Definition

According to major dictionaries, Summary is a shortened version of an orginal text which reveals the relationship between the major points and the thesis.

Length
A summary may be from a quarter of the original text to one sentence.

Basic steps

Step 1: Identifying the topic

The first step to take in writing a summary, after the first reading, is to identify the topic of the text. A topic is a word or phrase that says what the text is about. Additionally, one needs to be as specific as possible.

For example:
There are many reasons why pollution in China is the worst in the world.

Topic: Reasons of pollution in China

Step 2: Identifying any possible division in the text

To be able to effectively write a summary to a text, one should be able to identify any possible division in the text such as: Advantages / Disadvantages; Causes / Effects; Similarities / Differences; Comparisons / Contrasts etc. This may mean summarizing each paragraph, but several paragraphs may go together.

Step 3: Organization of sentences

We must work with the newly-created sentences to produce a summary. We also have to reveal the relationships between the ideas.


Things to remember:

  • It should always be remembered that summaries are short restatements of a work’s main points.
  • Major ideas of the text must be recorded.
  • A summary condenses a text’s main ideas into a few concise sentences
  • A summarized work is always much shorter than the original.
  • A summary of a work’s thesis and supporting points should be written in our own words.

Tips:

  • When summarizing, we should avoid examples and details.
  • WE should only quote and paraphrase words and phrases we feel we must in order to reproduce exactly the author’s full meaning.
  • We must keep in mind that the summary fairly represents the author’s original ideas.


Example


Original Text

— Audiences want the sense that you’re talking directly to them and that you care that they understand and are interested. They’ll forgive you if you get tangled up in a sentence and end it ungrammatically. They won’t forgive you if you seem to have a “canned” talk that you’re going to deliver no matter who the audience is or how they respond. You can convey a sense of caring to your audience by making direct eye contact with them and by using a conversational style.
(p. 475)---Locker, K. O. (2003). Business and administrative communication (6th ed.). St. Louis, MO


From the text above, we can deduce that there are four main points, namely:
  • Audiences want the sense that one is communicating directly with them.
  • The will forgive you if you make grammatical mistakes.
  • They won’t forgive you however, if you seem to have a prepared speech in advance.
  • You can show that you care by making eye contact and using conversational style.

Suggested Summary
— While audiences will overlook a speaker’s unintentional grammar mistakes, they will not tolerate the speaker if they realize that the speech is a prepared one. However, through eye contact, one can establish responsibility because listeners demand interest and understanding (Locker , 2003).

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