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The Art of Summary Writing

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Elishah Franckiewicz

on 1 February 2015

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Transcript of The Art of Summary Writing

So that readers are clear from the start about who originally wrote the material, always begin your
summary with the author's name and the title of the piece
(i.e., book, article, Web page, etc.).
Did you notice that all of the examples are written in

? Always refer to written works as if the events in them were happening right now, even if the work is hundreds of years old
Now that the all-important introductions are satisfied you can begin compiling the supporting details that give readers a sense of the argument you identified
Summaries are also excellent study tools for students, particularly those facing essay tests. Summarizing assigned chapters in a textbook or articles can help students review the material and is a great memory aid.
Once you feel confident about the
author's thesis/purpose, go back to the text
and underline or highlight the main support
points. Pay close attention to topic sentences
that identify new points.
A summary is a concise restatement, in one’s own words, of another, longer document.

The goal of writing a summary is to offer as accurately as possible the full sense of the original, but in a more condensed form.

A good summary is brief and to the point, relaying only the author’s main points so that readers get a full sense of the document quickly.
The Art of Summary Writing
Once you've confirmed the main supporting details of the text, it's time to begin writing the summary!

According to author Mick Jagger in "Why My Lips Are So Big," . . . (go on to main point).

Mick Jagger, famous lead singer for the Rolling Stones, in "Why My Lips Are So Big" describes . . . (go on to main point).

In “Why My Lips Are So Big,” Mick Jagger reveals/explains/suggests/illustrates/details/argues . . . (go on to main point).

One more note about the all-important first sentence. Don't just repeat the title's wording!
want to begin a summary with a sentence like:
Beginning a college-level summary with this sort of a sentence doesn't make a strong first impression. Dig deeper, try harder, and come up with a more sophisticated introduction.
In "Why My Lips Are so Big" Mick Jagger writes about why his lips are so big.
"Why My Lips are so Big" explores/illustrates/details/reveals the adolescent prank that caused Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger's lips to double in size

The unnamed author of "Why My Lips are so Big" explores/illustrates/details/reveals the adolescent prank that caused Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger's lips to double in size
If you don't know the author's name, just use the title:
To avoid the risk of
unintentionally plagiarizing
consider setting the source aside before
jotting down the main points in your own words.
All too often students who begin summarizing with
the original source open end up paraphrasing instead and can find themselves too close to the structure and language of the original text for comfort.
You can always go back and revise details later.
Authors might state their main idea in a thesis that will jump out at readers, but not always.
Sometimes identifying the thesis/purpose is tricky.
You may need to reread the text to identify a theme that connects the main points and then compose your own thesis for the summary
Remember, your goal for the summary is to give readers just enough detail to provide a sense of the argument and key points used to support it.
Start by reading the entire document to get a sense of the whole piece.

Then consider what you think the main point or purpose is.

Sometimes this is easy if the piece has a specified thesis statement, but this is not always the case.

Quotations should be used sparingly, if at all.

Remember to place quotation marks around any word-for-word copying and include a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence.
Think about how the summary on the back of a movie jacket
gives the general plot and a few key characters, not a scene-by-scene breakdown and secondary character introductions
Just as a film summary rarely includes dialogue, your summary shouldn't rely on quotations.
Save quotations for specific details that you can’t say better yourself.
Normally, you will not want to highlight examples,
but some may be so striking or otherwise
important that you may want to include
them in your summary.
Although it's tempting to jump right
into writing, taking a few minutes to jot down and organize support points, even for short summaries, is always a good idea.
Seeing the highlighted points from the article laid out on paper can help you edit out redundant or superfluous details that you otherwise may not have noticed until
writing the summary.
Although not always possible,
it's a good idea to step away from the
summary after you've completed the first draft.
Even fifteen minutes away can clear your head enough to allow for new insights and a critical eye for sentence level errors that may have been overlooked while concentrating on the piece as a whole. This is true for all writing assignments, not just summaries!
Finally, keep a step ahead of Murphy's Law!
Don't wait until the last minute to print all your hard work!
Edit as if your grade depends on it!
I kinda sorta does
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