“Quick-Fix Workshop”
Communications Centre

What is a Summary?
A summary is a shortened version of an
original text. It includes the thesis and major
supporting points, and should reveal the
relationship between the major points and the

How Long is a Summary?
It may be any length, from 25% of
the original to one sentence.

What you Need
1. A big, ugly, overwhelming text: to dissect
and shrink.
2. A Hi-lighter: to locate the text’s important
3. Paper: to write down the main point,
purpose of the text, major points and
documentation information.
4. A ruthless, but respectful attitude: to
conquer the mess.


Step 1: Topic
• Locate the topic.
• The topic is a word or phrase that says what
the text is about.
• Try to be as specific as possible about the

Step 2: Purpose
• What is the purpose of the text.
• Does it tell a story (narrate)? Inform?
Persuade or raise readers' awareness of an

Step 3: What is the Thesis?
• Look for the thesis (what the author is saying
about the topic).
• Look first in the introduction, then in the
conclusion; writers often write explicit thesis
• Write the thesis in your own words (and make
sure it matches your sense of the author's

Step 4: Divisions in the Text
• Look for the major divisions of the text. In
your own words, summarize each division in
one sentence.
• (That may mean summarizing each
paragraph, but often several paragraphs go
• Make a list of all major points.

Step 5: Organizing Sentences
• Work with the sentences you have created to
produce a summary.
• Be ruthless: a good summary is SUCCINCT
(you may leave some information out -- as
long as it is ‘extraneous’)
• Make sure you reveal the relationships
between the ideas. Are there
contrasts or comparisons
between some of the ideas?

• Summaries are short restatements of a work's
main points.
• When writing a...

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