Q. What is a summary? How do I write one?


When reading, it is important to be able to summarize the material. It may sound simple, but there is a process involved for writing a good summary. A summary is a brief description of the main points of a work written in "your own words.

As a general rule, a summary should be one-fourth the length of the 1-3 page original work.

Step 1. Read to understand the material, looking for its purpose.

  • What’s the purpose of this article?
  • What is this article about?
  • What is the main idea?

Step 2. List the author, the title of the article, the publisher, and the date of the publication.

Step 3. Write one sentence about what you think is the main point of the article.

  • It may help to look away from the article and pretend to tell someone about the article.
  • It may take a few tries to condense your thoughts into a single sentence.

Step 4. Read the thesis statement of the article and compare it to your main idea sentence.

  • Does your main idea sentence sound like it pertains to the article’s thesis?
  • Does this sound similar to what the article is taking about?
  • If it doesn’t sound like it relates well enough, then go back and read the article again. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
  • When you feel you are on the right track with the thesis, then go to step 4.

Step 5. Look for some specific things that support your main idea sentence.

  • Jot down some words or phrases from the article’s major points. These should support your main idea sentence.
  • Craft sentences in your own words about the major of the article that support your main idea sentence.
  • Build your summary, starting with your main idea sentence. Assemble the sentences with the major points to support your main idea sentence.

Things NOT to include in a summary:

  • Your own thoughts, ideas, opinions about the topic. The purpose of a summary is to sum up what the article says in a condensed and accurate way.

After writing the summary, read through it and check for the following:

Gorrell, D. (1993). The purposeful writer: A rhetoric with readings (2nd ed.) Allyn and Bacon for the Write Place, St. Cloud State University. Adapted by Judith Kilborn with the author's permission. https://leo.stcloudstate.edu/acadwrite/summary.html

  • Last Updated Oct 14, 2020
  • Views 428
  • Answered By Tammy Hopps

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