Write an Abstract in APA Format Using Word

Do you want people to read your abstract?

You should!

A well-written abstract in APA format could be the most important paragraph in your academic paper.

The official APA style guide states "It provides an overview of the paper and helps readers decide whether to read the full text."

An abstract correctly formatted in APA style may be the difference between:

  • fail and pass
  • pass and credit
  • credit and distinction
  • acceptance or rejection of a dissertation, thesis or journal article.

Copy the following Word screen shot settings to write  your abstract in APA format.

Heading for the Abstract Page

Step 1 - Create the Heading for the Abstract in APA Format

Reminder: APA seventh edition recommends various font types and sizes.

However, you must use the same font type and size for everything, such as the title page, abstract, headings and subheadings, and paragraphs.

Font and Alignment Settings for the Abstract Label in APA FormatFigure 1. Font Properties for Abstract Label in APA Format

The abstract in APA format is bold, centered and a font type and size within the recommended APA list.

Explanation for Figure 1 (if required) is as follows:

  1. Select the text "Abstract".
    APA format requires the heading "Abstract" (without quotes).
  2. Select the Home tab.
  3. Set the font to Times New Roman or font that you have chosen.
    Times New Roman is an example.
  4. Set the font size to 12 or font size that goes with with the font type you have chosen.
    For example, you could choose 11-point Arial.
  5. Set the alignment to center.
  6. Set the Font style to Bold.

Step 2 - Set Outline Level and Line Spacing

Line Spacing Settings for the Abstract Label in APA FormatFigure 2. Line Spacing for Abstract Label in APA Format

Explanation for Figure 2 (if required) is as follows:

  1. Select the arrow (bottom right-hand corner) of the Paragraph group.
  2. Set the Outline level to Level 1 (only necessary if you are building a Table of Contents).
    APA style does not say anything about a Table of Contents.
    However, if you want one (maybe your instructor insists on one), and you want the abstract heading to appear in the Table of Contents, then you need to set the outline level to 1.
  3. Ensure the Before and After Spacing is set to zero.
  4. Set the Line spacing to Double.
    This will ensure a blank line exists between the label and the first line of the following paragraph.
  5. Click on OK.

Abstract Paragraph

Paragraph Settings for the Abstract in APA FormatFigure 3. Paragraph Settings for the Abstract in APA Format

Note: The first line is NOT indented. Paragraphs in the main text are, but not the abstract paragraph.

Explanation for Figure 3 (if required) is as follows:

  1. Select the Home tab.
  2. Set the font to Times New Roman (or font that you have chosen).
  3. Set the font size to 12 (or font size that you have chosen).
  4. Set the alignment to left.
  5. Select Line and Paragraph Spacing and set to 2.0 (double spaced).

Example of an Abstract in APA Format

Figure 4 is an example of an abstract in a student paper.

Example of an Abstract in APA FormatFigure 4: Example of an Abstract in APA Format

Figure 5 is an example of an abstract in a professional paper. The professional paper has the title (shortened if necessary) in the running head.

Example of a Professional Abstract in APA FormatFigure 5: Example of a Professional Abstract in APA Format

Should You Use Word Styles to Create the Abstract in APA Format?

A Word style is a definition of the format of some text, for example, the font type, the font size, line spacing, bold, italic, and so on.

Word styles are very powerful. You define the style once, and then apply it again and again. You do not have choose font type and size, bold or not, italic or not, and so on.

But is it worthwhile for the abstract?

The answer is - how many abstracts do you do.

If you expect to write very few abstracts, then format them as described above in Figures 1 to 3.

If you expect to write several abstracts in your academic writing career, consider setting up a style for an abstract in APA format.


Summary

Although the abstract is less than one page long, it is perhaps the most important page in the whole document.

The reader, based on what is in the abstract, could decide whether to keep reading your document or pass it by.

The abstract in APA format could play a big part in your success!


References - APA Abstract

American Psychological Association. (2020). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000