How to write a good summary?

Studying and learning - How to write a good summary?

By definition, a summary is an objective brief statement or account of the main points. In order to write a good summary, you need to understand the text and you should have the skill to transfer the message of the author to your readers. A summary should not be an analysis of the text, but rather a brief version of the original. Writing a summary can be tricky, because you want to keep it short. We provide you with tips, so you can start writing high quality summaries and make money selling them on Stuvia.

Read the text carefully

The first step is to read the original version of the text thoroughly without taking any notes or underlining pieces of text.

Think about the main point

Once you have read the whole text, take some time to think about what you have just read. Write down the main points of the text and how the text is structured. For instance, is it an article about history? Then the chronological order is important. Or, is it a summary about psychology? Consider structuring your summary around the concepts rather than chronologically.

Use your own words

If you have thought about what the main point is, it makes it easier to put it into your own words. Try to write it down as if you were explaining it to a friend. This way you are also likely to remember the material. This may be one of your goals when you are making a summary for an exam and furthermore, you avoid plagiarism. If you really want to use the exact words of the author make sure to put them in quotation marks, this way the reader will know that it are not your own words.

Revise and review

You should (as always) check your piece of work for its style, punctuation and grammar. Have you reviewed it yourself a couple of times? Find someone else who is willing to have a look at it! They may see things that you missed. Don’t forget to ask if they understand the summary and can make an estimation about what the original text was about. This is a good indicator to find out if you have written a good summary. If not, you know more revision is necessary. Are you satisfied by now with your summary? Make sure to get rewarded for your hard work and start earning money by selling your summaries on Stuvia.

Remaining tips

You should avoid first-person language and direct textual references. But you should definitely refer to the author and the title of the original work, use present tense language and make sure the summary is an objective condensed version.