Caleb S.
Caleb S.

Complete Guide on How to Write a Summary with Examples

7 min read

Published on: Sep 11, 2022

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

how to write a summary

A summary presents a brief or more condensed version of the main ideas of a text or speech. Being able to summarize something effectively can help you save time, gain insight, and communicate ideas more clearly.

But writing a summary is not always easy. It requires careful reading, critical thinking, and effective writing skills. 

In this guide, we'll take you step-by-step through the process of writing a summary. You’ll also get some amazing tips and helpful examples to help you get started. 

So let's dive in!

On This Page

What is a Summary?

A summary is a condensed version of a work that gives the reader an overview of its central ideas. In other words, it is a brief and concise paragraph that highlights the most important ideas and key points of a text, speech, or other form of communication.

Writing a summary means that you present all the essential information in a paragraph. It does not include your own thoughts or anything from outside the work you are summarizing. It only mentions all the main points expressed in the text, keeping it concise yet comprehensive.

Summaries are written in various contexts. For instance, in academic papers, newspaper articles, college courses, and book reviews. 

  • In academic writing, students are required to summarize research articles or case studies to demonstrate their understanding of the important points. 
  • Similarly, college students often have to summarize the course material to understand and remember it easily.
  • In journalism, journalists often write news summaries to provide a brief overview of a story's key points. 
  • Another example is book reviews, where a summary is provided to introduce the main idea of the book to the readers.

What is the Purpose of the Summary?

A summary can serve several purposes. Summaries are often written for these reasons:

  • To demonstrate that you’ve understood the material.
  • To prepare of exams. It's a perfect way to take notes that can help you remember what you've studied.
  • To communicate effectively with others. Summaries can be used to ensure that everyone has a shared understanding of the key information. This is especially useful in academic teaching and business management contexts. 

Characteristics of a Summary 

Any summary you write should have certain characteristics. Here is what a summary includes:

  • Concise and Clear: A summary is brief and to the point, conveying the most important information in a clear way. 
  • Objective: A summary is written in an objective tone. It should reflect the author's intent and meaning without any personal interpretation of the text.
  • Comprehensive and Accurate: A summary accurately reflects all the main points and ideas of the original work. However, it does not include any additional information or opinions that are not present in the original material.
  • Writing tone and style: You should write a summary in your own words and style. Do not include direct quotes from the work when writing a summary. Rather, present the main points in your own words.

How to Start a Summary? 

Now that you know what a summary is and what it entails, you may be ready to start writing. However, you need to take a three important steps before you can start: 

Read the Text Carefully & Take Notes

The first step in writing a summary is to read the original text or speech carefully. Pay attention to the main points, ideas, and supporting details, and take notes if necessary.

Identify the Main Idea

Once you have read the text, identify the main points and ideas that the author is trying to convey. The ways to find the main idea is different depending on the type of work. 

For instance, the main idea in an academic paper is usually presented in the introduction and conclusion. Whereas, the main point of a short story or a poem can be a bit elusive, and you need to read the whole thing to find it.

Determine the Purpose and Audience

Before you start writing, consider the purpose of the summary and the intended audience. For instance, are you writing for your literature teacher or a book club?  This will help you to decide what information to include and how to present it. 

How to Write a Summary? 

Once you have read the text and have noted down its main points, you are ready to start writing. Follow the format below while writing your summary:

Summary Format

The summary should be written according to the following format:

  • Single paragraph:

A summary should be written in the form of a paragraph. 

  • Introductory Sentence:

Start with an introductory sentence that introduces the work. Mention whether it is a short story, a novel, a movie, a speech, or an article, etc. Also introduce the creator or creators of the work (author, speaker, researchers, director, etc).

  • Main Points:

Present the main points of the work clearly and coherently. Start from the most important thing the readers need to know. Then, move on to other major points. Maintain a sense of flow and transition between ideas.

  • Concluding Sentence:

Write a final sentence that 'wraps up' your summary. The concluding sentence of the paragraph usually reemphasizes the main point.

Tips for Writing a Better Summary

Apart from following this format, here are some other tips that can help you write a great summary: 

  • Use your own words: 

When writing a summary, use your own words to convey the main points and ideas of the original text or speech. Avoid copying phrases or sentences directly from the original text. 

  • Focus on the most important information: 

A summary should be to the point, so focus on the most important information. You should leave out any unnecessary details, sub-points, or related arguments. 

  • Use clear and simple language:

Try using simple language that is easy for the reader to understand. Avoid using difficult words, jargon, or technical terms that may be unfamiliar to your audience. A summary should be understandable to a less knowledgeable audience.

  • Avoid judgment and personal thoughts:

You should present the main points and ideas of the work in an objective and in neutral way. Avoid including any personal judgments or thoughts, as a summary is not a critical analysis.

  • Use transitions and signposts:

Make sure that your summary flows smoothly and coherently. You can do this by using transition words and signposts to indicate the significance or relation of different points. 

  • Proofread and Revise:

After you have finished writing your summary, you should proofread and revise your work. Check for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Also, make sure that your sentences are clear and easy to understand. Finally, you should double-check that you have accurately conveyed the main points and ideas of the original text.

You can also watch the video below for a few additional tips for writing a book summary:

Summary Dos and Don'ts

The table below shows what you should and should not do when writing a summary.



Start by stating the main topic

Do not include your opinion

Write in the present tense

Avoid plagiarism 

Include supporting details as needed 

Do not include quotations

List a few important conclusions t

Do not exceed the length

Use reporting verbs

Avoid focusing on minor details

Read Summary Examples Here

Learn more by reading some real-life summary examples. Here are some examples of summaries of articles, research papers, stories, poems, and more.

To Sum Up,

Writing a summary is an important skill that can help you understand complex material, prepare for exams, and communicate effectively. 

By applying the steps and tips discussed in this blog, you can write effective summaries of different types of texts. With practice, you will be able to communicate the main ideas concisely and accurately. 

However, do you need expert help with writing your summary? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

At, our professional and experienced writers are here to help you write all types of summaries. So whether you need a summary of a literary work or a research paper, we are available 24/7 to get it done for you!

You can count on us to provide original and custom-written summaries following the highest academic standards. So hire our online essay services now and get your summary before the deadline!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I summarize a source without plagiarizing?

Here’s what you can do to summarize without plagiarism:

  • Write the summary completely in your own words
  • Paraphrase the author's thoughts. Don’t use direct quotations.
  • In-text citation within the document and include a full reference of the source material. 

How long is a summary?

The length of a summary depends on the length and complexity of the original work. 

A summary is atleast one paragraph, which can be upto 100-250 words. However, a summary can be made up of several paragraphs (such as in the case academic paper summaries).

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

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