Summary: condensed, concise, edited version of a longer piece of writing
Procedures for Summary Writing:
- Decide on the purpose of your summary (beyond just getting a grade for your homework).
- Thoroughly understand the material to be summarized.
- Read and think about the title.
- Read the opening and closing paragraphs of the text.
- Read the topic sentences of each paragraph.
- You are looking for major ideas and the organization of the text.
Read and Annotate (make notes):
- Underline key ideas, facts, and conclusions as you read.
- Underline essentials.
- Avoid underlining introductory material, examples, or general remarks.
- Make notes in the margins: questions, mini-summaries, (dis)agreements, etc.
Descriptive summary: one sentence which describes the overall meaning of an article.
Try to summarize in the MOST GENERAL terms, what the article is about.
- (Article Title) by (Author’s Name) is about….
- Star Wars by George Lucas is about a young man named Luke Skywalker who finds his true father and becomes a Jedi knight as he fights the forces of evil.
- “Shopping Fever” by John De Graff is about Americans’ obsession with shopping and the far-reaching affects it has on our culture.
Informative summary: short paragraph that gives the major facts and conclusions of an article or piece of writing.
- Rewrite the underlined portions of the article in your own words.
- Combine ideas and reorganize the article so that it is shorter and more concise (less than 25% of the original length).
- Imagine that you are the author and the editors have asked you to rewrite the article. Avoid “s/he says” and speak using the present tense.
- Focus on main ideas and conclusions.
Reread the original article:
- Check your summary for accuracy and emphasis.
- Double check facts (you should have them annotated / underlined anyway).
- Your treatment of ideas should mirror the original text’s emphasis.
- Make sure your summary is equally proportioned to the article / text: If ½ of the article covers Subject A, and the other ½ is split between Subjects B and C, then ½ of your summary should cover A and ½ should be split between B and C.
- Do not ignore facts or points just because you disagree or dislike them.
- Don’t overemphasize facts you like or agree with.
DO NOT INCLUDE:
- Opinion: Stay away from writing either your personal opinion or the opinion of the originator.
- New Data: Don’t add anything that wasn’t in the original information.
- Irrelevant Specifics: Try to keep in mind what is essential to communicate and avoid all else.
- Examples: The intent is to provide the essential information, results and or conclusions–not examples.
- Background: Keep with the specifics. Your reader need not know about the how and why of the topic.
- Reference Data: This is not a full-fledged formal document. It is a snapshot of an event or writing; it is not meant to be a reference source.
- Jargon: Keep your audience in mind. Try to avoid using technical terms and writing in a “language” that your readers may have difficulty understanding.
- Do have annotations on the original text (underlining & notes on text)?
- Is it concise (short)?
- Is it precise (accurate)?
- Is it proportional (in emphasis)?
Samples: To see samples of annotations & summaries, go to the Sample Annotations & Summary post.