HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY There are many situations in the workplace, at the university, in your life in which it is necessary to summarise information. Summaries may be given both orally and in written form. When in written form, it may involve either writing a text or just a series of points. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Whatever the situation and whatever the form, any summary needs to be: •Accurate •Clear •Relevant •Concise HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY WORKPLACE SUMMARIES •Summarising important information regarding a business deal, problems with clients or with colleagues •Summarising a report or an article for colleagues. •Giving colleagues a summary of work that needs to be carried out. •Summarising the basic plans of a project. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Writing a good summary demonstrates that you clearly understand a text...and that you can communicate that understanding to your readers. A summary can be tricky to write at first because it’s tempting to include too much or too little information. But by following easy 8 steps, you will be able to summarize texts quickly and successfully for any class or subject. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 1) Divide…and conquer. Skim the text you are going to summarize and divide it into sections. Focus on any headings and subheadings. Also look at any bold-faced terms and make sure you understand them before you read. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 2) Read. Now that you’ve prepared, go ahead and read the selection. Read straight through. At this point, you don’t need to stop to look up anything that gives you trouble… just get a feel for the author’s tone, style, and main idea. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 3) Reread. Rereading should be active reading. Underline topic sentences and key facts. Label areas that you want to refer to as you write your summary. Also label areas that should be avoided because the details—though they may be interesting— are too specific. Identify areas that you do not understand and try to clarify those points. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 4) One sentence at a time. You should now have a firm grasp on the text you will be summarizing. In steps 1–3, you divided the piece into sections and located the author’s main ideas and points. Now write down the main idea of each section in one welldeveloped sentence. Make sure that what you include in your sentences are key points, not minor details. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 5) Write a thesis statement. This is the key to any well-written summary. Review the sentences you wrote in step 4. From them, you should be able to create a thesis statement that clearly communicates what the entire text was trying to achieve. If you find that you are not able to do this step, then you should go back and make sure your sentences actually addressed key points. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 6) Ready to write. At this point, your first draft is virtually done. You can use the thesis statement as the introductory sentence of your summary, and your other sentences can make up the body. Make sure that they are in order. Add some transition words such as then, however, also, moreover that help with the overall structure and flow of the summary. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY And once you are actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys!), remember these tips: •Write in the present tense. •Make sure to include the author and title of the work. •Be concise: a summary should not be equal in length to the original text. •If you must use the words of the author, cite them. •Don't put your own opinions, ideas, or interpretations into the summary. The purpose of writing a summary is to accurately represent what the author wanted to say, not to provide a critique. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 7) Check for accuracy. Reread your summary and make certain that you have accurately represented the author’s ideas and key points. Make sure that you have correctly cited anything directly quoted from the text. Also check to make sure that your text does not contain your own commentary on the piece. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY 8) Revise. Once you are certain that your summary is accurate, you should (as with any piece of writing) revise it for style, grammar, and punctuation. If you have time, give your summary to someone else to read. This person should be able to understand the main text based on your summary alone. If he or she does not, you may have focused too much on one area of the piece and not enough on the author’s main idea. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY http://www.enotes.com/topics/how-writesummary http://lsa.colorado.edu/essence/guidelines.html HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Another good web source: http://lsa.colorado.edu/essence/guidelines.html HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY STATE THE ESSENCE State the Essence! is a central part of the Articulate Learners Project at the University of Colorado. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY The following hints or guidelines for writing a summary are available by clicking on the topic: Covering the topics of an essay. What is a topic sentence? What are the main ideas of an essay? What is considered trivial information? How to substitute a general term for a list of words. What if important sections are missing from your summary? What if your summary is too short? What if your summary is too long? More information on the State the Essence! research project. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Definition of topic sentence: A topic sentence is a sentence that captures the meaning of the entire paragraph or group of paragraphs. A topic sentence is a key point. First try to find a topic sentence in the paragraph or section to use as a topic sentence. If you cannot find one, then write your own topic sentence by combining important ideas from two or more sentences in the section that capture the meaning together. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Definition of main idea: A main idea is important information that tells more about the overall idea of a paragraph or section of a text. HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Definition of trivial information: "Trivial information" is an empty statement that contributes very little new content about the topic. For example: "I think everyone should know about the energy sources we use." HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Definition and examples of a general term: Here is an example of how to substitute a general term for a list of items in order to summarize this sentence: details: "John bought some milk, bread, fruit, cheese, potato chips, butter, hamburger and buns." general term: "John bought some groceries." HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Here is an example of how to substitute a general term for a list of events in order to summarize this passage: details: "A lot of children came and brought presents. They played games and they played games and blew bubbles at each other. A magician came and showed them some magic. Later Jennifer opened her presents and blew out the candles on her cake." general term: "Jennifer had a birthday party.“ HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Here is another example of how to substitute a general term for a list of events tin order to summarize this passage: details: "Jennifer did the arithmetic problems. Then she did the five-page reading assignment for social studies. Finally she studied the spelling list for the test." general term: "Jennifer did her homework." HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Missing information: This feedback means that your summary does not cover all the important topics. Compare your summary with the original text. For each missing section ask yourself: •Did I state the main idea that this section is about? •Did I include the most important information about this idea? •Did I show how the main ideas and supporting information are related? HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Summary too short: This feedback means that you should add more information to your summary. Check the topic headings in the original text and ask yourself: •Did I cover all the major topics? •Did I include important ideas that give further information about each topic? •Did I show how the main ideas and supporting information are related? HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY Summary too long: This feedback means that you should shorten your summary. Ask yourself: •Did I use any information that is not directly about the overall idea? Are there any details or trivial information that I could leave out? •Can I combine several facts into a single sentence, maybe using a general term? •Did I use state any information more than one time?