How To Write An Academic Summary


It is important to understand that a summary is itself a document. In writing a summary about another piece of prose, you are in fact creating a piece of prose yourself. So what steps do you take in order to write an excellent academic summary?

Take the article or essay about which you are to write a summary and using a marker pen, highlight certain items. These items are as follows.

  • unimportant points or words

  • redundant or unnecessary material

This material is disregarded. Your job is to write a summary about everything that is relevant and important, the rest you disregard.

What is the main idea of your summary?

Having read the article and having deleted the unnecessary and unimportant parts of it, you are now ready to create your summary. Decide on one sentence as to what will be the thrust of your summary. Now you must build your summary around this one sentence.

Next you need a list of the salient points made in the article. In describing these points you need to use your own words. In fact it is most important that you understand that your summary is a unique piece of prose. The words you choose need to be your thoughts and your words. If you are citing words in the original article, there is of course a correct way of doing that. But as for the actual summary itself, do not copy someone else’s work. Make it your own.

Your summary will be a factual description of what the writer of the original article has to say. Your summary is not an argument for or against the point or points made but a description of what has been stated.

Less is more

Your assignment may well stipulate that a certain number of words needs to be used in your summary. Bearing that in mind it is also important that what you are writing is a summary. Stick to your description of the points being made and remove anything redundant or necessary. Remember you have already gone through the article and highlighted those things which you believe are unimportant. Do not make the same mistake of creating unimportant or redundant comments in your summary.

Finally, return to your main idea or the major point of your summary. Reinforce that main idea in the conclusion of your summary. In fact you base your entire summary around your main idea.