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Students often find it challenging to compose various papers, especially when they do not have an excellent guide to direct them 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 your lecturer might require you to write a summary paper, and what it should contain.
Definition of a Summary Paper
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 to acquire a better understanding of something you have read. The latter type of paper, on the other hand, requires that you write an overview of 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 material to other readers, less them having or being compelled to go through the entire material independently. Therefore, whenever you write an essay summary, always ensure that the gist or writing about it 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 to make sure that you are entirely familiar with the text or any other material you will write. Assuming you summarize a book or an article, read through the work quickly or in the shortest time possible. This is called skimming, and the process is essential in ensuring that you answer the basic questions concerning the material.
The question you should be answering in your mind includes the 5Ws of who, what, why, where, when, and how? Do not make any notes at this point but ensure that you grasp the material’s basic plot.
2. A thorough review of the material
Thoroughly go through the material that you are supposed to summarize. At this point, you must develop an exhaustive understanding of the material. In the case of a book, try reading the text with the viewpoint of the author. You can ask yourself questions such as:
What did the author intend to mean here?
Why are characters given specific 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 you absorb, feel, and comprehend the author’s mood, style, and tone and identify all the main ideas. You can do this easily by taking notes.
Ensure that you have highlighted all the key ideas in the text and use your words. This will make your work more original when writing the main body of your paper.
3. Develop an outline of your summary paper
Once you have developed a thorough understanding of the material that you are summarizing, prepare an overview of your paper. As usual, your essay 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 designing the summary paper outline:
Your introduction outline should consist of short points telling the readers what you will be summarizing. Introduce and identify 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. Please do not make it detailed. Your essay outline should eventually serve as your roadmap when writing the final summary paper.
4. Write the final draft of your summary paper
Write the definitive outline of your summary paper based on the outline you have prepared. Build on the points you outline using your ideas without omitting the original material’s critical points.
Remember that you should not omit anything meaningful 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.
Mistakes to avoid when writing a summary paper
Mistakes when writing summary papers is as common as the frequency of summary papers. If you let these mistakes linger too long, they will eventually cost your overall grade in the long run. Learning about the most common mistakes will go a long way in helping you know how to avoid them.
1. Not focusing on the main points
Remember that a summary paper is essentially shorter than the other papers. For your write up to make sense and be useful to the reader, ensure that only the essential points are highlighted. If you focus on the minor details, then you are not going to get it right. If your summary paper is on a book, for instance, you should focus on the main themes of the story, the main characters, and the setting.
2. Giving personal opinions
Note that a summary is a rewrite of another author’s words or ideas. Therefore, you are not expected to provide personal opinions. Why are personal opinions forbidden? This is because they deviate your writing from the point: to put someone’s thoughts and work in your own words. Opinions will change the story, and they should, therefore, be avoided.
Follow the following dos and don’ts to ensure that your work remains a summary:
1. Ensure your summary remains neutral
Do not present your interpretations, ideas, or opinions
2. Be succinct
Your paper is a summary and should stay that. A summary should not be as long as the original work. If you summarize an article, for instance, your summary should be a quarter of the original work length or even less.
3. 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.