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January 23, 2012


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Kelly Anders

Speaking as a former journalist, I think writing an effective abstract is akin to creating a good headline for a news article. It needs to give the gist, while still encouraging readers to want to read further. Ideally, an abstract shouldn't be too long; depending on the topic, a second paragraph may not always be necessary. However, these seven steps provide excellent guidance on what to include. I would add that one should refrain from writing an abstract in the first person (i.e., never use "I").

Jacqui Lipton

And to add even more analogies, when sending query letters to magazines for fiction and non-fiction articles, authors need a 'hook' and a paragraph explaining what is new and exciting about their article and why they are the person who the magazine should contract with to write the article. It's a pretty similar exercise, although in a query letter, one does tend to use the first person.

Steven Lubet

What is wrong with using the first person in an article abstract at the submission stage? Query letters and book proposals always use the first person, as do research agendas. Why would a submission abstract be different (as opposed the ultimate abstract at the beginning of a published piece, which is roughly the equivalent of jacket copy on a book)?

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