How to Write a Summary (Examples Included)

  • How do you put this in your own words without changing the meaning?
  • How close can you get to the original without plagiarizing it?
  • How long should it be?

What Is a Summary?

A summary is a shorter version of a larger work. Summaries are used at some level in almost every writing task, from formal documents to personal messages.

How Do You Write a Summary?

Academic, professional, and personal summaries each require you to consider different things, but there are some key rules they all have in common.

How Do You Write an Academic Summary?

An academic summary is one you will create for a class or in other academic writing. The exact elements you will need to include depend on the assignment itself.

  1. You write a summary paper in which the entire paper is a summary of a specific work.
  2. You summarize a class discussion, lesson, or reading in the form of personal notes or a discussion board post.
  3. You do something like an annotated bibliography where you write short summaries of multiple works in preparation of a longer assignment.
  4. You write quick summaries within the body of another assignment. For example, in an argumentative essay, you will likely need to have short summaries of the sources you use to explain their argument before getting into how the source helps you prove your point.
  1. Next, read it in depth. Do the same things stand out?
  2. Put the full text away and write in a few sentences what the main idea or point was.
  3. Go back and compare to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
  4. Expand on this to write and then edit your summary.

What Are the Four Types of Academic Summaries?

Each type of academic summary requires slightly different things. Let’s get down to details.

How Do I Write a Summary Paper?

Sometimes teachers assign something called a summary paper. In this, the entire thing is a summary of one article, book, story, or report.

  1. A time to think about what was important in the paper, etc.
  2. A time to think about the meaning and purpose behind the paper, etc.
  1. A comparison. A comparison paper has a lot of summary in it, but it is different than a summary paper. In this, you are just saying what happened, but you aren’t saying places it could have been done differently.
  2. A paraphrase (though you might have a little paraphrasing in there). In the section on using summary in longer papers, I talk more about the difference between summaries, paraphrases, and quotes.

How Do I Write Useful Academic Notes?

Sometimes, you need to write a summary for yourself in the form of notes or for your classmates in the form of a discussion post.

  1. What points do your textbooks include when summarizing information? Use these as a guide.
  2. Write the highlight of every X amount of time, with X being the time you can go without missing anything or getting tired. This could be one point per minute, or three per five minutes, etc.

How Do I Create an Annotated Biography?

An annotated bibliography requires a very specific style of writing. Often, you will write these before a longer research paper. They will ask you to find a certain amount of articles and write a short annotation for each of them.

Can I Write a Summary Within an Essay?

Perhaps the most common type of summary you will ever do is a short summary within a longer paper.

What’s the Difference Between Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Using Quotes?

One important thing to recognize when using summaries in academic settings is that summaries are different than paraphrases or quotes.

Avoiding Plagiarism

One of the hardest parts about summarizing someone else’s writing is avoiding plagiarism.

How Do I Write a Professional Summary?

Along with academic summaries, you might sometimes need to write professional summaries. Often, this means writing a summary about yourself that shows why you are qualified for a position or organization.

How Do I Write My LinkedIn Bio?

LinkedIn is all about professional networking. It offers you a chance to share a brief glimpse of your professional qualifications in a paragraph or two.

  1. Be professional. Unlike many social media platforms, LinkedIn has a reputation for being more formal. Your summary should reflect that to some extent.
  2. Use keywords. Your summary is searchable, so using keywords that a recruiter might be searching for can help them find you.
  3. Focus on the start. LinkedIn shows the first 300 characters automatically, and then offers the viewer a chance to read more. Make that start so good that everyone wants to keep reading.
  4. Focus on accomplishments. Think of your life like a series of albums, and this is your speciality “Greatest Hits” album. What “songs” are you putting on it?

How Do I Summarize My Experience on a Resume?

Writing a professional summary for a resume is different than any other type of summary that you may have to do.

Writing or Telling a Summary in Personal Situations

Outside of academic and personal summaries, you use summary a lot in your day-to-day life.

  1. Play into the emotions. When telling a story, you want more information than the bare minimum. You want your reader to get the emotion of the story. That requires a little bit more work to accomplish.
  2. Focus. A summary of one story can lead to another can lead to another. Think about storytellers that you know that go off on a tangent. They never seem to finish one story without telling 100 others!

Summarizing Summaries

To wrap up (and to demonstrate everything I just talked about), let’s summarize this post into its most essential parts:

  1. How you write a summary is different depending on what type of summary you are doing:
  • A professional summary highlights you and your professional, academic, and volunteer history. It shows people in your professional network who you are and why they should hire you, work with you, use your talents, etc.

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