Making a good summary of a text will lead us to understand more clearly the thoughts of other people, so we encourage you to take this tool into account.
The summary consists basically in the reduction to brief and concise terms of the essence of a matter or subject.
It may happen that we have to summarize a literary defective text, although full of excellent ideas.
The ability to summarize is linked to the ability to understand precisely what is considered essential.
It is the previous step to all analysis and commentary of the text, which guarantees us an accurate understanding of the essence of what we have, later, to analyze or comment on.
A summary is not a scheme, nor a set of ordered notes…
The summary must be clear and well written. It may happen that we have to summarize a literary defective text, although full of excellent ideas. In that case we must avoid getting infected by the defects of the text when it uses a dark and incorrect Castilian.
How to summarize
- Read the text as many times as necessary.
- Think of the text and “integrate” with it, until you are sure you have understood it.
- Discern the importance of each element that appears in the text.
- Choose which elements we should sacrifice and which ones should be highlighted.
- Finally, express in our own words what we have understood.
We have to ask elementary questions about the text:
- What is it exactly?
- Why has it been written? What does the author want to explain to me?
- What does it highlight? What do you insist on?
Since the summary is not a mechanical procedure requires the permanent presence of imagination and intelligence.
Underlining from the first reading words and expressions considered important, as well as establishing divisions in the text or links between its parts is not recommended to the student. If such hasty notes were erroneous, which is very likely, they would hide the real meaning of the text in subsequent readings.
It is more effective and safe to read the text two or three times carefully, without underlining or writing down anything.
Then, without looking at the text again, reflect on it trying to express its central idea, its starting point, its logical linkage … writing the conclusions, if necessary, in a different paper from the one we are going to use.
Proceed to a new reading of the text underlining, in this case, more than the central ideas (which we have already assimilated and will not forget) those important ideas that should not be excluded from the summary, but trying not to underline whole sentences unless consider indispensable, in which case we must put them in quotation marks and underline them.
If the text is long we can make an outline of it on a separate paper, but not on the same text; we must emphasize the division and chaining of its parts.
If the text is short, we can start writing the summary directly. This will pose problems, without a doubt, that we will have to solve in the course of the writing itself.
The maximum extension of the summary must be respected according to the instructions received (summarize in 10, 15 lines).
Recall, finally, that one of the pedagogical meanings of the summary of a text is to get used to understanding exactly the thought of another person.