How to Summarize an Essay

Posted by Splice, Essay Tips Chief Writer

How to Summarize an Essay. Summarizing an essay first requires that you have read the entire article. Whether the article is several pages long or a few paragraphs short, most essay summaries can be found in the article's introduction. The summary of the essay may not be explicitly stated in the first few paragraphs but you may be able to get a good idea of what the essay is about. Here are a few tips in summarizing an essay.

  1. Ask yourself, "what is the essay trying to tell me?" The topic of your essay may be about secondhand smoking, global warming or just about any other. You may have to carefully identify the topic of the essay first before you can be able to further elaborate on your summary.

  2. Identify the thesis of the essay. The thesis of the essay is the main argument of the article stating something about the topic. For example, if the topic of the essay is "secondhand smoking," the thesis states something about secondhand smoking, something like "secondhand smoking is worse than firsthand smoking" or "the government should look into secondhand smokers as a main concern for legislating health laws related to smoking in public."

  3. After identifying the thesis of your essay, you have to look for the main arguments supporting the thesis or main claim of the essay. If the thesis of the essay is "secondhand smoking is worse than firsthand smoking", identify the main arguments in support of and/or against the thesis.

  4. You can provide in your essay summary a few examples mentioned in the essay pertaining to the main arguments. However, try to limit the number of your examples to at least one or two as maximum since you are simply summarizing the article.

  5. Close your summary with a brief sentence about the essay's conclusion.

  6. DO NOT write as to whether the essay is well written or otherwise as it is not required for a summary. It is required, however, if you are doing a review of the essay instead of a summary.

  7. DO provide the author's name and the title of the essay at the beginning of your summary.

  8. Be direct to the point. Avoid writing down ideas and words that are not relevant to the essay.

  9. Keep words relatively simple. Avoid exaggerations. In summarizing an essay, keep in mind that less is more.


You may want to know how to summarize a research paper, a book, or other articles.

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