Technical Writing Abstracts (know well) – - An abstract is a summary of a body of information. Sometimes, abstracts are in fact called summaries—sometimes, executive summaries or executive abstracts. There are different kinds of abstracts—your technical report uses two types: the descriptive abstract and the informative abstract . Abstracts are typically 200-250 words. Abstracts should be written after a paper is complete so the abstract accurately reflects the paper. • The Descriptive abstract provides a description of the report's main topic and purpose as well an overview of its contents. It is very short—usually a brief one- or two- sentence paragraph. In this report design, it appears on the title page. You may have noticed something similar to this type of abstract at the beginning of journal articles. In this type of abstract, you don't summarize any of the facts or conclusions of the report. • The Informative abstract , as its name implies, provides information from the body of the report—specifically, the key facts and conclusions. To put it another way, this type of abstract summarizes the key information from every major section in the body of the report. It is as if someone had taken a yellow marker and highlighted all the key points in the body of the report then vacuumed them up into a one- or two-page document . (Of course, then some editing and rewriting would be necessary to make the abstract readable.) Specifically, the requirements for the informative abstract are as follows: • Summarizes the key facts, conclusions , and other important information in the body of the report. • Usually about 10 percent of the length of the full report : for example, an informative abstract for a 10-page report would be 1 page. This ratio stops after about 30 pages, however. For 50- or 60-page reports, the abstract should not go over 3 to 4 pages. • Summarizes the key information from each of the main sections of the report, and proportionately so (a 3-page section of a 10-page report ought to take up about 30 percent of the informative abstract). • Phrases information in a very dense, compact way. Sentences are longer than normal and are crammed with information. The abstract tries to compact information down to that 10-percent level. It's expected that the writing in an informative abstract will be dense and heavily worded. (However, do not omit normal words such as the , a , and an . • Omits introductory explanation, unless that is the focus of the main body of the report. Definitions and other background information are omitted if they are not the major focus of the report. The informative abstract is not an introduction to the subject matter of the report—and it is not an introduction! • Omits citations for source borrowings . If you summarize information that you borrowed from other writers, you do not have to repeat the citation in the informative abstract (in other words, no brackets with source numbers and page numbers).
You've reached the end of your free preview.
Want to read all 9 pages?
- Winter '12
- Passive voice, Writer