A Guide to Writing a Summary Paragraph

Writing a summary paragraph comes with its own set of tips and tricks. Essentially, it’s one of the most challenging tasks teachers ask students to complete.

What Is a Summary Paragraph?

A summary paragraph is a shortened version of a longer piece of content that helps the readers grasp the central idea of the text. Summaries are usually written to cover the essential ideas, statements, arguments, or themes in your own words.

Students in literary or research classes produce summaries of articles, short tales, academic texts, scholarly pieces, or novels for their assignments. The length of a summary depends on the work’s requirements and how much material you’re expected to cover.

6 Tips on How to Start a Summary Paragraph

When it comes to writing a summary, the number one thing is that you need to keep the reader’s attention. This is why you need to write a summary that is intriguing and has a way of engaging the audience.

Start by giving a general definition of what you are going to speak about. Following are six effective tips on how to start a summary paragraphthat stands out.

Two white and beige pens on a lined notebook.
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

1. Take Notes While Reviewing the Original Text

Allow yourself plenty of time to read and review the original text. Make a note of any keywords, important phrases, or points in the actual document.

You must highlight or underline any sentence that stands out to you. Also, take note of the central idea or theme of the text, which is usually contained in the topic sentence.

2. Make an Outline of Your Main Idea

With a summary paragraph, it is vital to keep a clear head about the direction that you are taking. This is why you need to begin by setting a solid outline.

This will help you prioritize your thoughts and narrow down the topic of your summary paragraph. One or two sentences should be used to convey the main ideas or arguments of the text.

If identifying the central concept seems complicated, try thinking from an author’s perspective and their motivation for writing a piece of content.

3. Support Your Main Idea with Examples From the Text

Once you’ve identified the key point, find a few instances from the original text that support your idea or argument.

These could be quotes, scenes, pivotal moments, or significant events from the passage. Briefly list the examples to support and strengthen your main point in the summary paragraph.

Unless you need to quote someone’s words directly, refrain from copying content from the original material.

4. Come up with a good opening line

Once you have the main idea of the paper, you should brainstorm several unique opening lines. This is the only way your audience will be able to hear what you have to say.

You should start by giving the reader some background on the text you describe. Include the original material’s title, author, and publication date on the first line of your summary paragraph.

This part should also briefly describe the type of literature you’re citing, such as a narrative, novel, or textbook.

5. Elaborate on the Key Information

Some paragraphs build up over time, while others keep it brief. A good summary paragraph is typically short but includes an elaboration.

Make sure to elaborate on the author’s thesis, argument, or general statement about the purpose of the paragraph. Consider who you’re speaking with and what you’re discussing, and expand on that throughout your summary.

6. Review and Proofread the Summary

After writing the summary, review and proofread it to ensure it is short and related to your overall topic.

Remove any sentences that seem redundant or repetitious to your general topic and check for any spelling or grammatical errors. It can be beneficial to print out the paper or read it aloud to identify any mistakes you may have overlooked previously.

You may also have a friend look over your summary and offer suggestions for improvements.

To Wrap Up

The ultimate goal of a summary paragraph is to provide an overview of the text. It allows the reader to gain knowledge of the ideas the author presented.

The goal is achieved when important themes and underlying concepts are captured without directly stating the original text. For this reason, summarize the significance of each point and make sure the text is concise using rhetorical devices.

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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