Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Summary

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Summary

When people hear about a new book or movie, they often look it up on the internet to learn what it is about. They usually find a summary of the source, which tells them whether they will like it.

A summary is an overview of a source's main ideas. Reading and writing summaries is useful for strengthening skills in studying, research, and writing.

Summary Definition

When writers summarize a source, they identify the main points of that source and then discuss them in their own words. A summary is an account of this information. Writers can summarize all sorts of sources, such as essays, books, films, and lectures.

A summary is a brief overview of something's main points.

Parts of a Summary

The content of a summary will depend on the topic and intended length. However, the basic parts of a summary are typically the same. A summary opens with an introduction in which the writer provides information about the source. For instance, if a writer is summarizing a book, the introductory section of the summary will include the book's title, author, and year of publication. This information introduces the reader to the source. At the end of the introduction, the writer will craft a thesis statement, which expresses the main idea of the summary.

After the introduction, the writer will move on to writing the body of the summary. The body will include a discussion of the main ideas of the source. For example, in a summary of a work of fiction, a writer will mention important information about the main characters and what they do in the text. The writer will also discuss important elements of the story, such as the main conflict and the climax.

Next, the writer will wrap up the summary with a conclusion. The conclusion of the summary will restate the main idea of the source, so the reader leaves the summary with a comprehensive understanding. For instance, a concluding sentence for a short summary of John Updike's story "A&P" (1961) might look something like this:

Overall, "A&P" is a coming-of-age story in which John Updike explores teenage idealism.

The final element of a summary is the reference list. The writer needs to cite the sources they used according to an established referencing style, such as MLA or APA.

Summary, Checklist, StudySmarterWriters should make sure they include all parts of a summary. Flaticon.

Characteristics of a Summary

In addition to having the aforementioned parts, summaries are full of:

  • Concise writing

  • Accurate information

  • Objective descriptions (if it is a descriptive summary)

Summaries are also always shorter than the source they describe. Since a summary is a condensed overview of something's main points, writers of summaries leave out unimportant details from the original source, thereby making the summary shorter.

Types of Summary

Summaries are either descriptive or evaluative.

Descriptive Summaries

A descriptive summary is a summary in which writers provide an objective overview of the source they are summarizing. The writer of a descriptive summary does not include their own opinions or analysis of the source.

Researchers frequently use a type of descriptive summary called an abstract. An abstract is a concise summary of a research paper that readers read before reading a full research paper. The abstract provides an overview of the research question, methodology, and findings. This helps readers determine if the article is relevant to their research.

Evaluative Summaries

An evaluative summary does include the author's opinion on the source. Like in a descriptive summary, the author discusses the most important information in a source. However, in an evaluative summary, as the name suggests, the author evaluates the source. They can analyze it and discuss their own opinions about it.

Although writers of evaluative summaries can include their own opinions on the source, they still have to maintain a formal academic tone to ensure their evaluation of the source is credible. For instance, instead of writing: "This book was stupid," an evaluative summary would have to make a claim like: "The author failed to create an engaging plot and dynamic characters."

Summary, Opinion, StudySmarterEvaluative summaries can include the author's opinion. Flaticon.

Examples of Summary

The following is a descriptive summary of W. W. Jacob's short story "The Monkey's Paw" (1902).

"The Monkey's Paw" is a short story that W. W. Jacobs wrote in 1902. In the beginning, a man named Sergeant Major Morris shows the White family a magical monkey's paw that he found in India. Morris says the paw grants three wishes to three people, but the wishes never come true in the way the owner wants them to. He throws the paw in the fire, but Mr. White takes it and wishes for money to pay off his mortgage. Then he learns that his son Herbert has died in a work accident, and the financial compensation is the amount of money he wished for. A distraught Mrs. White takes the paw and wishes for Herbert to come back to life. That night there is a knocking at the door, and Mr. White desperately searches for the paw. In the end, Mrs. White opens the door, but no one is there to answer. The reader is left wondering exactly what happened but might infer that Herbert's dead body was knocking at the door and disappeared because Mr. White made one last wish.

The above summary does not include the writer's opinion, which makes it a descriptive summary of the story. The following is an evaluative summary of the text.

"The Monkey's Paw" is a spooky short story that W. W. Jacobs wrote in 1902. In the beginning, a man named Sergeant Major Morris shows the White family a magical monkey's paw that he found in India. Morris says the paw grants three wishes to three people, but the wishes never come true in the way the owner wants them to. He throws the paw in the fire, but Mr. White takes it and wishes for money to pay off his mortgage. Then he learns that his son Herbert has died in a work accident, and the family's financial compensation is the amount of money he wished for. A distraught Mrs. White takes the paw and wishes for Herbert to come back to life. That night there is an eerie knocking at the door, and Mr. White desperately searches for the paw. In the end, Mrs. White opens the door, but no one is there to answer. The reader is left wondering exactly what happened but might infer that Herbert's dead body was knocking at the door and disappeared because Mr. White made one last wish. Jacobs does an excellent job creating suspense and engaging the reader throughout the story, especially in the last scene. The story will have readers reflecting on the idea of fate.

Examine the differences between the descriptive summary and evaluative summary. They both discuss all the main events of the story, but the evaluative one goes a step further and expresses the author's opinions on the story.

Importance of Summary

Summaries can improve people's writing, reading, and research skills.

Importance of Reading Summaries

Summaries are important because they educate readers. If a reader wants to know what a book is about but does not know if they want to read the entire text, reading a summary can help them decide. This process can be particularly useful when researchers are deciding whether or not to read a source as a part of their research process. In this case, readers typically read an abstract to determine if a source will be useful. A summary of a text can also help students review what a text is about without reading it again.

Importance of Writing Summaries

Writing summaries can also help people strengthen their writing skills. Crafting a summary requires knowing how to identify the main ideas of a text, put them in one's own words, and discuss them with concise language. All of these skills take practice, and writing summaries can help writers develop them. Writing summaries can also help students test their knowledge of a source.

Summary - Key Takeaways

  • A summary is a brief overview of another source.
  • A strong summary is a precise, succinct statement about a source.
  • The parts of a summary are the introduction, thesis, body, conclusion, and references.
  • Descriptive summaries provide an objective overview of a source.
  • Evaluative summaries include the writer's perspective on a source.

Frequently Asked Questions about Summary

A summary is a brief overview of another source.

To write a summary writers should read the entire source and then highlight the main ideas. Then they should discuss the main points in their own words. 

The parts of a summary are the introduction, thesis, body, conclusion, and references. 

A summary is succinct and precise. Descriptive summaries are also objective. 

Summaries are precise, succinct overviews of a source. They are always shorter than the source they are about. 

Final Summary Quiz

Question

What is a summary? 


Show answer

Answer

A summary is a brief overview of something's main points.


Show question

Question

True or False. Descriptive summaries can include the author’s opinions. 


Show answer

Answer

False. Descriptive summaries are purely objective. Evaluative summaries can include the author’s opinion. 


Show question

Question

What is an abstract?


Show answer

Answer

An abstract is a concise summary of a research paper that readers read before reading a full research paper.

Show question

Question

What type of summary is an abstract?


Show answer

Answer

Descriptive

Show question

Question

True or False. Writers should include lots of specific details in a summary


Show answer

Answer

False. Writers should only include the main points of a source in a summary. 

 


Show question

Question

Which of the following is not a characteristic of summary?


Show answer

Answer

Lengthy

Show question

Question

Should summaries be shorter or longer than the source they are about?


Show answer

Answer

Shorter 

Show question

Question

 Which of the following skills can summary writing help strengthen?


Show answer

Answer

All of the above


Show question

Question

A writer is summarizing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel Tender is the Night (1934) and says that Fitzgerald did a great job using figurative language to explore the concept of love. Would this sentence go in a descriptive summary or an evaluative summary?



Show answer

Answer

An evaluative summary

Show question

Question

What are the parts of a summary?

Show answer

Answer

The parts of a summary are the introduction, thesis, body, conclusion, and references.  

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the Summary quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.