Effective Steps to Clearly Write Passage Summaries

Learning how to summarize a long passage of text is not only challenging but also time-consuming. But with the proper steps to write a summary of the passage, you can make the process less complicated.

This article will guide you through practical steps in summarizing a text. A summary gives a concise overview of a text’s main points using your own words. This helps make an article more digestible while presenting all the essential focal points clearly.

A person writing something on a blank notebook using a pen.
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

When to Write a Summary

There are many instances when you might need to make a summary of a piece of writing. It could be for writing assignments or simplifying an article you’re studying. You might also need to summarize the text to:

As you write an academic text such as an essay, research paper, or dissertation, you’ll integrate sources in several ways. You may use a brief quote or paraphrase a few sentences or paragraphs to support your main ideas.

It is appropriate to summarize a whole article or chapter if it is relevant to your research. A summary must give your reader a clear understanding of the source. To write a good summary, follow the four steps outlined below.

Effective Steps to Write a Summary of the Passage.

1. Read the Text Thoroughly.

Read the article thoroughly so you can understand it fully. It can help to read it more than once to absorb in-depth information. The best way to read something is by following these steps.

  • Take a quick look at the article to get an idea of what it’s about and how it’ll look together.
  • Read it carefully, underlining the essential parts and taking notes.
  • Read through the article again and make sure you understand the main points. You can re-read any passages that are hard to understand.

2. Break Down the Text Into Sections.

Breaking the text into smaller sections makes it easier to read and understand.

If the text follows a standard empirical structure, it will likely already be divided into clear sections. This makes the task of summarizing easier. The sections usually include an introduction, methods, and results.

There are, however, other types of writing that don’t have clear divisions between sections. They will most likely be composed of several minor points or themes.

If this is the case, you can write a descriptive word or phrase in the margin next to each section. This will help you quickly tell the different sections apart.

3. Figure Out What Each Section’s Main Points Are.

Examine each section and identify its most important points. What will the reader need to comprehend the general argument of the article?

Remember that you don’t need to paraphrase each paragraph of the text to write your summary. Your goal should be to extract the main points without providing too much background info.

4. Start Writing the Summary

At this point, you should already have a clear understanding of the article’s main themes.

Try to restate them using your own words. Not only will this display your knowledge of the content, but it will also help avoid plagiarism issues. No part of the article should be directly copied and pasted.

Tips for Making a Good Summary

A good summary should be concise, coherent, and independent. Let’s try to look at these qualities in greater detail.


Take notes of all the essential points in the original passage and take note of them in a list. Take the time to review all the ideas in your list and include all those essential to the author’s development of their main idea.


Avoid repetition, as this can add unnecessary length to your summary. You should make your summary much shorter than the source.


Your summary needs to make sense. It should not be drawn straight from your list of notes or sound like a disjointed group of points.


You’re not imitating the author of the text you are summarizing. In contrast, you are expected to maintain your voice throughout the summary. Use your own words instead of simply quoting the author. Your summary is supposed to be based on your interpretation of the writer’s point and ideas.

Final Words

When you write a summary of the passage, you need to remember that you’re not just copying the author’s words.

Instead, you’re taking the essential key points and using your own words to interpret them. To do this effectively, follow the tips provided above. Make sure your summary has a coherent and concise message so it is clear to the reader. 

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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