The purpose of a summary is to give the reader a clear, objective picture of the original text. Most importantly, the summary restates only the main points of a text or a lecture without giving examples or details, such as dates, numbers or statistics.
Guidelines for writing a summary of an article:
• State the main ideas of the article.
• Identify the most important details that support the main ideas.
• Write your summary in your own words; avoid copying phrases and sentences from the article unless they’re direct quotations.
• Express the underlying meaning of the article, not just the superficial details.
• Your summary should be about one third of the length of the original article.
Your summary should include:
• Start with a summary or overview of the article which includes the author’s name and the title of the article.
• Finish with a thesis statement that states the main idea of the article.
• The number of paragraphs in your summary depends on the length of the original article.
• Your summary should be about one third the length of the original article. For a one-paragraph summary, discuss each supporting point in a separate sentence. Give 1-2 explanations for each supporting point. For a multi-paragraph summary, discuss each supporting point in a separate paragraph.
• Start each body paragraph with a topic sentence.
• Each paragraph focuses on a separate main idea and just the most important details from the article.
• Put the ideas from the essay into your own words. Avoid copying phrases and sentences from the article.
• Use transitional words and phrases to connect ideas.
• Summarize the main idea and the underlying meaning of the article.
Adapted from "Guidelines for Writing a Summary" (opens in a new window) by Christine Bauer-Ramazani, Saint Michael's College.