10 hints to summarizing a term paper

If you’ve been assigned to summarize your own, or someone else’s work, then learning these summarizing tools will help you to do this effectively.

  • Making notes
  • Read through the piece of work you need to summarize and make notes as you go along. This makes it easier to refer to when you write your summary.

  • Key details only
  • Before you wrote your term paper, you hopefully used keywords in your brainstorming session. Use these same keywords to make short, strong statements about your topic when writing your summary. Avoid filling in too much in between; just stick to the central ideas.

  • The invisible idea
  • Every sentence you write must work coherently with all the other sentences in your paragraph to form one main idea. This main idea must correspond with your summary and kept in the background of your writing at all times.

  • Keeping it short
  • Don’t elaborate too much on the main content. The whole point is for you to give a brief, condensed version of the subject matter. Keep sentences as short as possible without neglecting any central information.

  • Put it differently
  • Use different words and phrases than what are presented in the main text you’re summarizing. Repeating information that’s already there is not an acceptable way to sum up.

  • Same basic outline
  • Retain the order of ideas contained in the main text when you do your summary. Muddling up the facts and rearranging the format to suit your own preference will not be considered a proper summary at all.

  • Leave out the stats
  • If any additional data like graphs or surveys are contained in the piece you’re summarizing, consider leaving these out and just stating them as fact instead.

  • Remarks are unnecessary
  • Keep to the subject matter as it’s stated. Remember that you’re not writing a review, but a summary. Your own additional ideas are not required when doing so. Your opinions on style, spelling and format should not be included in any summary.

  • Make friends with the apostrophe key
  • Turn phrases like ‘it is’ and ‘they are’ to ‘it’s’ and ‘they’re’. It’s annoying to read a summary that’s longer than what it’s supposed to be. Keep it short and try to use as little paper space as possible.

  • Questions
  • Questions will serve you well in a summary. Consider replacing phrases like, ‘If you’re wondering where to find the best oysters, the town of Luderitz is a good place to start...’ with a question stated as such: “Where are the best oysters? Probably Luderitz!”