I have to write a feature article for school. However, I'm confused how an abstract [a summary of my points] is different to an intro [Where you outline the points you're going to be elaborating in the body paragraphs]

Original Example:


Single Mothers, ‘the damaged goods’ of society?


They’re the unrepresented minorities in our society. Victims of social prejudice, these women are marginalised in media as a whole different class of people. They’re irresponsible sluts; ‘the damaged goods’. They’re woefully incapable of raising a baby with morals. They’re dependent; Work-shy-unambitious class of beings who only live off well-fare. Sadly, they’re the Single Mothers of our society.

Introduction: Confused! Shouldn't my 'abstract' text be my introduction paragraph?!

UPDATE: Remember that I am NOT writing a research paper, rather, a persuasive article, when writing your answers please.

4 Answers 4


An abstract is a quick summary or overview of the entire piece. It's used for search results (manual or computerized) — basically, the reader is saying, "Is this the piece I need as a source for X task?"

The introduction can vary in information and tone. It can be the classic "Tell 'em what you're going to tell 'em," it can be a way to guide the reader into the topic with the thesis statement as the last sentence, it can be a teaser, etc.


Single mothers are often disparaged by society. This piece discusses some causes of single motherhood, how single mothers are viewed by various demographic groups, and potential means of raising their influence and societal status.


Single mothers. Who are they? A cluster of teenagers pushing strollers along the boardwalk. Young women barely in their 20s with a toddler on the stoop and another on the way. Professional women in their thirties whose marriages fall apart, and now have to juggle custody alongside Scout meeetings and soccer practice. A fortysomething hearing her biological clock clanging, paging desperately through bios of sperm donors. Different circumstances, different reasons, different lives, but all have one thing in common: each one is a woman with one or more children, and no partner. And all of them are slammed by society.

  • In the example my teacher gave me the informational report also has a background, and I am unsure the difference between the introduction and the background.
    – Ben
    Commented Oct 13, 2015 at 21:03

The abstract should have the main ideas you'll be supporting in your text. You probably don' t want to put ideas in your abstract that conflict with what you're going to be defending but mostly those ideas that you want other people to agree with. Also, don't put everything there, only the main ideas. Writing the abstract is a good exercise on summarizing your text.

The introduction, on the other hand, should contain not only what you want to "prove" but also other ways and ideas on the subject. Here you'll put the contrasting ideas you want to dismiss or show it's not true.

As for your example, assuming you want to picture single mothers as marginalised victims, you could write something like:

Single mothers are often victims of social prejudice, being described as "damaged goods". However, while carrying this extra burden in raising their children, they many times are desperately aware on how important it is to give their best to avoid a similar future for the new generation. As such, supportive programs and actions by churches and others have an important role in protecting this minority and avoiding their perpetuation.

Plase keep in mind that this topic is not on my area of knowledge, and hence the example above could probably be more persuasive. The important point here is to write the abstract with mostly what you will be trying to defend.

The other constrasting ideas ("hey’re irresponsible sluts", "they’re woefully incapable of raising a baby with morals", etc) can (and should) be mentioned in the introduction to give the context of the problem.


In short:

Abstract: A brief summary of the article

Introduction: Provides a background and context to the contents of the article

Your abstract is not really an abstract, it's a part of an introduction. An abstract would include background, your argument(s) and conclusion(s) in summary.

For science, the abstract would compress the introduction, method, conclusion and evaluation into a few lines.


Simply put:

An abstract is what you did and what you found.

The background is why you did it.

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