Learn Rules of Summarizing an Article

After you have annotated your article, it’s time to write a summary. Writing an article summary is to give your reader an objective, condensed version of the article.

Keep the following guidelines in mind as you write your summary:

Tips for Writing a Summary
1. Give the reader context – name the article and author in the first sentence.
2. Keep it objective. Give the author’s opinion only (no “I” statements, opinions, or analysis).
3. Give the thesis and main points only. Do not use examples and illustrations.
4. Attribute all ideas to the author. Use tags such as: According to the author…; The author states…; The author also believes….
5. Use your own words (paraphrase). Avoid direct quotes. For emphasis, you may want to include a word or two from the original passage. In this case, be sure to use quotation marks.

Most articles can be summarized in a few sentences or one short paragraph. If your summary goes longer than this, make sure you are not using details and examples from the article and are summarizing the main points only. You can address statistics, examples, and illustrations in the response section of the essay.

Writing a Response

Once you have an objective summary, it’s time for your own opinion. Think about whether you agree or disagree with the author. It’s common to agree with some points and disagree with others, so you will want to decide which points you want to address. You do not have to take on the entire article.

The first step is forming a working thesis, where you agree or disagree with the article, or points in the article. It’s best to then list a few reasons why to set up the organization of the rest of your response.

Here is the thesis statement from the sample summary and response essay:

While I agree that the Monsanto company has too much power over the industry and consumer choices, McGuire’s proposal to ban all GM foods is too extreme. What McGuire leaves out of her article are the benefits that come from GM foods, consumer choice, and the ack of evidence showing the GM foods are truly dangerous.

The first sentence clearly gives the author’s response to the article.

The second sentence then gives three reasons why the author disagrees with the article’s main proposal. The three reasons will become topic sentences for three body paragraphs.

The paper now has an outline:

Paragraph 1: Summary
Paragraph 2: Response Thesis
Paragraph 3: Benefits of GM foods
Paragraph 4: Consumer choice
Paragraph 5: Lack of evidence that GM foods are dangerous
Paragraph 6: Conclusion

Writing a Response

The response section is a lot like writing a regular essay in terms of organization, but there are some important tips to remember to write an effective response.

Tips for Writing a Response

1. You can respond with your own experience and knowledge, but your response will be even more effective if you bring in evidence from outside sources to support your points.
2. Be sure to give evidence and a logical argument whether you agree or disagree or disagree with a point.
3. Stay close to the points in the article. It’s easy to veer off on your own tangent about the topic, but remember that you are responding to what is in the article. Use quotes and paraphrase from the article throughout the response.
4. Write a conclusion that is consistent with your thesis and comes back to the main point of the article.