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HOW TO WRITE AN ABSTRACT FOR A LABORATORY REPORT

An abstract is a brief, informative summary of all aspects of a lab. The single paragraph
description should be understandable even if the reader is not familiar with the lab. Information
or conclusions that do not appear in the main body of the lab should not appear in the abstract.

Abstract format
1) Write in the past tense.
2) Do not use the first person.
3) Do not use contractions, such as Dont.
4) Be concise. Eliminate unnecessary words and phrases.
5) Keep the length to 75 words or less.

Abstract content
1) A purpose which states the main goal of the lab.
2) A brief summary of the procedure.
3) Results (with percent error if there is an expected numerical result).
Do not include all measurements. Only include the final result.
4) A reason for error that indicates one problem with the procedure.
5) A conclusion which is a generalization based on the results or observations.

The following is a proper abstract for a density lab:

The densities of water and aluminum were determined by massing the substances on an
electronic balance and dividing by the volumes, which were measured with a graduated cylinder.
The calculated density of aluminum was 2.5 g/ml and that of water was 1.3 g/ml, with errors of
7.4 % and 30.0%, respectively, because the accepted density of water at 4oC was used although
the room temperature was 20oC. Aluminum sinks in water because the metal is denser than the
liquid.

Note the incorporation of all parts of an abstract:

Purpose The densities of water and aluminum were determined


Procedure by massing the substances on an electronic balance and dividing by the volumes,
which were measured with a graduated cylinder.
Results The calculated density of aluminum was 2.5 g/ml and that of water was 1.3 g/ml,
% error with errors of 7.4 % and 30.0%, respectively,
Error reason because the accepted density of water at 4oC was used although the room
temperature was 20oC.
Conclusion Aluminum sinks in water because the metal is denser than the liquid.