Read the passage all the way through one time to get a general sense of what the passage is generally about.
Notice the organization.
Take note of the author’s purpose.
Write a one-sentence summary of the entire passage in order to keep the most important idea in mind.
Step 2: Read more carefully and identify key ideas and terms
When you read again, underline or make note of key ideas and terms. If you decide to take notes, you can use the left margin of the text.
Step 3: Look for the author’s main points.
Avoid Quotations because these are someone else’s ideas, not the author’s.
Look for key structures with strong verbs/statements.
Write them down in your own words; the sentences should show true understanding, not repetition.
Look for support for these main points: why, cause and result structures.
Step 4: Check for accuracy
Check that the sentences you have written accurately reflect the sections of the passage.
Be sure that your verb tenses correspond to the ones used in the passage.
Be sure that your main points are the author’s and not yours. Summarizing is not your opinion.
Step 5: Write a thesis
In one sentence, write the main idea of the entire passage.
The thesis should express the central idea of the passage.
For persuasive passages, be sure to capture the author’s opinion.
For descriptive passages, indicate the subject of the description and its key ideas.
Note: in some cases, the thesis may be stated in the original passage.
Step 6: Cite the article
Include the author’s name and title of the passage in the thesis.
For short works, such as articles and chapters of books, use quotation marks for the title. For book-length titles, underline or use italics. Capitalize the first and last words of the title and all other words excepts for articles and prepositions.
Check for correct use of sentence structure when citing. Here are some ways to cite:
Sample ways to cite
In her article “Obama Wins: Why All Americans Have a Reason to Celebrate,” Arianna Huffington writes that…(state thesis).
Arianna Huffington says in her article “Obama Wins: Why All Americans Have a Reason to Celebrate,” that…(state thesis).
According to Arianna Huffington in her article “Obama Wins: Why All Americans Have a Reason to Celebrate,” (state thesis).
Make sure the reporting verb reflects the author’s purpose.
Step 7: Write the first draft
Look at the relationship between the sentences you have written so far. Put everything together into a coherent paragraph. Combine and eliminate repetition where possible. Make sure the supporting sentences relate to the main idea. Add significant details for clarity if necessary.
Add transitional expressions to signify relationships such as “One (way) / another (way)” “First / Second / Finally” “Particularly / For example”; however, do not use these connectors as time expressions to connect the ideas. It is not important to tell what the author wrote first, second, etc.
Finish the summary with a concluding sentence that summarizes ideas or, if appropriate, summarizes the author’s conclusion about the main idea. You may use “As a result / In short” if it fits.
Final Steps: Checking and rewriting
Check for accuracy: compare the summary to the original text. If you hadn’t read the article yourself, would you be able to understand what it is about from the summary? Should anything be added? Are there unimportant details that should be left out?
Check sentence structure and verb tenses. The first sentence is often the most complicated to write. Does it have good sentence structure? Are verb tenses consistent?