How do you write a perfect summary? Make it simple please.

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say don't try to be too perfect. Nobody's perfect. No summary was ever perfect. No essay or review or story or novel or anything else ever written was perfect. But there's always a next one. Write the best one you can and make the next one better. And try to live for fifty or sixty years so you'll finally feel you can come close to perfection.

Close your eyes. Try to remember the work you are summarizing. Write down what stands out in your mind. It should not be the summary but your summary. After you write a first draft you can see what's wrong with it and what's missing. Most good writing is rewriting. Be prepared to write several drafts, polishing, rearranging, adding, and subtracting. Read the last chapter of The Elements of Style,  by Strunk and White. E. B. White says in that chapter that sometimes you have to cut up your manuscript and get down on the floor with it and rearrange the pieces. Writing is a messy business. You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

Just write a summary. Don't try to make it a perfect summary. 

drjrjherbert's profile pic

drjrjherbert | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

This is fairly difficult in the abstract - it really helps to know what you are writing a summary of. However, in general terms, the following really help in writing a summary:

- Make notes - as you read through the text that you are summarising, you are looking to identify the key points of the text and a brief list of them, composed as you are reading, helps you to reduce the text to its major points. 

Be brief - don't use big words where small ones will do. Keep sentences short, clear and to the point. 

- Read for sub-text as well as for content - It's not just about what the text overtly says but what it implies.

- Analyse the 'why' of the text A fundamental few fundamental questions to ask yourself in terms of summarising: what is the purpose of the text? who is intended for? Who is writing it? What do you know about them? These will all help significantly in your summary. 

Return to a second reading of the text after you've written the first draft of your summary - Once you have completed a first draft of your summary, take a step back and read the text that you're summarising again. When you re-read it, do you spot anything you've missed? If so, re-visit your summary and put it in. 

Sources:
saru1's profile pic

saru1 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

you want to summarize your answer. in that answer you want to skip your experiences. you can add them in your appreciation. at the summary you must touch the question and write about the main points that you mention earlier in appreciation. 

razia92's profile pic

razia92 | Student, Graduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted on

just grasp the main events or issues from your reading and jot them down. skimming and scanning during reading will be helpfull in summarizing.

laurentbeattie's profile pic

laurentbeattie | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

A perfect summary is taking all the main ideas of the topic and shortening them. An effective short summary briefly gives an overview of what to expect in a story or other narrative without giving away all of the details. 

chrisyhsun's profile pic

chrisyhsun | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

Because there are so many ways to approach it, I would say a "perfect" summary is just a summary that truly does everything it is supposed to - describe the main points of the original passage.

To do this, my approach would be to think about how you would describe or teach the passage to a friend. When I do that, I often start with the overarching idea of the passage, and that becomes the topic sentence of the summary. After that, I'll often come up with this type of main idea sentence for each of the sections in the passage. These sections might already be delineated based on the structure of the passage, but they might also be what readers naturally get from it, such as "here the author is making the first point for his argument", "here is the second point", "here he addresses a potential weakness to his argument", "here is his conclusion". One thing to be careful of is that you don't split the passage into too many sections. A summary should be relatively brief, so if you find yourself writing too much, it's probably time to consolidate some of these sections.

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