- Identify the main idea and relevant details in summarizing another’s writing.
- Indicate your own point of view while fairly representing your source’s ideas.
- Accurately summarize while selecting details relevant to your argument.
- Write an interesting first sentence of your summary.
- Make a strong counterargument and refute it.
Summary often seems like a low-level skill, hardly worth practising. After all, we’ve been doing it our whole lives. “That book looks interesting. What’s it about?” Simply answering such a question, however casually, requires us to accurately summarize the plot, characters, and narrative in a sentence or two so our questioner gets a sense of the book’s flavour.
Summary, however, is also the underpinning of academic writing. That’s because, before you can engage with the work of others—the knowledge that came before—you have to represent it to your reader, who likely hasn’t done the research you have and is thus relying on you to bring them up to speed.