S U M M A R Y - W R I T I N G
Note: Study the rules well! At the end of this page you'll have the opportunity to take a gap-fill exercise in order to check whether you've become well acquainted with the rules!
- Aim: A good summary must contain in an abbreviated form all the important thoughts to be found in the original passage without changing their meaning. The thoughts must be arranged in such a way that the result is a self-contained passage in spite of the abbreviation.
- Length: The summary should be about 25 - 30 % of the original text.
- Tenses: The summary should follow the original text (e.g. narrative/descriptive prose: past; expository/argumentative prose: present)
- The sentences should be well connected so that the summary reads as a continuous paragraph.
- If you have to write a summary be careful that you do not include any ideas or comments of your own.
- Direct speech is to be transformed into reported speech.
- Try not to copy sentence constructions of the original!
- Methods of abbreviation:
a) word compression ( find generic terms )
b) compression of ideas ( main ideas; separate them from subsidiary points and unimportant points )
c) rejection of unimportant matter ( illustrative examples, figurative language, etc. )
d) different ( shorter ) constructions
- Read the text slowly and carefully ( at least twice! )
- Find out the meaning of new words and constructions. Make sure that you understand the gist ( main idea ) of the passage as well as details.
- Divide the text into parts according to the changes of thought which occur in the passage.
- Make a list of key words standing for the main ideas and some subsidiary points, leaving out the unimportant aspects.
- Consider possibilities of abbreviation.
- Using the list of main points, write a rough draft, referring to the original only when you want to make sure of some points.
- Consider further possibilities of abbreviation and connecting sentences. Bear in mind that your summary must read as a continuous paragraph.
- Revise your first draft in three ways:
a) compare it with the original for omissions or distortions;
b) check its length ( definitely not more than one third (1/3) of the original! )
c) check your style ( is it clear, appropriate? )
- Write your fair copy.
- Think of a suitable title ( if necessary ).