Writing a summary
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Writing a Summary. Prof. K.E. Ogden Pasadena City College. What is a summary?. A summary is a retelling of the main ideas and key points and sub-points of a text. What are the key features of a summary?. A summary is UNBIASED. A summary abbreviates the original material.

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Writing a Summary

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Writing a summary

Writing a Summary

Prof. K.E. Ogden

Pasadena City College


What is a summary

What is a summary?

A summary is a retelling of the main ideas and key points and sub-points of a text


What are the key features of a summary

What are the key features of a summary?

  • A summary is UNBIASED.

  • A summary abbreviates the original material.

= this means that you, the writer, are restating the original author’s words and ideas—their opinions and not your own.

=the summary should represent the key ideas, main points and sub-points, but with brevity.


Before i begin writing

Before I begin writing:

Writing a summary is completely dependent upon your excellent reading skills.

  • Read the selection I need to summarize

  • Create a survival list of terms, ideas, concepts, and context associations that I’ll need to look up in the dictionary, encyclopedia, or other resource in order to better understand the article.

  • Read selection again, this time talking back to the selection with questions; underline key passages; try to summarize or outline the key points and sub-points in the margins as I go along.

  • Find the main point of the selection by reading through again and make sure I completely comprehend what the author is trying to say.


Make a rough draft

Make a Rough Draft

Try a Sketch/Outline of the Original and List the Key Points

Example of Pulling out a key idea:

“Great writers don’t just sit down and write a final draft; they write and revise.”

Paraphrase: When writing, skilled writers take time to revisit and improve a draft.

Summary: Revision, or improving a composition, is an important step to writing, and a step that no skilled writer skips.

  • number each of the paragraphs in a selection

  • identify the key idea or point of each paragraph

  • Copy an important quote

  • Paraphrase the quote into your own words

  • Restate the paraphrase as if you were explaining the idea to someone else


Note include all of the important ideas from the original

Note: Include ALL of the important ideas from the original

Use the author's key words when you can, but NOT the word-for-word phrasing of the author. When you must include the author’s original phrasing, always use quotation marks.

Note how the ideas in the original composition are organized, and then try putting your summary of those ideas in the same order.

Always include an author’s important findings, opinions, and conclusions to an idea.


Never put your feelings or opinions into a basic summary

Never put your feelings or opinions into a basic summary

The purpose of the summary is to restate the original author’s ideas and opinions, not your own.


Begin a comprehensive draft

Begin a Comprehensive Draft

  • Here is an easy way to begin a summary:

  • In "[name of article]" [author] states [State the main point of the article first.]

  • For example: In “Freewriting,” Peter Elbow argues that that practicing the timed exercise is the most important step to becoming a great writer.


The organization of your summary

The Organization of Your Summary

Include only the information your readers need.

State the main point first.

State the author’s ideas in your own words—not in the author’s vocabulary and tone; you want your readers to understand.

Do not write a “listing” or “table of contents” type of summary. Ex. Peter Elbow says write. Then he says don’t edit. After that he says . . .


The organization of the summary

The Organization of the Summary

Use no new ideas of your own; only the original author’s ideas

Try using a simple organizational structure:

Author’s main point

Author’s findings or opinion on that main point

Author’s conclusions or recommendations on that main point


Examples adapted from phil drukor s how to summarize

Examples: Adapted from Phil Drukor’s “How to Summarize”

WRONG example:

RIGHT example:

According to the author of “Seeing the Forest,” the extent of global deforestation was difficult to measure until satellite remote sensing techniques were applied. Measuring the extent of global deforestation is important because of concerns about global warming and species extinctions. The technique compares old infrared LANDSAT images with new images. The authors conclude the method is accurate and cost effective.

This article covers the topic of measuring the extent of global deforestation. The article discusses reasons for concern, the technique, the results, and the project’s current goal.


Review take this quiz

REVIEW: Take this quiz!

  • What is a summary?

  • What are the key features of a summary?

  • What is the most important skill involved in writing a good summary?

  • What kind of a “rough draft” is a good start to writing my summary?

  • What is the best way to organize my summary?

  • What should I NEVER include in a summary?


Review take this quiz1

REVIEW: Take this quiz!

  • What is a summary?

    See slide 2

  • What are the key features of a summary?

  • See slide 3

  • What is the most important skill involved in writing a good summary? See slide 4

  • What kind of a “rough draft” is a good start to writing my summary?

    See slide 5

  • What is the best way to organize my summary?

    See slide 9 and 10

  • What should I NEVER include in a summary?

    See slide 7


Thank you

Thank you

Acknowledgments

Some of the material in this slide was adapted from Phil Drukor’s online Advanced Technical Writing page at the University of Idaho, 2006.


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