How to Write a Summary, Synopsis, or Abstract
What is an abstract? An abstract is a brief overview of a document, book, or talk. The challenge in writing an abstract comes from providing a complete understanding of your source while also being concise. A well-written abstract gives your readers the opportunity to quickly and accurately identify the basic content and key themes of the source. You will see an abstract at the beginning of many scholarly journal articles, on the back of books, on DVDs of feature films, and other places where the reader needs a brief, but thorough snapshot of a source.
• Be concise. Abstracts are very brief, so state only what is essential. Use no more words than necessary to convey the information. A good abstract should not exceed 300 words.
• Use active rather than passive verbs. See http://www.courses.umass.edu/envd394a/resources/action.html for a list of action verbs.
• Do not use terms that are complicated or unfamiliar to you or your reader.
• The title of the abstract is the same as the title of your source.
• Proofread your abstract several times.
Hint: A good place to find synopses is on www.amazon.com. Go to Books and enjoy!