How to Summarize a Text

A summary is an overview of a piece of writing, formulated into your own words. When we write a research paper, essay, or article, we may need to use other authors’ information. We can use that information by summarizing the major points and citing the writer and work. We can also summarize something we read in order to remember it better. Another form of summarizing can usually be seen on the back cover of a book, where there is a very brief summary of the entire book. Let’s take a look at some tips that can be used to summarize the writing as effectively as possible.

1. Understand the purpose of the text

It is impossible to give an overview of something you don’t fully understand. To put it in other words, the purpose of the writing should be clear for you. Your summary should leave no room for confusion. You may require multiple readings of the source material, especially if it is a long text. Otherwise, you may mislead your reader by providing an inaccurate account of the text.

2. Identify the main ideas

Summarizing is about taking relevant information out of a text and putting it into your own words. Reading the text, finding the main points, and connecting them gives you a summary. Omit minor details, illustrations, examples, or anything else that is not the focus of the text. If you have multiple paragraphs, you can take the central idea from each one for the summary. If it is a huge text, make a small outline highlighting the primary ideas. Sometimes there are similar ideas in one paragraph. You can summarize that paragraph by combining them.

3. Paraphrasing is not summarizing

Even though they may follow the same pattern, there are key differences. Both of them require using your own words to describe the information. While the paraphrase is usually the same length as the original text, a summary is always shorter. When paraphrasing, you can use all the ideas in a text, whether it is a primary or secondary idea, whereas a summary requires just primary ideas.

4. The length of the summary

There isn’t a rule of thumb when it comes to the length of it, but it is believed that a summary may contain about 25% of the original text. It is different if the text is longer than one page. For instance, a book summary can be in just a few sentences or even be published in a short book.

5. No personal opinions or comments

As it should contain all the essential information of the original text, you should avoid giving your interpretations or adding your comments.
You can summarize a text by understanding its meaning and finding primary ideas expressed in it. Summarizing is different from paraphrasing, as a summary is a shorter retelling of the text. The length of the summary should be approximately one-quarter of the original text and should not contain any personal beliefs, opinions, or counterarguments.
The passage above is the summary of the entire article expressed in three sentences.