Difference Between Abstracts and Annotations

When it comes to writing abstracts and annotations, both are short descriptions. Abstracts contain the main points of the journal article, while annotations provide information about the publication and their source and relevancy and evaluates it.

Abstracts and Annotations

What Is an Abstract?

An abstract is the most important section that you can find in the beginning of a research paper. It is a short summary of your long and extensive work, and includes various components depending on the discipline. An abstract helps the readers get the gist of your academic paper, which they can determine whether to read or not, and it also helps them follow your arguments, analysis and supporting points, and remember the key terms in your paper.

An abstract is about 150-300 words long, and it is used by bibliographic databases, as well as search engines to locate the key points for indexing your published research paper. Researchers can find your paper easily based on the key terms you include in the abstract.   

What Does an Abstract Contain?

When an abstract contains all the information of your paper in brief, its content varies based on the genre of the paper you are writing. For instance, there are specific guidelines given by the American Psychological Association in its Publication Manual for different types of papers such as theoretical, literature, methodological, empirical studies and case studies. Nevertheless, an abstract generally includes:

  • the scope, background or context of your research
  • the problem or objective, i.e., the principal questions your research paper addresses
  • the previous research
  • the reasons, goals or rationale for your research
  • analytical methods  
  • results, findings or arguments and
  • implications or significance of your arguments or findings

When Do You Write Abstracts?

You need to write abstracts for different types of writing, and it is when writing journal articles and proposals for a conference paper or book or completing thesis or Ph.D. dissertation and applying for grants.

How to Write an Abstract Effectively?

People usually read an abstract before deciding to read the full paper, and therefore, it is essential that you should know how to write an abstract to make the researchers read the paper. Here are some writing tips for an effective abstract.

  • Write the Problem Statement or Research Question

It is important that the readers should be able to understand the problem you present in your research paper. Otherwise, they will not give any significance to your solution or research. To have the attention of your reader, you need to mention the problem statement, as well as the context and background to help the audience understand the importance of the problem and your findings for its solution. For instance, “What problem does your research try to solve?”

  • Write the Main Point

An abstract is one among the writing styles that ask for a main point. It is similar to news stories, and has important ideas given under bullet points. You can have your abstract designed around these ideas.

  • Explain Your Methodology

You can summarize your research study through the methods section in the abstract. Though you should refrain from providing excessive details, it is essential to briefly explain the principal techniques used. For example, abstracts in clinical fields is a piece of writing that includes the cell line, organism and population studied.

  • Describe Your Important Findings

The people related to your field read the abstract to know more about your findings. Henceforth, the result section should be elaborated to the extent that you include all the necessary details to persuade the reader to go for extensive reading.

  • Conclusion

You have to conclude your abstract by stating the practical implications or how your work is essential for advancement in your field. This will help your reader have a better understanding of your findings.

  • Avoid Writing Errors

Most professional writing like abstracts should follow common grammar rules with regard to punctuation, subject-verb agreement and nominalization of verbs. When writing, check your sentence structure and word choice using any reliable grammar checkers. In short, you should make the reading of your abstract effortless.

What Is an Annotation?


A brief note or description, an annotation helps the readers decide whether to read a particular book, journal, or any other publications, which also includes audio-visual materials.

How to Write an Annotation Successfully?

To write an annotation, you need to develop some intellectual skills such as setting forth of the purpose in clear and brief statement and informed library research. Some essential tips to write an annotation effectively are:

  • Summarise the Main Points in Your Own Words

You need to choose relevant information while summarizing the long text, and you can use the headers, as well as words in bold to help you. Read the text and while reading look for the purpose, arguments, main ideas and evidence. Distinguish main information from the subsidiary one. Also, study the organization of the text like is it in chronological or reverse chronological order. Rewrite the main points in your own words using simple and not complex sentences.

  • Note the Important Phrases and Concepts

You can find the relevant ideas or important concepts in the text, and underline or circle them or highlight them to come back and read them later. It is also essential to note the words and phrases used for the relevant concepts in technical writing and business writing.

  • Write Short Questions and Comments

When you write questions, be as specific as you can to think better about the text. Most writing processes require you to ask questions to activate your thinking and improve your writing.

  • Point of View of the Author

You need to read the entire book or text and figure out the author’s perspective or point of view. This includes whether the author is targeting a particular group of audience or is having any biases against a particular section or community.

  • Related Links

If there are any relevant sources with which you can link or compare. This will help you to establish connections with other aspects of the similar or opposing views or arguments.

  • Avoid Common Mistakes in Writing

An annotation like any creative writing should be free of errors. A good writer reads, understands and writes in his or own words. You can use annotations to write a letter or in cover letters to deliver a message to the reader.

Both abstracts and annotations are different in a sense that they are used for different purposes. Nevertheless, they help in improving your writing skills if you follow the guidelines given.

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