Summary Writing Techniques

Essay by naeemHigh School, 10th grade July 2004

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A. Definitions

1. Outlining

An outline is a structural skeleton of the main points of the material as they appear in chronological, rather than logical, order.

2. Paraphrase

Paraphrasing, the restatement of another writer's ideas in your own words

3. Summary

Summarizing, the brief restatement of a longer text in fewer words than the original text. The most important feature of a summary is that it is short, almost always fewer than 250 words. It is a piece of writing about another piece of writing. Its purpose is to condense a long piece of writing into a concise summation of its meaning. Note: Summaries are short accounts of things (including texts).

4. Precis

Short accounts of texts only.

B. Why teach Summary?

To help students:

1. In English

2. In other subjects

3. In the real world.

C. Sub-Skills which students need to develop


Students need to read as much as they can to broaden their knowledge of the language as much as possible.


By extension, students must be able to follow and understand narrative, appreciate argument, follow sequencing and anticipate consequences when they are reading. Above all they must be able to analyse what they read.

Selection of Information

identify the main topic

become aware of the gist of the passage

identify topic sentences and key words and phrases in each paragraph

extract supporting ideas

(the ability to do this will rest on skimming and scanning)

Elimination of Superfluous Information

examples, figures of speech, illustrations, repetitions and unnecessary descriptive language must be omitted.


wherever possible, phrases must be replaced by single words such as collective nouns or pronouns. Generalizations can be used to represent detailed information.

Note taking

Avoid copying sentences or large sections of text verbatim into the summary. Students should be...