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Published by: Bonnie Lenore Kyburz on May 14, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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what is a
?*a summary is a:
1.brief restatement, in your own words, of the content of atext
Focus on the
2.central idea
of the text, and, in a condensed form, relay thepassage's
3.main points
reflecting the
in which they occur. In mostsituations
4.a summary is approximately one quarter the length of theoriginal text passage
(this is not an ironclad rule, however; whenyou’ve captured a sense of purpose and articulated a few keymoves, you are likely done, no matter how long the passage you’vewritten). A summary
will not 
include minor details, repeatedpoints, or any of 
your own opinions and conclusions
. You willuse summary when you want to present the main points of alengthy passage in order to develop or support the discussion of your essay.
how to write summaries
1.read the passage carefully
. In order to summarize information,you must first be able to understand it. This requires
2.careful critical reading
. Read the passage completely the firsttime to gain an overall understanding of the piece, as you
the piece,
making marginal notes
that identify important points,shifts in thoughts, and questions you may have
. You will alsowant to consider at this point
5.what is the significance of the whole piece?
(questions aboutsignificance often resonate throughout your reading of a piece of writing; try to be aware of questions, tensions, and curiosity thatarises as you read, and mark where it occurs in the text)
what are the
of the essay that create the
, and
how are
points (i.e., claims)
organized to support the whole
finessing the work, you will want to:
1.divide the text into stages of thought
, which you will laterdevelop into the body paragraphs of your rough draft. A section orstage of thought in a passage is usually a few or even severalparagraphs in length. You can identify these more easily by lookingfor transitional sentences at the beginning or end of paragraphsthat summarize what has come before or set the stage for what isto follow
2.write 1 sentence summaries of each stage of thought
Onceyou have identified the stages of thought in the text, create
a brief summary
(usually, but not always, 1 sentence; more, if necessary)for each stage of thought.
This sentence must be in your ownwords, and it must illustrate your understanding of thepassage and its central concept(s)
. This is often the mostdifficult part of summary writing because you may be tempted touse the writer's words or structure, which would be plagiarism.
It isalways a good idea to put the original passage aside at thispoint and summarize what you have read in the sectionusing your own understanding and thinking skills
. Anothergood strategy is to imagine telling what you’ve learned from areading to a friend (or, actually do so). That is, can you convert yourunderstanding into a conversational scenario that you mightactually have? Try it out with a friend (and know that the ability totalk about your work – even or especially when you are not *at*work – is a valuable professional skill).
3.write a Purpose Statement:
a brief (1-3’ish sentence) summaryof the entire passage.
Here, you are trying to get at an overallsense of the text’s
rhetorical purpose
your interpretation of therhetoric’s intentions regarding the
itpromotes for audiences.
 4.write the first draft of your summary
. At this point you areready to draft your summary essay. Depending on whether youhave been assigned to write a short summary or a longer summary,you can structure your summary in one of two ways: combine theoverall purpose statement with your list of brief (1-3 sentencesummaries), for a short summary.
 You may feel the need to add
significant details
from the text, for a more detailed summary.
5.check your summary against the original passage
. Aftercompleting your draft, you will want to make sure the content of your information has completely and accurately summarized thepassage without plagiarizing or adding any of your own personalopinion. Now, return to the original text and compare your draftagainst it.

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