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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.