The abstract, although it heads the article, is often written last, together with the title. This is partly because writers know what they have achieved, and partly because it is not easy to write an abstract. Abstracts have to summarise what has been done, sometimes in as few as 150 words.

It is easier to write an abstract if you remember that all abstracts have a basic structure. Indeed, the phrase 'structured abstracts' says it all. This kind of abstract, common in medical research journals and now appearing in many social science articles, can be adapted for most normal purposes.

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