I. Why should students learn to write summaries?
· Writing a summary forces you to read carefully and requires you to look for main ideas. It is a good reading exercise.
· Often in college classes, you will have to do large amounts of reading and then write about the reading in a shorter form.
· In some college courses, you will have to write research papers, which require summarizing skills.
· In writing classes, you will often be asked to write a response to a reading. When you do this, you must first write a summary of the reading.
II. What are the qualities of a good summary?
A summary should have an introductory sentence. Start your summary by mentioning-
the title of the article (and the source of the article), or the title of the story or book
the author’s full name.
In the first sentence, identify what kind of writing the summary is about (book? article? short story?).
State the topic of the article or story.
In the same or the next sentence, tell the main idea and purpose of the whole article.
Example introductory sentence-
In the article, "Obesity and Being Overweight" from the World Health Organization, the author discusses the world-wide epidemic of obesity, its probably causes and possible solutions.
1. A summary provides the main ideas of an article, story, or book and usually not the supporting details.
2. A summary is always quite a bit shorter than the original text (75% or more).
3. The main ideas are presented in your own words.
4. A summary states the author’s main ideas without changing those ideas. Do not add your own ideas. A summary should include only the author’s ideas.
III. Steps to Writing a Summary
- Read the original article once (or more) in order to understand it.
- Mark, circle, underline, and write down the main ideas. Usually, you will find that there is one main idea in each paragraph. In longer articles, you may sometimes combine 2 main ideas into one sentence.
- Make an outline of the article (optional).
- Without looking at the article, make a list of the main ideas you want to summarize. (This will help to prevent you from plagiarizing.)
- In your own words, not the original writer’s words, write the main ideas in sentences. (If you use the author’s exact words, be sure to put quotation marks around them.)
- When you refer to the author’s statements, call the writer by his/her name, first and last or last name only, and use the present tense, for example:
- Jones says that…
- Jones states that…
- James Jones concludes that…
- According to Jones, …
- The author says that...
- Connect your sentences with transitions. For example, use also, however, another idea, finally, etc.
- Check the original text and compare it to your summary. Look for:
- accuracy (Did you correctly restate what the author was trying to say?)
- completeness (Did you include all of the important ideas of the article?)