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Tips on Writing a Good Summary

February 23, 2017| Category: Freelance Writing, Writing Tips

If you are assigned to create a summary, you should interpret your understanding of a text and retell it to the readers. The task implies that the author uses his/her own words writing the summary and shortens the text as much as possible providing only key points of the content.

Tips on Writing a Good Summary

After reconsideration, some students confuse writing the summary and making an analysis of the text, despite the fact that they are completely different tasks. The second one requires the critique of the content, while a good summary necessitates short retelling of the main ideas only.

On the contrary, writing the summary is not as easy as it may seem from the beginning. If the content of the text is arranged in linear fashion, it is reasonable to paraphrase the main ideas from the beginning til the end. Thinking deeply, many authors write complicated texts where the thesis is introduced with the development of the content. In this case, it is essential to have a clear understanding of the author’s message and make it comprehensible to the readers of the summary.

When and How To Make a Summary

In freelance writing, creating a summary is an ordinary task. In addition, students are asked to write summaries quite often during their academic careers. Most frequently, you will be asked to make a brief summary of a reading or include a one-page summary as a part of a text response. Also, it is necessary to write summaries of articles that are planned to be included in a research paper. Furthermore, students frequently summarize their ideas in conclusions of their own papers. Depending on the assignment, it may consist of one paragraph, several paragraphs, one page, or even encompass the whole paper.

Major Attributes of a Summary

A perfect summary should be:

  1. Comprehensive. It is necessary to highlight the major points in the text and arrange them in a list. Go through the list once again and choose the ideas that explain the author’s thesis.
  2. Concise. Some authors restate the same ideas throughout the text. So, be careful to avoid repetitions in your list. Remember that the summary must be shorter than the original text. Thus, it is a mistake to follow the author’s pattern and restate similar ideas in summary.
  3.  Coherent. The summary should make sense as a separate paper. Even though your task is to retell the main points of the original text, make sure they are tied together logically.
  4. Independent. It is not necessary to imitate the author of the original text writing the summary. On the contrary, you should restate the text in your own manner and using your own style. Also, do not quote the writer, but be careful not to distort his/her ideas by your own interpretation.

Summary Writing Patterns

There are two popular techniques for writing summaries:

1. Writing a summary of a short text (less than 10 pages)

  • Summarize each paragraph in a sentence.
  • Write a sentence that restates the main point of the whole text.
  • Create a paragraph that starts with the sentence that restates the main idea of the text and add sentence summaries of the paragraphs.
  • Rewrite the paragraph making sure it includes major attributes of the perfect summary that are described above.

2. Writing a summary of a long text (ten pages and more)

  • Break the original text into smaller sections that are united by one idea and create the outline.
  • Write a sentence summarizing each section.
  • Restate the author’s thesis statement in one sentence.
  • Write a paragraph that begins with a sentence summary of the thesis statement and add sentence summaries of the sections.
  • Read the summary and rearrange the ideas, so that they comply with the main attributes of the perfect summary.

Now your ideal summary is ready. Do not hesitate to submit it to your professor and showcase your prominent writing skills.