Tips for a good summary

Summaries can perform different functions. The overall goal is to inform the reader in a short way about a topic or its contents. An overview of the content should be provided, so to speak.

Even scientific papers begin with a summary. This type of abstract is called an abstract. The abstract gives an overview of the contents, the theses, the key questions and the arguments as well as the results of the scientific work. By the way: a good summary is also ideal for learning.

The skeleton of a summary


A summary is divided into the introduction, the main part and the final part. While the introduction describes what the summary text is about, the main part contains the actual synopsis. You should limit yourself to the essentials – details that are not necessary to understand the subject are not described. Focus on what information the reader needs to get their own idea of ​​the subject. In the final part, the intentions of the original author or the effect of the primary work can be discussed.

Note: In terms of the stylistic and the linguistic, it is important to write the summary brief, precise and factual. In addition, it must be neutral or value-free and informative written. Linguistic embellishments are not part of a summary. You can read more about the linguistic style here.

The text work


To write a summary, the text to be summarized must first be read. The reading first takes place in its entirety, i. You first need to get an overview of what the original text is about. In addition, the intentions of the author are relevant.

Then you read the text again. In doing so, you are already editing it with regard to the synopsis, i. You divide the text into the three sections Introduction, Main Part and Final Part. In the next step you will read the sections one by one and write down the most important information. After the text work you check your notes: irrelevant information (see above) and repetitions can be deleted.

The own notes structure and formulate


Next you have to structure and formulate the information you have collected. As already mentioned, a summary consists of an introduction, a main part and a final part. The introduction includes i.d.R. about two sentences. It indicates who wrote the primary text, what the text is and what the name of the primary text is. Also the source from which the text originates is mentioned.

The main part lists the key messages of the original text. It is advisable to keep the chronology of the source text as far as possible. If changing or linking individual passages makes it easier to understand the text, you should of course do so. The final part also includes about two sentences. The information in this part has already been explained.

Present, 3rd person, no verbal speech


For the reason that a synopsis summarizes an original text in a concise manner and reflects the opinion of the author, it is written in the third person and without verbal speech. The tense is the present, whereby not all statements can be represented in this time. In order for this information to make sense, you may have to formulate it in the form of the future or the past tense.

Also, be careful to avoid phrases and terminology that make sense only in the context of the original text.

A summary should always form a self-contained unit, i. It is important to avoid the impression of a series of statements. Instead, the statements should be put into closer relation. Create flowing transitions and work with conjunctions and transitional words.

Possible formulations of a summary


In this section, some possible formulations for the introduction and the main part are presented. Such formulations ensure that the text can be read fluently, which ultimately promotes understanding of the text.

  • In the introduction, phrases such as “In his work (author) deal with …” and “The text (title) of (author) deals with …” are possible. In the main part can, as already mentioned, with connection words (further, beyond, …) are working and there are phrases such as “content, the text can be divided into sections …” on. In this way, various statements and sections are fluidly connected. Other possible formulations are:
  • “The author recognizes the problem, but judges …”
  • “From the section xxx it appears that …”
  • “In the xxx section, the author treats …”
  • “In conclusion, the author states that …”
  • The most important tips at a glance
  • Finally, the key points to consider when creating a summary are summarized briefly:
  • a synopsis consists only of the most important aspects of the original text
  • Details and verbal speech are to be avoided
  • the 3rd person form is used
  • write in the present-day form
  • The chronology of the original text should be kept as far as possible
  • the summary is concise, informative and factual (without ratings)