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Why should I write a summary?

A: Hi, How are you? Yesterday you told me you had finished reading a page-turner. What is it about? I’m going to the bookstore and I might buy it if you recommend it.

B: Sure, I’ll tell you about it. “Gillian was sitting under a cherry blossom tree, when suddenly a hissing sound drew her attention to the …….blah, blah, blah.”

A: Hey,listen!  Could you summarize it for me, please? I just want to know what it is about not the whole story….I don’t have time. What’s more I already got lost. What happened after …?(…)





Summarizing is a skill that we can develop through practice.  The aim of summarizing is to capture the essence of a piece of work in order to make the main ideas available and understandable for someone who doesn’t have ready access to the original book, article, movie, etc. Writing a summary also demonstrates your understanding and capacity of synthesis.


Some points to consider when summarizing a reading:

1. Skimgive a quick and superficial reading. Ask yourself what have I understood? Answer the following questions with the information from the original piece of work:

Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

2. Read again carefully. Look at words or phrases in bold letters, headings, subheadings, diagrams other any other visually attractive clue.Ask yourself, do I understand it better? Which information is clearer? Underline or circle the key information.

3.Read again to make sure you interpret the author’s conclusion. Why did he/she write the text?

4. Write  your summary. Start with a clear introduction stating the type of work(e.g: article), title, and main point in the present tense – The article (written by Hans Rome, a Maths professor at PUCP) is about …..

5.Read your summary as many times as necessary and compare it with the original. Remember to avoid COPY & PASTE, specific details, personal opinions or personal interpretations.

6. Ask someone else to read it. Anyone who hasn’t read the original text must be able to understand it.


More information on writing a summary:

Practice and examples:


Ways to Say “Say”