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 Q4 is the Perfect Time to Invest in Video Conferencing

    If you’re currently relying on an outdated video conferencing solution - or if you don’t have one at all - you’re in luck. While any time is a good time to invest in video conferencing, Q4 may be the best. One big reason is that Q4 is when you can get the best deals, but there are also other important factors like increased access to seasonal employees. more

  • 8 Ways to Get More From Your VoIP System

    Many businesses adopt VoIP to take advantage of the cost savings without spending enough time reviewing the features and benefits made available by different solutions. If this is true for your business, there’s a good chance you could be getting more from your VoIP system in the form of even lower costs or improved employee productivity. You may even find that your current software offers features that you aren’t taking advantage of! more

  • Best ERP Features and Benefits for Your Business

    Are you considering investing in ERP software for the first time? Or maybe you already have an ERP solution but you’re worried it’s becoming dated. If either of the above apply to you, read our latest guide on the top ERP features and benefits based on the size of your business. You may be surprised at how versatile and cost-effective it is becoming - regardless of if you own a small business or run a large enterprise. more

  • 9 Spooky Signs You Need a Contact Center Upgrade

    When was the last time you evaluated the performance of your current contact center and the software you are using? The results may be frightening! If it’s been awhile since you invested in contact center software, there is a good chance that your needs have changed or that there are better options available now. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to determine if you need an upgrade or not. more

  • 7 Ways the Wrong Phone System Can Haunt Your Business

    The wrong phone system could be haunting your business - and we’re talking about problems more serious than ghosts and ghouls. From increased costs to issues with scaling, we’ve identified seven important ways that a less than ideal phone system could be holding you back. You’ll be surprised at how much of a difference this can make to your bottom line too. more