The best way to write a summary paper is by reviewing the article/book/pieces that you need to summarise. The best approach for this would be to thoroughly read the piece and make notes related to the main points that you will put in your summary. To make sure that the summary is in your own words, it is worth writing down what comes to mind first, from what you have remembered. Re-read and revise what you have written to make sure that your spelling, punctuation, and grammar are all correct. More details are explained below:
- To start, you need to properly read the piece you are summarising and really think about what the author is trying to say. It could be that you need to re-read parts or even re-read the whole thing.
- Note down what you think the main idea is. By doing this, you will be able to put the ideas in your own words. It is worth asking yourself what themes and ideas flow through the piece. Look at the title as this can help you with this aspect too.
- Once you feel that you have understood what the author’s main point is, you need to take a look at the piece again and see what evidence they have to support their point. Look at the title, the plot or repetition and make a note of anything that you find.
- In order to put it in your own words, you need to note it down and put it in the words that you would use with a friend.
- You only need to be aware of what point an author is arguing and not any examples related to this. In the case of a fiction piece, don’t completely rewrite what happens in a piece. You only need to concentrate on the big points and the reason for these points.
- Every summary needs to begin with the title and the author and this alerts the reader to the fact that you are summarising something that’s been written by someone else.
- For each section, you need to use your memory to note down the main ideas. You need to make sure that this is in your own words and not in the words of the author.
- In the case where you need to use the words of the author, you need to make sure that you put these words in quotation marks. This will tell the reader that you are quoting someone else’s words and this is vital to ensure that you’re not committing academic plagiarism.
- Your summary needs to only summarise the original piece that you are talking about and should not include any thoughts of your own. Be sure to only summarise what the author has said and use their opinion and tone.
- The language that you use needs to suit a summary so you need to be clear that you are summarising someone else’s opinion. Try and avoid overusing phrases such as ‘the piece claims.’
- Compare the draft from memory against your notes. If there are any major points missing, then you need to add these to your next draft.
- The summary needs to be in time order and explain what happens in sequence. This is very important when summarising a fiction piece.
- In a summary don’t repeat information, even if an author has done this. Only make a point once. What is important here is that if a point has been mentioned a few times by an author, then this must be of importance so it needs to be included in your summary.
- Pay attention to your paragraphs as you need to make sure that they all connect in order and then refer back to the main point.
- After you’ve completed the draft, you need to go back over your work and check the finer points. Make sure that there are no grammar errors or spelling mistakes. Correct any typos or punctuation that may be missing. Use spell checkers as they won’t often pick up on errors such as the use of ‘their’ instead of ‘there’
- Once you feel like you’ve finished, you need to check the length of your summary. If you have any specific instructions that have been provided by your college, then make sure that you follow them.
- Usually, a summary is approximately ¼ of the length of the original. Therefore, if the original is 2 pieces long, your summary needs to be ½ of a page long.
- When you’ve completed your summary, it is worth asking someone that you know if they could take a look and read what you have written. This is worthwhile as someone else may see something from a different perspective to you or spot something that you may have missed. This person can check your work to make sure it’s accurate and they can also check to make sure that its structured well and reads as a summary.
The person reading should be able to grasp what took place in the original article/story/piece after reading your summary paper. Ask for criticism as this can help you to reflect upon what you have written and for you to think about how you will deal with the criticism and put into effect any changes that may be then required.