Writing a summary requires you to read closely and paraphrase accurately for readers without access to the same article. The process below will help you write a concise, clearly organized summary.
Scan the article for the “big picture”
Rewrite the material
When you are confident that you understand the authors’ main point, rewrite it as your own sentence without looking at the original. Start your new sentence by identifying your authors as the source of the information, for example: According to Hardie and Peterson (2009), visiting the Writing and Learning Commons is like providing your paper with a dress rehearsal before the big performance, when your instructor starts reading your paper.
Read the article in full
As you read each major section or paragraph, sum up its message in a sentence or two. If a section has been subdivided, first compose a sentence that sums up the introduction to the section, and then compose a sentence or two that sums up each subsection. Your accurate rewording and summation of the authors’ sections and subsections will form the body of your summary.
Write the first draft
Use your notes to write a first draft of your article summary. Although your notes may repeat some information because it repeats in the original article, an effective summary will mention information once, in the order in which it makes sense for a summary. Pay close attention to your instructor’s word/page limit and assignment guidelines. Strict summaries do not contain specific examples or details from the article or comments by the summary writer because, by definition, summaries communicate condensed information about the original article in a short space. Save your ideas for assignments that invite you to analyze or critique.
Check your draft against the original article for accuracy
Revise, checking for conciseness, accuracy, control, and sound sentence and paragraph structure (topic sentences and supporting facts).