If you want to summarize the information you have learned after reading a book or an article, writing a summary is one of the great ways to do so. Are you given a task to write a summary but you just do not know where to start? You can start by reading thoroughly and then you take note of the major points that you want your summary to have.
The rest of the ways and tips in writing a summary is something you will know further in this article. We have also provided examples that can give you an idea or two about writing a summary.
What Is a Summary?
A summary is a condensed version generated from an original text. The original text is something you can get out from books and you could even get it from a full article.
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Summaries typically come in a paragraph but it does not limit to a paragraph since it would depend on the length of the text that is being condensed.
Summaries are not only limited to condensing books and full articles because you could also apply summary writing when it comes to summarizing main points of a meeting that can be useful also in minutes writing that can also be used for the next meeting. You could even make use of summary writing when you are going to propose a complicated project and that you just do not have any idea how to explain it to the people you are to present it without overwhelming them of your ideas.
Getting assigned to summarize a book or an article in school since such assignments are helpful in understanding their current lesson without the need of a discussion from a professor. It is also useful when they would have to report for class, prepare and write research papers, and the like. In fact, writing abstracts and legal briefs are also an output of summary writing.
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How to Write a Summary
Being able to write a summary can prove that you were able to successfully understood a certain text to the point that you could easily write down a summary that contains nothing but your own words. Writing summaries can be tricky, this is why we have here steps on how to read a summary that will enable you to summarize texts effectively:
- Divide your assigned reading into sections. Before getting straight to reading your assigned text, you have to make sure that you have divided your reading into sections so that you will be able to take in things slowly. Start off by focusing to the headings and subheadings first and that you would look at bold-faced terms as well. Understand these first so that you will be able to accomplish the following steps.
- Read your assigned text. Now that you are able to prepare and divide your assigned text, you can now easily read your assigned text. Just read straight through and you do not have to stop in case something would trouble you—you just have to make sure that you will be able to get a feel for the tone, style, and main idea that the author tried to convey.
- Reread your assigned text. On the second time that you will be reading your assigned text, you have to make sure that you will be able to read actively. This means that you should take note and underline the topic sentences and the key facts of the entire text. You may also take note and label the areas you want to discuss later on your summary writing. You may also take note and label the parts wherein you think your summary shouldn’t contain or the ideas, even though interesting, that are too specific that it almost gives away everything the original text contains. It is also in rereading your text that you will be able to identify the parts of the original text that you were not able to comprehend when you were just skimming and reading the assigned text straight through.
- Start writing by writing one sentence at a time. You have now thoroughly read your assigned text, you should now definitely have a firm grasp on how you are going to summarize your assigned text. From the first to the third steps, you have divided your assigned text into manageable texts, you can now easily write down the main idea of each of the sections from your assigned text. Knowing the main ideas or key points of your assigned text will enable you to write well-developed sentences for your summary.
- Write a thesis statement. If you have always wondered what is the best key to a well-written summary, then now it’s time for you to know that it’s the thesis statement that makes up an excellently written summary. From the sentences you have written on the fourth step, it is possible for you to create a thesis statement that will be able to clearly communicate what the original text tried to convey and achieve. In the event that this step is difficult, it is best for you to go back to the previous steps since to get a thesis statement, you have to be able to understand the main points of the original text first.
- Ready to write. At this point, you might wonder that you have written enough on the previous steps, but the actual writing had just begun. Your thesis writing can be used as the introductory sentence of your summary and what you will be doing in this step is to write the other sentences that will make up the rest of the body of your summary in which that you will be able to write in order. It will be effective if you will add transition words such as then, however, also, and moreover that can help you in creating an effective overall flow and structure of the summary that you are going to write. Keep in mind these tips as you do so:
- Always write in active voice and in the present tense.
- Always include the full name of the author and the full title of the work.
- Always keep things concise because the length of your summary should not equate to the original text.
- Cite the exact words of the author if you must use it.
- Always avoid adding your personal opinions, ideas, or interpretations into the summary that you are writing because the purpose of summary writing is to be able to accurately convey what the author’s message is and not to provide criticism to his or her work (this is why you have to do a lot of reading).
- Revise what you have written. Even if you are very much certain about the accuracy of your summary, you would still have to revise what you have written. Check and revise it for style, grammar, and punctuation because even though these are the basic ones, there is still a possibility that you will be able to miss things out.
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Major Attributes of a Summary
Now that you know the steps on how to create an idea, you should now learn what makes the major attributes that make up an effective summary:
- A summary should be comprehensive. Make your summary always comprehensive that the reader can definitely see that you have highlighted the major points from the assigned text and that this had been arranged well in a list. If you fail to do this, it would result in your summary looking like a complete chaos. Make sure that you will be able to meticulously choose only the ideas that could effortlessly explain what the author’s thesis is.
- A summary should be concise. Keep in mind that you are to write a summary and not a reflection paper of what you have just so it is just right that you have to write a summary in a concise manner. Sometimes, it can be too hard to summarize a particular original text especially if there are so many points that you want to include. If this is your case, then you must make sure that you are only to take note of the main points, to avoid following the author’s flow or pattern in the original text, and most especially, to avoid restating any similar ideas.
- A summary should be coherent. Sure, you are to restate the main points of the original text; however, you would also have to make sure that you will be able to connect each of these main points effectively in a way that it would be exactly the way the original text had conveyed. And sure you are to restate the main points of the original text with respect to what the original text conveyed, you should make sure that it could stand as a separate write-up or paper.
- A summary should be written independently. When writing a summary, it is not necessary for you to imitate how the author had summarized his or her own text. In fact, you should be able to write the summary using your own understanding, style, and manner. Restate it with the use of your own understanding. Do not even consider quoting the writer. However, even if it is highly suggested for you to write in your own words, you have to also make sure that you are not distorting the ideas and the intention of the writer of the original text that you are writing a summary out of.