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Summarizing – Making Short Work of Long Text

written by: rosy • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/5/2012

Summarizing is a study skill. It is a technique of shortening a long text into a brief note while still maintaining the main points of the text. Below is directions on how to summarize.

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    Ideas to Help You Get Started

    The ability to convert a long text into a summary is an important language skill. Make sure you know how to summarize pieces of text. Try these practice directions to get started:

    • Read the whole text carefully with your full concentration to understand the main subject of the text.
    • If necessary read it twice to understand it better. Underline the important points in each paragraph. Highlight the central idea of the original text. Try to use the central idea at the beginning of the summary so that it tells the readers about the idea of the passage.
    • Copy down the main points on a separate paper. You may use some keywords from the original text but the summary should be in your own words. You should avoid using your own thoughts.
    • You may omit illustrations, quotations etc. from the original text. Try to replace long sentences with single words.
    • If you do not understand any words, look up in the dictionary to understand the author’s feeling.
    • Prepare a rough draft to ensure correct relation of the ideas given in the original text.
    • Read the rough draft to check for spellings, punctuation or grammatical mistakes.
    • Prepare the final summary that contains the main idea of the original text. Final summary should be free from any errors.
    • Your summary will definitely be shorter than the original text. It reduces to about one third of its original size.
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    Extra Tips

    Summarizing is a great way to build reading and writing skills. It can help you learn a subject you find difficult such as math and science. However, to practice in the beginning, start out with your favorite book. This will make it more easy and fun until you get the hang of it.

    Start with small paragraphs in the beginning. Read slowly. Stop after each paragraph to ask questions. Discover what the main idea is before beginning to summarize.

    Practice makes perfect!

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