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How to Write a Summary

A "stand-alone" summary is a summary produced to show a teacher that you have read and understood something. It is common in many classes to get assignments that ask you to read a certain number of articles and summarize them. How to produce a summary: 1. Read the article to be summarized and be sure you understand it. 2. Outline the article. Note the major points. 3. Write a first draft of the summary without looking at the article. 4. Always use paraphrase when writing a summary. If you do copy a phrase from the original be sure it is a very important phrase that is necessary and cannot be paraphrased. In this case put "quotation marks" around the phrase. 5. Target your first draft for approximately 1/4 the length of the original. The features of a summary: 1. Start your summary with a clear identification of the type of work, title, author, and main point in the present tense. Example: In the feature article "Four Kinds of Reading," the author, Donald Hall, explains his opinion about different types of reading. 2. Check with your outline and your original to make sure you have covered the important points. 3. Never put any of your own ideas, opinions, or interpretations into the summary. This means you have to be very careful of your word choice. 4. Write using "summarizing language." Periodically remind your reader that this is a summary by using phrases such as the article claims, the author suggests, etc. 4. Write a complete bibliographic citation at the beginning of your summary. A complete bibliographic citation includes as a minimum, the title of the work, the author, the source. Use APA format.

A Guide to Summarizing
Summarizing is an important strategy for studying other disciplines. When writing a summary, you need to think about type of text, purpose, textual organization, and the major elements within each of these. Table 1 outlines these concepts. Type
Text Type Narrative Fiction Biography History Expository Description Persuasion/ Argument Process Purpose tell a story tell one's personal story tell a community's story Organization chronological chronological chronological Summary plot, characters, setting events, people, setting (time, place) events, key figures, dates, places

describe a place, object, or event influence someone's opinion about an issue to tell how to do something

topical topical sequential

main topics, headings position, arguments steps

In English, there are two main types of texts: narrative and expository. A narrative tells a story. Narratives may be fiction or non-fiction. Non-fictional narratives include histories and biographies. You can recognize a narrative by its focus on people. An expository text explains a concept or a process. Three types of expository texts that are encountered frequently include description, persuasion, and process. Descriptive texts tell about what an object looks, feels, sounds, and, perhaps tastes like. Reports and memos would generally fall into this category. Persuasive texts try to convince the reader to take a specific course of action or to adopt a particular belief. Advertisements are an example of a persuasive text. Process texts simply give instructions for how to do something. It is possible for a text to use elements of description, persuasion, and process; in these cases, you will want to identify which element is predominant. Purpose and Textual Organization Each type of text has a general purpose. This purpose will affect the textual organization. For example, the purpose of narrative is to tell a story. The events in stories are generally chronological, that is they are arranged according to when they happened. Process texts also have to follow a certain pattern. The steps must be presented in a specific sequential order. Otherwise, they would be difficult to understand. Persuasive and descriptive texts do not have to follow a set pattern. In these cases, the speaker or writer organizes the ideas according to topic.

Summary Content By identifying the text type and recognizing its purpose and organization, you can write a more focused summary. For narrative summary you will include characters and main events. For description, you will identify the main topics. In persuasion, you will sum up the arguments. In process, you will summarize the steps. Evaluation Criteria for Summaries When you are asked to write a one paragraph summary, follow these guidelines: Read the article Acknowledge the source Start with a one sentence overview of the entire article Identify the main ideas Omit unnecessary details Do not copy phrases from the article Write a unified and well developed paragraph Use correct sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and capitalization