How To Write a Summary: Step-By-Step

If you want to know how to write a summary, then you need to summarize the main points in your own words. Learn more about summarizing and paraphrasing below!

Are you looking for a way to condense a scientific paper, a research paper, or even a novel? If so, might be wondering how to write a summary.

It is important to highlight all the major points and keywords while avoiding your own ideas and own opinions. If you can paraphrase and condense the work successfully, then you should be able to convey the key points of the source material.

You need to think carefully about transition words and your thesis statement if you want to write an effective summary of an article. Your first sentence is important, and you need to follow this up with strong supporting points.

Learn more about the difference between an abstract and a summary. Then, learn how to write a strong summary below!

What Is the Difference Between an Abstract and a Summary?

How to write a summary?

The terms abstract and summary are often used interchangeably; however, they are not the same thing. An abstract is usually found at the top of an article before the reader dives into the entire thing. In contrast, the definition of a summary is a bit looser. 

There are a few key differences between abstract and summaries. These include: 

  • An abstract is a brief summary that is typically located at the top of scientific work. In contrast, a summary is a brief statement of the main points of a longer work and is not necessarily tied to a scientific article.
  • An abstract is a type of summary, while not all summaries are abstracts. A synopsis is another common type of summary.
  • An abstract needs to include the goal of the research paper, the purpose of the paper, the methods used, the results, and the conclusion. In contrast, a summary should highlight the main points of the longer work.

If you want to use a summary to cover all the important points of the original work, there are several steps to follow.

How To Write a Strong Summary: Step by Step

If you want to write a strong summary, there are several steps you should follow. These include: 

1. Identify the Main Idea

How to write a summary: Identify The Main Idea
When you read the article, you need to identify the main idea

The first step in writing a summary used to read the entire source material. When you read the article, you need to identify the main idea. What is the main point the author is trying to convey? 

You may want to read the introduction and conclusion first. That way, you have a roadmap for how the piece is going to unfold. As you read the article, you must pay close attention to all headings and subheadings. This is going to help you identify the main points of each section. 

2. Organize The Summary

Next, you need to organize your summary. It might be helpful to use a template. If the paper has already been broken down into logical sections, then you want to organize your summary into sections as well. If you are reading a novel that has been broken up into chapters, then you may want to use the chapters to help you organize your summary. 

3. Highlight the Main Point of Each Section

Next, you need to highlight the main point of each section. For example, there may be a topic sentence at the beginning of every section. This will let you know what the paper is about. Then, you may want to pick out a few supporting points that are relevant to each topic sentence. This will help you pull out the main ideas in each part of the work.

4. Use the Topic Sentences To Guide Your Summary

Once you have the thesis statement and topic sentences of the paper, you should be able to write an effective summary. Using the introduction and conclusion as a roadmap, you should use the thesis statement and topic sentence to fill in the blanks. This will help you write a strong summary of the paper or book.

Examples of Strong Summaries

There are several examples of strong summaries you might want to use to help you guide your work. These include: 

  • A strong summary should avoid including the opinions or ideas of the person writing the summary.
  • Someone who is reading that summary should be able to identify the main points of the paper or book without having to read the entire work.
  • A strong summary should include clear points of evidence that back up the thesis statement of the work.

If you would like to read a few strong summaries, take a look at these examples.

Final Word on How To Write a Summary

Ultimately, there are plenty of ways to write a summary; however, you must make sure you highlight the main points of the written work. Whether you are reading a novel, a research paper, or a short story, you must make sure the main point of the work is conveyed through your summary.

When you are learning how to write a summary, it may be helpful to read the introduction and conclusion first. That way, you know exactly where the paper is going when you read it from start to finish. This will help you pull out the most important points. 

FAQs About How To Write a Summary

How do you get started when writing a summary? 

The first step in writing a summary is to read the entire work. Then, you need to identify the thesis statement. This is going to help you guide the rest of your summary. 

How long should a summary be? 

There is no set length of a summary; however, you should avoid including extraneous material in your summary. For example, you may want to dedicate one sentence in your summary to each important part of the written work.