Introduction to Summary Writing

In many different situations in life you may be asked to summarise something, whether it be the details of an event, an essay for class (which is most relevant in this case), or even something as trivial as the soap opera that you watched last night. Whatever the situation may be, it is essential to understand that a summary is a  brief account of the material you are given. It in no way, involves your ideas, interpretations or evaluations. Using an essay as an example, a summary would simply take the main points of the essay, and present them in a concise form.

For CXC purposes, you will be focusing on essays, short stories, poems or even movies (this is teacher dependent of course) for summary presentations. However, before you can even begin to put pen to paper, a proper summary requires that you understand the material presented.

There are two main factors to take into consideration when writing a summary, importance and relevance. In order to ascertain what is important and relevant, you need to understand what the writer’s intention is: what the writing is about or the content, how the content is organised and the writer’s attitude to the material. This takes us right back to the statement in the previous paragraph about the importance of understanding the information you may be asked to summarise.

In the next post we will go through content organisation, the writer’s attitude and how to avoid making inferences so that a precise understanding of any material presented to you in the future may be achieved.


King, P.H., Writing Summaries and Statistical reports (1988).

Clouse, B.F., The Student Writer: Editor and Critic (2006).


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