When writing a summary of a published article, your job is to show that you have understood what the author is saying and to accurately present only the main information from the article. In the summary, you do NOT include your own thoughts.
The key to writing a strong summary is to UNDERSTAND the original article. Below are the steps to follow:
1. Read the article closely. Your job is to understand the following:
a. What issue does the article discuss?
b. What is the writer’s opinion on the issue (we may also call it “the author’s argument”)
c. What claims does this argument consist of? Or, what points does the author develop to make an argument?
1. Look for:
a. the issue discussed - in the beginning of the first paragraph (in the introduction)
b. the writer’s opinion or argument - in the thesis statement (at the end of introduction) and in the conclusion.
c. the points or claims that the writer makes - in the beginning of subsequent paragraphs (look at each paragraph’s topic sentence.)
d. specific details in the middle and end of body paragraphs (These are normally NOT included in the summary, but you may need them to support your statements later in your own essay).
2. Make notes of important points and claims (Do NOT write complete sentences).
3. Convert your notes into a coherent paragraph. You’ll need to use so-called “reporting verbs” and phrases:
a. To open your summary, mention the title and author’s name. For example, In “Title”, Xxxx discusses…/expresses a concern about…. According to Xxxx., ……. In Xxxx’s opinion, in the article “Zzzzz”,
b. To summarize the writer’s opinion, use reporting verbs:
Verbs w/ neutral meaning (instead of “say” or “think”)= state, maintain, contend
Verbs w/ stronger meaning = argue, claim, question, disagree, agree, assert
c. To summarize the points = According to …/ ends by discussing/concluding,
1. to mention the title of the work and the author’s name in the beginning of your summary.
2. to refer to the author as Mr. / Mrs. Xxxx or “the author”.
3. to repeat the author’s name from time to time.
4. to paraphrase – i.e., convey the ideas from the article in your own words.
5. to use quotation marks when using exact words from the article.
Let’s look at the sample
A Summary of "National Security Justifies Censorship" by Roger S. Thomas
The article "National Security Justifies Censorship" by Elmo R. Zumwalt and James G. Zumwalt, appears in Censorship, a book in the Opposing Viewpoints Series. The authors assert that information that is secret and vital to the security of the nation should not be released to the press. They warn that the media are overpowered and the national security is underprotected. They believe that the government and the media must take steps to assure a disaster does not occur. Although many journalists contend that the First Amendment guarantees unrestricted printing freedom, Elmo R. Zumwalt and James G. Zumwalt believe the press has gained more power than the framers of the Constitution foresaw and therefore neglected to install safe guards that would protect national security. According to the authors, the power of the media has gone far past what the constitutional framers expected; consequently, several acts since the writing of the Constitution have been implemented to deal with the lack of protection regarding national security. The authors continue to affirm that even though significant risk exists when confidential information is released to the press, this danger has remained unresolved by the courts. The authors cite an example to prove this point. The CIA during the Reagan administration recognized Muhamar Quadaffi as a known terrorist and a potential threat to national security in a classified document. The Washington Post somehow discovered the document, and they soon published the information. Several months after the operation had been abandoned, the CIA found Quadaffi