How to Write a Summary: Expert Techniques

how to write a summary
by CJ McDaniel // June 26  

Summaries can be an indispensable asset in academic and professional environments, providing readers with a concise version of a much longer work. Summaries simplify understanding by distilling critical points from books, articles, or reports allowing readers to quickly comprehend its main ideas without getting bogged down in details. Writing a practical summary requires specific skills and techniques not all people possess. This article will introduce the steps to writing a summary, from identifying its main concepts to selecting essential information and condensing it into clear language. Whether you’re an undergraduate, postgraduate, researcher, or professional, mastering these skills can improve communication within any field by conveying essential details quickly and efficiently.

How to Write a Summary

With today’s overwhelming information landscape, producing an accessible summary is more critical than ever for engaging your target audience. Whether it be research article summaries, book summaries, or any written work summarized as such, the goal remains to present pertinent material in an appealing format that encourages further reading of what might otherwise remain lost. Aiming towards this goal means using concise yet comprehensive language while staying accurate yet approachable and organized enough that readers want more. In this article, we explore summarizing by sharing practical tips and principles which help create translated versions of works that effectively convey their essence!

Step One: Determine Your Objective and Audience

Before beginning to summarize your work into a summary, you must establish its purpose and target audience. Your purpose and audience are intended to inform potential readers of a scholarly article, provide synopses on company blogs, or give non-expert audiences an overview. Understanding your specific purpose and audience more accurately, determining how much detail, tone and language should be utilized, and the highlighted focal points will help create more successful summaries.

Step Two: Carefully read and analyze the Original Work

To accurately and fairly represent primary works in your summary, it’s crucial that you first read and examine their content thoroughly. This means identifying main ideas, arguments, and relevant supporting evidence and understanding its structure and flownote critical points, important data, or essential conclusions along the way! The process might involve revisiting portions of work to grasp key aspects better or consolidate understanding; keep this in mind because, with an in-depth knowledge of its original material, it will be easier to create compelling summaries!

Step Three: Determine Key Elements

Once you have read and engaged fully with preliminary work, the next step should be identifying key elements to include in a summary. These components should form the backbone of your outline and generally consist of: the central argument/thesis statement/theme; primary supporting points/evidence used as support; implications or conclusions are drawn; any context-setting information like which problem it addresses/methodological approach employed.

Step Four: Establish an Organism

A well-structured summary enables readers to rapidly follow the progression of ideas and arguments presented in an original work, so ensuring an accessible, logical structure is crucial. Many summaries employ a funnel approach: first setting context with background material before diving deeper into arguments, evidence, and conclusions; however, individual format preferences may change depending on purpose and target audience.

Step Five: Write concise and accurate prose

Assuming your goal for writing a summary is to present an authoritative high-level overview, concision, and accuracy are of utmost importance in reaching this aim. When crafting your summary, be sure to write in clear, concise language without unnecessary details, jargon, or extraneous data that distracts from its objective representation of the original work – such as inaccurately portraying arguments presented or concluding statements presented by the author(s).

Step Six: Edit and Revise

A summary can only be considered complete with careful editing and revising processes. Proofread your draft summary carefully to check for typographical and grammatical errors, potential inconsistencies, and ambiguity – as this demonstrates professionalism and credibility to readers and encourages engagement with original work. Feel free to revise or refine as necessary until it effectively conveys its essence, meeting audience-appropriate tone and style guidelines.

Summarizing is an essential skill in today’s information age, helping you communicate the essence of your work to an increasingly time-strained audience. By following these tips and guidelines, you’re well on your way to creating an appealing summary that showcases its value to readers while encouraging further inquiry into its meaning and merits. Always bear your purpose and audience in mind, distill key elements, create logical structures, write concisely yet accurately for maximum effect, then edit thoroughly for the best results.

Frequently Asked Questions About Writing Summary

Q: What is a Summary?
A: A summary is an abbreviated and condensed version of an extended piece of content or text which captures its main ideas, key points, and essential details effectively.

Q: What is the purpose of writing a summary?
A: A summary’s primary goal is to offer readers or listeners a quick way to grasp key points without reading or listening through an entire work.

Q: How long should a summary be?
A: Generally speaking, this depends on the length and complexity of the original content. However, summaries should be significantly shorter than originals, typically limited to several sentences up to several paragraphs.

Q: What are the key procedures for composing a summary?
A: Writing an effective summary requires reading or reviewing original content, identifying key ideas and points, condensing information into an easily understood format, organizing it in an orderly fashion, and finally presenting it in an organized, straightforward way.

Q: How can I identify my summary’s main ideas and key points?
A: To effectively identify the main ideas and key points, pay close attention to the introduction, topic sentences, headings, and concluding statements of original content. Look out for recurring themes, central arguments, or supporting evidence in these text sections.

Q: Should my summary include every detail from the original content?
A: No. A summary should only capture key ideas while leaving out unnecessary details and examples not essential to understanding its central message.

Q: Should I write my summary using my own words?
A: Yes, using your own words when creating a summary is of utmost importance, as plagiarism should be avoided, and your interpretation should come through clearly in your work.

Q: How can I keep the original meaning while condensing the information into an accessible summary? A: To preserve the original meaning, focus on summarizing key ideas, arguments, and supporting points in an accessible fashion. Use paraphrasing and rephrasing techniques to express content using your language.

Q: Should my summary include my interpretations or personal thoughts?
A: No. A summary should remain objective and focus solely on presenting the original content without personal bias. Instead, it should reflect the author’s point of view rather than yours.

Q: Should I include direct quotes from the original content in my summary?
A: As a general guideline, it is best to avoid including direct quotes in your summary; instead, aim to paraphrase or summarize the author’s ideas using your own words.

Q: How should I organize information in a summary?
A: You can organize information by logically presenting its main ideas or key points. Adding headings or subheadings as necessary will structure your summary, making reading it much simpler for the reader.

Q: Should My Summary Include Examples or Support Details?
A: In most cases, specific examples or supporting details aren’t needed in summaryfocus on capturing the main ideas and overarching concepts that matter.

Q: Am I permitted to rearrange the information order in my summary?
A: Absolutely, as long as your work maintains coherence and clarity. Rearrange the main ideas or key points so your summary flows logically.

Q: Should I provide my summary with a conclusion or personal evaluation?
A: A summary usually does not include its conclusions and evaluations; it aims to present key ideas without adding commentary or analysis.

Q: Should a summary be proofread and revised before finalization?
A: Absolutely; proofreading and revising are crucial steps before finalizing it. Proofread for errors, clarity, and coherence issues to ensure the summary accurately represents what was learned during its creation.


Summarizing is an indispensable skill that can be practiced and perfected over time. It helps with both recalling information as well as effectively sharing it. To craft an effective summary:

  1. Start by closely reading and recognizing key ideas within the source material before organizing these points logically into an organized structure with clear beginning, middle, and end points.
  2. Use clear and succinct language throughout the summation to avoid using unnecessary details or information.
  3. Verify its accuracy and completion before sharing it with others – by following these steps, anyone can become an effective summarizer and communicate information quickly in an understandable way.

    About the Author

    CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!