A summary takes a text or passage and
reduces it to its main points. In other
words, summarizing trims the fat and
gets to the meat of what’s being said. A
summary may use brief snippets of
quotes from the text.
To summarize, you want to be able to
put things in your own words. This may
be difficult at first. However, try to think
of this in terms of explaining something
to a person who does not understand –
who requires the same information in
different and fewer words.
Example of Summary
In the alien culture, certain traits are looked
upon as quite attractive in the opposite sex.
Among these are enjoying tufts of fresh
grass, rattling one’s neck-bell, and mooing
very loudly. Thus, it is understandable how
aliens might perceive cows as attractive.
Cows are similar to alien women and thus,
attractive to alien men.
There is a shortage
of brides in space.
Aliens have come to
seek brides from
inhabitants of earth.
preferences run not
Reporting to the Aliens
The first team sent to report on the
bovine population came back with a
rather long-winded report (at least, in the
head alien’s opinion).
Your job is to break into groups of four
and summarize the report in your own
words, capturing the main points of the
matter, so that the alien hierarchy will
Another important concept we’ll review
here is paraphrasing.
Paraphrasing, unlike summary, maintains
the relative length of the text in question,
but puts it into one’s own words.
This is NOT word for word replacement,
however. Also, a paraphrase does not use
quotes from the text.
Finally, you should only use paraphrasing
for two-to-three consecutive sentences or
less. If you need to cover more – use
Paraphrasing - Example
Farmers do not appreciate their cattle being
abducted. Most are quite furious at the idea, but few
know what to do. One farmer has suggested placing
antlers upon the cows to make them look like very
big deer. Not all are amiable to this plan, however.
Most farmers are upset over the aliens taking their
cattle. Few of them have a plan of action, however.
An exception to this rule, the suggestion of fitting
cows with deer antlers to disguise their true nature,
has been suggested – but most do not approve.
Warn the Farmers!
Each of you is now a happy alien-abduction
witness. You have seen the cows being taken
by the little green men and think you ought to
do something about it.
Flip your papers over and read the paragraph
warning the farmers of the alien threat and
how to prevent it.
Assume the farmers require you to put this into
different words, but without missing any of the
points – hence, you must paraphrase.
Your paraphrase should be about as long as
the paragraph itself. Remember – no quoting,
no simple word replacement.
Summary – Condensing what you’ve read into
just the main points, none of the examples or
extras. Cutting it down to the basic concepts.
Brief quoting is allowed and the end result is
generally much shorter than the original.
Paraphrase – Rewording what you’ve read
into your own speech. You do not simply
replace words and maintain the same
sentence structures. You do not trim off any of
the points made. The end result is typically of
similar length to the original text. There is no
quoting in paraphrase.