We live in an era where information is at our fingertips, but processing it can sometimes be overwhelming.
That’s why summary writing comes in handy. It’s an important skill that helps you digest and comprehend information quickly.
Whether you’re a student, researcher, or journalist, knowing how to write an efficient summary is essential.
Here are some important summary writing tips that can help you craft concise, insightful, and informative summaries.
1. Find the main idea
The first step in writing an effective summary is to identify the main idea or thesis of the source material.
The main idea is the central point around which the entire piece revolves. It could be a sentence, a paragraph, or a section of the piece.
Once you identify the main idea, you can then focus on supporting details that reinforce it.
2. Keep it brief
A summary is a condensed version of the source material. It is not a rewrite or paraphrase. Therefore, you should keep it brief and to the point.
A good summary captures the essence of the original work without including irrelevant details. The length of the summary depends on the length of the original piece.
For instance, a one-page article may require a summary of about 100 words.
3. Write without judgment
A good summary is objective. It presents the main ideas of the source material without bias or personal opinion.
Avoid including your thoughts, opinions, or judgments about the work.
A summary is not an analysis or critique, so you should avoid including comments such as “I think” or “In my opinion.”
4. Make sure it flows
A good summary should flow smoothly from start to finish. It should be easy to read and comprehend.
Ensure that the summary is organized logically and is concise.
You can use transition words to connect sentences and make the summary more coherent.
5. Use your own words
A good summary presents the main ideas of the source material using your own words.
You should avoid using direct quotes as they can make the summary look like an incomplete copy of the original piece.
Instead, summarize the source material using your own words and phrases. However, you can use direct quotes when necessary, especially when the author’s words are significant.
6. Revise and edit
Just like any writing process, note-taking requires reviewing your work and making sure it’s accurate, concise, and clear.
Go back to your original purpose and check if you have achieved it. Look for errors, inconsistencies, or omissions.
Ask yourself whether your notes are easy to read and understand. Revise and edit until you are satisfied with the final outcome.
7. Break the text into smaller chunks
When information is divided into smaller sections or chunks, it becomes easier and faster to process.
Breaking up the text into shorter paragraphs also allows for concise and informative summaries.
By skimming through the original text and focusing on the topic sentences, you can grasp the main ideas that the author intends to convey.
This approach not only optimizes word choice, structure, readability, and eloquence but also ensures that the original meaning remains intact.
8. Pay attention to key terms
When summarizing a text, pay special attention to keywords or key terms.
These are words and phrases that identify the main ideas of the source material and help you understand them in a better way.
Make sure to include all the relevant keywords in your summary, as they can help you elaborate on the original text.
9. Summarize each paragraph in a sentence and write in the simple present or past tense
A useful approach is summarizing each paragraph in a sentence using the simple present or past tense.
This allows you to quickly capture the main idea of the text without including too many details.
It also helps you organize your notes better by providing visual cues, which you can refer to later.
10. Highlight important points
Taking notes is a great way to help you remember the source material and make it easier to review the content later on.
Highlighting important points allows for quick reference when preparing summaries. You can use highlighters or even color-coding techniques to emphasize certain ideas.
These tips can help you write a good summary that is accurate, concise, and informative.
Just remember to keep the purpose of the summary in mind while writing and avoid introducing bias or personal opinion.