Summarizing

Summarizing can be defined as presenting the substance of a given work briefly. A summary should convey the key points of the work, and at the same time, should be significantly shorter than the original. It helps to understand what the paper is all about as it is a shorter version of the detailed original.

It not only neatly ties together all the previous information included in the paper, but also calls for some sort of action. It gives reasons why the reader should do/believe something and motivates them to actually do it.

Purposes of Summarizing

It helps to understand the main points and structure of an authors argument.

A summarized document is easier to file than a long one.

It presents the background information quickly.

Writing Summaries

An effective summary should combine the available information into concise, coherent sentences/paragraphs. If the sentences are not properly formed, the summary will not make sense and the flow of information will be affected. The sentences should be framed in such a manner that the separate facts and ideas fit together to convey the core meaning. It involves deleting irrelevant material and highlighting key points. Three techniques selection and deletion, note taking, and miniaturizing help in summarizing the material.

Things to Remember While Writing a Summary

Read the original text that has to be summarized at least twice or more till you are sure that you understand it.

Highlight the main context.

Identify and mark parts of the text that support the main idea.

For longer papers, you can include the main points from the key sections, such as, introduction, scope of study, methods section, results section, and discussion/conclusion.

Rephrase the points in your own words, but ensure that the purpose and message of the original is retained. This will help to avoid plagiarizing

Your summary should be about 10-25% of the original length.

Crosscheck to ensure accuracy and correctness.

If you are including some other writer’s information, place it within quotes and mention the name of the author(s) or source of the summarized material. Mention how the summarized material is relevant to your own argument.

How to write a paragraph

Organizing thoughts into a coherent piece of writing can be a daunting task. The best way to pin those ideas down and put them into a form that others can follow is to use an outline. The tried-and-true I-II-III A-B-C outline works whether you have to churn out a paragraph, a page, or a paper. Here’s how to use it for a strong single paragraph;

Write the numbers 1-5 on a piece of paper.

  1. Next to #1, write your answer to the question, or your opinion on the topic, in a complete sentence. For example, if asked to write a paragraph about your favorite person, you might write, “My favorite person is my mother.”
  2. Next to #2, write one reason in support of your answer. For example, on the favorite person paragraph, you might write, “She knows how to help with homework.”
  3. Next to #3, write another reason in support of your answer. You might write, “She takes me wherever I need to go.”
  4. Next to #4, write a third reason in support of your answer. You might write, “She is very good at reading stories.”
  5. Next to #5, rephrase your answer or opinion from #1. You might write, “My mother is a wonderful person to me.”
  6. Copy your sentences #1-#5, one after the other, on your final sheet of paper. And there you have it — a coherent five-sentence paragraph: “My favorite person is my mother. She knows how to help with homework. She takes me wherever I need to go. She is very good at reading stories. My mother is a wonderful person to me.”

The example used here is a very simple paragraph for an early elementary assignment, but the same technique can be used for a more advanced open-ended question. Just answer the question in the first sentence; write one reason for that answer in the second; another reason in the third sentence; a third reason in the fourth sentence; and rephrase your answer for the fifth sentence.