Reference librarians, who are thoroughly familiar with the purpose, scope and arrangement of abstract journals, are uniquely qualified for the task of writing abstracts. The procedures described here offer a relatively simple way for them to write acceptable abstracts from the outset. Although research is being conducted in the area of machine generated abstracts, there will continue to be a role for human abstractors, who must determine what combination of the author’s original words and/or paraphrasing best conveys the central message of the article. The completed abstract must be accurate and must include those terms and phrases that will both facilitate manual indexing and enhance free-text searching of on-line abstracts.