Summary Writing

Writing a Summary

 A summary is a condensed version of another piece of writing.

1.      It is shorter than the original, often 10-20% of the original.

2.      It contains only the main idea(s) and supporting major ideas, omitting most examples and details.

3.      It is paraphrased, written in your own words. (Paraphrasing strategies include using synonyms, changing word order and sentence structure.) 

4.   It does not misrepresent the author's ideas in any way. Though you may use it to support your ideas in various ways, including as an example of a flawed opponent's claims, it is "true to the original."

A summary often begins with information about the original source’s author and title, followed by a restatement of the thesis in terms of the author’s main purpose for writing the original piece.

The summary usually begins with a sentence that often takes this form:

In <article or book title>, <author> <verb> that/ how <clause explaining main idea>. 

In <his autobiography>, <Malcolm X> <describes> how <he fought prejudice>.

Common reporting verbs used to express what an author’s purpose may be: alleges, claims, discusses, argues, demands, suggests, proposes, points out, questions, maintains, implies, indicates, asks. 

 Effective Process:

1.      First read the entire article (several times if necessary to get the meaning).

2.      Then determine what the author’s main idea or thesis is.

3.      Express the main idea in one sentence, including the author’s name and the title of the writing.

4.      Next, divide the article into MAJOR parts. Each division might contain more than one paragraph.

5.      Using one or two sentences for each part, describe what the author is trying to say or do.

6.      Make sure your descriptions of each part move smoothly from one to the next: use appropriate transitions.