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How to Write a Great Summary
A summary is a rewriting of any voluminous material. In this article you will learn about why a summary is written, what features and structure it has, and what practical tips and tricks exist for writing a great summary.
What Exactly is a Summary?
A summary is a concise rewriting of material or a generalization of information that is stated in some source. Also, summary is:
- A brief retelling of the main ideas/main content;
- Avoiding unnecessary detail and unnecessary information;
- An exercise that develops written speech in any language.
Sometimes the summary includes additional guidance on what can be done in the context of solving the problem in question.
At college, you can be given the task of writing a summary of two types: evaluative or informative, and you must understand what type of summary is required in each particular task.
The evaluative summary is an analogy with a movie/book/article review. Here it is necessary not only to present the plot in a short form, but also to express your opinion, to assess the work of the author, actors, or director. A high level of language proficiency is required to write an evaluative summary.
The informative summary is essentially a brief statement of the key meaning of the source material. This type is also called summarization.
The Goal of Summary
A summary must be written for the following purposes:
- for training, if we are talking about foreign languages;
- to provide an interested party with the most important information about the issue/problems/topics in focus;
- to significantly save time, as not everyone has an opportunity to read a synopsis of a hundred pages or study some voluminous text for a few days and up to a week.
Thus, having studied a good summary, interested persons will know the essence of the material, and will not have to familiarize themselves with the main sources.
The Structure of Summary
Structuring allows you to write material more logically and consistently. When we talk about the structure of a summary, we mean the presence of separate logical modules, for example:
- Introduction (where the topic is presented and information about the author is given).
- The main body (here the main idea is disclosed, facts and examples are given).
- Conclusion (reiteration to the introduction and the main body).
Also, a summary is characterized by the use of:
- simple and short sentences;
- transition words and phrases;
- introductory words.
Tips & Recommendations on How to Write a Great Summary
Consider these practical tips and recommendations that will help you write a great summary:
- Carefully read the original text to get an idea of the problem raised, the topic, as well as the attitude of the author of the text to what is discussed in the text or article.
- Read the text a second time, highlighting the main ideas. You can read the text in paragraphs, but if larger semantic parts are highlighted in the text (they are indicated by headings), then you can read and analyze each semantic part sequentially.
- Write down the key idea of each paragraph or a semantic part of the article in one sentence. Use your own words, not the exact copy of the vocabulary of the author’s text. It is very important to adhere to this principle, because if you use the vocabulary of the original text, you run the risk of writing a very long text, violating the principle of brevity.
Locate a thematic sentence (or several sentences, if applicable) in each reviewed paragraph. Usually, this is the very first sentence of a paragraph. The thematic sentence formulates the main idea of the paragraph. While the following sentences within the paragraph reveal or illustrate the main idea. You should also pay attention to the final sentence of the paragraph, as it summarizes the content of the paragraph.
- Analyze the facts, examples, which reveal thematic sentences in paragraphs, choose only the most significant of them. Write them down, paraphrasing them carefully.
A slightly different approach is practiced if you read numerous texts or articles. Begin reading all articles or texts, highlighting themes or ideas common to all of them. Ask yourself and try to answer the following question: do the authors of the materials share the same point of view or express quite different opinions on the same topic? Select a few facts that support the general idea or different ideas presented in the publications.
- Once you have written out all the key information, you can write your own summary of the publication or multiple publications. Make yourself a note, however, that any great summary should start with the first and last name of the author (or authors). Additionally, you should provide the title of the original text (or several texts). Only then start writing your summary text.
- Check the written text for consistency, trying to exclude repetition of the same ideas and factual information. Add additional illustrative examples wherever needed.