Expert Guide on How to Write a Summary
Getting assigned a summary is a pretty common task in school. It helps you understand and retain information you’ve read in the form of an article or novel in a better way.
If you’re wondering how to write a summary, the first thing you should do is to carefully go through the piece of writing and understand it. Note down important points that you think need to be presented in the summary.
Remember to write a summary in your own words; you’re required to rely on your memory. Later, you can perfect it to make sure all the major points of the original text are covered.
Here’s a deeper look into the steps involved for writing a good summary.
1. Summary Definition
A summary is a record of someone else's original work in your own words. The text can be anything from an article, novel, chapter, movie, or even a lecture. No matter what the source material might be, the aim remains the same that is to demonstrate your understanding of the work and the original authors argument.
You give a synopsis of the main points of the text without mentioning each and every detail. Only focus on the details that are important for the understanding of the topic, which include the main idea, supporting points, without analyzing or interpreting the content.
When writing a summary of an article or any other text, students often get confused and they start to analyze and critique the ideas presented by the original author.
1.1 What Should a Summary Include?
A typical summary consists of the following elements:
- Clearly stated main idea of the original text
- Written in the writer's own words
- Overview of the arguments and supporting details.
- Uses keywords from the original text.
- Significant information presented in a limited word count.
2. How to Write a Good Summary?
Summaries can be used on several instances, such as getting assigned a summary of a novel you were given to read. Or you can also write a summary for of different texts to include in your research paper. Learning to write a summary is a simple process that you can master just by following simple steps.
Read the text carefully – it goes without saying that you need to read and really understand the test before starting the writing process. At this point, don't make notes, just focus on the meaning of the text, so you know what is being said.
Understand the focus of the text – once you've gone through the text, try to figure out what the main idea or theme is.
List down the important points – next, you need to reread the piece and look for important points that justify the theme. Focus on the title, characters, the plot, etc.
Don't list down irrelevant details – since a summary is a shorter version of the original text; you can't incorporate every single detail. Your focus should be the author's main argument, not so much the evidence and facts used to justify it.
Write the summary – start your summary by mentioning the title of the original text, its author(s) main point and genre in present tense. Your first draft should be written with the help of your memory. Without looking at your notes, write down what you thought was significant in your own words. If you want to use the exact words as the original author, write them within quotation marks.
Don't provide your interpretation – write everything from the author's point of view and perspective, not your opinions on it. Simply summarize the summary in the different paragraphs, starting them with topic sentences.
Use appropriate language – since it is a summary of someone else's work, you should use phrases such as “the novel indicates,” “the writer claims,” etc. just to remind the reader that you're summarizing someone else's piece. You can also use the author tag, using their last name. For instance, “Adam argues/suggests/persuades/rejects…”
Revise the first draft – go through the draft and compare it with your initial notes. If you've left out something, make sure to add it.
Write events in a chronological order – don't forget to keep the same sequence as the original text. It is important, especially when writing about some work of fiction.
Remove repetitions – sometimes authors tend to repeat a single point multiple times when writing the summary make sure that you don't do the same thing.
Use transitional words – your summary should come across as consistent. To maintain a logical flow, you can use transitional words when starting a new paragraph. All of the paragraphs must be coherent and should refer back to the main point.
Get rid of all errors – once you've perfected the format of your summary, make sure that there are no other mistakes or typos.
Check the word count – lastly, don't forget to check how long the summary is, whether or not the word count is being met. If the professor hasn't specified the word limit, then you can follow the general requirement that is one-quarter of the original text.
Get feedback – get someone else to read your summary and see if they understand the meaning of the original text. They can also help spot errors that you overlooked.
2.1 Summary Writing Tips and Techniques
- Break the text into smaller chunks.
- Skim through the original text.
- Use the topic sentences of the original author to get the idea.
- Summarize each paragraph in a sentence.
- Write in simple present or past tense.
This was the entire process needed to form an impressive summary for class. If you have any queries feel free to reach out to our expert writers for help.