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Chapter 3: Writing Mechanics Help
Chapter 12: Teaching Writing
Chapter 23: Teaching Reading
College English Composition: Help and Review
About Lesson

What Is an Article Summary?

An article summary is a concise overview of a particular text that captures the original text’s main idea and salient supporting details. It should provide enough detail so the reader can understand the concepts being presented, but not so much detail that the summary is a mirror of the original article.

Article summaries are used to condense the information presented in a more readable manner and to increase a person’s comprehension of the notions in the original text. They are used to develop critical reading skills in students as well.

The article summary should include three main components:

  • introductory
  • body
  • concluding

Article Summary Purpose

The purpose of the article summary is to condense the original scholarly text into a more manageable, easier-to-comprehend text. The article summary does this by touching on the main points in the article but refraining from being bogged down by details and statistics that are discussed within the original text.

Because the article summary should be an accurate reflection of the original scholarly text, it is important that the author of the summary touches on all the main ideas of the original article without becoming redundant or bogged down in the details.

The article summary is important because it takes hard to manage scholarly works and condenses them into manageable, shorter works. The article summary will stay away from specific details, statistics, dates, numbers, or examples. The summary will touch on the main ideas or themes, while the original article will prove its argument with specific details and data points.

Article Summary Example

The following is an example of an article summary in a paragraph form:

In Bob Weir’s argument for clean water, he states that water is a basic human right for American citizens. Clean water can aid in digestion, thermal regulation, and cleanliness. When there is no access to clean water, diseases can spread. Clean water is necessary to preserve the health of Americans.

How to Write an Article Summary

Now that this lesson has covered what an article summary is, it will dive into how to write a summary of an article.

There are several steps to writing an article summary, all of which are listed below:

  • Length: Determine the length that your summary article should be either a paragraph or an essay. If this is an assignment for a class, the teacher should provide instructions on length.
  • Main topic: Slowly read over the original article and pull out the central, main idea that the article is trying to prove. Take note of the title, the tone of the work, and what the author is trying to prove with the supporting evidence. Make notes regarding the main idea.
  • Begin writing: Sit down to write the summary based on the main idea that is being presented in the original scholarly article as well as the supporting arguments that the author is using to prove their point. Begin by writing the main point and the introductory paragraph.
  • Support: Read through the rest of the article to pull out the important points or arguments being presented that support the main idea. Read the topic sentences of each paragraph, as these will be clues as to what the purpose of each paragraph is. If there is no clear topic sentence, summarize each body paragraph, and note what the evidence is trying to prove. Taking notes or highlighting the article will be beneficial.
  • Continue as needed: Decide if the summary should end or if the student should continue. If continuing, read on. Write the body paragraphs using the summarization that was written on the body paragraphs of the original text. This will be the proof of the main argument that the author is trying to make. Ensure there is no data, dates, numbers, or specific details in this portion of the summary article.
  • Conclude: Write the conclusion paragraph or sentence based on the introductory paragraph and the body paragraph of the summary article. The conclusion paragraph of the original text can also be used for inspiration. This should be a short, concise summary of the point being proven by the original article and any important arguments. This is the closing argument, so no new ideas should be introduced.

A summary article is a short , focused paper.


How to Start a Summary of an Article

Now that the steps to writing a summary have been detailed, this lesson will discuss how to start a summary of an article. Begin by reading through the original article carefully and multiple times. Highlight or underline the main argument being discussed. After this has been developed, go through the body paragraphs and read the topic sentences of each. This is usually the first sentence of the paragraph and will summarize what is in the paragraph. This should give an idea of what the author is using for supportive evidence. If there is no topic sentence, summarize the main idea of the paragraph.

After the student has pulled out the main concept of the article and any relevant supporting details, the next step is to determine the length of the summary article. After the student has pulled out the most general information of the article, they are ready to move onto creating the summary article.

Outline Introduction, Body, and Conclusion

How long is a summary? As discussed previously, the summary is as long as required to cover the main points of the original article while still being considered a concise review. It may be as short as a paragraph in length.

There are three parts of the summary outline:

  • the introduction
  • body
  • and the conclusion.

The introduction will introduce the topic being discussed in the original article. This can be a very general overview of the entire article’s main idea and any major supporting points. Do not include any specific evidence. This is a good spot to introduce the author, their achievements, and the title of the article. A topic sentence should include the main idea of the article and set the reader up for the rest of the paper. If the summary is a paragraph in length, the introduction will be a sentence long.

The body will reflect the supporting concepts that tie into the main idea that was mentioned in the topic sentence. The number of body paragraphs is dependent on the length of the summary article and the original article. If there are numerous, dense points being made in the original text, there will be more body paragraphs needed than if a simple topic was being discussed. If the summary is only a paragraph long, the body will be a few sentences in length.

Do not place two main ideas in the same paragraph or sentence. Ensure that these points are the most salient ideas in the original article and that they are being paraphrased and not copied and pasted from the article.

Use strong topic sentences in each paragraph to state the main supporting detail that is being highlighted in the paragraph.

The conclusion will be one paragraph in length and will provide a summary of your article and its relation to the original article. If the summary is one paragraph in length, the conclusion will be a single sentence. This conclusion should not introduce any new information and will be the strong closing argument to the summary article. It will summarize the main point of the original article and touch on the supporting arguments made in the body paragraphs of the summary article. A strong topic sentence will restate the main concept that was introduced in the introductory paragraph.

Begin Writing

Identifying key points may seem like a daunting task at first. It is important to take note of the topic sentences in the body paragraphs. They will serve as summaries of each paragraph and will contain the main points being proven. These will effectively be the key points that should be included in the summary article.

In addition, read the introduction and conclusion paragraphs closely. These paragraphs will summarize the entire work and will be a good basis for the summary article. Both of these paragraphs will contain a topic or thesis statement that will contain the main idea being proven as well as the general supporting evidence. This should be what the student’s summary article is based on.

Students should also reread the original text slowly and multiple times. Take notes, highlight, annotate or underline key points and topic sentences to help pull out main ideas. Go back and read these sections, seeing if they fit together. Summarize or paraphrase each paragraph in the original text. This will help the student draw out the main ideas as well.

Figure out who the author’s target audience is, what their tone is and what the article is trying to accomplish. Looking at the sources an author uses can also be useful. This will also aid in pulling out the main ideas to use in the summary article.

An article summary is a valuable tool.


Supporting Details

Supporting details should be included in the body of the summary article, not the introduction or conclusion. Use a topic sentence for each body paragraph to introduce the main supporting detail. Then, dive into some more general information about the supporting detail in the rest of the paragraph.

Use phrases such as:

  • “According to the author”
  • “The author argues”

Ensure that the student understands the supporting details by summarizing or paraphrasing in their own words. Make sure that plagiarism is not occurring by copying and pasting the author’s original words.

Conclusion and Editing

The conclusion will summarize the main argument and supporting evidence that was presented in the summary article. There should be no new information presented here, nor should there be specific statistics in this part of the paper. The conclusion should be a reflection of the introduction and include the main parts of the paper.

Go back and read the rest of the paper. Create a topic sentence that summarizes the main point of the summary and that is based on the thesis statement. After the topic sentence is created, go through the body paragraphs and summarize them in one sentence per paragraph. End the conclusion with the closing argument that the author is making, paraphrased in the student’s own words.

All papers should be revised for content, clarity, grammar, and spelling. Go through and read the paper multiple times. Does it make sense? Are there spelling errors? Is it grammatically correct? Does the summary flow from one idea to the other? Does the summary go into too many details? Compare the summary article to the original article. Is the summary a true reflection of the author’s intent in the original article? Make notes in the margins as needed to correct any errors that might be discovered.

Lesson Summary

A summary article is a summary of a longer, scholarly article. A summary is a brief account of the author’s main points. Supporting details are the evidence that backs up the author’s main idea. The following steps need to be completed in this order for a successful summary article: length, main topic, begin writing, support, continue as needed, conclude. When a student begins writing, they are introducing the topic of the original article. Concluding is wrapping up the author’s intent on the original article.

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