Why Is Summarizing Important?
There are few fields of study where you won’t eventually have to learn a little bit about how to summarize. Many classes will require summaries. Whether it’s STEM, where you may need to sum up research, to humanities, where you’ll most likely have to discuss books and primary sources, it’s in most academic areas. It teaches you crucial skills such as critical thinking.
Since many employers are concerned with hiring graduates who have excellent critical thinking skills, it summarizing can make you more employable. But how do you do it? Here are some summarizing lessons to help you.
These are the top “do” tips for summarizing. If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to summarize faster than you ever thought possible!
- Make it short: Your summary should be shorter than the text – that’s what a summary is for, after all! You’ll have to reduce a lot, of course, but one of the skills of summary writing is conciseness. Look at this as a good exercise.
- Keep all the main points in: Although you’ll be leaving out a lot to shorten your summary, keep the main information in. To do this, you’ll have to identify the author’s main argument. Decide what parts are the most important and keep only those.
- Write in your own words: Obviously, you don’t want to plagiarize. Rewrite thoroughly. However, it’s also okay to use your own voice. You’ll have to stay academic, but you can still write the summary how it comes naturally to you.
- Show you understand: A summary in word should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the text. Part of the reason you’ve been asked to summarize is that your instructor wants to know you paid attention. Show them you did by writing about the text with familiarity.
- Exclude yourself: Keep it objective and written in third person. You want to write as if there’s no writer. Use an academic, professional-sou
These are the top “don’t” suggestions for summaries. Your summarizing will be much stronger and more professional if you avoid these things.
- Add your opinion: Remember how we suggested to remove yourself? This is the same type of advice. You’re here to talk about what the text says, not what you thought about it. Again, write in a neutral and academic tone.
- Analyze: Writing analysis is a great skill which you’ll often have to employ. This, however, is not the place for it. Leave your critiques and inferences at the door for now. Just talk about what’s there in the surface of the text.
- Explain why you’re summarizing: We don’t need to know why you’re summing up this text. Get straight into the details – this is the one place where you won’t need a contextualizing intro unless you’ve been told to provide one.
- Give general background info: Don’t talk about the author unless you’ve been asked to. Don’t discuss the context unless you’ve been asked to. In short, unless your teacher has said that you should, don’t include anything that’s not immediately and directly part of the text.
- Give supporting details: When summarizing, cut out everything that’s not absolutely vital. Your job is to boil the text down to its most crucial details. For that reason, you’re not going to include little side arguments and supporting suggestions. Pretend, for the moment, that they don’t exist.
More Tips for Summarizing
There are many skills at play during the summarizing process. Al of them take time to develop. You may be struggling with getting good at one or more of them. That is perfectly fine. Nobody is good at everything. Plus, with all the other work that you have to do, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. We understand that, and that’s why we offer help. If you’re struggling with anything about summarizing, contact us. We can help you summarize like a professional. No matter where you are in the process, we’re confident that our staff can make your life easier.