Summarz Writing-A few tips

Reader H4: Summary Writing
Summary Writing
H4: Business Abroad
Avans University of Applied Sciences
Table of contents:
Table of contents
1. How to write a summary, a few tips
2. Elements/Contents of a summary
3. How to recognize a good summary
1. Markers and Linkers
2. Checklist Summary Writing
3. Punctuation
Reader H4: Summary Writing
1. How to write a summary, a few tips
Writing a good summary of a long document, a report, the minutes of a meeting,
or of an article means, first of all, the selection and ordering of information. You
will need several different skills to do this well. The most important ones will be
discussed in this chapter of the handout: reading techniques, text structure and
summary writing.
A. Reading for gist: skimming
Reading quickly for the overall meaning or 'message', without attention to detail.
Compare this strategy with what you do when you quickly leaf through a magazine
in order to find out whether a particular article interests you enough to read it in
When skimming, be selective. Use all the extra-textual information available and
look for keywords or read only the first and last lines of the paragraphs, where you
will find the theme of the article, the topic sentences or concluding statements.
B. Locating specific information: scanning
Scanning means quickly searching for information in a text (e.g. a name, a price, a
date or specific word). You scan a dictionary, when you search for a certain
meaning of a particular word. You scan the table of contents of a book trying to
locate quickly which chapter will give you the information on the subject you are
interested in.
When scanning, it is essential to concentrate on the relevant parts only and to
ignore and skip the irrelevant parts. Make extensive use of all the clues in the text
such as illustrations, subheadings, letter type (bold or italics), capitalization,
C. Close reading
When you read a text from A-Z you read every single detail of the text. This is
called close reading. You read with the intention to digest all information and make
a clear distinction between major and minor details. Although this reading
technique is more time-consuming it enables the reader to really understand the
text in order to be able to write a complete and well-structured summary.
D. ldentifying the functions of different parts of a text
Every text has some sort of organization. Most articles are divided into
paragraphs. For instance, a short article may have a first paragraph in which the
subject is introduced, and which indicates what happened, who is involved, and
where and when something happened. Successive paragraphs normally explain or
expand on the subject or argument of the article and then a final paragraph
generally states a conclusion.
A paragraph is therefore a section in an article which is easy to recognize. It
describes one aspect of the main subject. The sentence in which this aspect is
introduced is called 'topic sentence'. This is the key sentence of the paragraph and
therefore it often appears at the beginning of a paragraph, but sometimes at the
Reader H4: Summary Writing
end in order to conclude and summarise the paragraph. The other sentences in
the paragraph further explain or describe the topic.
Paragraphs are related to one another. They can form a sort of hierarchy if certain
paragraphs follow from or are dependent on other main paragraphs. It is therefore
possible to rate paragraphs in terms of their importance. And that is an important
notion when it comes to summarizing a text. A flowchart can be used to visualize
the hierarchy or relationships of paragraphs.
The relationship between paragraphs is expressed by means of certain words. For
instance, when reading the word 'but' you know what follows will be in contrast
with what went before. Or when you read 'in addition to' you know that something
will be added to what you read before. These words are called 'connectives' or
'linkers' as they link sentences, paragraphs and ideas. They are signals for the
reader so that he/she sees the relationship between the various parts of the text
and they will help your readers move from one point to the next. See appendix I
for more details.
E. Making a summary
When making a summary of a text you only make a brief statement of the main
points. A summary does not include details or examples from the original text
which do not move the argument forward. A summary usually reflects the general
structure of the original text, but may also have its own organization of ideas as
long as there is a clear structure. A text should ideally be summarised to
approximately one third of its original length, depending on the nature of the text.
In some cases, however, just a few lines suffice to summarise a lengthy text
riddled with examples and with little content.
When writing a summary you are required to use your own words and sentence
constructions. Sometimes this will entail the skill of paraphrasing words or ideas of
the original text. If you make a paraphrase of a piece of text you reword it in such
a way that it contains exactly the same information as the original but in different
Below you will find an example of a summary of a small excerpt from a text on
Japan's prosperity and an example of a paraphrase.
Sony, Toyota, Nissan, Ricoh are just a few of the large Japanese
multinational companies with thousands of employees worldwide. It is to
their management techniques, to their marketing strategies end work
patterns that most of Japan's economic successes in recent years can be
attributed. Is this true? It may be, but there could be another explanation
of Japan's prosperity. ln Japan almost 60% of all manufacturing workers
are in companies with fewer than 100 employees. This compares with a
figure of below 20% for Britain and the United States and, for the "small
is beautiful" advocates, this is the real reason for Japan's high
productivity and success. (107 words)
Reader H4: Summary Writing
The summary of this text could read as follows:
Japan's recent economic boom could be accounted for by the performance of the
large multinationals. However, some people claim it is really due to the
performance of the small companies employing some 60% of all industrial
workers. (37 words)
The paraphrase of the underscored line in the text:
In Japan almost 60% of all manufacturing workers are in companies with
fewer than 100 emplovees. (16 words)
could run as follows:
Nearly 60% of all Japanese industrial labourers are in businesses employing up to
100 workers. (15 words)
2. Elements/Contents of a summary
The definition of a SUMMARY: A summary is a condensed form of the original text
but needs to stand on its own as a unified whole. This means that the reader
should be able to understand the summary without having to read the entire
article that has been summarised. In other words, guide your reader using the
proper language, a clear structure and major details only.
When writing your summary pay attention to the following aspects:
Layout: include a title and divide your summary into various paragraphs
Title; without a title the reader is lost at the very first minute
The introduction; should indicate the general theme of the summary
Include all of the main ideas, state facts in general terms and use different
paragraphs to describe main ideas separately
Don’t include too many details; leave out examples; No need to mention
people’s names
Use your own words, paraphrase sentences from the original text, however,
maintain the original meaning
Use transition and linking words and phrases
Use the proper personal pronouns to avoid repetition (it, they, he, she)
Use the right tenses:
The school was founded by ….. (*has been founded)
In 1951 they started the …. (*have started)
Use the KISS Strategy!!!!
Reader H4: Summary Writing
3. How to recognize a good summary
When you write a summary, first organize your information and then present it in your
own words. Although many people assume that summarizing is a simple skill, it is actually
more complex than it appears. A well-written summary has at least three characteristics:
1. The content must be accurate: check your references and check for typos;
2. It should be comprehensive and balanced: include all information necessary but
give the minimum amount of information to grasp the issue being presented;
3. Clear sentence structure and good transitions are essential: organise the ideas
logically so that they are easy to understand, using the right linkers and transition
words that help your readers move from one point to the next.
Summaries of longer texts can be divided into the elements of a text, i.e. Introduction,
Body, Conclusion (or concluding statement). If your summary meets these ‘demands’,
you’ve done a great job. Connect the paragraphs and sentences with connecting words.
For an overview of these ‘markers and linkers’, please have a look at Appendix 1.
Some of the texts to be summarised will be handed out in class, however, a number of
texts from your marketing classes will serve as texts for summary practice as well.
Below you will find a checklist you can use when checking and proofreading your
summaries. Rewrite and improve on your summaries until all elements of the second
column smile at you , (See appendix, Checklist summary writing).
Reader H4: Summary Writing
Appendix 1 : Markers and Linkers
The table below shows a number of markers and linkers (i.e. connecting words) that will
help you to structure your summaries more efficiently. They will also improve the
coherency of your summaries.
Additional detail
also, besides, in addition, moreover, furthermore, similarly, likewise
neither .... nor, just as, similar to
Cause or effect
however, whereas, but, yet, only, although, some....others, now, not
only, indeed, even, unless, still, nevertheless, in spite of, despite
because of, due to, since, of course, consequently, thus
if, provided, unless (=if not), whether, in case, although
the reason for this is ...., so that ....., in order to, so as
first, then, next, when, and, also, eventually, moreover, furthermore,
subsequently, finally
because, since, as, for
this, that etc., it, when, where, both, each, whatever
therefore, consequently, thus, hence, so, that is why
and, first, second etc. (see sequence)
As soon as, while, as
like, e.g., for example, for instance, such as, shown by, in
particular, in this case
Some transitional phrases are:
as a result, at any rate, for example, in fact, in other words, in the second place,on the
other hand, to the contrary.
Example: the following sentence doesn’t communicate as well as it might because it lacks
a transitional word or phrase:
Production delays are inevitable. Our current lag time in filling orders is one month.
Use a semicolon (;) and a transtitional word or phrase to indicate the relation between the
two sentences:
Production delays are inevitable; nevertheless/ therefore/ in fact/ at any rate our
current lag time in filling orders is one month.
(each substitution changes the meaning of the sentence)
Reader H4: Summary Writing
Appendix 2
Checklist Summary Writing
Checklist summary writing.
The topic/general theme is clearly stated at the
The examples are left out from the original
All main ideas are stated
The summary contains no more than 150 words
The title is literally copied from the original text
The main ideas are ordered logically
The paragraphs are complete, including several
Spaces are used to separate paragraphs
Each paragraph contains one and only one idea
The ideas and paragraphs are linked together
somehow (e.g. by using secondly, finally)
Linking words or phrases are used (e.g.
therefore, however, nevertheless)
The layout is clear
Grammar and Language
Everything is paraphrased (rephrased,
synonyms, no literal quotations from the text)
Style (no contractions * he’s)
Punctuation (sentence starting with capitals,
correct use of commas etc)
Spelling (* to much -> too much,
* bigger then -> bigger than)
Adverbs (*peculiarly currency -> peculiar
Tenses (* Yesterday I have read the paper ->
Yesterday I read the paper
Concord (* He like -> he likes)
Word order (*He went two years ago to Italy ->
Two years ago he went to Italy)
Yes:  No: 
Reader H4: Summary Writing
Appendix 3: Punctuation
Double quotes
marks/inverted commas
- Slight pause in
sentence, esp. long
- list things
End of sentence
expressing joy,
surprise, anger etc.
Direct speech
Question mark
Single quotes
Full stop(BE)
period (AE)
Separate alternative
Separate extra info
from rest of sentence
At the end of direct
- With s to indicate
- Abbreviations
Draw attention to word
that is unusual for the
Separate 2 main
clauses, esp those not
joined by conjunctions
(and, as, but)
- Introduce a list of
items/ to give more
- Introduce quotation
- At the end of
- Form compound from
two or more words
Separate comment/
afterthought from rest
of the sentence
- We had been looking forward to our
holiday all year, but it rained all day.
- Tea, coffee, milk or hot chocolate.
That’s marvelous!
“Why on earth did you do that?” she
asked.(Am Engl)
Have a pudding and/or cheese
Mount Robson (12,972 feet) is the
highest mountain in the Canadian
Where’s the car? But: He asked if I
knew where the car was.
My friend’s brother.
I’m, They’d
He told me in no uncertain terms to ‘get
The sun was already low in the sky; it
would soon be dark.
These are our options: we go by train
and leave before the end of the show.
As Morgan writes: The truth was,
perhaps, that…..
This is the end of the sentence.
Hard-hearted, mother-to-be.
He knew nothing at all about her – or so
he said.
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