is only for long reports. An informative abstract gives the reader a general idea of the research conducted in the lab report. It is the most common type of abstract.

Plan the length of your informative abstract. It must be shorter than 10 percent of the length of the final report. Many publications have length requirements. Follow the length requirement set by the publication or the guidelines established by your instructor.

Write the first draft. Remember to include key statistics and facts essential to the lab.

Revise your abstract into a self-contained essay. Your abstract needs to be able to stand independent of your lab report.

Revise and edit final draft. Check for grammar, punctuation and typing errors. The abstract needs to be written in the same voice as the lab report.

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  • Do not include a scope statement. It is only appropriate for inclusion when writing a descriptive abstract.
  • Do not include lengthy examples or tables.

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