Summarizing is extracting the key ideas and main points from an original source. You may summarize an entire ariticle or book, a section of an article or book, or a paragraph. A summary is shorter than the original source material because you leave out the "fluff" - the extra verbage, elaboration, and examples. How do you identify the key ideas and main points? When looking at an entire article or book, a section of an article or book, or a paragraph, you will typically find the main points at the beginning and end of the passage.
When summarizing, keep in mind:
1. Focus on the main points of the passage.
2. Look for the main points at the beginning and end of the passage.
3. Lose the "fluff."
4. The summary will always be shorter than the original passage.
5. You still must quote or paraphrase in your summary.
If you are looking at an entire article or book, you must identify the thesis - the thesis and the main points that support the thesis will provide your summary. In an article, you will usually find the thesis near the end of the first paragraph, or at least before the end of the first page. Most academic articles contain an abstract, or a summary of the article. If an article has an abstract, the thesis will be in the abstract - in fact, the last sentence of the abstract will almost always be the thesis. In a book, the thesis will usually be at the end of the introduction. The author(s) should also restate the thesis and the main points in the conclusion.
A section of an article is several paragraphs or pages that will typically be under a heading or subheading. A section of a book could be a chapter, or a section of a chapter under a heading or subheading (if the chapter is divided into sections). The main points of a section of an article or book can be found at the beginning of the section, and restated at the end of the section.
When summarizing a paragraph, you will again want to look at the beginning and end of the parapgraph - the first and last couple of sentences.
**You still must quote or paraphrase in your summary!**
For additional assistance, consult your campus librarian at: