Pursuant to 1 O.S. ยง21.1: An Abstract of Title is a compilation in orderly arrangement of the materials and facts of record in the office of the County Clerk and Court Clerk, affecting the title to a specific tract of land issued pursuant to a certificate certifying to the matters therein contained.

In other words, an Abstract of Title is a complete history of all matters filed of public record that affect ownership rights to a specific parcel of real property. The abstract begins with the Patent issued by the United States of America and sets out all subsequent owners, liens and/or mortgages, court litigations, probate proceedings and tax sales that have directly affected each parcel. An abstract should be used to establish "marketable title" to a piece of property.

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.

Abstract services shall be provided upon valid written order citing a complete legal description of the real property, an up-front commitment to pay for the order either upon delivery or other payment conditions agreed to by the parties to the transactions, and the availability of any necessary base abstracts.