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Summaries

Writing a summary is a very important academic skill. When you write a summary, you explain the most important parts of something you read or listened to with your own words.

Read the example paragraph and the summary of the example paragraph. Notice that the summary is much shorter and only talks about the major ideas from the paragraph.

Example: Paragraph

When you are looking for an apartment sometimes you feel confused and indecisive but if you have specific steps to follow you can find a good apartment. There are many things to consider  when you are looking for an apartment. First, you should decide how much money you are willing to spend. You should make a budget in which you plan how much money you will earn or receive. This will help you know how much money you have available to spend on rent for your apartment. Second, you should decide where you want to live. This  decision depends  on  a  couple of factors  like  location,  amenities  in  the  apartment,  parking  space,  and  cost. Making a list of potential apartments and comparing them based on cost and amenities will help you make an informed decision. You should also consider whether or not you need to rent an apartment that is furnished. This could change the cost of the  apartment.  If  you  plan  to  live  there  temporarily,  choosing  a  furnished apartment might be considerably better. However, if you plan on settling down in  that  apartment  for  a  considerable  amount  of  time,  you  should  get  an unfurnished apartment. This will give you the flexibility to make the apartment your own and feel like home. Everything depends on your needs. Third, after figuring  out  your  budget,  cost,  and  location  you  will  want  to  know  if  the apartment has any rules and restrictions. For example, many apartments don’t allow children or pets. There are many rules and restrictions but if you know them  beforehand  you  will  be  able  to  find  a  good  apartment.  Before  you commit to signing a contract, make sure you carefully read the contract to know everything about the apartment. Finally, you should meet with the owner to view the apartment. You can ask any final questions about the apartment and contract. In following  these steps, you will be able to make a wise and informed decision and find a good apartment that meets your needs.

Example: Summary

Finding an apartment can be easy if you follow four specific steps. First, determine how much you want to spend on the apartment. Then, decide on where you’d like to live. Once you find a place, make sure you understand the landlord’s expectations. Finally, you should tour the apartment. As you complete these steps, finding a place to live will be a lot more enjoyable.

An effective summary

  • explains the most important parts of the original.
  • is written in your own words.
  • keeps the original meaning.
  • Does not merely cut and copy from the original.
  • is shorter than the original.

Here is an overview of some simple steps you can follow in order to create a summary:

  1. Determine your purpose.
  2. Read or listen to what you will summarize.
  3. Make a list of the main points.
  4. Write the summary.
  5. Compare the summary to the original.

Determine your purpose

The purpose of your summary will help you determine which details you should include.

Here are three common purposes:

Persuade       Details support the main idea that is being argued as correct.

Inform           Details give information about the main idea.

Entertain        Details are given to provide entertainment to the reader.

Typically, your summaries for academic writing have a similar purpose: you need to explain academic information. Other summaries may have a different purpose. You should always make sure your purpose is clear.

The purpose of the summary may also change according to the target audience (intended reader). Depending on the audience, the format, length, and vocabulary used in the summary may change.

Read/listen

Read or listen carefully so you understand the source well enough to summarize it.

Make a list of the main points

As you read/listen, pay attention to the main ideas and major details of the source material. You should make a list of these main points either while you read/ listen or just after. If you can write on the text, it may help to underline main points or cross out minor details. If you are summarizing a lecture, you can do something similar with your lecture notes. As you write your list, focus on ideas rather than copying the exact words from the source. Compare the example paragraph and the example list below.

Example Paragraph

When you are looking for an apartment sometimes you feel confused and indecisive but if you have specific steps to follow you can find a good apartment.  There  are  many  things  to  consider  when  you  are  looking  for  an apartment. First, you should decide how much money you are willing to spend. You should make a budget in which you plan how much money you will earn or receive. This will help you know how much money you have available to spend on rent for your apartment. Second, you should  decide  where  you  want  to  live.  This  decision  depends  on  a  couple of factors  like  location,  amenities  in  the  apartment,  parking  space,  and  cost. Making a list of potential apartments and comparing them based on cost and amenities will help you make an informed decision. You should also consider whether or not you need to rent an apartment that is furnished. This could change the cost of the  apartment.  If  you  plan  to  live  there  temporarily,  choosing  a  furnished apartment might be considerably better. However, if you plan on settling down in  that  apartment  for  a  considerable  amount  of  time,  you  should  get  an unfurnished apartment. This will give you the flexibility to make the apartment your own and feel like home. Everything depends on your needs. Third, after figuring  out  your  budget,  cost,  and  location  you  will  want  to  know  if  the apartment has any rules and restrictions. For example, many apartments don’t allow children or pets. There are many rules and restrictions but if you know them  beforehand  you  will  be  able  to  find  a  good  apartment.  Before  you commit to signing a contract, make sure you carefully read the contract to know everything about the apartment. Finally, you should meet with the owner to view the apartment. You can ask any final questions about the apartment and contract. In  following  these  steps,  you  will  be  able  to  make  a  wise  and informed decision and find a good apartment that meets your needs.

Example: List

  • Finding an apartment is hard without steps to follow.
  • How much money?
  • Where?
  • Rules and restrictions?
  • View the apartment

Example: Summary

Finding an apartment can be easy if you follow four specific steps. First, determine how much you want to spend on the apartment. Then, decide on where you’d like to live. Once you find a place, make sure you understand the landlord’s expectations. Finally, you should tour the apartment. As you complete these steps, finding a place to live will be a lot more enjoyable.

Write the summary

Without looking at/listening to the original, use your list to write your summary. Again, it is important to focus on the ideas. Use your own words.

Although summaries differ depending on purpose and audience, a general summary structure follows similar formatting to a paragraph.

  1. Topic Sentence: state the main idea of the reading or listening
  2. Supporting Sentences: list the main points in your own words (the longer the summary, the more details that are included)
  3. Concluding Sentence: go back to the main idea

Example: Summary

(TS) Finding an apartment can be easy if you follow four specific steps. (SS) First, determine how much you want to spend on the apartment. (SS) Then, decide on where you’d like to live. (SS) Once you find a place, make sure you understand the landlord’s expectations. (SS) Finally, you should tour the apartment. (CS) As you complete these steps, finding a place to live will be a lot more enjoyable.

Make sure that the ideas have not been changed.

Example Paragraph

When you are looking for an apartment sometimes you feel confused and indecisive but if you have specific steps to follow you can find a good apartment.  There  are  many  things  to  consider  when  you  are  looking  for  an apartment. First, you should decide how much money you are willing to spend. You should make a budget in which you plan how much money you will earn or receive. This will help you know how much money you have available to spend on rent for your apartment. Second, you should  decide  where  you  want  to  live.  This  decision  depends  on  a  couple of factors  like  location,  amenities  in  the  apartment,  parking  space,  and  cost. Making a list of potential apartments and comparing them based on cost and amenities will help you make an informed decision. You should also consider whether or not you need to rent an apartment that is furnished. This could change the cost of the  apartment.  If  you  plan  to  live  there  temporarily,  choosing  a  furnished apartment might be considerably better. However, if you plan on settling down in  that  apartment  for  a  considerable  amount  of  time,  you  should  get  an unfurnished apartment. This will give you the flexibility to make the apartment your own and feel like home. Everything depends on your needs. Third, after figuring  out  your  budget,  cost,  and  location  you  will  want  to  know  if  the apartment has any rules and restrictions. For example, many apartments don’t allow children or pets. There are many rules and restrictions but if you know them  beforehand  you  will  be  able  to  find  a  good  apartment.  Before  you commit to signing a contract, make sure you carefully read the contract to know everything about the apartment. Finally, you should meet with the owner to view the apartment. You can ask any final questions about the apartment and contract. In  following  these  steps,  you  will  be  able  to  make  a  wise  and informed decision and find a good apartment that meets your needs.

1 Exercise: Write summaries

Read the following paragraphs and write summaries for each.

1. The best thing to do when taking care of twins is to have a lot of love and patience. One thing people need to take into account is personality differences. All parents of twins and fraternal twins know very well that their children are different people with different personalities. Even if two children look the same that does not mean that they are the same. A way that parents can help their twins feel more like individuals is to spend time with each twin separately. For children, it is vital that parents promote their independence. To accomplish this, take advantage of any occasion they have throughout the day. Some examples of this is tying their own shoes, encouraging them to play alone, and helping them understand that it is good to have all different kinds of friends. One very important thing to remember is that as parents we are never perfectly trained. There is not an instruction manual to buy at the store on how to be the perfect parent. The good news is that many things we will learn along the way. We should ask for help from our spouse and rely on each other. As a couple, we can use the Spirit to ask for help from our Heavenly Father so we can choose what is right. With twins, there will be many long nights without sleep and days when you want to cry. That is why love and patience are essential.

2. When it is time to be evaluated by your teachers or professors, you want them to remember you, and remember you in a positive way. As an experienced student, I know how to make a good impression on your course instructors. If you follow these fundamental steps, it should help.  First, before you go to class, you need to do all of the assigned homework and reading. Good preparation will help you to follow the teachers more easily, ask intelligent questions, and keep up with the class. Second, arrive to class a few minutes early. That way you can get a good seat and have enough time to get organized. You want to be ready so that you will not disturb the teacher and your classmates while the class is going on. For the same reason, you should also turn off your cell phone as you are getting ready. Next, always participate actively throughout the lesson. You need to make eye contact with your instructor. Take notes. If there is something that you don’t understand, wait for an appropriate time to ask about it. Finally, when the class ends, remain seated. Take a few minutes to collect your homework and make last-minute additions to your notes. If you still have questions, talk to your teacher in the classroom or you can send an email or clear up the confusion by going to the teacher’s office. If you follow these steps in all of your courses, you will do better on your tests, and you will be ready to get the good grades that you deserve.