How to Write an Effective and Successful Summary
What a summary is
summary is a short statement that gives only the main points of
something, not the details.” (Oxford dvanced Learner’s Dictionary, 8th Edition) To
summarize a text is to condense it into a distillation and to do so in your own words.
When you write a summary, you are demonstrating your understanding of the text
and communicating it to your readers who have not read or seen the original text. It
is not necessary to include every detail of the text. Only those elements which you
think are most important – the main idea – and its essential supporting points should
be extracted from the original text.
When and how to summarize
There are many instances in which you have to write a summary. You may
summarize some interesting news that you read or you may summarize a lesson for
a classmate who has been sick and missed the class. You may also be assigned to
write a summary of a reading. Writing an effective summary is a requisite skill for
any educated person. What is an effective summary?
An effective summary should be concise and coherent. You have to include
all of the essential information presented in a clear and well-organized way in order
that your readers can understand without reading the original source.
An effective summary must be independent. When you write a summary, do
not imitate the author of the text you are writing about. Instead, you are expected to
use your own words to express your understanding of what you have read. In other
words, your summary is your interpretation of the author’s points or ideas.
However, you should be careful not to go beyond the main points by introducing
comments or criticisms of your own.
To write an effective summary you need to read and reread the original text
to get its main points and note them down in a list. You should look for words or
key ideas which are repeated when you read. These are hints that you can use to
determine what ideas are most important. The major supporting details of the text
should be included. It is important that your summary be as brief as possible so you
do not want to include too specific details like numbers, dates, etc. unless they are
An example of summarizing short texts (ten pages or fewer)
The Man Who Planted Apple Trees
Does the name John Chapman ring a bell? Most people would answer no, but
many people would have heard of his more famous nickname, Johnny Appleseed.
his man’s life was devoted to helping others.
Appleseed was born in Massachusetts in 1774 and died in about 1885. He
probably died in the wilderness, which is where he is always pictured. His affinity
for the wilderness and love of speaking to an audience is probably why he is
sometimes considered an American version of a prophet.
And people did listen to him, but Appleseed did more than just talk. He
carried a bushel of apple seeds on his back and bundles of young tree sprouts in his
arms, planting them in open spots where the sun could shine on them. He planted
them on the lands of the Native Americans. Year after year, people ate the apples
from his trees and even dried the apples in the sun for winter’s food.
But Appleseed was more than a nurseryman; he was a medicine man too.
Knowing the healing power of herbs, he often helped settlers with boneset – a
flowering plant that grows wild in grass fields. When used as a tea, it reduces fevers
and helps broken bones heal faster too – hence, the name.
Appleseed was also a military hero. While the War of 1812 was raging, Lake
Erie was a stronghold of the British. As a soldier with detailed knowledge of the
Ohio River, its every path, trail and stream, he was of great value to the American
forces that were intent on reclaiming that territory.
But Appleseed was a true apple seed to the end. No one knows for sure how
or when he died, but it is nice to think that he died gently placing soil around the
tender roots of his last apple tree.
Johnny Chapman’s Life
Johnny Chapman, born in Massachusetts, whose nickname is Johnny
Appleseed, is not only a person who loved growing plants but also a military hero
who fought in the War of 1812. He spent most of his lifetime planting apple trees in
order for people to eat the apples from the trees. He also liked talking to people.
Knowing herbs, he used them to help people treat broken bones. He died when
planting seeds and rests among the apple tree roots.