How to summarise

What is summarising?

Summarising involves taking the main ideas from a piece of text and rewriting them in your own words to make them much shorter. A summary gives an overview of a topic.

Tips for summarising

  1. Look at the text quickly to get the gist – this is known as an active reading strategy. Look through the text to get some clues eg titles, introductions, first sentences and final paragraphs are good place.
  2. Now read it through carefully and note the high levels in the text. The high level is information about the general situation or general idea ie not the detailed information..
  3. Write notes somewhere (not on the text) and draw mind maps.
  4. You could also highlight the main ideas in the text you want to summarise – don’t include minor details. Alternatively split the text into paragraphs and then get two columns on a page – put the original text on one side and in the right hand column make your own very shot notes of the main ideas/themes in each paragraph.
  5. Combine these ideas together in your own words
  6. Don’t use your own opinion or add extra information.
  7. It takes practise – the more you do the easier it will get.  
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