An abstract of title is the condensed history of title to a particular parcel of real estate.
It consists of a summary of the original grant and all of the subsequent conveyances and encumbrances affecting the property as well as a certification by the abstractor that the history is complete and accurate.
In the United States, the abstract of title furnishes the raw data for the preparation of a policy of title insurance for the parcel of land in question.
An abstract of title should be distinguished from an opinion of title.
While an abstract states that all of the public record documents concerning the property in question are contained therein, an opinion states the professional judgment of the person giving the opinion as to the vesting of the title and other matters concerning the status of the chain of title.
Many jurisdictions define the giving of an opinion of title as the practice of law, thus making it unlawful for a non-attorney to do so.