A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Summary for Students

how to write a summary

A summary is a brief, focused description of the main ideas in a text. It should not include your opinions or interpretations.

Students often find themselves assigned with the task of writing a summary. This can be a difficult task, as it requires distilling a large amount of information into a concise and coherent form. However, by following some simple steps and tips, students can learn how to write an effective summary.

So, this comprehensive guide includes detailed steps on how to write a summary. You can also read through the tips and check out the examples to learn how you can write a great summary!

What is a Summary?

A summary is a brief overview of a larger work. It gives the reader a good understanding of the main ideas in the work. To write a summary, you need to gather the main ideas from an article, essay, television show, or film and then condense them into a brief overview.

A summary is a shorter description of another work. It gives enough information so that the reader understands the subject matter, while also highlighting the writer's understanding of it.

Purpose of a Summary

The purpose of a summary is to provide readers with important details or interesting information from a text or piece of media. A summary gives a brief rundown of the main points of a text or movie, without inserting a personal opinion.

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Summary Writing Format

There are two major summary writing formats which depend on the length of the original text being summarized. These are further explained below.

Summary Writing Format for Shorter Text

This summary writing format is for shorter texts that include 10 pages or less.

  • Write a sentence for each paragraph that summarizes them in a single sentence.
  • After writing these sentences write a single sentence that summarizes the whole text.
  • Write the summary in the form of a paragraph where the initial sentences summarize each paragraph and the conclusion sentence sums up the whole text. Make only a single paragraph.
  • The final step for writing a summary is to rearrange and rewrite the paragraph to make it clear and concise. The rewritten paragraph should not have repetitive and monor details.

Summary Writing Format for Longer Text

This summary writing format is for longer texts that include more than 10 pages.

  • The first step is to outline the text. This will help you to see the text's main points and understand it better.
  • Each section of your outline should be summarized in a sentence or two.
  • Then summarize the whole text in a single sentence. You can take the lead from the author’s thesis statement or topic sentence.
  • Write one or more paragraphs for the summary.
  • The final step is to rewrite and rearrange your paragraph(s) as needed to make your writing clear and concise. This includes eliminating relatively minor or repetitious points and providing transitions between ideas.
  • Your summary should include all the major supporting points of each idea. This will create a unified, coherent piece of writing.

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How to Write a Summary of an Article?

Thinking how to write a good summary? Here are a few steps that will help you write a summary easily:

  1. 1. Read the Text Thoroughly

    You should read the article more than once so you can understand it well. It is often helpful to read it in three stages:

    • Scan: Scan the article quickly to get an idea of what it is about.
    • Read: As you read the article, make sure to highlight key points and take notes.
    • Skim: Make sure you understand the key points of the article and read any difficult or important passages again.

    Here are some simple tricks to understand the article quickly and easily:

    • To start, read the abstract. This is the author's summary of their work. It tells you what to expect from the article.
    • You should pay attention to the headings and subheadings in a piece of writing. They can tell you what each part is about.
    • Compare the introduction and conclusion while reading them together. This will give you major insights into what the author wanted to convey through the article or why was it written.
  2. 2. Create Sections of the Text

    There are several ways to break down the text so that it is more manageable and easier to understand its sub-points. If the text is a scientific paper, it is probably already organized into clearly marked sections, usually including an introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

    Other types of articles may not have sections that are explicitly divided. But most articles and essays will be structured around a series of sub-points or themes.

  3. 3. Identify the Major Points of Each Section

    Now it is time to go through the article and pick out the most important points. The reader needs to know these points in order to understand the article's argument or conclusion.

    Remember that a summary does not involve paraphrasing every single paragraph of the article. Your goal is to extract the essential points, leaving out anything that can be considered background information or supplementary detail.

  4. 4. Draft the Summary

    To write an effective summary, you must put the author's ideas in your own words. Do not copy and paste any part of the article, not even a sentence or two. The best way to do this is to write out your own understanding of the author's key points.

  5. 5. Proofread the Summary Against the Article

    Make sure that you have accurately represented the author's work. You should also make sure that you have not missed any essential information. The paraphrasing should not be too similar to any sentences in the original.

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Examples of Great Summaries

Here are some examples of summaries that will help you learn better how to write an impressive summary.

How to Write a Summary for a Resume (PDF)

How to Write a Summary for a Resume

If you are wondering how to write a resume summary then you can use this sample to take some guidance.

How to Write a Summary of a Chapter (PDF)

How to Write a Summary of a Chapter

How to Write a Summary of a Story (PDF)

How to Write a Summary of a Story

How to Write a Summary of Research Paper (PDF)

How to Write a Summary of Research Paper

How to Write a Summary of a Poem (PDF)

How to Write a Summary of a Poem

How to Write a Summary of a Book

Here is a sample of how to write a book summary:

How to Write a Summary of a Book (PDF)

How to Write a Summary of a Book

How to Write a LinkedIn Summary

If you want to learn how to write a professional summary then go through this LinkedIn summary sample.

How to Write a LinkedIn Summary (PDF)

How to Write a LinkedIn Summary

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan (PDF)

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

How to Write a Summary of a Paragraph

Thinking about how to write a summary of a passage? Check out this example.

How to Write a Summary of a Paragraph (PDF)

How to Write a Summary of a Paragraph

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4 Tips to Write an Effective Summary

To write a good summary, see the tips below:

  1. 1. Include the main idea: The most important thing to remember when summarizing a text is to capture the main point or idea.
  2. 2. Keep it Brief: Remember that a summary is a short, concise paragraph that summarizes the original text.
  3. 3. Don’t Include Opinions: When writing a summary, it is important to remain unbiased and to stick to the most relevant information from the text or media.
  4. 4. Keep the Flow Intact: Make sure your writing flows together. Connect your sentences with transition words, and make sure your summary is clear. This will help create momentum in your writing.

So, what is a summary? Simply put, it is a condensed version of an article that includes the main points and ideas. When writing a summary, it is important to be concise and to the point, while still maintaining the author's tone and style.

In this blog post, we've outlined the basics of how to write a summary as well as some tips for making your summaries more effective.