Summarizing consists of two important skills:
- identifying the important material in the text, and
- restating the text in your own words.
Since writing a summary consists of omitting minor information, it will always be shorter than the original text.
How to Write a Summary
- A summary begins with an introductory sentence that states the text’s title, author and main thesis or subject.
- A summary contains the main thesis (or main point of the text), restated in your own words.
- A summary is written in your own words. It contains few or no quotes.
- A summary is always shorter than the original text, often about 1/3 as long as the original. It is the ultimate “fat-free” writing. An article or paper may be summarized in a few sentences or a couple of paragraphs. A book may be summarized in an article or a short paper. A very large book may be summarized in a smaller book.
- A summary should contain all the major points of the original text, but should ignore most of the fine details, examples, illustrations or explanations.
- The backbone of any summary is formed by critical information (key names, dates, places, ideas, events, words and numbers). A summary must never rely on vague generalities.
- If you quote anything from the original text, even an unusual word or a catchy phrase, you need to put whatever you quote in quotation marks (“”).
- A summary must contain only the ideas of the original text. Do not insert any of your own opinions, interpretations, deductions or comments into a summary.
- A summary, like any other writing, has to have a specific audience and purpose, and you must carefully write it to serve that audience and fulfill that specific purpose.