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4 Step Process to Writing a Summary Paper

Students often find it challenging to compose various types of papers, especially when they do not have a proper guide to direct them on how to approach the matter. The following article will show you how you can easily and quickly write a summary paper even if it is your first time.

But first, you need to know why you lecturer might require you to write a summary paper, and what it should contain.

Definition of a Summary Paper

Basically, there are two kinds of summary papers namely a reader summary and an essay summary. The former is a kind of essay that you compose so that you can acquire a better understanding of something that you have read. The latter kind of essay, on the other hand, requires that you write an overview of an original material so that others can read it.

In both types of summary papers, the objective is to express an understanding of the substance or essence of a material to other readers, less them having or being compelled to go through the entire material on their own. Therefore, whenever you write an essay summary, always be sure to ensure that gist or what you are writing about has been covered clearly and adequately.

Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Summary Paper

The following steps should guide on how to produce a good summary paper:

  1. Skim the material

The first thing you need to do when writing a summary paper is  make sure that you are completely familiar with the text or any other material you are going to write. Assuming you are summarizing a book or an article, read through the work quickly or in the shortest time possible. This is called skimming and the process is important in ensuring that you answer the basic questions concerning the material.

The question you should be answering in your mind at this level include the 5Ws of who, what, why, where, when and how? Do not make any notes at this point but ensure that you grasp the basic plot of the material.

  1. Thorough review of the material

Thoroughly go through the material that you are supposed to summarize. At this point, it is essential that you develop an exhaustive understanding of the material. In the case of a book, try reading the text with a viewpoint of the author. You can ask yourself questions such as:

  • What did the author intend to mean here?
  • Why are characters given certain names?
  • What are the themes of the text?
  • Why did the author use such a setting/plot?

When thoroughly reading through a material, you should ensure that absorb, feel and comprehend the author’s mood, style and tone, as well as identify all the main ideas. You can do this easily by taking notes.

Make sure that you have highlighted all the key ideas in the text, and that you use your words. This will make your work more original when writing the main body of your paper.

  1. Develop an outline of your summary paper 

Once you have developed a thorough understanding of the material that you are summarizing, prepare an outline of your paper. As usual, your paper should take the format of an introduction, a body part, and the summary.

The summary paper outline you prepare should provide you with a skeletal frame of your final paper. Keep the following points in mind when preparing the summary paper outline:

  • Your introduction outline should consist of short points telling the readers what you will be summarizing. Clearly, introduce and identify the relevant background information.
  • The points in the body outline should note the key ideas of the text you are summarizing.
  • Keep in that the outline is just a skeletal frame of your text. Do not make it detailed. Your essay outline should eventually serve as your roadmap when writing the final summary paper.
  1. Write the final draft of your summary paper

Write the final outline of your summary paper based on the outline you have prepared. Build on the points you on the outline using your own ideas and without omitting the key points of the original material.

Remember that you should not omit anything important from the original material. Also, strive to have coherence throughout the summary paper. Using summarizing language should remind the readers that what they are reading is a summary per se. Summarizing language includes phrases such as the author suggests, the author claims, and the book claims among others.

Follow the following dos and don’ts to ensure that your work remains a summary:

  • Ensure your summary remains neutral; do not present your own interpretations, ideas or opinions
  • Be succinct; your paper is a summary and should remain that. A summary should not be as long as the original work. If you are summarizing and article, for instance, your summary should a quarter of the length of the original work or even less.

Sum up your paper with what you think the author wanted to communicate. Follow the steps presented above in writing your summary paper and you can be sure it will turn out quite well.

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