章节、专题 Summary writing
To enable students 教学目 to know the properties of a good summary 标及基to know how to summarize a piece of writing 本要求
教学 1) how to gather essential facts and main points of a writing 重点 2) how to summarize a story that uses narration to describe a person 教学 how to gather essential facts and main points of a writing 难点
total:4 hours 教学内 2 hours for the basic knowledge of summary writing; 容与时 2 hours for exercises. 间分配
习题 exercises in the textbook
1. What is a summary?
A summary is a short piece of writing that gives the main facts or ideas of a story or article, etc. It is a condensed or compressed version/a brief restatement of the essential thought of longer writing. It restates
all the main points of the longer work in their proper relationship to each other with as few words as possible.
A summary should be written in one’s own words, and if wording from the original needs to be repeated, this wording should be put within quotation marks. Writing an effective summary is not easy. In general, summaries are written in the third person even if the original is written in the first person.
2. The qualities of a good summary
It should be objective – the writer does not include any ideas of his/her own.
It should be complete – the writer does not leave out important facts or ideas.
It should be balanced – the writer gives equal attention to each main idea.
3. The goal of a summary
It is to give readers an objective, complete, accurate and balanced view of something (an article, a story, a novel, a play, etc.).
4. In what way is summary important?
1) Students often have examination questions that require them to summarize.
2) Newspaper or TV reports often summarize the latest news stories.
3) Employees are often asked to report briefly on the development in their departments.
5. What are the purposes of summaries?
Students may be requested to summarize any of the following, for instance:
1) a table of facts and figures, i.e., to give the statistical findings in the form of a written summary;
2) a sequence of actions or events in fictional or non-fictional narration;
3) a series of narrative or historical events;
4) the structure, plot, theme, etc., of a literary work;
5) the main ideas of a theoretical work;
6) news events of any kind, personally experienced, or seen in the press, on television or the internet.
6.What we have to do when we are given a piece of writing to summarize
1) Read it carefully to understand it carefully.
2) Master the thought of the writing and express the main ideas in your own words.
3) Leave out unimportant details but omit nothing of real importance.
4) Add nothing that is not in the text.
5) Limit the number of words according to the requirement. Generally, a summary should be no more than one third to one fourth the length of the original.
6) Preserve the mood (the way the text makes you feel) and the tone (the general feeling of attitude expressed).
In-class Practice: Read the following passage and the three summaries. Judge the summaries according to the guidelines above. Point out which of them is the best, and what is wrong with the other two.
I walked by my father’s side, clutching his right hand. All my clothes were new: the black shoes, the
green school uniform, and the red cap. They did not make me happy, however, as this was the day I was thrown into school for the first time.
My mother stood at the window watching us, and I turned towards her from time to time, hoping she
would help. We walked along a street lined with gardens, fields planted with crops, pears, and date palms.
“Why school?” I asked my father. “What have I done?”
“I’m not punishing you,” he said, laughing. “School’s not a punishment. It’s a place that makes useful
men out of boys. Don’t you want to be useful like your brothers?”
I was not convinced. I did not believe there was really any good to be had in tearing me away from my home and throwing me into the huge, high-walled building. (157 words)
The first day I went to school, I was wearing new clothes: a pair of black shoes, a green
school uniform, and a red cap. I held my father’s hand tightly as we walked there.
From time to time I turned round to look at my mother, who was standing at the window. I
hoped she would tell m father not to punish me by sending me to school, but she didn’t.
When I asked my father what I had done wrong, he said that school was not a punishment,
but a place to turn boys into useful men. Still I couldn’t understand why I should go to that place.
This summary is too long and includes too many unimportant details.
The day my father took me to school, I was not happy. I thought school was a punishment
and asked him what I had done wrong. He said that school would make me a useful man. But
what he said did not convince me. (44 words)
The writer masters the main idea of the passage: 1. The boy was unwilling to go to school.
2. His father explained to him the purpose of school. 3. What his father said did not convince him.
What’s more, the length of the summary is appropriate.
The first day of school, my father took me there. I didn’t want to go. I asked my father why
they decided to send me to that high-walled building and what I had done wrong. Then he
explained what a school was for, but I didn’t believe him at all. How I hated the place that looked
like a prison! (59 words)
The tone of the summary is not quite the same as in the original passage. The general tone
of the original passage is not one of hatred, but of doubt and fear. Moreover, the writer of the
summary added his own understanding of the passage to the summary. Actually the boy didn’t
thought the school was like a prison.
7. The steps of writing a summary
1) Read the article.
2) Re-read the article. Underline important ideas. Circle key terms. Find the main point of the article. Divide the article into sections or stages of thought, and label each section or stage of thought in the margins. Note the main idea of each paragraph if the article is short.
3) Write brief summaries of each stage of thought or if appropriate each paragraph. Use a separate piece of paper for this step. This should be a brief outline of the article.
4) Write the main point of the article, using your own words. This should be a sentence that expresses the central idea of the article as you have determined it from the steps above.
5) Write your rough draft of the summary. Combine the information from the first four steps into
Note: Include all important details.
Use the author’s key words.
Follow the original organization where possible.
Include any important data.
Include any important conclusions.
6) Edit your version. Be concise. Eliminate needless words and repetitions. Avoid using "the author says...," "the author argues...," etc.
7) Compare your version to the original.
? Do not use quotations, but if you use them be sure to quote correctly. Indicate quotations with
quotation marks. Cite each quotation correctly (give the page number).
? Do not plagiarize. Cite any paraphrases by citing the page number the information appears
on. Avoid paraphrasing whenever possible. Use your own words to state the ideas presented
in the article.
(Adapted from Writing Across the Curriculum 4th edition, L. Behrens and L. Rosen, eds.,
1991, Harper/Collins, pp. 6-7.)
In a summary, you should include only the information your readers need.
1) State the main point first.
2) Use a lower level of technicality than the authors of the original article use. Do not write a summary your readers cannot understand.
3) Make the summary clear and understandable to someone who has not read the original article. Your summary should stand on its own.
4) Write a summary rather than a table of contents.
Wrong: This article covers point X. Then the article covers point Y.
Right: Glacial advances have been rapid as shown by x, y, and z.
5) Add no new data and none of your own ideas.
6) Use a simple organization: main points; main results; conclusions/recommendations
7) Unless the examples in the article are essential, do not include the examples in your summary. If you include them, remember to explain them.
8. How to gather essential facts
1) Keep only essential (extremely important and necessary) facts and main actions (the events in a story, film, play, etc.).
2) Provide necessary background information (when and where the events happen, who are involved, etc.).
3) Leave out unimportant action and descriptions.
4) Use indirect speech and straightforward language.
5) Arrange the events in a story in chronological order.
In-class Practice: Read the following passage and answer some questions, and then point out the main idea in the following short passages.
No, we two haven’t changed much, but the village has. In what way? Only ten years ago, you could barter for things, but now it’s all cash. Years ago, you could ask your neighbors to help build your house, reap the rice or dig a well. Now they’ll do it only if you have money to pay them. Plastic things replace
village crafts. Men used to make things with fine bamboo p