You are on page 1of 2

Reading strategies: Differences between

summarizing and synthesizing information

by Sarah Elaine Eaton, PhD.

Summarizing and synthesizing are both strategies used in reading and

research. They are important skills, as they help learners make sense of
what they reading.

It is important to recognize that summarizing and synthesizing are different

activities. Each has a different purpose, process and end result. This chart
highlights some of the main differences between summarizing and
synthesizing information:

Summary Synthesis

Basic reading technique. Advanced reading technique.

Pulls together information in order You pull together information not

to highlight the important points. only to highlight the important
points, but also to draw your own

Re-iterates the information. Combines and contrasts

information from different sources.

Shows what the original authors Not only reflects your knowledge
wrote. about what the original authors
wrote, but also creates something
new out of two or more pieces of

Addresses one set of information Combines parts and elements

(e.g. article, chapter, document) at from a variety of sources into one
a time. Each source remains unified entity.

Presents a cursory overview. Focuses on both main ideas and


Demonstrates an understanding of Achieves new insight.

the overall meaning.

Sarah Elaine Eaton 2010 Page 1 of 2

Helpful resources

Comprehension Strategy – Synthesis / Summarization / Concluding

How to Synthesize Multiple Sources

What is a Synthesis Question?

What it means to comprehend

Reading Strategies

APA Citation: Eaton, S.E. (26 September 2010). “Reading strategy: Differences
between summarizing and synthesizing information”
Retrieved from: (insert the URL of this website here.)

Sarah Elaine Eaton holds a PhD in Educational Leadership and

an M.A. from the University of Calgary, Canada. She is a
researcher, author and speaker, specializing in professional
development for language and literacy professionals.

Want to read similar articles? Check out the authorʼs blog “Literacy, Languages and


T +1. 403. 390. 3999 E W

Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Sarah Elaine Eaton 2010 Page 2 of 2