Guidelines for the Summary Assignment

A summary is shortened version of a longer text; it can be a summary from a novel a report, a short story, or a newspaper or magazine article. When you write a summary, you are not rewriting the original piece, but you are selecting the main idea and key details to give your reader an overview of the important points in the original piece. Your summary will be approximately one third to one fourth as long as the original text. The summary must be written in your own words. You are not to use blocks of the original text, and you should avoid using quotations from the original unless there is one piece of information that you think simply must be quoted to convey the original author’s idea.

Your purpose in writing a summary is to give the basic ideas of the original reading and some key details. What was the original text about and what did the author hope to communicate? While reading the original work, follow the guidelines posted in the class about tips for summary writing. Then ask yourself these basic questions: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Using these questions as you read can help you to write the summary.

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Look for the author’s thesis or the central idea. Sometimes you will find it in the introduction or first paragraph. Finding the thesis statement is like finding a key to a locked door. Sometimes though the thesis, or central idea, is implied or suggested. That means you will have to figure out what the author wants readers to understand. Pay attention to the title and to the opening and closing lines of paragraphs for clues to important points.

In writing the summary, you must inform your reader of the piece you are summarizing. The opening line in your paper must identify the title, source, and author of the piece. Follow this format: In “Title of the Piece” (source and date of piece), author (name the author—full name) shows (explains, describes, etc) that: central idea of the piece. You may vary this sentence structure, but all of this information must appear in the opening or the second sentence.

Your paper must be between 325 and 350 words. You don’t have many words to get across the main points. Remember, this is a summary. Be sure you follow the process for drafting, revising, editing, and proofreading your paper. When it is completed, put your name and the assignment name at the top left of the paper YourName_Summary. Save your assignment as a Word document and submit it to the class Drop Box.

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