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!

A) Principles

  1. 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.
  2. Length: The summary should be about 25 - 30 % of the original text.
  3. Tenses: The summary should follow the original text (e.g. narrative/descriptive prose: past; expository/argumentative prose: present)
  4. The sentences should be well connected so that the summary reads as a continuous paragraph.
  5. If you have to write a summary be careful that you do not include any ideas or comments of your own.
  6. Direct speech is to be transformed into reported speech.
  7. Try not to copy sentence constructions of the original!
  8. 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

B) Steps

  1. Read the text slowly and carefully ( at least twice! )
  2. 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.
  3. Divide the text into parts according to the changes of thought which occur in the passage.
  4. Make a list of key words standing for the main ideas and some subsidiary points, leaving out the unimportant aspects.
  5. Consider possibilities of abbreviation.
  6. Using the list of main points, write a rough draft, referring to the original only when you want to make sure of some points.
  7. Consider further possibilities of abbreviation and connecting sentences. Bear in mind that your summary must read as a continuous paragraph.
  8. 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? )
  9. Write your fair copy.
  10. Think of a suitable title ( if necessary ).

Take the test now!