How to Write Effective One Sentence Summaries

Summarizing a lengthy piece of writing into one solid sentence…

Summarizing a lengthy piece of writing into one solid sentence can sound very tricky. How can you capture and distill all its main points into a few words? Well, we’re here to help you out. In this article, we’ll discuss some key tips and formulas for writing a one sentence summary.

A one-sentence summary should be concise and cover only the most important messages without wasting valuable space on obscure or unnecessary details. These are incredibly useful for readers who want to get a sense of the meaning of your piece quickly.

A person writing on a notebook using an orange pen.
Photo by lilartsy on Unsplash

What is a One Sentence Summary?

A one-sentence summary describes your work in 25 words or fewer. Others generally use 15 – 20 words as the ideal length.

One-sentence summaries are also known as pitch or one-liners. Screenwriters often use the term “longline” to refer to a one-sentence summary.

Why You Need a One-Sentence Summary

When someone asks what your story is about, you may be tempted to drag on and on about it without getting to the point. However, by having a one-sentence summary, you can give people a taste of the essence of your work concisely and interestingly.

While offering concise summaries on your topic is the best way to avoid boredom, the benefits of having one-sentence summaries are numerous.

You can get people interested in your topic in a snap with a complete one-sentence summary. You can give people a quick sample of your work and encourage them to read more. This is an excellent way of demonstrating the value of your work to your readers.

A summary also simplifies a long, complex novel with many characters and subplots. It presents a clear, concise narrative that grabs the reader’s attention and piques their interest in reading the rest of the book.

Formulas for Writing a One Sentence Summary

Claim + Reason(s) = Synopsis

This formula is very useful if you’re hoping to persuade readers to read your piece. A good example would be:

“Meditation can greatly improve mental health, based on a recent study and my personal experience.”

Specific Subject + Reader Benefit = Summary

If you’re working on a how-to article, you can summarize it effectively using this formula. For example:

“This blog post contains all the best marketing strategies to boost sales.”

Any [AUDIENCE] can [SOLVE THEIR PROBLEM] by using [PRODUCT] because [HOW IT SOLVES THE PROBLEM].

A sales page or content can greatly benefit from using this summary formula. It not only gives readers a gist of the topic but also sells them the value they will get. For example:

“Any writer can improve their summaries using the INK Text Summarizer because it helps them make a summary with the click of a button.”

This is about A, as illustrated by B, to be detailed in a C.

This one sentence summary formula is excellent for memoirs, personal essays, or stories. 

A represents the theme of your work that your readers can relate to. B is the storyline you like to convey, while C represents the structure of the work, be it a blog or an article. Here’s an example:

This is about a mother’s love, as illustrated by the life story of my dear mom, to be detailed in this blog post.

WHO (your main character) + WHERE (story setting) + WHAT (plot or situation) + WHY (significance) + HOW the character solves the problem?

This formula is more suitable for novels. There are plenty of characters in a novel, so it’s best to choose the main character or protagonist.

Conclusion

You have something valuable you want to share with your readers: whether you are writing a blog post, a sales page, or a story. And to share that value, you need to keep your audience engaged, so they feel compelled to finish reading your work. And a one-sentence summary can do just that.

Writing a one sentence summary doesn’t need to be all that complicated. Try following either of these five formulas, and you’ll surely create an engaging and compelling summary.

How to Write Effective One Sentence Summaries

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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