Writing a Summary
A summary is a brief, neutral restatement of a text. The overall goal of a summary is to restate the text,
as briefly as possible, in your own words. More specifically, you should try to
- grasp the author's purpose
- restate the author's thesis
- identify the sections of the text (how do these sections support the thesis)
- distinguish necessary information from less important information
- write the summary using your own words
At times, your instructor may wish you to evaluate the article in your summary. Discover the
importance of the evaluation (often instructors expect only a short three or four sentence paragraph at
the end of the summary stating why the article is or is not effective), and write your paper
- Read your text carefully.
- Determine the purpose(s) of the author (to inform, explain, argue, justify, defend, compare,
contrast, or illustrate).
- Summarize the thesis. Mention the author by name; indicate his/her purpose; and refer to the
- Summarize the body of the text. Write one- or two-sentence summaries for each paragraph.
(Ignore the minor points or examples, and summarize points important to supporting the author's
thesis.) Identify sections of related paragraphs and write a two- or three-sentence summary for each
- Write the summary. Join your section or paragraph summaries with the summary of the thesis,
emphasizing the relationship between the parts of the text and the thesis.
- Revise for clarity and style, quote sparingly, and use transitions where needed.
Go to Analytical Summaries Grading Criteria
Brian Gilbert, Writing Consultant
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All contents copyright (C) 1997. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 7, 1997