How to Write a Summary


Writing a summary can be a tedious assignment for most individuals. The task itself requires a good amount of time and effort to accomplish. But a summary can also be useful in many areas, such as education and business. It serves as a condensed version of a lengthy reading material, making it easier for others to comprehend a complex piece of writing. But before you can produce your own summary, you must first know what it is for.

What is a Summary?

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A summary refers to a record or account of main points of a particular article or reading material. In general, a summary serves as an effective learning material because of how it forces a reader to understand the general idea of a piece rather than to just scan through each word and sentence written. This could be based on anything you have read, heard or even seen. But since everyone has their own purpose for creating a summary, the content of a summary may slightly vary per writer.

Tips for Writing a Summary

If you’re having trouble crafting your own summary, then try applying these simple techniques:

1. Read the Article or Document

Some people have developed a bad habit of making a summary out of another summary of a given reading material. This practice can sometimes affect the essence of one’s writing, considering how a summary often represents a reader’s understanding of the original work. In most cases, you can find the thesis statement in the introductory paragraph of the piece. It’s not always stated directly for you to find, as some thesis statements are merely implied or suggested in the paragraph. By taking the time to actually read the document, you can identify valuable information that could be highlighted in your summary.

2. Gather the Central Points that Must be Discussed.

One of the most important things to remember when creating a summary is, to begin with, an outline section first. The original copy of your reading is likely to contain multiple points that must be emphasized in your summary. To identify these major points, consider the role it plays in the study or research being conducted. This usually reflects the objectives of your work, along with questions that must be addressed. The best thing you can do is to start off with a draft, list of central ideas that must be covered, and then review the article or document to ensure that nothing significant is overlooked.

3. Use Your Own Words

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When you read a material that needs to be summarized, always make sure you understand it. Keep in mind that a summary should not be a rewritten piece of the original, but a brief expression of the main idea and relevant points that must be tackled. Paraphrasing is an essential technique for writing a summary, as it allows you to shorten long paragraphs and prevent any form of plagiarism. If you do end up copying a line or phrase from the original work, be sure that it is completely necessary. Enclosing these words in a quotation and giving credit to the original author is also essential.

4. Keep it Short and Concise

A summary is supposed to be a shortened version of a material, which contains important information and relevant details that are vital to the subject being discussed. That being said, crafting a “summary” with long paragraphs of sentences and vague ideas is out of the question. Although a summary omits certain details, you don’t want to leave out anything significant. The questions who, what, when, where, why, and how can help you determine important details that must be covered. This allows you to properly examine the material and understand what the author is communicating.

5. Refrain from Adding Personal Insights on the Issue or Topic.

While it may seem tempting to include your own opinions, ideas, comments or interpretations to your summary, it isn’t advisable. A summary of a movie, play, book or other school-related works may require personal insights in your summary, but only at your instructor’s request. You also need to indicate the title, author, and source of the said piece. For an executive summary and other business-centered documents, your summary must follow a particular structure along with a few important guidelines.

A summary can come in various forms, such as a summary essay and a short document, depending on its purpose. Once you are finished with your summary, make sure you conduct a thorough review of your work. Any spelling and grammatical errors can greatly affect the credibility and clarity of your write-up, making it difficult for readers to trust and grasp your work. Your summary should serve as a substitute for the original source, where readers will be able to develop a better understanding of the original work.

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