Summary Writing Doesn’t Have To Be Hard – Read These 10 Tips

Summary writing is an art. You can condense a variety of data and information with a strong summary, providing readers with an overview of the key points of what they’re about to read. An excellent summary gives readers a basic knowledge of a work of literature, media, or history. It provides the readers with a broad outline. Believe it or not but summary writing is a skill very few possess. But it doesn’t mean you can’t learn summary writing. If you think that you lack at writing a good summary, then we got you covered. It is not as hard as you think.

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Before we hop onto the summary writing tips, let us first understand what a summary is.

What Is a Summary?

It is a condensed form of a longer work that provides the reader with a thorough understanding. Every writer should be able to produce a compelling one-paragraph summary, regardless of whether they’re summarizing an event, book, play, or newspaper article. A summary is a concise analysis of a longer work that provides the reader with a thorough knowledge of the main subject or the topic.

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For summary writing, you need to condense the central ideas into a brief overview. A summary is a concise paragraph-length presentation of a passage or article that provides enough information for the reader to comprehend the subject of the summary. It also gives you insights into the writer’s understanding of the topic.

The main idea behind summarising something is to provide readers with a brief overview of the original article, essay, movie plot, etc. Here are ten tips for writing a good summary.

  1. Find the main idea.

Understanding the main idea is the most crucial part before summary writing. Just like a book title may indicate a lot about a book, a summary should be able to convey the broad idea of the original passage precisely. To achieve that preciseness, one must understand the central idea of the passage.

Choose the main idea you want to convey to the readers and make the most of your few sentences to do so. Make a few notes to help you arrange your thoughts.

The question is how to find the main idea?

It is simple. You just need to give a read to the passage. Mark what you feel is important in context with the passage. Try forming the main idea with the points you have marked. You can also jot down the points for more clarity.

  1. Keep it brief

A summary is a short version of the original text; it is not a rewrite. Typically, a summary paragraph contains five to eight sentences. Keep it brief and direct. To make your paragraph clear and succinct, get rid of any redundant or repeating text.

Yes, you must incorporate all of the key details that a reader would require to comprehend your essay without reading the original source. A summary is essentially just that.

e.g., you are writing a summary of the census report of India. You need not to include all the statistics about the different parameters. Don’t provide details unless it is absolutely vital for the reader to comprehend the key themes. you shouldn’t provide specifics like numbers, statistics, dates, or figures. It is just redundant and useless. A summary should be brief and precise.

  1. Write without judgment.

Most people have the tendency to include their own opinions in summary writing. Many of them are unclear about the meaning of the summary itself. You have to strictly abide by the original text and refrain from giving your own thoughts and feelings about the topic or subject. Get it straight, you are just condensing some given piece of information and not writing a review. You can write the summary in your own language but avoid adding your opinions.

  1. Read the material and take notes while you’re doing it.

When you are summarising a large text, it is possible that you might skip some important details in summary writing because it is not possible for the human brain to remember everything. So it is always advisable to take notes while you are reading the information.

You can use paper, and/or you can annotate the original material. Annotating means underlining, highlighting, translating, and making notes in the margins of what you’re reading. Keep in mind only to write the main ideas.

  1. Try to make a map or outline.

Another useful tip is to make an outline or map of the information. Once you are done reading the passage or text and you have taken your notes, the next step is to write. But if you want to write smoothly, create an outline or map with the help of the notes you have already taken while reading. This will help you to organize your paragraph so you don’t face any obstacles while summarising the text.

  1. Organize your paragraph into 3 parts – the introduction, the body, and the end.

A good summary must have a proper structure. This means that your paragraphs—or each of them—should have a topic sentence, a few sentences that support it, and a statement that sums up the paragraph.

If you’re writing a brief summary of one paragraph, the title, author, or speaker of the original material can be mentioned in the topic sentence. If you’re writing a longer summary, it can be mentioned in the first sentence of your introduction. You should start by stating the main notion of everything you are summarising.

The supporting sentences that come after your topic sentence are the important elements if you’re simply writing one paragraph. If you’re writing a lengthy essay, keep in mind that each paragraph’s topic sentence should summarize its important points.

  1. Don’t change the order.

If you are summarising something in which there are chronological events, then make sure you don’t mess up the order of the information while writing the summary. A map or an outline is always very helpful in such cases. Because when you are writing in your own language you might forget some important events. Therefore creating an outline is important. If chronology is not of much importance, then you can write in your own language and need not worry about the order of the information in the original text.

  1. Paraphrase.

Direct quotes from the source material are not appropriate. Of course, you shouldn’t simply copy and paste entire sentences from the source. That is stealing. You don’t want to be stealing. It is called plagiarism. Put the summary in your own words. You can paraphrase the sentences from the original text and use your own creativity while writing the summary. But make sure you don’t write something which is not there in the original text.

When writing, avoid looking at the source material. Try to keep the book closed, for instance, if you are summarising a chapter of a book. Instead, review your outline and the early notes you made. If you look at the original material, you might be tempted to copy what is written or merely make little changes that are probably insufficient. Ensure that your summary is original.

  1. Reviewing Your Summary.

Once you are done writing the summary, review it. If you have time, go back to the original text and see if there is something you have missed. If you don’t have that much time, you can always refer to your notes and the outline you created before. Make sure that you have included each and every point. Also, if there is any repetitive text, remove it. Check for grammatical errors and the flow of the summary. Ask somebody for feedback. Let them conclude from the summary about what the original text was. This way, you can find out if there is any lack of flow or if some information is missing. Also, make sure that the summary does not contain your opinions about the subject matter.

  1. How long should the summary be?

A lot of people keep asking what the right length of a good summary is. Well, there can be different opinions on that. But your summary should be one-third or one-fourth of the original text. If you write less than that you might miss some important details. If you write more than that, then the summary will lose its purpose. So make sure it is within prescribed limits.

I hope these tips will help you in creating a good summary. Try these useful tips, and you will see that summary writing is not that hard after all.

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