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A Guide On How To Summarize and Why It’s Beneficial

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Do you know what a summary is and how to write one? This blog post will teach you all that, plus why writing a summary is helpful in the learning process

How To Write a Summary, how to write a good summary, how to summarize
Everyone should learn how to write a summary.
  • A summary is a condensed version of a larger text that goes over the main points.
  • When writing a summary, writers should refrain from critiquing or analyzing, and simply restate what was said in their own words
  • A summary is also sometimes referred to as an abstract or synopsis.

What Is a Summary?

A summary is a concise overview of a text you’ve read (or other media you’ve watched or listened to). Whereas summary is a noun, summarizing is the action of writing a summary.  Summaries go over the main points of the larger work without getting into all the details. Whether you’re writing a summary for yourself or for an audience, the purpose of a summary is to briefly encapsulate the central points of the larger body of work. This blog post will teach you more about summaries—like how long a summary should be, the five steps to writing a good summary, and the benefit of writing summaries.

Close up of woman writing notes about a book (How to summarize, how to write a good summary)
You can write a summary about a book, research paper, film, TV show, presentation, or any other body of work.

How To Write a Good Summary

Writing a summary is easy. The following four steps can facilitate the summary writing process.

1) Read/watch/listen to the original work and take notes.

  • It’s a good idea to take notes while you’re reading, watching, or listening to the original work. Write down anything that stands out to you, especially if it’s important and helps the audience understand the bigger picture.

2) When you’re done reading, break the larger work into sections.

  • Breaking down the original work into sections can help make the summarizing process more manageable. Think of it as the outline for the summary you’re about to write. A well-written summary has a smooth flow, and breaking the original work into sections can help achieve this.

3) Rewrite the main idea of the original work in your own writing.

  • When writing the summary, remember to restate and condense the original work in your own words. Include only what’s important, and don’t add anything from outside sources. A well-written summary goes over the central idea of the original work without critiquing or analyzing.

4) Reread the summary with the original work as a reference.

  • When you’re done writing the summary, do a final check with the original work as a guide. Did you include all the necessary information? Did you remove any redundancies? Is everything written in your own words? If you used text from the original work, did you quote it? Is the original work accurately represented in your text from beginning to end?

How Long Is a Summary?

A question that gets asked frequently is how long should a summary be? The truth is that the answer depends on the size of the work you are summarizing. A general rule of thumb is that a summary should be one-third of the original text (for short stories and descriptive texts like newspaper articles), and 10% for larger works (like novels).

When you’re done writing a summary, ask yourself these questions to make sure you have a brief summary that goes over the essence of the original work.

  • Did I touch upon all the major ideas and points of the original work I am summarizing?
  • Is there anything I can remove that won’t alter how the audience (or myself) understands the larger body of work?

Summarizing Is Beneficial—Here’s Why

Writing a summary is beneficial because it helps you better understand the original work. By rewriting what you’ve learned, you can make sure you thoroughly comprehend the main points. Like with any text you produce, a well-written summary requires proper spelling and grammar. That’s why it’s a good idea to use LanguageTool as your text editor when writing a summary. This multilingual writing assistant will correct any errors, and also suggest stylistic improvements.

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