8 Tips For Structuring A Summary From Start To Finish

by Powell

If you’re trying to start a summary understanding how the overall structure of the document should look like is key.

Summary writing is a skill that allows you to express the main points of a larger text in a concise and condensed manner.

And a well-crafted summary captures the key ideas and important details while staying true to the original context.

The structure of a summary typically includes the following main points:

1. Introduction

To write a concise and informative summary, provide a comprehensive overview of the content.

Clearly state the title, author, and any relevant background information that would help set the context.

Hook the reader with an intriguing opening line that captivates their attention and sparks curiosity.

The opening should briefly introduce the text being summarized, providing the necessary context to engage the reader and make them eager to read further.

For example:

“In this article, author (name) dives into the question of _ (topic) and explores the various ways in which _ (action verb)_.”

2. Thesis Statement

Summarize the main idea or central argument of the original text in a clear and concise statement.

Identify and present the key points and main ideas, focusing on the most important concepts and arguments.

Organize the information using numbered lists or bullet points to improve readability.

For example:

“This article discusses three key points:

  1. _ (point 1)
  2. _ (point 2)
  3. _ (point 3).”

3. The method for summarizing

When summarizing, ask yourself the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Answering these questions will help you condense the information into five words or less per point.

Use strong verbs and active voice to create a sense of urgency and emphasize key details.

Avoid using filler words or redundant phrases, as they can make the summary longer than necessary.

For example, instead of saying “In conclusion” say “Ultimately” or instead of writing “The author suggests that…” write “The author states that…”

4. Main Points

Analyze the main points or key ideas that support the thesis.

These points should encompass the most crucial aspects of the original text and can be presented in a logical order.

Incorporate relevant supporting details that enhance the comprehension of the main ideas.

Exercise selectivity by choosing the most impactful examples or evidence to strengthen your argument.

5. Supporting Details

Include relevant and essential supporting information for each main point. This additional detail helps to provide a more comprehensive and in-depth summary.

However, it is important to strike a balance and avoid going into excessive details that might make the summary overly lengthy and cumbersome to read.

6. Paraphrasing

Paraphrasing is your ability to express the main ideas while maintaining the original meaning. This can help you avoid plagiarism and demonstrate that you understand what you are summarizing.

For example, let’s say you are summarizing a research paper discussing the effects of caffeine on the body.

Instead of copying sentences directly from the paper, you would take the main points and express them in your own words.

This way, you’re creating a summary that not only conveys information effectively but also shows that you comprehend and can communicate the ideas in a clear way.

7. Omission of Irrelevant Information

A summary should only contain the most important points that contribute to the main argument or understanding of the text.

Leave out any tangential details that may not be necessary for the overall message.

If we continue with our previous example, a research paper discussing the effects of caffeine on the body, the summary should only include the main points.

For instance, you would focus on how caffeine affects sleep patterns, heart rate, and overall bodily function rather than trivial details such as who funded the study or information about the researchers.

8. Conciseness

A summary should be brief but should still convey the message effectively. It should quickly communicate the main points without sacrificing clarity.

In other words, your summary should be a shortened version of the text that still manages to portray the most critical ideas the author is trying to convey.

The importance of checking your summary for conciseness before writing your conclusion is to keep your summary succinct and to the point.

Here’s a video talking about writing a simple summary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-ki6TP4EYs

3 Simple Template Examples of Starting a Summary

Here are three templates you can use to structure a summary when summarizing an article or passage from a book:

Template 1: Introduction, Main Points, Conclusion

  1. Introduction:
    • Provide a brief overview of the article or passage, including the title and author.
  2. Main Points:
    • Summarize the main ideas or arguments presented in the article or passage.
    • Use bullet points or paragraphs to highlight each main point, ensuring clarity and conciseness.
    • Include supporting details or evidence to strengthen the summary.
  3. Conclusion:
    • Wrap up the summary by restating the key takeaways or implications of the article or passage.
    • End with a closing statement that reflects your understanding or interpretation of the content.

Template 2: Summary, Analysis, Implications

  1. Summary:
    • Provide a concise summary of the article or passage, focusing on the main ideas or arguments.
    • Include the essential information while omitting unnecessary details.
    • Use your own words to rephrase and condense the original content.
  2. Analysis:
    • Reflect on the significance or relevance of the main points presented.
    • Highlight any notable examples, quotes, or statistics used to support the author’s argument.
    • Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the article or passage and evaluate its effectiveness.
  3. Implications:
    • Discuss the potential implications or consequences of the ideas presented.
    • Consider how the article or passage relates to broader contexts or current events.
    • Explore any potential applications or further research that may stem from the content.

Template 3: Context, Summary, Evaluation

  1. Context:
    • Set the context by providing relevant background information about the article or passage.
    • Mention the author’s credentials or the source’s credibility, if applicable.
    • Explain the purpose or objective of the content and why it is significant.
  2. Summary:
    • Summarize the main points, key arguments, or central ideas presented in the article or passage.
    • Focus on capturing the essence of the content while maintaining brevity.
    • Avoid including personal opinions or unrelated information.
  3. Evaluation:
    • Offer your evaluation or critique of the article or passage.
    • Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments or evidence presented.
    • Share your thoughts on the overall effectiveness or impact of the content, highlighting any noteworthy aspects.

You can modify these templates as needed based on the specific requirements or guidelines provided for your summary.