The Difference Between White Paper Abstracts and Summaries

Updated: March 08, 2011

From my experience, an abstract is concentrated information gleaned from a white paper that is used on an external source.

Examples of an abstract would be:

  • A brief overview of white paper placed on a landing page
  • An online article, blog post, or third party reference describing what is in the white paper
  • An online document library with a brief description of the white paper and why you should download and read it

In each example (and several others) the abstract appears outside of the actual framework of the white paper document.

In comparison, a summary is where concentrated information gleaned from a white paper that is used internally within the referenced white paper.

Examples of a white paper summary would be:

  • An executive summary at the beginning of a white paper
  • A concluding summary at the end of a white paper
  • The end of a case study summarizing key benefits gained from the implementation of the solution

In each example the summary appears inside of the actual framework of the white paper document.

The problem occurs when the two terms are used in the place of each other. When the label "abstract" is used instead of a "summary" and vice-versa, reader confusion is sure to follow.

Now I'm sure the world isn't going to end if you happen to label your executive summary as an abstract, but if you produce several white papers as part of your business marketing plan, consistency becomes an important element that retains reader interest and keeps them coming back for more.

With that said, most business readers are used to the term "summary" to reference a concentrated information section of a white paper.

So why swim against the tide and risk greater reader confusion?

Featured Research
  • Why Your Educational Institution Needs to Implement VoIP

    VoIP makes a lot of sense for educational institutions—and it’s not just because of the substantial cost savings. Other benefits include increased efficiency and integration options. Emergency responsiveness can even be improved. more

  • Is Your ERP Solution Out of Date?

    Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a modern, large-scale software program designed to help businesses improve the internal flow of important corporate processes and communication. more

  • How Video Conferencing is Transforming Healthcare

    The telemedicine revolution is finally happening. Experts have been discussing the potential for patients and healthcare providers to connect remotely for years, but the market is just now moving to adopt it—in a big way. Data suggests this market will grow over 14% annually through 2020! more

  • How to Update Your Contact Center Software

    If improving customer experience is important to you (it should be), then 2017 may be a good year to reevaluate the software you use for your contact center. With customer preferences shifting, the importance of an efficient contact center has never been higher. You cannot afford to simply focus on keeping costs low. Significant competitive advantages are available to businesses who manage this area effectively. more

  • Leading the IT Revolution

    The status of technology within an organization is rapidly evolving—and so is the role of the CIO. With breakthrough capabilities enabled by new technologies, a growing shortage of available developers, and an increasingly tech-savvy business user, the role of IT—and the CIO in particular—is morphing into one of strategic advisor to the business and driver of innovation within the company. more