Summary Writing

[Music] “Summary Writing” The ability to summarize information is one of the most important critical thinking skills you can develop. Taking large quantities of information, understanding what that information means, and condensing it into a shorter version of the original allows you to have important information on hand for easy reference without having to memorize long passages or complex statistics. In technical writing, different audiences need varying amounts or types of information. The technical summary, or abstract, is written for those who need a brief overview of a longer document for general information or to make decisions. For whatever purpose, writing summaries is a task that many think is easy but, in actuality, can be quite challenging. Process and Hints to Summary Writing: The biggest problem with summary writing is deciding what to include and what to leave out. A bit of instruction on the process to follow, along with useful techniques, will have you writing expert summaries in no time. 1. Read the piece to be summarized for understanding, without editing. Make sure you understand the content, including major and minor sections, as well as the overlying message being conveyed. Look closely at topic sentences and key words repeated throughout. 2. Read through the material and cross out useless information while underlining what you believe to be the most important points. Even if those points are words or phrases. Process and Hints to Summary Writing continued: 3. Write your summary in your own words. Follow both the organization of the original as well as its tone, though you need to make sure your own point of view is objective. Opinions should not appear in a summary. Any words or phrases from the original need to be properly documented and punctuated. 4. Your summary should be 15 to 20 percent of the length of the original. 5. Be sure to go back when you’ve finished your summary and compare it to the original for accuracy. Example: For nearly 1,400 years Islam, though diverse and sectarian practice and ethnic tradition, has provided a unifying faith for peoples stretching from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean and beyond. Starting in the 1500s, Western ascendancy, which culminated in colonization, eroded once glorious Muslim empires and reduced the influence of Islam. After the breakup of the Ottoman Empire following World War I and the decline of the European colonial empires following World War II, Muslim nations adopted Western ideologies — communism, socialism, secular nationalism, and capitalism. Yet most Muslims remained poor and powerless. Their governments, secular regimes often backed by the West, were corrupt and repressive. Poorly Written Summary: Despite Western-style governments, Muslim countries are mired in deep poverty and radical governments. This despite the fact that the religion has existed for several centuries. European colonization ruined the Islamic religion for a long time. You would find it hard to imagine how many Muslims there really are out there. Explanation: The poorly written summary does not follow the order of the information found in the original. The phrase “several centuries” minimizes the historic significance of the religion, and sentence level problems like “mired”, “you would”, and “out there” change the formal tone of the original to a biased, informal representation. It is also approximately half the length of the original, which is too long. Also, no credit is given to the original source. Well Written Summary: For nearly 1,400 years, Islam has united people globally, Western interference, through colonization and political ideologies, has not improved Muslims’ lives. Explanation: This summary follows the order of the original, maintains the original tone, is approximately 20 percent of the original’s length, and is properly documented and punctuated. Congratulations! You have completed “Summary Writing” [Music]

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