Writing a summary: a step-by-step approach

How to write a summary: a step-by-step approach

  • Read through the text you need to summarise. You aim is to get the general gist of it. Ask yourself what kind of writing it is. What is its purpose? Is it an argument, seeking to persuade the reader? Is it a research report, with introduction, methodology, results and discussion sections? Is it a cause-and-effect discussion? Is it a description? Knowing the type of writing and its purpose will help you to identify important content for the summary.

  • Read the text again. This time mark the important points - number them, underline them.

  • Write single sentence summaries of each important point· Write a sentence which answers the question: "What is this text about?" Here you try to capture an overview of the text's central idea.

  • Write the first draft of your summary by combining the overview sentence with the "important points" summary sentences. Avoid repetition, and leave out less important information. Try to express the gist of the content in few words. This first draft is likely to be choppy and disjointed, but you can improve it.

  • Check your draft against the original text. Do you need to add anything? Is your summary accurate? Is it complete? Have you left out anything important?

  • Revise the summary, adding transitions, and aiming for a smooth coherent piece of writing.

What you need to Accomplish

One the more important lessons because of the amount of skimming and summary reading that occurs in the world, this step by step 'guide' will show you how to go about summary writing and what needs to be included and not included to properly display the relevant data.

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Search the web for any further information you may require. Handy when writing reports etc.
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