How do you Summarize a Passage? —a Creative Guide

How do you summarize a passage? It will save you time to summarize a paragraph as you read it, especially if you are not particularly interested in the topic.

How do you Summarize a Passage?

Examine the provided passage to find out:

  • What the passage is about
  • How it sounds
  •  The genre that it belongs to.

Key ways to summarize a passage effectively

  • The title should say in a few words what the main idea is. It should be clear and not hazy.
  • Reread the passage and try to understand every sentence as much as possible. Since you already know what the passage is about, it should be easy to figure out what is essential and what isn’t.

Anything that has nothing to do with the main idea is unimportant and shouldn’t be included in the summary.

3. The author may have used different words to say the same thing in the passage to make it stand out. In summary, you can’t repeat the same ideas over and over.

4. Most of the time, it’s easy to do without examples and illustrations. If you think an example is significant, it might be added to the summary.

5. Don’t use quotes, metaphors, similes, and other figurative languages.

Write down essential ideas in the passage before writing the summary. Don’t take phrases and words from the passage. You should write the summary in your own words as much as possible.

Steps for writing summaries

  • Choose a short passage (one to four sentences) that backs up a point you made in your paper. 
  • Carefully read the passage to get a complete picture of what it means. 
  • Write down what you think the main idea and supporting points should be in your summary. Include the author’s keywords and terms. Think about how the ideas from the source relate to the argument(s) you are making in your paper. 
  • Just use your notes to tell someone else what the main ideas of the original author were. Then you should explain how those ideas support or contradict your own. 
  • Read what the source said again. Do you remember something important wrong, or have you forgotten it? Does your summary sound a lot like the original? 
  • Add in-text citations and make sure you’re using the right style.

In any case, summarizing is to give your reader a clear understanding of the source. 

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Four Steps To Write a Good Summary:

First, read the text.

You should read the article more than once to understand it fully. It’s often best to read something in three steps:

Look over the article quickly to get an idea of what it’s about and how it’s put together.

Carefully read the article, underlining essential parts and making notes as you go.

Skim the article again to make sure you understand the main points and reread any essential passages or hard to understand.

Step 2: Split the text into parts.

Break the text into smaller parts to make it easier to read and understand.

If the text is a scientific paper that follows a standard empirical structure, it is probably already divided into clear sections. These sections usually include an introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

There may not be clear divisions between sections in other kinds of articles. But most articles and essays are made up of many more minor points or themes.

Try writing a word or phrase in the margin next to each paragraph that describes what it is about. Then you can quickly see what each section of the article is about. If several paragraphs are about the same or similar things, you can group them into sections.

Step 3: Figure out what each section’s main points are.

Now is the time to look through each section and identify its most salient features. What information is necessary for the reader to comprehend the general argument or conclusion of the article?

Remember that a summary does not require paraphrasing each paragraph of the text. Your objective is to extract the main points, leaving any background material or other information.

In a scientific publication, there are a few straightforward questions you can ask to determine the essential points in each section:


  • What research problem or question was addressed?
  • Have any theories been proposed?
  • What kind of research was conducted?
  • What methods were used to collect and analyze data?


  • What were the most significant discoveries?
  • Were the hypotheses proven correct?


  • What is the research question’s general answer?
  • Can you explain the author’s findings?
  • What are the consequences of the findings?
  • Are there any significant restrictions?
  • Are there any specific suggestions?

Step four: Create the Summary

Now that you understand the article’s essential themes, you must restate them in your own words.

To avoid plagiarism and demonstrate comprehension of the content, it is vital to paraphrase the author’s views accurately.

Do not copy and paste any portion of the article, not even one or two sentences.

The most straightforward approach is to set aside the article and record your interpretation of the author’s major points.

To Wrap Up

 Do you find yourself reading and rereading the same text without fully comprehending its central idea? If you truly understand a topic, you should be able to summarize it months or years down the road. 

It’s a good idea to get your thoughts together in notes. Summarizing can be made easy if you understand the basics of writing a good summary. 

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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