The goal of writing a summary of an article, a chapter, or a book is to offer as accurately as possible the full sense of the original, but in a more condensed form. A summary restates the authors main point, purpose, intent, and supporting details in your own words.
The process of summarizing enables you to better grasp the original, and the result shows the reader that you understand it as well. In addition, the knowledge gained allows you to better analyze and critique the original.
First, try to find the main idea in the reading; its usually in the first paragraph. Next, skim through the article, glancing at any headings and graphics. Then, read the conclusion. The intent here is both to give yourself a review of the work and to effectively engage yourself with it.
Now go back and read the original text carefully, jotting down notes on or highlighting the important points. Write the central idea and the authors reasons (purpose and intent) for holding this viewpoint. Note the supporting elements the author uses to explain or back up her/his main information or claim.
Make an outline that includes the main idea and the supporting details. Arrange your information in a logical order, for example, most to least important or chronological. Your order need not be the same as that in the original, but keep related supporting points together. The way you organize the outline may serve as a model for how you divide and write the summary essay.
Write the summary, making sure to state the authors name in the first sentence. Present the main idea, followed by the supporting points. The remainder of your summary should focus on how the author supports, defines, and/or illustrates that main idea.
As you revise and edit your summary, compare it to the original and ask yourself questions such as: Have I rephrased the authors words without changing their meaning? Have I restated the main idea and the supporting points accurately and in my own words?
In writing a critical summary or to include a critique, you may want to ask yourself questions such as: What are the strengths, and weaknesses of the article? Why? What did the author do well? Not well? Why? Does the author succeed in making his/her point and/or providing important information and analysis? How and why or why not? Why is the author credible or not credible? Does the authors own perspective or biases get in the way of his/her analysis? What supporting evidence does the author use? Did some other author or research you know about contradict this authors perspectives and/or findings? Discuss other required readings.