WikiSummaries:Writing summaries

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Summaries are a brief restatement in your own words of a text's main ideas; a condensation of "an extended idea or argument into a sentence or more in your own words"


  • Summaries identify the source of original text.
  • Summaries demonstrate your understanding of a text's subject matter.
  • Summaries are shorter (at least 60% shorter) than the original text--they omit the original text's "examples, asides, analogies, and rhetorical strategies: (Holt Handbook, 5th edition).
  • Summaries differ from paraphrases--paraphrases more closely follow the original text's presentation (they still use your words, but they are longer than summaries).
  • Summaries focus exclusively on the presentation of the writer's main ideas--they do not include your interpretations or opinions.
  • Summaries normally are written in your own words--they do not contain extended quotes or paraphrases.
  • Summaries rely on the use of standard signal phrases ("According to the author..."; "The author believes..."; etc.).

Tips on writing summaries

Step One (Prewriting)

  • Read the article quickly.
  • Try to get a sense of the article's general focus and content.

Step Two (Drafting)

  • Restate the article's thesis simply and in your own words.
  • Restate each paragraph's topic simply and in your own words.

Step Three (Revising)

  • Combine sentences in Step Two to form your summary; organize your summary sentences in the same order as the main ideas in the original text.
  • Edit very carefully for neatness and correctness.

See also

External links