An abstract is a condensed summary. Like a summary, an abstract reduces a text to an outline of its most important points. But, whereas a summary of an article's essential points may be several pages long, an abstract will be less than a page, more likely one paragraph. Here, for example, is an abstract of the advice for writing summaries (above):

To write a summary, 1) keep your objective in mind, 2) be accurate and brief, 3) use a clear style, 4) use the organizational pattern and 5) tone of the original document.

Abstracts may be routine, but they're not easy to write. They are difficult because you must thoroughly understand the piece you are abstracting and because you have so little freedom to use your own language. To write them, follow the general advice for writing summaries, only more rigorously. Of course, the one necessary preparation for writing abstracts is to be thoroughly familiar with the piece you are abstracting. You might consider writing a paragraph-by-paragraph topical outline first, including just the topic sentence of each paragraph. Then see if you can cluster these under more condensed headings, and so on. (It helps if the piece itself follows a predictable pattern, including thesis statement, topic sentences and the like.)

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