How to Write a Summary

 The following are the six (6) steps for writing a summary

1. Find the main idea of the passage:

Read the passage the first time for understanding.  (So you can get a sense of what point they are trying to make.)

Ask yourself, “ What was the passage about?”

(You should answer yourself with a sentence or a phrase)

Hint: If you are having problems, scan the passage to see which ‘topic’ word appears most often. This is likely the topic of the passage.

Now you have to figure out what is being said about the topic. Read the passage a second time.
What is the overall point being made about the topic word?

You need to be able to see the “big picture” being presented by the passage. This is the main idea of the whole passage; Write it down. Never start writing a summary before you read the passage for a second time.

2. Find the supporting ideas in the passage:
(Supporting ideas are used to develop, explain or expand on the main idea.)

While “skimming” (reading through quickly) the passage for the third time, look for the supporting ideas by reading over the opening sentences of the paragraphs.  (A paragraph expresses and develops one main idea or point).

Underline topic sentences in the paragraphs and the key ideas in them.

3. After reading the passage for the third time, write one or two summary sentences for each paragraph describing the main idea that you see expressed by the paragraph.

If you see yourself repeating the same ideas, you will need to read the passage again to get a clearer picture and then revise your summary sentences.

4. Join together the main idea of the passage and your paragraph summary sentences by using transitional words and/or phrases.

These transitional words/phrases do three things:

1) They give your summary a sense of being a “whole” – not just a group of unconnected sentences.

2) They also make your summary “flow” smoothly when reading

3) They reinforce and support the main idea being expressed in the passage.

5. Reread (and edit if necessary) the summary to make sure it clear and to-the-point.
Eliminate repetitive words, too many descriptive words (adjectives and adverbs)and non-essential sentences.

The final version should read like a whole, sensible piece of writing.
**Check your spelling and grammar.

6. Finally, check your summary against the author’s original. Have you correctly described the author’s main idea and the essential supporting points?
Make any necessary adjustments or changes to your summary.

MODEL RESPONSE – Summary Writing 1

 Yesterday you were given a sample question to write a summary of 50 words. Here is the sample response below. 


Adding sweet-smelling flowers to a garden is something many gardeners may skip.  One can become too caught up in visual flower aspects such as color or composition.  Yet adding beautiful smelling flowers just as important for those gardeners who are looking to have an all-around “memorable” flower display.  Most aromatic flowers are mainly white; yet, some more colorful plants may hide their lovely smell in less obvious places, like in their roots, stems, and leaves.