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8.5: Working with Language- Writing a Summary

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    104453
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    What Is a Summary?

    In Unit 7, you learned how to paraphrase, that is, say something in your own words. Writing a summary is similar, but when you summarize, the piece you write is shorter than the original. A summary contains only the main ideas of the text. It does not contain supporting details, examples, or extra information.

    Often you will summarize a long section of text, or even an entire text. Here is an example of a summary. In this case, we are summarizing Reading 1: Finding Home in Fernie. The original reading is 1,015 words long. Here, we will summarize it in 200 words.

     

    Summary

    For Jordan Vlasschaert, bass guitarist of the Fernie-based band Shred Kelly, the town he calls home is more than a place to live—it is the basis of his music. A history graduate and budding musician from Ontario, Jordan came to Fernie to ski, planning to stay for a year or two. He connected with four other music lovers in the community, and Shred Kelly was born. The band got their big break when they played for a large crowd at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, and they decided to see how far they could go with their music. Much of the band’s management in the early days was done by themselves; now, however, they have an agent and have toured across Canada, Europe, and Australia. They acknowledge the financial support they have received from the Canadian government in helping them to achieve their goals. Fernie has always been key to Shred Kelly’s music. This former coal-mining town surrounded by mountains has inspired Jordan and the band to create their music; they have even referred to the town as the sixth band member. As long as Fernie inspires him to make music, Jordan does not plan to be anywhere else.

     

    Why Summarize?

    Summarizing is useful when you are writing a paragraph or a longer piece, such as an essay. You may want to use some information from a book or website, but you only want to give the main points.

     

    How to Summarize

    As with paraphrasing, you can follow a step-by-step approach to summarizing. A good approach is to follow these steps:

    1. Read your material carefully, and make sure you understand it. Check any important vocabulary. It is often a good idea to repeat the main ideas of the original text out loud to yourself, in your own words. This will help you to check your own understanding.
    2. As you read your text, take notes on the main ideas. Use your own words. Don’t write down small details.
    3. Hide the text. Close your book, or put it somewhere where you cannot see it. Write down the author’s ideas in your own words. Make sure your summary is shorter than the original text.
    4. Look at the original text again. Check that you have included in your summary all the ideas that you decided were important. Check that your summary does not include any unnecessary details or repetition.
    5. Edit it and make changes and corrections to your information where necessary. Remember that a good summary will give your reader a general sense of what the original material is about without the reader having to read it.
    6. When you are happy with the information you have given, check your writing for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

    Be Careful!

    As you saw with paraphrasing, you do not need to comment on what you have read. You do not need to add, for example, “I admire Jordan.” or “I like his music.” The purpose of a summary is simply to give a shortened version of the text.

     

    You Try It!

    Look again at Reading 2: A New Life in Canada. The section called Adapting to life in Canada (paragraphs 6–11) outlines some of the difficulties newcomers face.

    This section is 610 words. Summarize it in no more than 150 words.

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    8.5: Working with Language- Writing a Summary is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.