How to Write a Summary

Summarizing information is an important part of your educational experience. It not only helps you understand passages and texts more thoroughly, but it also helps you condense and convey important information to others.

One-Sentence Summary
A one-sentence summary is a single statement that expresses the author’s thesis in your own words. In one sentence write the author’s full name, the title of the article, and the main idea.

Example:
In his article, “Beyond Education,” John Barns discusses the importance of teaching students how to handle life’s successes as well as life’s failures.

One-Paragraph Summary

A one-paragraph summary expresses the author’s main points. In the first sentence write the author’s full name, the title of the article, and the author’s intent for writing the passage. In the sentences that follow organize the author’s main ideas into a paragraph. It is important to mention that you should only include main ideas, and make sure to use your own words.

Example:

In the article “South Caroline City makes being homeless illegal” Barnini Chakraborty discusses the city’s decision to penalize the homeless in an attempt to restore the economy.  A plan to prohibit homelessness was passed by the Colombia City Council on August 13, 2013.  As a result of the new law, homeless shelters will be moved outside the city in an attempt to reduce crime and reestablish business.  But not everyone believes this plan will solve the issues because they say it does not address the main problems of homelessness, nor does it accurately address the cost of such a project.

Summaries are about one-forth to one-third the length of the original work.

This is not to be confused with paraphrasing. When you paraphrase, you take a single idea or concept from a passage. When you summarize, you take the main ideas.

Steps for writing a summary

Step One: Read the article to get an overview of the author’s main points.

Step Two: Read the article again.  This time, underline the thesis statement, and the author’s main ideas of each paragraph.  This will help you organize the main points.

Step Three: Outline the main ideas below.

1. What is the title of the article? ____________________________________

2. What is the author’s full name?____________________________________

3. What is the author’s main idea?___________________________________

4. What is the main idea of the first body paragraph?______________

______________________________________________________________

5. What is the main idea of the second body paragraph?___________

____________________________________________________________

6. What is the main idea of the third body paragraph?____________

____________________________________________________________

7. What is the main idea of the forth body paragraph?_____________

____________________________________________________________

Step Four: Write your first draft of the summary
Remember, include only main ideas, and use your own words.

In-text Citation