Summary Writing

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Summary Writing

If you are asked to highlight the gist of the play ‘Hamlet’ by Shakespeare, would you rather write the whole story of Shakespeare’s longest play, (29,551 words) or just jot down the main elements and call it a day? This is exactly what summary writing is. It involves retaining the essential information out of a comprehensive piece of writing. Summary writing is an important form of writing skills that will come in handy for students throughout their academic journey and even in competitive exams such as Bank exams, MBA exams, etc. This article provides you with the nitty-gritty of Summary Writing, tips to compose a good summary and more!

Precis vs Summary: How are the Different?

What is Summary Writing?

In the simplest terms, summary writing is the brief overview of a written material that highlights its main ideas. The word “summary” comes from the Latin word, “summa” meaning “totality, gist”. A well-written and effective summary provides the key points to the reader in condensed form that gives them a quick glance of what the passage intends to portray. 

While writing a summary, you should keep in mind that it should give an accurate description of the content in your own words, without incorporating your own ideas and opinions. A summary should be written in concise form, without amending the crux of the theme and subject matter. 

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Uses of Summary Writing

Summary Writing is very useful in developing certain skills that will be essential not only during school but also in future professional lives. It plays an essential role in the following aspects:

  • Critical Thinking Skills- Summary Writing compels the students to analyse and pick out the main ideas of the text and decide what key points should be included in the summary and what is irrelevant.
  • Writing skillsDrafting a summary involves writing in your own words, using your own vocabulary with correct grammar. This provides the students with a chance to practice their writing abilities and improve their writing skills.

It enables the students with the skill to take an extensive text and consolidate it into a shorter version that highlights only the main ideas, for a more concise understanding of the text. Following are some areas where Summary Writing can prove to be essential:

  • Assignments that involve summarizing a text can be given to students to ensure that they got a good grasp on the details of the text.
  • Teachers can formulate a lesson plan that begins with a summary of a chapter to provide students with the basic ideas and points before beginning the lecture. 
  • It can be used to give a gist of the description of a movie’s plot, or a brief synopsis of a novel.
  • Summary writing is also used to give an abstract of in-depth scientific reports and researches to give the gist of its content. 

How to Compose a Summary?

As already mentioned above several times, the most important thing to keep in mind while writing a summary is that it should be ‘a short and condensed version of a text, giving accurate description of the main points and ideas.’ Let us take a look at the steps needed in composing an effective summary:

Find the Main Idea

In order to write a summary that demonstrates all the relevant points of the text, it is necessary to understand the main narrative of the passage. You should re-read the text several times to ensure that you haven’t missed any crucial details. This will allow you to highlight the major points that you want to communicate to the readers.

Simplify the Text

Break down the text into smaller divisions that point to the common topic. This will simplify the text and ensure that you can easily find the key points and do not overlook important details. Then, start by jotting down the sentences from each paragraph or section that supports the main thesis of the text.

Create a Descriptive Outline

While perusing through the text, try to highlight the key ideas that elaborate on the main ideas of the subject matter. Creating an outline will help you in composing a summary in a linear structure, without jumbling up irrelevant information.

Write the Summary

After forming a rough outline of the text, start writing down your summary, keeping in mind that it should be concise. Combine all the main points and supporting sentences into a coherent whole. Summary should usually be 10-15% of the main text, so make sure to stay within the word limit. Keep the following points in mind while writing a summary;

  • It should have an introduction, the main body and a conclusion.
  • Add a suitable title for your summary that correlates with the content. 
  • Always use third person while writing a summary.
  • Use correct grammar and appropriate past tense.

Review your Summary

Re-reading the final draft of your summary is a crucial step. Go through your summary several times to check for any spelling or grammatical mistakes. Make sure your sentences transition smoothly and flow in a way that the main idea of the text is easily conveyed. Rewrite paragraphs to make your writing clear and concise, and eliminate repetitious and complicated points. The final version of the summary should convey the exact same message of the text in a condensed manner.

Summary Writing
Credit: Scholastic

Qualities of a Good Summary

The following are some attributes that describe a good summary;

  • Accurate and fair
  • Concise and Clear
  • Objective and Independent
  • Transitory and well-connected
  • Comprehensive and coherent 

Tips for a Good Summary

There are certain pointers that can enhance your summary writing. Keep the following things in mind while writing a Summary;

  • It should be conveyed in such a way that the readers can get a clear picture and understand the material accurately.
  • It should be a brief and condensed version of the original. It should be shorter than the source. Eliminate redundancies and only add relevant information to keep your paragraph clear and concise.
  • It should be written objectively and in your own words. It should only contain the original author’s viewpoint. Do not add your own personal opinion. 

These were all essential aspects that must be kept in mind while writing a summary. Regular practice will surely help you ace your summary writing. If you are looking for creative writing courses, reach out to our experts at Leverage Edu who will find the best course that can equip you with the knowledge and skills. Sign up for a free session.

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