Difference Between Abstract and Summary

Main Difference – Abstract vs Summary

Though the two terms abstract and summary are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between abstract and summary. A summary is a condensed version of a longer work. An abstract is a brief summary that is found at the beginning of a research article, thesis, etc. This is the main difference between abstract and summary. An abstract is a type of summary.

What is an Abstract

An abstract is a short yet powerful statement or account that summarizes a larger work. It is a brief summary of a research paper, thesis, dissertation, etc. An abstract is typically found at the beginning of a document and it acts as an introduction and review of the whole document. It may contain information about the background, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract typically contains four elements: research focus, research methods, results, main conclusions and recommendations.

An abstract can act as a stand-alone entity. Many organizations use abstracts as the basis for selecting research. In addition, most of the research articles available online are in the form of abstracts; the readers can decide whether they want to purchase the article by reading the abstract. Thus, it can be said that abstracts help the readers to decide whether they should invest time and money in reading the whole article.

There are basically two types of abstracts: descriptive abstracts and informative abstracts. Descriptive abstract or limited abstracts simply provide a description of the content of the abstract (purpose, method, scope). Informative abstracts also contain the description of the content, but it also contains the results, conclusions and the recommendations of the author.Difference Between Abstract and Summary

What is a Summary

A summary is a brief statement or account containing the central points of a text. It can be defined as a condensed or abridged version of a text. Since it only contains the central and most important concepts, it is considerably shorter than the original text.

The term summary can refer to several things. A summary can be a synopsis of a book, article, film or play. Here, the outline of the plot can be termed as a summary. An executive summary, which is seen at the beginning of a business report, proposal and plan, is also a summary; it summarizes the entire content, highlighting the central points of the document. An abstract is also a similar summary that is used in research papers.

When you are writing a summary of a given text or documents, you should always use your words; a brief quote can be sometimes used. Since the main purpose of this type of summary is condensing the text, it should contain the main ideas and concepts of the original text clearly and concisely. Your opinions and criticism of the original text should not be written in the summary. In addition, it shouldn’t contain things like examples, details or any unnecessary information.Main Difference - Abstract vs Summary

Difference Between Abstract and Summary


Abstract is a concise summary found at the beginning of a research article.

Summary is a brief statement or account of the main points of a longer work.


Abstract is a type of a summary.

Summary can be a synopsis, abstract or an executive summary.


Abstract should contain the research purpose, method, results, conclusion and recommendations.

Summary should contain the focal points of the original work.Difference Between Abstract and Summary - infographic

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