Step-by-Step Instructions for Writing an Abstract in MLA Format


An abstract is a clear and concise summary of a finished paper that is written to convince and inspire readers to read the paper. Writing an abstract is, however, dependent on the type of writing style that you are adhering too. Typically, MLA writing style does not require an abstract, having said that, you can be instructed to include an abstract in MLA format in your paper.

An MLA style abstract is usually aimed at summarizing the objective, methods, results, discussion and conclusion of the paper. It is typically a reduced form of the paper that highlights the key points in the paper. The MLA style abstract is the most commonly used style of abstract in the humanities and art field.

When writing an MLA style abstract, it is important to explain what the paper is about, what was done, how it was done, and what was found (Secrets to writing like a pro). Also, an MLA style abstract should be clear, concise and make use of direct language that can make readers accurately decide if the paper is worth reading or not.

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Writing an Abstract in MLA Style

pointing hand Rules for Writing an Abstract in MLA Format

  • Determine the type of abstract you are going to be writing.
  • Make a summary of the objective and methods used in the research.
  • Make sure the abstract contains the objective, methods, results as well as the conclusion of the paper.
  • The abstract should be concise and clear. It should be between 150 to 250 words long.
  • The abstract should be placed after the title page before the main text.
  • The reasons why you wrote the paper and why the readers should be interested in the paper should be clearly stated in the abstract.
  • Make sure there are no forms of error in the abstract, as that can serve as a deterrent for the reader from reading the paper.
  • If the findings of the paper have a larger implication, it should be included in the conclusion section.
  • The abstract should be written only after the paper is done.
  • Use serial comma, that is, if you are listing more than three items, put a comma before the “and.”

pointing hand Basics of Abstract in MLA Format

  • Your abstract should be written in one paragraph, two at the very most.
  • The text of the abstract should be written in Times New Romans and the font size throughout the paper should be 12 pts unless instructed otherwise.
  • The text in the abstract should be double spaced.
  • The abstract page should have a one-inch margin for the top, bottom, left and right side of the paper.
  • You are required to spell out all acronyms used in the abstract.
  • Do not cite within the abstract.
  • No footnotes are required.
  • You are to follow the sequence of the paper when structuring the abstract
  • Use paragraph indentation.

pointing hand Types of Abstracts

There are basically two types of abstracts. They are:

Descriptive abstract

Descriptive abstracts are written to be very short, usually around 100 words. Also, it is written to give a very brief overview of the paper without going into any details. Authors write descriptive abstracts to try to entice readers to read the paper to find out the results of the research.

Informational abstract

Informational abstracts are more extended than descriptive abstracts. They are usually between 150 – 250 words long. Informational abstract typically contains small pieces of information on every aspect of the paper. Plus, it is a summary that is written to give readers an insight into what the paper is about and its findings.

pointing hand Tips for Writing an Abstract in MLA Format

  • Avoid copying and pasting from your paper
  • Begin your abstract with a clear statement of your argument
  • Try to makes sure your abstract is about 6 to seven sentences
  • Avoid ambiguous, lengthy, and complicated sentences
  • The last sentences should be about the conclusions that you arrived at in your paper
  • Make sure you read through to ensure that you have covered all the main points of the paper.

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By Andy Xavier

Andy is an avid content developer and writer. He is experienced in creating engaging articles that are entirely unique and insightful. He has written lots of articles for Scientific Editing since 2019.

5 thoughts on “Step-by-Step Instructions for Writing an Abstract in MLA Format”

  1. I know that citation is not allowed when writing an abstract in MLA format. However, can one indicate a name in an MLA abstract if continuing their work. For instance, Connar et al. found that COVID-19 is spreading faster than the previous reports. We examined the spread of the virus …

    • Yes, there are cases where you can name an author without citing the reference. For instance, if your study continues or examines someone else’s work, you can indicate their name(s) in your abstract. In your introduction, then, you provide full citation to their work.

    • The abstract does not need a separate title or header. It should be placed after the title page before the main text.


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