A summary is a much shorter version of a text, with only the most essential information. Using the main ideas from each section of a text to write your summary helps you include only the most important information!
This is helpful when you want to use that information in a paper or presentation without sharing the entire book, article, video, or whatever source type you are using. A summary condenses that information into a short but understandable snippet.
Example: Bobbi Gibb Article
Below, you can read the main points from the Women’s Running article “50 Years Ago Bobbi Gibb Became the First Female Boston Finisher” by Jessica Sebor (published Apr. 12, 2016):
- Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb was the first woman to run in and finish the Boston Marathon.
- Back then, women were not allowed to run in marathons or have other rights that they do today (e.g. own a house, get a credit card).
- At first, Gibb had to disguise herself to participate in the race. However, she quickly gained support once it was revealed that she was a woman.
- “. . .it was a pivotal event in changing the perception of women.”
- Gibb helped introduce and open the sport of running to women everywhere.
To turn this information into a summary, you will need to add a few things!
Step #1: Introducing the Main Idea
When you write your summary, it’s important to first start your summary by identifying the title, author and type of text. You should include the information above and a brief explanation of the author’s major point in the first sentence of your summary.
The Women’s Running article, “50 Years Ago Bobbi GIbb Became the First Female Boston Finisher,” explains how Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb forever changed the Boston Marathon (and running) for women.
Step #2: Transitions
Have you ever read a text that was robotic and choppy? When that happens, the information is hard to follow and not very interesting! To avoid this, use transitions between the main points of your summary.
Look at the list of Transitional Words and Phrases from the University of Wisconsin. These can help your writing flow! Every few sentences,muse summarizing language that reminds the reader that they are reading a summary. Summarizing transitions include “The author claims…” or “The article explains…”
Step #3: Bringing it Together for the Final Summary
After adding in an introductory sentence and transitions to the main points of the text, the next step is to complete the summary. Notice that the example summary below includes all of our main points from above, but condenses all of the article into 5 sentences that are easy to read:
The Women’s Running article, “50 Years Ago Bobbi GIbb Became the First Female Boston Finisher,” explains how Roberta “Bobbi” Gibb forever changed the Boston Marathon (and running) for women. Before her, nobody thought a woman could run a marathon and barred them from even participating. Because of this, Bobbi had to disguise herself to run in the Boston Marathon, fearing they would kick her out. However, once she revealed herself as a woman, she quickly gained support. By running that day in 1966, she helped open the Boston Marathon and the sport of running to women everywhere.
Now that you know the basics, have fun summarizing on your next paper!