How to format an abstract

Formatting guidelines

An abstract must be clear, and a reader should be able to recognize what is being articulated with ease. When you arrange the abstract try to do the following:

  • Open with a 1-2 sentence announcement of the argument, thesis or theory you intend to present.
  • Provide contextual information that will help the reader to better understand and appreciate the significance of the argument you are trying to make. You may include, depending on your academic discipline, historical background, and definitions of terms, applications, methodologies and/or implications that arise from your findings.
  • If you are applying to a conference that is built around a specific discipline, topic or theme, indicate how your project fits in with the conference’s academic objectives.
  • Be sure to present information as succinctly as possible, striving for directness, rather than flare; minimize repetitiousness of words and ideas.
  • Work from models. Study abstracts that have been accepted previously by organizations like UCUR. Be sure to honor the conventions and rules particular to the academic discipline in which you are working.
  • Read the directions CLOSELY as you submit the abstract for final review. If you plan to present with others, provide these people’s names. Note that both UCUR and the DSU Research Day require applicants to include the names of mentoring faculty with their proposals.

Work with a Mentor

To ensure that your abstract honors and adheres to the conventions specific to the academic discipline in which you working (sciences, humanities, health sciences, and so forth), work closely with a knowledgeable mentor. The likelihood of having your abstract accepted for the Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research (UCUR), DSU’s Research Day or any other academic conference is far greater when you consult with people who have extensive records of accomplishment presenting papers and posters at conferences themselves.

Additional resources and further reading

Visit the DSU Writing Center for one-on-one instructions and tutoring.
Review past UCUR abstracts and Dixie Research Day abstracts
University of North Carolina Writing Center
Purdue OWL