Writing the Summary Essay:
A summary essay should be organized so that others can understand the source or evaluate your comprehension of it. The following format works well:
Introduction (usually one paragraph)
1. Contains a
one-sentence thesis statement that sums up the main point of the source.
†† This thesis statement is not your main point; it is the main point of your † source. Usually, though, you have to write this statement rather than quote it from † the source text. It is a one-sentence summary of the entire text that your essay ††††††††††† summarizes.
2. Also introduces the text to be
(i) Gives the title of the source (following the citation guidelines of whatever style sheet you are using);
(ii) Provides the name of the author of the source;
(ii) Sometimes also provides pertinent background information about the author of the source or about the text to be summarized.
The introduction should not offer your own opinions or evaluation of the text you are summarizing.
Body (one or more
This paraphrases and condenses the original piece. In your summary, be sure that you:
1. Include important data but omit
2. Include one or more of the authorís examples or illustrations (these will bring your summary to life);
3. Do not include your own ideas, illustrations, metaphors, or interpretations. Look
upon yourself as a summarizing machine; you are simply repeating what the source text says, in fewer words and ††††††††††† in your own words. But the fact that you are using your own words does not mean that you are including your † own ideas.
There is customarily no conclusion to a summary essay.
††††††††††† When you have summarized the source text, your summary essay is finished. Do not add your own concluding ††††††††††† paragraph unless your teacher specifically tells you to.
Summaries identify the source of original text.
Summaries demonstrate your understanding of a text's subject matter.
Summaries are shorter (at least 60% shorter) than the original text--they omit the original text's "examples, asides, analogies, and rhetorical strategies.
Summaries differ from paraphrases--paraphrases more closely follow the original text's presentation (they still use your words, but they are longer than summaries).
Summaries focus exclusively on the presentation of the writer's main ideas--they do not include your interpretations or opinions.
Summaries normally are written in your own words--they do not contain extended quotes or paraphrases.
Summaries rely on the use of standard signal phrases ("According to the author..."; "The author believes..."; etc.).
Tips on 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.