Answered By: Helen DeBalzo Green
Last Updated: Oct 13, 2020     Views: 53855

It is preferable to cite the full text of a work, but abstracts can be used as sources and included in the reference list IF you indicate as such in the citation. How to cite first depends upon which citation style you are using.  Most courses at LCCC require either MLA style or APA style. 

For APA style, here is an example citation from the 6th ed of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, p. 202 (Note: your citation should follow hanging indent formatting):

Hare, L.R., & O'Neill, K. (2000). Effectiveness and efficiency in small academic peer groups. Small Group Research, 31, 24-53. Abstract retrieved from Sociological Abstracts database. (Accession No. 200010185).

APA 7th edition does not provide guidance on how to cite abstracts. However, if you only use information from the abstract but the full text of the article is also available, we* advise you to add "[Abstract]" after the article or source name. If the full text is not available, you may use an abstract that is available through an abstracts database as a secondary source. [*Purdue Online Writing Lab]

For MLA style

There is no specific example of citing an abstract in the MLA8 handbook. Further, The MLA Style Center declares "Very few circumstances call for citing an abstract." The MLA Style Center's detailed discussion of citing abstracts is here, but if you do need to create a works-cited-list entry for an abstract, follow the MLA format template (below). The MLA Style Center says that you should list the author of the abstract followed by a description in place of a title. Then list the title of the publication in which the abstract appears as the title of the container. Then list the publication details. (Note: Your citation should be double spaced with a hanging indent.)

Work Cited
Ong, Yi-Ping. Abstract of “Anna Karenina Reads on the Train: Readerly Subjectivity and the Poetics of the Novel.” PMLA, vol. 133, no. 5, Oct. 2018, p. 1302.

NOTE: Highlighting is NOT to be used in Work/s Cited

Follow the order of the MLA core elements listed below:

  1. Author.
  2. Title of Source. Title of Container,
  3. Other Contributors,
  4. Version,
  5. Number,
  6. Publisher,
  7. Publication Date,
  8. Location.

​Template for the Work Cited Entry:

MLA 8 citation template



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