I. The purpose of a summary is to briefly state another author's major idea. You
sometimes write a summary to show how well you understand a reading assignment. Brief summaries are very useful in essays and research papers. A summary uses your own words, not the author's, to convey the author's major ideas or points fairly and accurately.
II. Before writing a summary, take note of the following to determine which ideas are the most important in the original work:
A. Repetitions of words, phrases, or concepts.
B. The introduction and the first and last chapters or paragraphs.
C. Titles and subtitles.
III. A summary essay on a book often conforms to one of the following formats:
A. An introductory paragraph which captures the central points of the book and then succeeding paragraphs which discuss each of these ideas in more detail.
B. An introductory paragraph which summarizes the central ideas of the book and then a paragraph for each chapter.
IV. Review your summaries (even short ones) for the following points:
A. How well you understand and express in your own words the author's central points.
B. How readable and coherent your summary is.
C. Proper credit given to the original author(s).
D. Use of the Revision Checklist and Editing Checklist in preparing your summary.
A. Using the author's words rather than your own. If you cannot resist including some of the author's words because of their originality of expression, put the passage in quotation marks and cite it properly. (See Online Writing Resources)
B. Including too much detail; this makes it difficult for your reader to separate central ideas from supporting ideas.