Chapter 4: Summary

4.1 Accurate Summary

You learned about argument in Chapter 3.4: Persuasive Paragraphs. Think of summary as laying the groundwork for your own persuasive writing.

There is no one way to summarize. Some people use diagrams or outlines, which is perfectly fine. If you’re stuck, however, you can go over each paragraph and jot down a few notes representing the ideas in it. You can then write those notes up, going over them to select the ones most relevant to your eventual aim. For example, if you want to claim that the Prime Minister’s residential schools apology was too little, too late, you may wish to focus your summary details on the timeline leading up to the apology. You can then use those details as evidence for your eventual argument.

Your summary must be completely accurate, however. Representing the work of another inaccurately (“according to X, the Prime Minister didn’t really think the apology was important”) is a serious matter in academic writing. It’s considered as bad as not citing the work of others. Thus, in summary:

Make sure you are just as careful to represent the source accurately as you are to express your own point of view accurately.

Review Questions

  1. Read and summarize the source you found for question 1 in Chapter 1.1: Finding Sources. What is your source’s main idea? What are some details that will help the reader understand the main idea?
  2. Exchange summaries with a classmate. See if the two of you can guess each other’s views on the Prime Minister’s residential schools apology. How do you know?


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Building Blocks of Academic Writing by Carellin Brooks is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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