A summary is an overview of a text. The main idea is given, but details, examples and formalities are left out. Used with longer texts, the main aim of summarizing is to reduce or condense a text to its most important ideas. Summarizing is a useful skill for making notes from readings and in lectures, writing an abstract/synopsis and incorporating material in assignments.

Components to make a good summary:

  • Reading
  • Selecting the key points
  • Noting the key points
  • Rewriting the phrase
  • Check the final draft

Before Summarizing:

The amount of detail you include in a summary will vary according to the length of the original text, how much information you need and how selective you are:

  • Start by reading a short text and highlighting the main points as you read.
  • Reread the text and make notes of the main points, leaving out examples, evidence etc.
  • Without the text, rewrite your notes in your own words; restate the main idea at the beginning plus all major points.

Writing Summaries:

Step One (Prewriting):

  • Read the article quickly.
  • Try to get a sense of the article’s general focus and content.

Step Two (Drafting):

  • Restate the article’s thesis simply and in your own words.
  • Restate each paragraph’s topic simply and in your own words.

Step Three (Revising):

  • Combine sentences in Step Two to form your summary; organize your summary sentences in the same order as the main ideas in the original text.
  • Edit very carefully for neatness and correctness.

When to Summaries:

  • To outline the main points of someone else’s work in your own words, without the details or examples.
  • To include an author’s ideas using fewer words than the original text.
  • To briefly give examples of several differing points of view on a topic.
  • To support claims in, or provide evidence for note.


  • Text: The amphibians, which, is the animal class to which our frogs and toads belong, were the first animals to crawl from the sea and inhabit the earth.


Summary: The first animals to leave the sea and live on dry land were the amphibians.


  • Text: There are a number of methods of joining metal articles together, depending on the type of metal and the strength of the joint which is required.


Summary: One piece of metals can be connected to another depending on the method used to dictate the metal type and how strong a joint is needed.

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