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Writing a Summary

Guide for writing a summary.

Common Attributes of a Summary

The DOs of Summaries:

Whether you are writing an essay that is completely a summary, or the summary is one small component of a different style of writing, every summary that you write should include:

  • The name of the author
  • The title of the work
  • The main ideas of the work
  • Definitions of key terms

Summary essays specifically should also include:

  • An introduction paragraph
  • A strong thesis statement that focuses on the main idea or purpose of the work
  • Body paragraphs that support that thesis
  • A conclusion paragraph that ties it all together

The DON'Ts of Summaries:

Summaries should not:

  • Go into excessive details beyond the main ideas in the work
  • Use examples, illustrations, or personal stories
  • Include opinions about what you are summarizing
  • Include lengthy quotes from the text
  • Include phrases like "This work is about" or other awkward phrasing