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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

How to Write a Summary Essay: Step by Step Guide

Feeling confused about the task of writing a summary essay? You need to stop worrying! You may not know it yet, but you have made quite a large number of summaries throughout your life so far. You just haven’t put them in writing before. If you take some time to ponder on this matter, you’ll realize that whenever you talk to someone about topics like the plot of a film or where you went on vacation, you’re in fact devising a summary. Another example of a summary is when you talk to your colleague who didn’t attend yesterday’s psychology class about the things the teacher discussed. Devising a summary essay is quite similar to these situations. To get your summary right, it is essential to determine the fundamental notions or concepts and to account them. In doing so, skip any insignificant points, as the purpose of a summary is to present only the essential details. One can define a summary essay as a shortened edition of a lengthier paper that still conveys the same message as the one transmitted by the initial piece of writing. A summary essay needs to comprise the entirety of the main ideas expressed in the original material (excluding the entirety of the particulars). Seeing as the writer is supposed to skip the entirety of the particulars, the length of a summary needs to be considerably smaller in comparison to that of the original piece of writing. For example, a paper of ten pages can be summed up in three or four paragraphs. Now that you’re familiar with the main ideas of a summary, it’s time to move on to the next part of our article, in which we’ll teach you how to devise your summary essay adequately.

Writing a good summary essay

The activity of writing a summary essay can be summarized as follows:
  1. Be concise.
  2. Account the fundamental notions.
These two sentences are indeed the essence of summary essay writing. However, in case you wish to find out more about the intricacies of this particular piece of writing, read on. In this article, you will find everything you need to know about devising a flawless summary paper.

Read with attention and write things down

One cannot possibly draft an efficient summary paper unless they’re well aware of what they need to sum up. As such, you ought to go through the original paper more than once. While reading, make sure you write things down on a piece of paper! There can be plenty of motives for which it would be useful to take notes. However, in this particular situation, you ought to focus on searching for the primary concepts of the original piece of writing. Commence by determining the writer’s thesis. The thesis statement constitutes the very essence of the paper. In addition to that, it has the purpose of establishing the writer’s argument. The next step is to search for the primary arguments that are used to substantiate the thesis statement. In a lot of cases, one can encounter these crucial pointscan be encountered at the beginning of every new paragraph. As such, it would be a good idea to scan paragraphs to detect the primary focal point. (Useful tip: Search for subject phrases.) Fast Hint: The title is always relevant! For instance, in case the title of a piece of writing is “Why People Who Are Under the Age of 21 Should Not Be Allowed to Smoke”, you can be positive that the author will list out various arguments to substantiate this assertion. These arguments will make for the essential ideas of your essay.

Avoid paraphrasing the original paper

When devising a summary essay, your target is to sum up the essential arguments, and not to paraphrase the original paper. Keep in mind that your goal is to be concise! If you can sum up an idea in only one sentence, don’t do it in three phrases! For you to have a better picture, we’ll also provide an example. If a piece of writing approaches the reasons for which authorities ought to impose an older legal smoking age, the writer may point out to the fact that making the legal smoking age higher would diminish the percentage of adolescents who smoke. The writer will probably expand on this argument by introducing instances as well as statistical data to substantiate the argument thoroughly.
When you sum up a paper, avoid paraphrasing the argument as well as the primary substantiating ideas used by the original writer. Rather than rewriting this, you ought to include 1 or 2 comprehensive, particular phrases to convey the primary argument as well as the writer’s convictions and/or ideas. Keep in mind: Your readers must be aware of the original piece of writing that you’re summing up! As such, you must not avoid mentioning the writer’s name as well as the title of the paper in the introduction. Fast Hint: Once you’ve done your summary essay, scan it for areas in which you could reduce the number of words. You could begin by removing modifiers. For instance, eliminate words like “actually," “highly” or “exceedingly." In addition to that, it may also be a good idea to remove full phrases that sum up the more inconclusive aspects of the original paper instead of the primary arguments.

Write using your own words

The assignment of devising a summary essay does not imply that you can reorganize the wording in a paper written by another author and present it as your own piece of writing. In addition to that, this task also doesn’t imply that you can just take the sentences and organizational elements of other writers and use them as your own. Instead, drafting a summary essay involves using your own wording and manner of writing with the purpose of detecting the primary arguments of the original piece of writing. Take a look at the following examples:
  1. Let’s say the following sentence is used in the original piece of writing: “he adopted a resolution." In that case, you could simply paraphrase this sentence using your own words by writing “he chose."
  2. If the original writer uses a structure such as “intrusive legal guardians," you could paraphrase it using words that are less formal, like “snoopy parents."
Fast Hint: As you are summing up the original paper, stop looking at the text. By keeping your eyes off the original material while writing down your ideas, you’ll find it easier to use your own wording and manner of writing.

Steer clear of personal opinions

Even if you find yourself in full disagreement with the arguments conveyed by the writer of the source, you must not introduce your personal thoughts in a summary essay! This type of academic writing needs to be entirely impartial and unbiased. As such, you must never include your personal opinions! Your target is to convey the writer’s primary arguments, not those of your own. Here is an example of a summary essay introduction that introduces a personal thought:
  • The paper highlights the high level of advertising that can be found in educational institutions from all over America. The author is very good at underlining the idea that educational institutions ought to prohibit advertising. Furthermore, one can easily understand the reasons for which parents ought to stop large companies from exerting an influence on high school students.
  • The sentence “is very good at” constitutes a way of saying that you agree with the writer’s ideas and that you find them efficient. The sentence “one can easily understand” also hints at the fact that you support the writer’s argument.
  • Keep in mind: One must never include personal thoughts, as well as value judgments, in a summary essay!
Take a look at the following revised version of the example. Observe the way in which it maintains objectivity:
  • The topic of this article is the high level of advertising that takes place in educational institutions from all over the US. The writer advocates that educational institutions ought to prohibit advertising. Furthermore, he claims that parents ought to stop the big companies from exerting their influence on their children.

How to merge the pieces together

At this point, you have to be aware of what you need to do if you want to write a winning summary essay. Once you’ve managed to produce your arguments, the next logical step is to start writing the essay itself. However, there is also one last thing you need to do before you proceed. You must still form connections between your arguments. To accomplish this, you should use transitions. Unless you use transitions, your paper will appear as an inventory of casual assertions instead of a coherent summary essay. Last but not least, make sure you revise your essay. Never hand in your assignment without checking it for errors! In case you have already written your essay, but you’re worried you won’t get a good grade, you can always ask for our help! Our professional editors will be ready to assist you!