HOW TO WRITE A SUMMARY

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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?

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