Skip over navigation

ARCHIVED SAMPLE - course no longer available

   
 

WRITING TIPS
Summarizing

 
 

Summaries are shorter versions of a longer piece of writing. They include all the most important main ideas of the original. A summary includes examples or ideas found in the original writing without any additional information. It should be brief, so it must either generalize or eliminate many minor details and examples. It should also be clear. That means it should not be so general that it is vague or unclear.

Here are the steps you can follow when writing a summary:

  1. Read or reread the material you want to summarize.
  2. Identify the main controlling idea in the original writing.
  3. Identify the main supporting points.
  4. Identify key words.
  5. Paraphrase key words and the main ideas.
  6. Check your sentences against the original writing to make sure you have included all the main ideas.
  7. Check your sentences to make sure you haven't added any new information.
  8. Rewrite your sentences using appropriate transitions to link one idea to another.

Follow these steps when summarizing a paragraph:

1. Read the material you want to summarize.

Example

   

The Successful Language Learner

One of the most important characteristics of successful language learners is their willingness to make mistakes. Young children learn their first language by trying to communicate a message rather than by trying to learn grammar rules. Children are not worried about correctness, they are concerned with the message. The message is more important than the grammar. In the same way, second language learners must try to communicate even when they are not certain of the correct forms or words. By using the language to communicate, their language skills will improve. For example, if someone else cannot understand what the learner is trying to say, then the learner must change the way he or she is using the language. In this way, the learner quickly learns what is correct and what is incorrect. Mistakes become learning opportunities. Therefore, the more learners use the language, the more skilled they become in the language. Successful language learners do not wait until they can speak or write perfectly before they use the language; they use the language in order to improve their speaking and writing.

2. Identify the main controlling idea for the whole writing.

Example

   

One of the most important characteristics of successful language learners is their willingness to make mistakes.

3. Identify the main supporting points.

Example

   

One of the most important characteristics of successful language learners is their willingness to make mistakes.

Young children learn their first language by trying to communicate a message rather than by trying to learn grammar rules. (This is an example. Examples are not necessary in summaries.)
In the same way, second language learners must try to communicate even when they are not certain of the correct forms or words.
Mistakes become learning opportunities.
Therefore, the more learners use the language, the more skilled they become in the language.

4. Identify key words and phrases.

Example

   

• successful language learners
• willingness to make mistakes
• communicate
• use the language = become more skilled

5. Write a summary that repeats or paraphrases key words and the main ideas.

Example

   

Good language learners are willing to make mistakes, use the language in order to communicate, and improve their language skills at the same time.

6. Check that all the main ideas are included.

7. Check that there is no new or added information.

8. Finally, use appropriate transitions to link one idea to another.

Example

   

Good language learners are willing to make mistakes and use the language in order to communicate, and as a result, they improve their language skills at the same time.