How to Start a Summary Paragraph

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This article was written in collaboration with Richard Perkins. Richard Perkins is a writing coach, English academic coordinator, and founder of the PLC Learning Center. With more than 24 years of experience in education, he provides teachers with the tools to teach students to write and works with students from elementary school through college to become proficient and confident writers. Richard is a member of the National Writing Project. As a lead teacher and consultant with the Global Education Project at California State University Long Beach, Mr. Perkins creates and presents workshops for teachers that integrate the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals into the K-12 curriculum. . He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and television from the University of Southern California and a master’s degree from California State University Dominguez Hills. This article has been viewed 414,729 times.

The summary paragraph should provide the reader with essential information about the longer text. You can write a summary paragraph about a short story or novel for the class. Or you can write a summary paragraph for an academic text or research paper. To get started with your summary paragraph, start by organizing your source text into an outline. Then create a strong opening line and craft a good summary paragraph that is short but informative.

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    Take notes on the original text. Begin by reading and revising the original text. Annotate the original text, noting any key words and important phrases or points. Mark or underline all the sentences that seem important to you. Note the topic sentence in the original text, as well as the main idea or theme in the text. A topic sentence will contain the main theme or idea in the text.[1]

    • If you are working with a long original text, make a brief outline for each paragraph in the margin of the text. Include any keywords, phrases, or bullet points in your summary. You can then use these notes in your summary paragraph.
    • Focus especially on the first and last two sentences or paragraphs of the text, along with some of the keywords. This can help you understand the main idea.
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    Summarize the main idea of ​​the original text. Summarize the main idea or ideas of the original text in one or two sentences. Keep the outline short and to the point. Ask yourself: “What does the author mean by this text? What is the main idea or theme of the text?[2]

    • For example, if you used The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald as your source text, you might list various themes or ideas such as “friendship,” “social status,” “wealth,” and “unrequited love.”
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    Includes several supporting examples from the text. Once you understand the main idea, identify one to three examples from the source text that support the main idea. They can be quotes from the text or scenes from the text. You can also choose a key moment or passage in the text as a supporting example.[3]

    • Please number these examples attached and summarize them briefly, noting what happens in each example. You can then refer to those examples in your summary paragraph.
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    Include the author, title, and date of publication. The first line of the summary paragraph must indicate the author, the title and the date of publication of the original text. You should also note what type of text it is, such as a novel, short story, or article. This will immediately give the reader the most basic information about the source text.[4]

    • For example, you might start with: “In the novel The Great Gatsby (1925), F. Scott Fitzgerald…”
    • If you’re writing an article summary, you might start with: “According to your article, ‘What is intersex?’ Nancy Kerr (2001)…”
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    Use an informative verb. The first line of a summary paragraph should contain a strong informational verb, such as “discuss”, “argue”, “show”, “maintain”, or “insist”. You can also use verbs like “explain”, “discuss”, “illustrate”, “present” and “declare”. This will make the introduction of the summary paragraph clear and concise.[5]

    • For example, you might write “In the novel The Great Gatsby (1925), F. Scott Fitzgerald represents…”
    • For the article, you could write: “According to her article ‘What is intersex?’, Nancy Kerr (2001) states…”
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    Describe the main idea of ​​the original text. End the opening line by incorporating the main theme or idea into the text. You can then include supporting points in the rest of the summary that relate to this theme or main idea.[6]

    • For example, you might write: “In the novel The Great Gatsby (1925), F. Scott Fitzgerald presents the tragic figure of the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby through the eyes of his neighbor, Nick Carraway.”
    • For the article, you might write: “According to her article, ‘What is intersex?’, Nancy Kerr (2001) argues that discussions of sexuality in academic circles ignore the growing public interest in intersex.”
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    Answer who, what, where and why. Think about who is being talked about or who is being talked about in the original text. Think about what is being said or discussed. Indicate where the text is placed, if applicable. Finally, determine why the author is discussing or addressing the topic in the original text.[7]

    • For example, if you are writing about The Great Gatsby, you should address the two main characters in the novel (Jay Gatsby and his neighbor/narrator Nick Carraway). You should also focus on what, in short, happens in the novel, where the novel takes place, and why Fitzgerald explores the lives of these two characters.
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    Have one to three sentences of supporting evidence. Aim for one to three supporting points at most, since you don’t want your summary paragraph to be too long. Use text events as well as in-text quotes or points to support your opening line.

    • For example, if you are discussing an article, you can use the author’s key arguments in the article as supporting points. If you are discussing a novel or short story, you can use key events from the story as supporting points.
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    Use your own words to summarize the original text. Do not copy or paraphrase the original text. Use your own words in the summary. Avoid using the same language or word choice as the original text, unless you are directly quoting from it.[8]

    • Please note that the summary paragraph should simply state the essential information in the original text. You do not need to present an opinion or argument about the text in the summary paragraph. You can do this in a separate paragraph or section in your paper.
    • Try to use a variety of interesting verbs in your summary. If you use the same ones over and over again, your reader will get bored while reading.
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    Keep the summary short and to the point. The summary paragraph should be no more than six to eight sentences. Once you’ve finished writing your summary paragraph, read it over and proofread it so it’s concise and clear. Delete any sentences or phrases that seem redundant or repetitive.

    • You can also show the summary paragraph to a writing instructor or friend for feedback. Ask the person to make sure that the summary paragraph includes essential information about the text in a concise and clear way.
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