What Are the Steps to Writing a Summary?

To write a summary, read the material, skim it for ideas, read it again with an understanding of the written ideas, and then combine the main points, events and scenes into a clear description. A draft is written and revised with an introduction, a body that lists the main points chronologically and a conclusion.

The process begins with a reading of the original material or text for understanding. After it is read, write down your initial impressions of the text. A summary is a retelling of the work, not an analysis or critique, so weed out personal conjecture from your impressions before continuing the process. Once a list of impressions is written, skim the material for each major point or transition in the text. A page-long article, picture book or chapter book typically has about four or five ideas, or transitions.

After the ideas are discerned, read the material closely again to determine the specifics of each idea, and then describe each main point using at least one sentence. Be sure your sentences are original descriptions, not copied from the text. Once you've created a draft of the body of the summary, add an introduction and conclusion, and then revise the summary for clarity.