How to write a summary
You will need to write summaries in various subjects, but what teachers tell you is often very vague and does not answer any questions. So, here are the short and simple rules which I follow when writing a structured summary…
- Include: author, title, type of text, year of release, basic topic (5-10 words)
- “The excerpt out of the article/book/text ___ by ___ was written in ___ and is about ___.”
- Main body
- Write roughly 1 sentence for each paragraph of the text. Do not go into detail if it would “overflow” from this fixed amount.
- “Firstly, the author says…”
- “However, …”
- “Lastly, …”
- “The author concludes that…”
- Make sure to clarify that everything you write is being said by the author. Depending on how you formulate things, you can easily be deducted points for writing your own opinion, discussion or conclusion, which does not belong in a summary!
- Write in the present tense, unless it is necessary to clarify that the author is a “person of the past”.
Decide in advance on the linking devices and fixed phrases which you are going to use. Memorise them. No one cares if all your summaries look the same, as long as each one is structured well!
Keep the language simple and clear. Use your own phrasing, but don’t be afraid of using specific words of the original text, if you aren’t sure if you can describe it otherwise. In fact, if there are technical terms, it is important to mention them, because they are a key part of the information.