how to write a brief synopsis of an article

How to Write a Synopsis of an Article: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Have you ever been tasked with writing a synopsis of an article and had no idea where to begin? Don't worry, you're not alone. A synopsis is a brief summary of an article, and can be an essential tool when trying to convey the main points of a lengthy piece of writing. In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps of creating a strong synopsis that effectively communicates the article's key takeaways.

Understanding the Purpose of a Synopsis

Before we dive into the specifics of writing a synopsis, it's important to first understand why they are so important. Synopses serve as a quick reference for busy readers who are unable to read the entire article. They also help to clarify the article's purpose and make it easier to analyze the author's arguments.

When it comes to reading articles or research papers, time is of the essence. Many readers are looking for specific information and don't have the luxury of reading an entire article from start to finish. This is where a synopsis comes in handy. It provides a brief overview of the article's main points, allowing readers to quickly determine whether or not the article is worth their time.

Why Synopses are Important

Synopses provide a concise summary of an article's main points, making it easier for readers to quickly grasp the author's intended message. They are also useful for researchers who are looking for specific information, as a synopsis can help them determine whether or not an article is relevant to their needs.

Moreover, synopses are essential for professionals who are constantly on the go. Business executives, for instance, may not have the time to read an entire report, but they need to be informed about the key takeaways. A synopsis provides them with a quick and easy way to get up to speed.

Different Types of Synopses

There are several different types of synopses, each catering to a different audience. For example, an executive summary is a type of synopsis that is aimed at business professionals, while an abstract is a synopsis that is typically used in academic writing. Regardless of the type of synopsis that you are writing, the same basic principles apply.

One type of synopsis that is gaining popularity is the social media synopsis. With the rise of social media, many readers are looking for bite-sized pieces of information that they can easily share with their followers. A social media synopsis provides a concise summary of an article's main points, making it easy for readers to share the information with their network.

In conclusion, synopses are an essential part of effective communication. They provide readers with a quick and easy way to understand an article's main points, making it easier for them to determine whether or not the article is relevant to their needs. By understanding the purpose and importance of synopses, you can create effective summaries that will engage and inform your readers.

Preparing to Write Your Synopsis

Now that we've covered the importance of synopses, let's dive into the steps involved in creating one.

Read the entire article thoroughly

Before you can begin writing your synopsis, you need to thoroughly read the article that you are summarizing. It's important to understand the author's intended message and the supporting arguments that are used to make that message. Take notes as you read, highlighting key points and information that will be useful when writing your synopsis.

Identify the main points and arguments

Once you've read the article, you need to identify the main points and arguments that the author is making. These will typically be found in the introduction and conclusion of the article, but you may also find them throughout the body of the text. It's important to identify all of the main points so that you can ensure that your synopsis accurately represents the author's message.

Take notes and outline the article's structure

In addition to identifying the main points, you should also take notes on the article's structure. This includes identifying subheadings and sections, as well as any transitions or supporting evidence that the author uses. By organizing your notes in this way, you can ensure that your synopsis accurately reflects the structure of the original article.

Writing a Strong Introduction for Your Synopsis

Now that you've prepared for writing your synopsis, it's time to dive into actually writing it. The beginning is a crucial aspect of your synopsis, as it sets the tone for the rest of the summary.

Hook the reader with a compelling opening

Just like a full-length article, the introduction of your synopsis should hook the reader and make them want to continue reading. This can be done by using a surprising statistic, an interesting anecdote, or a thought-provoking quote. Whatever method you choose, make sure that it grabs the reader's attention.

Introduce the article's main topic and purpose

After you've hooked the reader, it's important to provide context for the article. This means introducing the topic and purpose of the original article, as well as the main arguments that the author makes. By providing this information up front, you can ensure that the reader has a basic understanding of the article's message before diving deeper into the details.

Provide context and background information

Finally, it's important to provide context and background information for the article. This may include information on the author, the publication where the article appeared, and any relevant historical or societal context that helps to explain the article's message.

Summarizing the Article's Main Points

Once you've written a strong introduction for your synopsis, it's time to dive into the details. This is where you'll summarize the article's main points in a clear and concise manner.

Be concise and clear

When summarizing the article, it's important to be concise and clear. Use your notes from the article to identify the main points and supporting arguments, and present them in a way that accurately represents the original author's message. Avoid using lengthy quotes or unnecessarily wordy descriptions, as this can detract from the clarity of your summary.

Use your own words

While it's important to accurately represent the author's message, it's also important to use your own words when summarizing the article. This means avoiding copying entire sections of the article word for word, and instead rephrasing the author's arguments in a way that is both accurate and concise.

Maintain the original article's tone and style

Finally, it's important to maintain the tone and style of the original article when writing your synopsis. This means using the same type of language, voice, and style as the author, so that the reader can get a sense of the author's intended message.

ChatGPT Prompt for Writing a Synopsis of an Article

Use the following prompt in an AI chatbot . Below each prompt, be sure to provide additional details about your situation. These could be scratch notes, what you'd like to say or anything else that guides the AI model to write a certain way.

Please compose a concise and thorough summary of a written piece, including all relevant information and main points, in order to provide a clear understanding of the article's content.

[ADD ADDITIONAL CONTEXT. CAN USE BULLET POINTS.]

In conclusion, writing a synopsis of an article may seem like a daunting task, but by following these simple steps, you can create a summary that accurately represents the author's message and purpose. Remember to thoroughly read the article, identify the main points and arguments, and present them in a concise and clear manner. By doing so, you can create a synopsis that effectively communicates the article's key takeaways, and ensures that your readers are able to quickly and easily understand the author's intended message.

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  • How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

Published on November 23, 2020 by Shona McCombes . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Summarizing , or writing a summary, means giving a concise overview of a text’s main points in your own words. A summary is always much shorter than the original text.

There are five key steps that can help you to write a summary:

  • Read the text
  • Break it down into sections
  • Identify the key points in each section
  • Write the summary
  • Check the summary against the article

Writing a summary does not involve critiquing or evaluating the source . You should simply provide an accurate account of the most important information and ideas (without copying any text from the original).

Table of contents

When to write a summary, step 1: read the text, step 2: break the text down into sections, step 3: identify the key points in each section, step 4: write the summary, step 5: check the summary against the article, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about summarizing.

There are many situations in which you might have to summarize an article or other source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to show you’ve understood the material
  • To keep notes that will help you remember what you’ve read
  • To give an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review

When you’re writing an academic text like an essay , research paper , or dissertation , you’ll integrate sources in a variety of ways. You might use a brief quote to support your point, or paraphrase a few sentences or paragraphs.

But it’s often appropriate to summarize a whole article or chapter if it is especially relevant to your own research, or to provide an overview of a source before you analyze or critique it.

In any case, the goal of summarizing is to give your reader a clear understanding of the original source. Follow the five steps outlined below to write a good summary.

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You should read the article more than once to make sure you’ve thoroughly understood it. It’s often effective to read in three stages:

  • Scan the article quickly to get a sense of its topic and overall shape.
  • Read the article carefully, highlighting important points and taking notes as you read.
  • Skim the article again to confirm you’ve understood the key points, and reread any particularly important or difficult passages.

There are some tricks you can use to identify the key points as you read:

  • Start by reading the abstract . This already contains the author’s own summary of their work, and it tells you what to expect from the article.
  • Pay attention to headings and subheadings . These should give you a good sense of what each part is about.
  • Read the introduction and the conclusion together and compare them: What did the author set out to do, and what was the outcome?

To make the text more manageable and understand its sub-points, break it down into smaller sections.

If the text is a scientific paper that follows a standard empirical structure, it is probably already organized into clearly marked sections, usually including an introduction , methods , results , and discussion .

Other types of articles may not be explicitly divided into sections. But most articles and essays will be structured around a series of sub-points or themes.

Now it’s time go through each section and pick out its most important points. What does your reader need to know to understand the overall argument or conclusion of the article?

Keep in mind that a summary does not involve paraphrasing every single paragraph of the article. Your goal is to extract the essential points, leaving out anything that can be considered background information or supplementary detail.

In a scientific article, there are some easy questions you can ask to identify the key points in each part.

Key points of a scientific article
Introduction or problem was addressed?
Methods
Results supported?
Discussion/conclusion

If the article takes a different form, you might have to think more carefully about what points are most important for the reader to understand its argument.

In that case, pay particular attention to the thesis statement —the central claim that the author wants us to accept, which usually appears in the introduction—and the topic sentences that signal the main idea of each paragraph.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Now that you know the key points that the article aims to communicate, you need to put them in your own words.

To avoid plagiarism and show you’ve understood the article, it’s essential to properly paraphrase the author’s ideas. Do not copy and paste parts of the article, not even just a sentence or two.

The best way to do this is to put the article aside and write out your own understanding of the author’s key points.

Examples of article summaries

Let’s take a look at an example. Below, we summarize this article , which scientifically investigates the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Davis et al. (2015) set out to empirically test the popular saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples are often used to represent a healthy lifestyle, and research has shown their nutritional properties could be beneficial for various aspects of health. The authors’ unique approach is to take the saying literally and ask: do people who eat apples use healthcare services less frequently? If there is indeed such a relationship, they suggest, promoting apple consumption could help reduce healthcare costs.

The study used publicly available cross-sectional data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were categorized as either apple eaters or non-apple eaters based on their self-reported apple consumption in an average 24-hour period. They were also categorized as either avoiding or not avoiding the use of healthcare services in the past year. The data was statistically analyzed to test whether there was an association between apple consumption and several dependent variables: physician visits, hospital stays, use of mental health services, and use of prescription medication.

Although apple eaters were slightly more likely to have avoided physician visits, this relationship was not statistically significant after adjusting for various relevant factors. No association was found between apple consumption and hospital stays or mental health service use. However, apple eaters were found to be slightly more likely to have avoided using prescription medication. Based on these results, the authors conclude that an apple a day does not keep the doctor away, but it may keep the pharmacist away. They suggest that this finding could have implications for reducing healthcare costs, considering the high annual costs of prescription medication and the inexpensiveness of apples.

However, the authors also note several limitations of the study: most importantly, that apple eaters are likely to differ from non-apple eaters in ways that may have confounded the results (for example, apple eaters may be more likely to be health-conscious). To establish any causal relationship between apple consumption and avoidance of medication, they recommend experimental research.

An article summary like the above would be appropriate for a stand-alone summary assignment. However, you’ll often want to give an even more concise summary of an article.

For example, in a literature review or meta analysis you may want to briefly summarize this study as part of a wider discussion of various sources. In this case, we can boil our summary down even further to include only the most relevant information.

Using national survey data, Davis et al. (2015) tested the assertion that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and did not find statistically significant evidence to support this hypothesis. While people who consumed apples were slightly less likely to use prescription medications, the study was unable to demonstrate a causal relationship between these variables.

Citing the source you’re summarizing

When including a summary as part of a larger text, it’s essential to properly cite the source you’re summarizing. The exact format depends on your citation style , but it usually includes an in-text citation and a full reference at the end of your paper.

You can easily create your citations and references in APA or MLA using our free citation generators.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

Finally, read through the article once more to ensure that:

  • You’ve accurately represented the author’s work
  • You haven’t missed any essential information
  • The phrasing is not too similar to any sentences in the original.

If you’re summarizing many articles as part of your own work, it may be a good idea to use a plagiarism checker to double-check that your text is completely original and properly cited. Just be sure to use one that’s safe and reliable.

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing

 Plagiarism

  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

A summary is a short overview of the main points of an article or other source, written entirely in your own words. Want to make your life super easy? Try our free text summarizer today!

A summary is always much shorter than the original text. The length of a summary can range from just a few sentences to several paragraphs; it depends on the length of the article you’re summarizing, and on the purpose of the summary.

You might have to write a summary of a source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to prove you understand the material
  • For your own use, to keep notes on your reading
  • To provide an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review
  • In a paper , to summarize or introduce a relevant study

To avoid plagiarism when summarizing an article or other source, follow these two rules:

  • Write the summary entirely in your own words by paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
  • Cite the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.

An abstract concisely explains all the key points of an academic text such as a thesis , dissertation or journal article. It should summarize the whole text, not just introduce it.

An abstract is a type of summary , but summaries are also written elsewhere in academic writing . For example, you might summarize a source in a paper , in a literature review , or as a standalone assignment.

All can be done within seconds with our free text summarizer .

Cite this Scribbr article

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McCombes, S. (2023, May 31). How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved July 16, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/working-with-sources/how-to-summarize/

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How to Write a Summary of an Article: Brevity in Brilliance

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Table of contents

  • 1 What Is an Article Summary?
  • 2 Difference Between Abstract and Research Summary Writing
  • 3.1 Preparing for Summarizing
  • 3.2 Identifying Main Ideas
  • 3.3 Writing The Summary
  • 4.1 Introduction
  • 4.2 Methods
  • 4.3 Results
  • 4.4 Discussion
  • 4.5.1 Structure Types  
  • 5 Summary Writing Tips and Best Practices
  • 6 Common Mistakes to Avoid
  • 7 Examples of Article Summaries

Writing a review or a critique is often more difficult than it seems, so students and writers alike are often wondering about how to summarize an article. We know how challenging a task this can be, so this guide will give you a clear perspective and the main points on how to write a summary of an article.

Here’s a brief overview of the main points the article will cover before we start:

  • The essence of an article summary and how to approach writing it;
  • Three main steps for a successful research summary;
  • Tips and strategies for outlining the main idea;
  • Examples of good and bad short summaries for inspiration;
  • Common mistakes to avoid when writing a research article summary.

The steps outlined in this post will help you summarize an article in your own words without sacrificing the original text message and ideas.

What Is an Article Summary?

An article summary is a concise and condensed version of a longer piece of writing, often an article, research paper, or news report. Its purpose is to capture the main ideas, crucial points, and key arguments found in the original text, providing a brief and easily understandable overview.

These summaries are composed in the author’s own words, distilling the essential information to help readers quickly grasp the content without having to read the entire article. They serve as a helpful tool to offer a snapshot of the most important aspects of the content, making it simpler for readers to decide whether they wish to delve into the complete article.

A common goal of academic summary writing is to  improve critical thinking skills , and they serve as great practice for academic writers to improve their own writing skills. There are several main goals of writing a synopsis of an article:

  • This paper’s main goal is to provide a comprehensive yet brief descriptive comment on a particular article, telling your readers about the author’s topic sentence and important points in his work and the key points of it.
  • It serves to outline a laconic reader’s perspective on the paper while keeping the main point.
  • Identifies all the crucial segments from each of the paper’s sections.

A proper article summary can help do your college essays the right way because it provides a great, concise view of the source article. Especially if you are often facing writing tasks like academic papers, knowing how to write a good synopsis can upgrade your writing skills.

Difference Between Abstract and Research Summary Writing

Things get confusing when someone wants to define their place and purpose inside the text. To be more precise, the abstract appears first in the academic article, whereas the summary appears last.

Many students cannot distinguish between a summary and an abstract of a research paper. While these have certain similarities, they are not the same. Therefore, you must be aware of the subtleties before beginning a research article.

On the one hand, both components have a limited scope. Their goal is to provide a thorough literature assessment of the research paper’s main ideas. When you write a research summary, focus on your topic, methods, and findings.

Below you can find more differences between the abstract and research article summary for your project:

  • Abstracts provide a succinct synopsis of your work and showcase your writing style.
  • Abstracts lay out the background information and clarify the primary hypothesis thesis statement, while the summary emphasizes your research methodology, highlighting the important elements.

Finally, you must submit the abstract before actual publication. On the other hand, article summaries come with the finished piece of paper.

Steps to Write a Summary for an Article

In the world of effective communication, the skill of crafting short yet informative summaries is invaluable. Whether you’re a student dealing with academic articles, a professional simplifying complex reports, or simply someone looking to grasp the essence of an interesting read, mastering the art of summarization is crucial. This summarizing guidelines will lead you through the steps to write a compelling piece.

These steps will empower you to extract core ideas and key takeaways, making it easier to understand and share information efficiently.

Preparing for Summarizing

Before you start writing your summary of the article, you’ll have to read the piece a few times first as a base for further understanding. It’s recommended that you read the paper without taking any notes first because this gives you some room to create your own perspective of the work.

After the first reading, you should be able to tell the author’s perspective and the type of audience they are focusing on. Subsequently, you should get ready for the second read with a paper to write notes on as you get into the arguments of the post.

Identifying Main Ideas

As you come to the second read of the article, you should focus on the thesis statement, main ideas, and important details laid out in the piece. If you look at the headings and sections individually, you should be able to get some material for the summarizing by taking out the crucial events or a topic sentence from each part.

While writing down the main arguments of the post, make sure to ask the five “W” questions. If you think about the “Who” , “Why” , “When” , “Where” , and “What” , you should be able to construct a layout for the summary based on the main ideas.

Writing The Summary

Once you lay down the article’s main ideas and answer the key questions about it, you’ll have an outline for writing. The next move is to keep an eye out on the structure of the summary and use the material in your notes to write your short take on these essential points.

The steps for writing article summaries can be similar to the  main steps of article review writing . Therefore, it’s necessary to discuss the structure next so we can set you in the right direction with summary-specific format tips.

Outline Your Research Summary

To summarize research papers, you must be aware of the basic structure. You may know how to cite sources and filter the ideas, but you’ll also have to organize your findings in a concise academic structure.

The following components are essential for a summary paper format:

Introduction

Your research article’s introduction is a brief overview of your work. Outlining important ideas or presenting the state of the topic under research seeks to make the issue easier for your audience to comprehend.

The Methods section includes tests, databases, experiments, surveys, questionnaires, sampling, or statistical analysis, used to conduct a research study. However, for a solid research paper summary example, you should avoid getting bogged down in the specifics and just discuss the tools you utilized and how you conducted your study.

This part the summary of research, presents all of the data you gathered from your investigations and analysis. Therefore, incorporate any information you learned by watching your target and the supporting theories.

This stage requires you to summarize research paper, evaluate the result in light of the pertinent background, and determine how it reacts to the prevailing trends. You need to identify the subject’s advantages and disadvantages once you have provided an explanation using theoretical models. You may also recommend more research in the area.

Use this last part to support or refute your theories in light of the data collection and analysis, though, if your mentor insists on it being in a separate paragraph.

Here’s a research summary example outlining the topic “The Impact of Social Media on Mental Health Among Adolescents”:

I. Introduction.

  • Brief overview of the rise of social media.
  • Importance of studying its impact on mental health.
  • Statement of the problem.
  • Purpose of the study.

II. Literature Review.

  • Statistics on social media penetration.
  • Common platforms and their features.
  • Studies supporting a negative and/or a positive impact.
  • Gaps and inconsistencies in existing literature.

III. Methodology.

  • Quantitative approach.
  • Cross-sectional survey.
  • Survey instrument details.
  • Ethical considerations.

IV. Data Analysis.

  • Descriptive statistics.
  • Inferential statistics (e.g., regression analysis).
  • Tables and figures.
  • Key findings.

V. Discussion.

  • Correlation between social media usage and mental health.
  • Identification of patterns and trends.
  • Practical implications for parents, educators, and policymakers.
  • Suggestions for future research.

VI. Conclusion.

  • Summary of key findings.
  • Final remarks on the study’s contribution to the field.

The given research article summary example depicts how the text can be structured in a laconic and effective way.

Structure Types  

So, now you can see the best practices and structure types for writing both empirical and argumentative summaries. The only thing left to discuss is to go through our example outlined above and divide its structure into distinctive parts, which you could use when writing your own summary.

The best way to start is by mentioning the title and the author of the article. It’s best to keep it straightforward: “ In “Who Will Be In Cyberspace”, author Langdon Winner takes a philosophical approach…”

The next part is critical for writing a good summary since you’ll want to captivate the reader with a short and concise one-point thesis. If you look at our example, you’ll see that the first sentence or two contains the main point, along with the title and the author’s name.

So, that’s an easy way to get straight to the point while also sounding professional, and this works for all the essay structure types. You should briefly point out the main supportive points as well – “ He supports this through the claims that people working in the information industry should be more careful about newly developed technologies…”  

The key is to keep it neutral and not overcomplicate things with supportive claims. Try to make them as precise as possible and provide examples that directly support the main thesis.

Unless it’s a scientific article summary where you are requested to provide your take as a researcher, it’s also best to avoid using personal opinions. You can conclude the summary by once again mentioning the main thought of the article, and this time you can make the connection between the main thesis and supporting points to wrap up.

Summary Writing Tips and Best Practices

The way in which you’ll approach writing a summary depends on the type and topic of the original article, but there are some common points to keep in mind. Whether you are trying to summarize a research article or a journal piece, these tips can help you stay on topic:

  • Be concise – The best way to summarize an article quickly is to be straightforward. In practice, it means making it all in a few sentences and no longer than one-fourth of the size of the original article.
  • Highlight the study’s most significant findings – For your summary paper, prioritize presenting results that have the most substantial impact or contribute significantly to the field.
  • Create a reverse outline – On the other hand, you can also remove the supporting writing to end up with a reverse essay outline and these are the ideas you can expand on through your summary.
  • Use your own words – In most cases, a paper summary will be scanned for plagiarism, so you need to make sure you are using your words to express the main point uniquely. This doesn’t mean you have to provide your perspective on the topic. It just means your summary needs to be original.
  • Make sure to follow the tone – Summarizing an article means you’ll also need to reflect on the tone of the original piece. To properly summarize an article, you should address the same tone in which the author is addressing the audience.
  • Use author tags – Along with the thesis statement, you also have to express the author’s take through author tags. This means you need to state the name of the author and piece title at the beginning, and keep adding these “tags” like “he” or “she” or simply refer to the author by name when expressing their ideas.
  • Avoid minor details – To ensure you stay on topic, it’s recommended that you avoid repetition, any minor details, or descriptive elements. Try to keep the focus on key points, main statements and ideas without being carried away in thought.
  • Steer clear of interpretations or personal opinions – Avoid personal interpretations or opinions when you write a summary for a research paper. Remember to stick to presenting facts and findings without injecting subjective views.
  • Highlight the research context – Focus on explaining to the readers why research is important. Your summary of research paper must not repeat the previous studies. Find the gap in the existing literature it could fill. When you write a summary of a research article, try to help readers understand the significance of your study within the broader academic or practical context. Use a paraphraser if you need a fresh perspective on your writing style.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Just like it’s important to  avoid plagiarism in your text , there are a few other mistakes that commonly occur. The whole point is to summarize article pieces genuinely, with a focus on the author’s argument and writing in your own words.

We’ve often seen college graduates do an article summary and misrepresent the author’s idea or take, so that’s an important piece of advice. You should avoid drifting away from the author’s main idea throughout the summary and keep it precise but not too short.

Quotes shouldn’t be used directly within the piece, and by that, we mean both quotes from the author and quotes from other summaries on the same topic since it would qualify as plagiarism. Finally, you shouldn’t state your opinion unless you are doing a summary of a novel or short story with a specific academic goal of writing from your perspective.

Examples of Article Summaries

While our guide and tips can be used for a variety of different types of written pieces, there are various types of articles. From professional essay writing to informative article synopsis, options can vary.

We will give you an example of a summary of the different article types that you may run upon, so you can see exactly what we mean by those standardized instructions and tips:

article summary

The question of how to summarize an article isn’t new to students or even writers with more experience, so we hope this guide will shed some light on the process. The most important piece of advice we can give you is to stay true to the main statement and key points of the article and express the synopsis in your original way to avoid plagiarism.

As for the structure, we are certain you’ll be able to use our examples and layouts for different types of summaries, so make sure to pay extra attention to the structure, quotes, and author tags.

What is a good way to start a summary?

To begin a summary effectively, start by briefly introducing the article’s topic and the main points the author discusses. Capture the reader’s attention with a concise yet engaging opening sentence. Provide context and mention the author’s name and the article’s title. Convey the essence of the article’s content, highlighting its significance or relevance to the reader. This initial context-setting sentence lays the foundation for a clear and engaging summary that draws the reader in.

What is the difference between summarizing and criticizing an article?

Summarizing an article entails condensing its main points objectively and neutrally, presenting the essential information to readers. In contrast, critiquing an article involves a more in-depth evaluation, assessing its strengths and weaknesses, methodology, and overall quality, often including the expression of personal opinions and judgments. Summarization offers a snapshot of the content, while critique delves deeper, offering a comprehensive assessment.

When summarizing a text, focus on these critical questions:

  • “What’s the main point?” Find the core message or argument.
  • “What supports the main point?” Identify key supporting details and evidence.
  • “Who’s the author?” Consider their qualifications and potential bias.
  • “Who’s the intended audience?” Understand the expected reader’s knowledge level.
  • “Why is it important?” Explain the text’s relevance and significance within its context. Addressing these questions ensures a thorough and effective summary.

How long is a summary and how many paragraphs does a summary have?

A summary typically ranges from one to three paragraphs in length, depending on the complexity and length of the original text. The goal is to concisely present the main points or essence of the source material, usually resulting in a summary that is significantly shorter than the original.

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When writing a summary, the goal is to compose a concise and objective overview of the original article. The summary should focus only on the article's main ideas and important details that support those ideas.

Guidelines for summarizing an article:

  • State the main ideas.
  • Identify the most important details that support the main ideas.
  • Summarize in your own words.
  • Do not copy phrases or sentences unless they are being used as direct quotations.
  • Express the underlying meaning of the article, but do not critique or analyze.
  • The summary should be about one third the length of the original article. 

Your summary should include:

  • Give an overview of the article, including the title and the name of the author.
  • Provide a thesis statement that states the main idea of the article.
  • Use the body paragraphs to explain the supporting ideas of your thesis statement.
  • One-paragraph summary - one sentence per supporting detail, providing 1-2 examples for each.
  • Multi-paragraph summary - one paragraph per supporting detail, providing 2-3 examples for each.
  • Start each paragraph with a topic sentence.
  • Use transitional words and phrases to connect ideas.
  • Summarize your thesis statement and the underlying meaning of the article.

 Adapted from "Guidelines for Using In-Text Citations in a Summary (or Research Paper)" by Christine Bauer-Ramazani, 2020

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How to Write a Summary - Guide & Examples  (from Scribbr.com)

Writing a Summary  (from The University of Arizona Global Campus Writing Center)

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How to Write a Summary (Examples Included)

Ashley Shaw

Ashley Shaw

How to write a summary

Have you ever recommended a book to someone and given them a quick overview? Then you’ve created a summary before!

Summarizing is a common part of everyday communication. It feels easy when you’re recounting what happened on your favorite show, but what do you do when the information gets a little more complex?

Written summaries come with their own set of challenges. You might ask yourself:

  • What details are unnecessary?
  • How do you put this in your own words without changing the meaning?
  • How close can you get to the original without plagiarizing it?
  • How long should it be?

The answers to these questions depend on the type of summary you are doing and why you are doing it.

A summary in an academic setting is different to a professional summary—and both of those are very different to summarizing a funny story you want to tell your friends.

One thing they all have in common is that you need to relay information in the clearest way possible to help your reader understand. We’ll look at some different forms of summary, and give you some tips on each.

Let’s get started!

What Is a Summary?

How do you write a summary, how do you write an academic summary, what are the four types of academic summaries, how do i write a professional summary, writing or telling a summary in personal situations, summarizing summaries.

A summary is a shorter version of a larger work. Summaries are used at some level in almost every writing task, from formal documents to personal messages.

When you write a summary, you have an audience that doesn’t know every single thing you know.

When you want them to understand your argument, topic, or stance, you may need to explain some things to catch them up.

Instead of having them read the article or hear every single detail of the story or event, you instead give them a brief overview of what they need to know.

Academic, professional, and personal summaries each require you to consider different things, but there are some key rules they all have in common.

Let’s go over a few general guides to writing a summary first.

A summary should be shorter than the original

1. A summary should always be shorter than the original work, usually considerably.

Even if your summary is the length of a full paper, you are likely summarizing a book or other significantly longer work.

2. A summary should tell the reader the highlights of what they need to know without giving them unnecessary details.

3. It should also include enough details to give a clear and honest picture.

For example, if you summarize an article that says “ The Office is the greatest television show of all time,” but don’t mention that they are specifically referring to sitcoms, then you changed the meaning of the article. That’s a problem! Similarly, if you write a summary of your job history and say you volunteered at a hospital for the last three years, but you don’t add that you only went twice in that time, it becomes a little dishonest.

4. Summaries shouldn’t contain personal opinion.

While in the longer work you are creating you might use opinion, within the summary itself, you should avoid all personal opinion. A summary is different than a review. In this moment, you aren’t saying what you think of the work you are summarizing, you are just giving your audience enough information to know what the work says or did.

Include enough detail

Now that we have a good idea of what summaries are in general, let’s talk about some specific types of summary you will likely have to do at some point in your writing life.

An academic summary is one you will create for a class or in other academic writing. The exact elements you will need to include depend on the assignment itself.

However, when you’re asked for an academic summary, this usually this means one of five things, all of which are pretty similar:

  • You need to do a presentation in which you talk about an article, book, or report.
  • You write a summary paper in which the entire paper is a summary of a specific work.
  • You summarize a class discussion, lesson, or reading in the form of personal notes or a discussion board post.
  • You do something like an annotated bibliography where you write short summaries of multiple works in preparation of a longer assignment.
  • You write quick summaries within the body of another assignment . For example, in an argumentative essay, you will likely need to have short summaries of the sources you use to explain their argument before getting into how the source helps you prove your point.

Places to find academic summaries

Regardless of what type of summary you are doing, though, there are a few steps you should always follow:

  • Skim the work you are summarizing before you read it. Notice what stands out to you.
  • Next, read it in depth . Do the same things stand out?
  • Put the full text away and write in a few sentences what the main idea or point was.
  • Go back and compare to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
  • Expand on this to write and then edit your summary.

Each type of academic summary requires slightly different things. Let’s get down to details.

How Do I Write a Summary Paper?

Sometimes teachers assign something called a summary paper . In this, the entire thing is a summary of one article, book, story, or report.

To understand how to write this paper, let’s talk a little bit about the purpose of such an assignment.

A summary paper is usually given to help a teacher see how well a student understands a reading assignment, but also to help the student digest the reading. Sometimes, it can be difficult to understand things we read right away.

However, a good way to process the information is to put it in our own words. That is the point of a summary paper.

What a summary paper is

A summary paper is:

  • A way to explain in our own words what happened in a paper, book, etc.
  • A time to think about what was important in the paper, etc.
  • A time to think about the meaning and purpose behind the paper, etc.

Here are some things that a summary paper is not:

  • A review. Your thoughts and opinions on the thing you are summarizing don’t need to be here unless otherwise specified.
  • A comparison. A comparison paper has a lot of summary in it, but it is different than a summary paper. In this, you are just saying what happened, but you aren’t saying places it could have been done differently.
  • A paraphrase (though you might have a little paraphrasing in there). In the section on using summary in longer papers, I talk more about the difference between summaries, paraphrases, and quotes.

What a summary paper is not

Because a summary paper is usually longer than other forms of summary, you will be able to chose more detail. However, it still needs to focus on the important events. Summary papers are usually shorter papers.

Let’s say you are writing a 3–4 page summary. You are likely summarizing a full book or an article or short story, which will be much longer than 3–4 pages.

Imagine that you are the author of the work, and your editor comes to you and says they love what you wrote, but they need it to be 3–4 pages instead.

How would you tell that story (argument, idea, etc.) in that length without losing the heart or intent behind it? That is what belongs in a summary paper.

How Do I Write Useful Academic Notes?

Sometimes, you need to write a summary for yourself in the form of notes or for your classmates in the form of a discussion post.

You might not think you need a specific approach for this. After all, only you are going to see it.

However, summarizing for yourself can sometimes be the most difficult type of summary. If you try to write down everything your teacher says, your hand will cramp and you’ll likely miss a lot.

Yet, transcribing doesn’t work because studies show that writing things down (not typing them) actually helps you remember them better.

So how do you find the balance between summarizing the lessons without leaving out important points?

There are some tips for this:

  • If your professor writes it on the board, it is probably important.
  • What points do your textbooks include when summarizing information? Use these as a guide.
  • Write the highlight of every X amount of time, with X being the time you can go without missing anything or getting tired. This could be one point per minute, or three per five minutes, etc.

How Do I Create an Annotated Biography?

An annotated bibliography requires a very specific style of writing. Often, you will write these before a longer research paper . They will ask you to find a certain amount of articles and write a short annotation for each of them.

While an annotation is more than just a summary, it usually starts with a summary of the work. This will be about 2–3 sentences long. Because you don’t have a lot of room, you really have to think about what the most important thing the work says is.

This will basically ask you to explain the point of the article in these couple of sentences, so you should focus on the main point when expressing it.

Here is an example of a summary section within an annotation about this post:

“In this post, the author explains how to write a summary in different types of settings. She walks through academic, professional, and personal summaries. Ultimately, she claims that summaries should be short explanations that get the audience caught up on the topic without leaving out details that would change the meaning.”

What are annotation summaries?

Can I Write a Summary Within an Essay?

Perhaps the most common type of summary you will ever do is a short summary within a longer paper.

For example, if you have to write an argumentative essay, you will likely need to use sources to help support your argument.

However, there is a good chance that your readers won’t have read those same sources.

So, you need to give them enough detail to understand your topic without spending too much time explaining and not enough making your argument.

While this depends on exactly how you are using summary in your paper, often, a good amount of summary is the same amount you would put in an annotation.

Just a few sentences will allow the reader to get an idea of the work before moving on to specific parts of it that might help your argument.

What’s the Difference Between Summarizing, Paraphrasing, and Using Quotes?

One important thing to recognize when using summaries in academic settings is that summaries are different than paraphrases or quotes.

A summary is broader and more general. A paraphrase, on the other hand, puts specific parts into your own words. A quote uses the exact words of the original. All of them, however, need to be cited.

Let’s look at an example:

Take these words by Thomas J. Watson:

”Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t as all. You can be discouraged by failure—or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember, that’s where you will find success.”

Let’s say I was told to write a summary, a paraphrase, and a quote about this statement. This is what it might look like:

Summary: Thomas J. Watson said that the key to success is actually to fail more often. (This is broad and doesn’t go into details about what he says, but it still gives him credit.)

Paraphrase: Thomas J. Watson, on asking if people would like his formula for success, said that the secret was to fail twice as much. He claimed that when you decide to learn from your mistakes instead of being disappointed by them, and when you start making a lot of them, you will actually find more success. (This includes most of the details, but it is in my own words, while still crediting the source.)

Quote: Thomas J. Watson said, ”Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure—or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember, that’s where you will find success.” (This is the exact words of the original with quotation marks and credit given.)

A summary versus a paraphrase versus a quote

Avoiding Plagiarism

One of the hardest parts about summarizing someone else’s writing is avoiding plagiarism .

A tip to avoid plagiarism

That’s why I have a few rules/tips for you when summarizing anything:

1. Always cite.

If you are talking about someone else’s work in any means, cite your source. If you are summarizing the entire work, all you probably need to do (depending on style guidelines) is say the author’s name. However, if you are summarizing a specific chapter or section, you should state that specifically. Finally, you should make sure to include it in your Work Cited or Reference page.

2. Change the wording.

Sometimes when people are summarizing or paraphrasing a work, they get too close to the original, and actually use the exact words. Unless you use quotation marks, this is plagiarism. However, a good way to avoid this is to hide the article while you are summarizing it. If you don’t have it in front of you, you are less likely to accidentally use the exact words. (However, after you are done, double check that you didn’t miss anything important or give wrong details.)

3. Use a plagiarism checker.

Of course, when you are writing any summary, especially academic summaries, it can be easy to cross the line into plagiarism. If this is a place where you struggle, then ProWritingAid can help.

ProWritingAid's Plagiarism Report

Just use our Plagiarism Report . It’ll highlight any unoriginal text in your document so you can make sure you are citing everything correctly and summarizing in your own words.

Find out more about ProWritingAid plagiarism bundles.

Along with academic summaries, you might sometimes need to write professional summaries. Often, this means writing a summary about yourself that shows why you are qualified for a position or organization.

In this section, let’s talk about two types of professional summaries: a LinkedIn summary and a summary section within a resume.

How Do I Write My LinkedIn Bio?

LinkedIn is all about professional networking. It offers you a chance to share a brief glimpse of your professional qualifications in a paragraph or two.

This can then be sent to professional connections, or even found by them without you having to reach out. This can help you get a job or build your network.

Your summary is one of the first things a future employer might see about you, and how you write yours can make you stand out from the competition.

Your resume's summary

Here are some tips on writing a LinkedIn summary :

  • Before you write it, think about what you want it to do . If you are looking for a job, what kind of job? What have you done in your past that would stand out to someone hiring for that position? That is what you will want to focus on in your summary.
  • Be professional . Unlike many social media platforms, LinkedIn has a reputation for being more formal. Your summary should reflect that to some extent.
  • Use keywords . Your summary is searchable, so using keywords that a recruiter might be searching for can help them find you.
  • Focus on the start . LinkedIn shows the first 300 characters automatically, and then offers the viewer a chance to read more. Make that start so good that everyone wants to keep reading.
  • Focus on accomplishments . Think of your life like a series of albums, and this is your speciality “Greatest Hits” album. What “songs” are you putting on it?

Tips for writing a linkedin summary

How Do I Summarize My Experience on a Resume?

Writing a professional summary for a resume is different than any other type of summary that you may have to do.

Recruiters go through a lot of resumes every day. They don’t have time to spend ages reading yours, which means you have to wow them quickly.

To do that, you might include a section at the top of your resume that acts almost as an elevator pitch: That one thing you might say to a recruiter to get them to want to talk to you if you only had a 30-second elevator ride.

Treat your resume summary as an elevator pitch

If you don’t have a lot of experience, though, you might want to skip this section entirely and focus on playing up the experience you do have.

Outside of academic and personal summaries, you use summary a lot in your day-to-day life.

Whether it is telling a good piece of trivia you just learned or a funny story that happened to you, or even setting the stage in creative writing, you summarize all the time.

How you use summary can be an important consideration in whether people want to read your work (or listen to you talk).

Here are some things to think about when telling a story:

  • Pick interesting details . Too many and your point will be lost. Not enough, and you didn’t paint the scene or give them a complete idea about what happened.
  • Play into the emotions . When telling a story, you want more information than the bare minimum. You want your reader to get the emotion of the story. That requires a little bit more work to accomplish.
  • Focus. A summary of one story can lead to another can lead to another. Think about storytellers that you know that go off on a tangent. They never seem to finish one story without telling 100 others!

Summarize a spoken story

To wrap up (and to demonstrate everything I just talked about), let’s summarize this post into its most essential parts:

A summary is a great way to quickly give your audience the information they need to understand the topic you are discussing without having to know every detail.

How you write a summary is different depending on what type of summary you are doing:

  • An academic summary usually gets to the heart of an article, book, or journal, and it should highlight the main points in your own words. How long it should be depends on the type of assignment it is.
  • A professional summary highlights you and your professional, academic, and volunteer history. It shows people in your professional network who you are and why they should hire you, work with you, use your talents, etc.

Being able to tell a good story is another form of summary. You want to tell engaging anecdotes and facts without boring your listeners. This is a skill that is developed over time.

Take your writing to the next level:

20 Editing Tips From Professional Writers

20 Editing Tips from Professional Writers

Whether you are writing a novel, essay, article, or email, good writing is an essential part of communicating your ideas., this guide contains the 20 most important writing tips and techniques from a wide range of professional writers..

how to write a brief synopsis of an article

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Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.

Ashley Shaw is a former editor and marketer/current PhD student and teacher. When she isn't studying con artists for her dissertation, she's thinking of new ways to help college students better understand and love the writing process. You can follow her on Twitter, or, if you prefer animal accounts, follow her rabbits, Audrey Hopbun and Fredra StaHare, on Instagram.

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How To Write a Summary of an Article - Guide & Examples

Learn how to summarize an article, where to start, what to include, and how to keep it short and interesting through this practical guideline. 

how to write a brief synopsis of an article

Ivana Vidakovic

Jan 24, 2023

How To Write a Summary of an Article - Guide & Examples

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Have you ever considered why article summaries yield so much attention online? 

And why it matters so much to writers?

It would be demoralizing to pour a great deal of effort and enthusiasm into an article only to have it end in a banal, trite manner.

It's like a well-made film with a vague ending.

A poor summary of an article isn't just detrimental to the piece overall, it can also leave you feeling like your precious time has been squandered.

This post will go over some guidelines on how to summarize an article, such as where to start, what to include, and how to keep it short and interesting. 

Moreover, we will offer some tried-and-true solutions that can help you speed up the summarizing process.

But before we get into that, let's figure out why we have to summarize articles in the first place.

Why Do We Need to Summarize Articles?

When you need to convey the gist of a lengthy article to someone who still needs to read it, a summary is your best bet.

It allows readers to get the brief of an article quickly without having to read it cover to cover. Your readers can easily remember and retain the main points of an article if they are correctly summarized. 

What's more, article summaries are a time-saving technique that can be used when:

✅ Writing the last part of an article .

✅ Writing a review of a book .

✅ When getting ready for a presentation in class .

✅ When conducting research for a project .

✅ When getting ready for an interview .

✅ When preparing for a test .

✅ When writing a blog post .

✅ When making a report for a customer .

✅ When writing news summaries for a website .

✅ If you are writing a speech .

Now that you know where to use it, let’s learn how to write a summary of an article in 5 simple steps. . 

You’ll be surprised when you discover that you were probably unconsciously using all these techniques already.

How To Write a Summary of an Article In 5 Steps

1. read the article.

The first step in writing a summary of an article is, of course, to read the article carefully. 

Even though this step might seem obvious, you might be surprised by how many people think a quick overview is all they need to understand a concept fully. 

That may be true, but if you want people to take your summary seriously, take the time to read the article carefully and pay attention to the main points, its details, and the structure of the tex t.

That way, you can ensure you're covering the essentials of the article, which serve as your summary's backbone.

2. Identify The Main Ideas of The Article

Let’s not beat around the bush: a quick glance at the article's outlines will reveal its central arguments .

Outlines of articles emphasize everything of utmost importance for the subject at hand.

However, if the article doesn’t have outlines, you can extract the main ideas by looking for the topic sentence in each paragraph.

the-main-ideas-of-the-article-writing-a-summary

3. Write Your Understanding of The Topic

The third step in writing a summary of an article is to write its main points in your own words .

The question you should ask yourself when you write an article's summary is this: 

🎯 What are the most important points that your readers should remember?

At this point, you are free to use more than just a simple statement.

Think about the big picture and focus on conveying the general impression of the argument.

how-to-write-a-summary-of-an-article

Your summary argument can be more convincing by including specifics directly connected to the main idea.

4. Define Your Thesis Statement

Now that you've laid out your arguments, what do you think of your findings as a whole?

The summary boils down to your assessment.

🎯 What is the bottom line message you are trying to convey?

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet for putting your ideas into words, therefore we are limited in the advice we can provide you. 

Just be yourself when you write it — your audience will enjoy the authenticity and originality that comes from your voice . 

If a reader doesn't care about what he just read, that's the worst possible reaction, right?

Thus, whether they agree or disagree, you've accomplished your goal as a writer if your audience is engaged with your content. 

5. Rewrite The Summary

Once you've completed the four steps outlined above, you have your first draft of the summary, which needs additional tweaking to make it coherent and effective.

To successfully summarize an article, you will need to rewrite it (either the entire output or just fragments of it) to strengthen your context .

You can get the most out of your sentences by using a rewriting technique that primarily focuses on shifting the working order and experimenting with synonyms.

The following are the essential components of powerful sentences:

🎯 They are clear and easy to read .

🎯 They maintain a consistent and logical line of thought .

🎯 They are engaging .

Moreover, there are two additional factors that necessitate rewriting the original article summary draft:

📍To make sure we are not repeating ourselves .

📍To avoid plagiarism .

Ok, you’re all set. Now we should test what you’ve learned from the example.

A Summary of An Article From The Example

Reading instructions is one thing, but doing what you read is entirely different. 

I'll demonstrate 4 writing strategies that can help you quickly and effectively summarize any piece of writing by applying them to the same section of the article. 

Here is the piece I’ll be using in the following text:

summary-example

Additionally, you'll learn how to use AI-enabled tools to produce summary output even more quickly.

Let's start!

1. Summarizing Technique

The art of summarizing allows you to condense a lengthy piece of writing down to its essentials.

Simplifying a text means getting rid of all the fluff and focusing on the core concepts while ignoring the supporting details.

To be effective at summarizing, it's crucial that the summary maintain the same tone and point of view as the original text.

Summarizing Output Example

summarizing-output-example

Tools, such as the TextCortex add-on , can help you quickly and effortlessly summarize large portions of text.

Just highlight your text , and from the rewriting menu that appears at the bottom, hit the “ Summarize ” button.

You can use TextCortex within 30+ online platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Docs, Hemingway, Notion etc.

This means you don’t have to switch between the tabs to tweak your text — leverage AI writing assistance within your chosen platform's textbox.

2. Rewriting Technique

The rewriting method allows you to alter a sentence's form without changing its meaning. 

You can rewrite sentences to make them more understandable, shorter, or engaging. 

Rewriting techniques can also make your sentence sound more interesting or sophisticated by switching out a few words for synonyms..

Rewriting Output Example

how to write a brief synopsis of an article

The TextCortex add-on, also offers the “ Rewriting ” feature in its arsenal.

Again, highlight the sentences or paragraphs in bulk, and choose the option from the rewriting menu.

From this point, you can either copy and paste the output, or click on it to apply changes.

If you are not satisfied with the quality of your output, just click on “ Load more ” to get additional suggestions.

3. Changing the Tone of Voice Technique

One way to change the narrative and style of your writing is by adjusting the tone of voice .

This writing technique requires a writer to experiment with various sentence structures.

In other words, changing the writer's tone of voice allows you to set the mood and evoke a certain reaction from the audience.

Encouraging Tone of Voice Output Example

You guessed it right. 

The TextCortex add-on also provides you with the “ Tone ” feature that enables you to switch between different narrative styles such as “encouraging”, “casual”, “decisive”, and so on.

You can access this feature either from the rewriting menu or by hitting the purple bubble that prompts the creator suite with 60+ AI templates to choose from.

4. Proofreading

The final version of your summary must endure at least one additional writing technique: proofreading . 

You can use it to find and fix typos and other mistakes in grammar, punctuation, spelling, style, and capitalization.

A proofreading technique ensures a clear, concise, and accurate summary as a result.

The " Text-to-speech " feature is a great way to check your work for errors when using the TextCortex add-on. 

There aren't enough ways to describe how tedious it is to spot your own mistakes in writing. With this feature, you can have AI read your content aloud, allowing you to gauge its overall impact and spot errors with greater precision. 

The " Text-to-speech " function can be activated by selecting the text you wish be read aloud and then selecting the appropriate option from the rewriting menu. 

After a short wait, the " play " button will become available, and you can press it to hear the final version of your content.

What Is The Easiest Way To Summarize An Article?

Congratulations! You have successfully completed a brief course on how to write a summary of an article.

As for the question on what is the easiest way to summarize an article, my answer is clear — utilize AI writing tools to do that for you.

There comes a point in every creative person's life when inspiration dries up, and a deadline looms without mercy.

A smart move to get the ball rolling again and avoid the torture of writer's block is to invest in software that can cut down on your writing time while providing a significant breakthrough in your writing.

With the TextCortex add-on , you can accomplish all that and even more:

👍Rewrite original sentences without changing the meaning.

👍Expand the sentences to add more details in your paragraphs.

👍Summarize the original text for a brief output.

👍 Change the tone of voice to play with different narratives.

👍 Autocomplete your sentences from random thoughts.

👍 Generate long-form posts from a 5-word concept.

👍 Transform bullets into emails .

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What are The 3 Elements of The Summary?

1. Introduction — A quick overview of the article's main points.

2. Body — A detailed description of the main ideas (including evidence and arguments). 

3. Conclusion — An overall evaluation of the provided solutions.

How Many Paragraphs Are In The Summary?

How many paragraphs an article summary has will depend on how long the article is and what the purpose of the summary is. 

In general, a summary will have between 1 and 4 paragraphs . 

However, if the article is very long, it may need more than 4 paragraphs.

Keep Learning

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Paraphrasing Vs. Summarizing: The Difference And Best Examples

6 Techniques To Change Tone In Writing Easily

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How to write a summary of an article

Learn how to summarize your articles effectively using these straightforward techniques and industry-best practices.

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When producing an article, a large amount of facts and information are incorporated into it, and frequently, this amount of material needs to be compressed to increase the article’s understandability.

In essence, a summary aids in determining whether an article meets the expectations regarding the issue, whether it was built with all the intricacies on the subject, whether it can lead to a conclusion, and so forth.

Although creating a summary of an article may seem simple and straightforward, it can be challenging to choose exactly what material is important enough to include. Additionally, there is much more to consider than simply restating the information. 

But have no fear—in this post, you will discover detailed instructions on how to write a summary of an article correctly and effectively.

What is a summary and why is it important?

It’s vital to note that summaries are a powerful indicator of your reading and writing skills. A summary is simply a brief outline of an article’s main elements that are written entirely in your own words.

Generally speaking, a summary should be around one-third as long as the original and still must contain all of the most important information.

A summary has many benefits, and as was already mentioned, it’s important to condense a lot of the information in an article. This can be helpful for the writer because it aids in identifying the main points and key details, and it can provide a variety of perspectives that increase comprehension and shed light on the subject, besides communicating the essence of the article in an engaging way.

It can also make it simpler for readers to understand an article because they won’t have to wade through long paragraphs of text to figure out what your thesis statement was about.

Summaries vs. Reviews

Let’s discuss how to distinguish reviews from summaries before moving on to how to write a summary of an article .

A review typically refers to the expression of a viewpoint on the issue being discussed. It concentrates around the concepts of the narrative and how it was presented rather than the specific details. 

A review also acknowledges the impact the topic has on someone or something. It can also be used to provide a thorough introduction to the topic, although, unlike summaries, reviews are not required to emphasize all of the major aspects of the topic in the same chronological order. 

Reviews can be used for any topic that can be presented to an audience and are used in both formal and informal situations, such as “a movie review” or “a review of a research paper.” 

A review’s quality might differ from one reviewer to the next based on how it is interpreted, as a good or a bad review. In contrast, summaries do not take into account any kind of opinion.

A summary is a succinct account of any representation or narrative that has been delivered and is used to aid in the reader’s comprehension of the material. It covers every critical point in the text and presents the substance in the same chronological order as the narrative. 

A summary does not stray from the main aspects of the subject at all. It makes no mention of any evaluation of the subject or the writer’s ideas. Summaries always follow the same format as the subject they are summarizing, beginning with the introduction and ending at the subject’s conclusion. Although summaries are frequently employed in academic settings, it can be applied to any other type of story.

Steps for Writing an Effective Summary

The first step in learning how to write a summary of an article is to understand that article summaries need to show that you can read and interpret information. 

1. Read the article at least twice

To grasp the arguments and the article’s topic, you should first read the article thoroughly. At this stage, don’t bother about taking notes; instead, just concentrate on reading the article. This is where having strong reading abilities come in.

2. State the main idea

You will be able to identify the article’s core theme and topic after carefully reading the article.

3. Start taking notes

After identifying the main topic, start to take note of the supporting arguments, concentrate on the key points and consider what else is in the article that might be useful or important for the summary.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to highlight specific words or phrases in the content and when summarizing the article, incorporate the main keywords.

4. Write it down

Start writing it down using your own words and avoid copying phrases and sentences from the article unless they’re direct quotations.

5. Think about the structure

A summary must have an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion that are no longer than one-third the article’s length.

  • Introduction: 

Your opening paragraph should contain a hook that draws the reader in. The introduction includes a general description of the topic, the article’s title, and, ideally, a thesis statement that captures the essence of the text and that explains which points you’re going to expand on.

  • Body Paragraphs:

Each supporting argument should have its own body paragraph. Talk about it, clarify, or condense those supporting points in each body paragraph. Be sure to talk about the reasoning behind each individual conclusion and the supporting evidence they employed. 

  • Conclusion:

Restate your introduction’s topic sentence or thesis statement about the key argument to start your conclusion, make sure you rephrase this from your opening statement.

You can better communicate the article’s overall meaning and arguments by using this section. Describe any additional issues, consequences, or problems that the article raises in a few phrases. 

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Writing a Summary – Explanation & Examples

Published by Alvin Nicolas at October 17th, 2023 , Revised On October 17, 2023

In a world bombarded with vast amounts of information, condensing and presenting data in a digestible format becomes invaluable. Enter summaries. 

A summary is a brief and concise account of the main points of a larger body of work. It distils complex ideas, narratives, or data into a version that is quicker to read and easier to understand yet still retains the essence of the original content.

Importance of Summaries

The importance of summarising extends far beyond just making reading more manageable. In academic settings, summaries aid students in understanding and retaining complex materials, from textbook chapters to research articles. They also serve as tools to showcase one’s grasp of the subject in essays and reports. 

In professional arenas, summaries are pivotal in business reports, executive briefings, and even emails where key points need to be conveyed quickly to decision-makers. Meanwhile, summarising skills come into play in our personal lives when we relay news stories to friends, recap a movie plot, or even scroll through condensed news or app notifications on our smartphones.

Why Do We Write Summaries?

In our modern information age, the sheer volume of content available can be overwhelming. From detailed research papers to comprehensive news articles, the quest for knowledge is often met with lengthy and complex resources. This is where the power of a well-crafted summary comes into play. But what drives us to create or seek out summaries? Let’s discuss.

Makes Important Things Easy to Remember

At the heart of summarisation is the goal to understand. A well-written summary aids in digesting complex material. By distilling larger works into their core points, we reinforce the primary messages, making them easier to remember. This is especially crucial for students who need to retain knowledge for exams or professionals prepping for a meeting based on a lengthy report.

Simplification of Complex Topics

Not everyone is an expert in every field. Often, topics come laden with jargon, intricate details, and nuanced arguments. Summaries act as a bridge, translating this complexity into accessible and straightforward content. This is especially beneficial for individuals new to a topic or those who need just the highlights without the intricacies.

Aid in Researching and Understanding Diverse Sources

Researchers, writers, and academics often wade through many sources when working on a project. This involves finding sources of different types, such as primary or secondary sources , and then understanding their content. Sifting through each source in its entirety can be time-consuming. Summaries offer a streamlined way to understand each source’s main arguments or findings, making synthesising information from diverse materials more efficient.

Condensing Information for Presentation or Sharing

In professional settings, there is often a need to present findings, updates, or recommendations to stakeholders. An executive might not have the time to go through a 50-page report, but they would certainly appreciate a concise summary highlighting the key points. Similarly, in our personal lives, we often summarise movie plots, book stories, or news events when sharing with friends or family.

Characteristics of a Good Summary

Crafting an effective summary is an art. It’s more than just shortening a piece of content; it is about capturing the essence of the original work in a manner that is both accessible and true to its intent. Let’s explore the primary characteristics that distinguish a good summary from a mediocre one:

Conciseness

At the core of a summary is the concept of brevity. But being concise doesn’t mean leaving out vital information. A good summary will:

  • Eliminate superfluous details or repetitive points.
  • Focus on the primary arguments, events, or findings.
  • Use succinct language without compromising the message.

Objectivity

Summarising is not about infusing personal opinions or interpretations. A quality summary will:

  • Stick to the facts as presented in the original content.
  • Avoid introducing personal biases or perspectives.
  • Represent the original author’s intent faithfully.

A summary is meant to simplify and make content accessible. This is only possible if the summary itself is easy to understand. Ensuring clarity involves:

  • Avoiding jargon or technical terms unless they are essential to the content. If they are used, they should be clearly defined.
  • Structuring sentences in a straightforward manner.
  • Making sure ideas are presented in a way that even someone unfamiliar with the topic can grasp the primary points.

A jumble of ideas, no matter how concise, will not make for a good summary. Coherence ensures that there’s a logical flow to the summarised content. A coherent summary will:

  • Maintain a logical sequence, often following the structure of the original content.
  • Use transition words or phrases to connect ideas and ensure smooth progression.
  • Group related ideas together to provide structure and avoid confusion.

Steps of Writing a Summary

The process of creating a compelling summary is not merely about cutting down content. It involves understanding, discerning, and crafting. Here is a step-by-step guide to writing a summary that encapsulates the essence of the original work:

Reading Actively

Engage deeply with the content to ensure a thorough understanding.

  • Read the entire document or work first to grasp its overall intent and structure.
  • On the second read, underline or highlight the standout points or pivotal moments.
  • Make brief notes in the margins or on a separate sheet, capturing the core ideas in your own words.

Identifying the Main Idea

Determine the backbone of the content, around which all other details revolve.

  • Ask yourself: “What is the primary message or theme the author wants to convey?”
  • This can often be found in the title, introduction, or conclusion of a piece.
  • Frame the main idea in a clear and concise statement to guide your summary.

List Key Supporting Points

Understand the pillars that uphold the main idea, providing evidence or depth to the primary message.

  • Refer back to the points you underlined or highlighted during your active reading.
  • Note major arguments, evidence, or examples that the author uses to back up the main idea.
  • Prioritise these points based on their significance to the main idea.

Draft the Summary

Convert your understanding into a condensed, coherent version of the original.

  • Start with a statement of the main idea.
  • Follow with the key supporting points, maintaining logical order.
  • Avoid including trivial details or examples unless they’re crucial to the primary message.
  • Use your own words, ensuring you are not plagiarising the original content.

Fine-tune your draft to ensure clarity, accuracy, and brevity.

  • Read your draft aloud to check for flow and coherence.
  • Ensure that your summary remains objective, avoiding any personal interpretations or biases.
  • Check the length. See if any non-essential details can be removed without sacrificing understanding if it is too lengthy.
  • Ensure clarity by ensuring the language is straightforward, and the main ideas are easily grasped.

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how to write a brief synopsis of an article

Dos and Don’ts of Summarising Key Points

Summarising, while seemingly straightforward, comes with its nuances. Properly condensing content demands a balance between brevity and fidelity to the original work. To aid in crafting exemplary summaries, here is a guide on the essential dos and don’ts:

Use your Own Words

This ensures that you have truly understood the content and are not merely parroting it. It also prevents issues of plagiarism.

Tip: After reading the original content, take a moment to reflect on it. Then, without looking at the source, write down the main points in your own words.

Attribute Sources Properly

Giving credit is both ethical and provides context to readers, helping them trace back to the original work if needed. How to cite sources correctly is a skill every writer should master.

Tip: Use signal phrases like “According to [Author/Source]…” or “As [Author/Source] points out…” to seamlessly incorporate attributions.

Ensure Accuracy of the Summarised Content

A summary should be a reliable reflection of the original content. Distorting or misrepresenting the original ideas compromises the integrity of the summary.

Tip: After drafting your summary, cross-check with the original content to ensure all key points are represented accurately and ensure you are referencing credible sources .

Avoid Copy-Pasting Chunks of Original Content

This not only raises plagiarism concerns but also shows a lack of genuine engagement with the material.

Tip: If a particular phrase or sentence from the original is pivotal and cannot be reworded without losing its essence, use block quotes , quotation marks, and attribute the source.

Do not Inject your Personal Opinion

A summary should be an objective reflection of the source material. Introducing personal biases or interpretations can mislead readers.

Tip: Stick to the facts and arguments presented in the original content. If you find yourself writing “I think” or “In my opinion,” reevaluate the sentence.

Do not Omit Crucial Information

While a summary is meant to be concise, it shouldn’t be at the expense of vital details that are essential to understanding the original content’s core message.

Tip: Prioritise information. Always include the main idea and its primary supports. If you are unsure whether a detail is crucial, consider its impact on the overall message.

Examples of Summaries

Here are a few examples that will help you get a clearer view of how to write a summary. 

Example 1: Summary of a News Article

Original Article: The article reports on the recent discovery of a rare species of frog in the Amazon rainforest. The frog, named the “Emerald Whisperer” due to its unique green hue and the soft chirping sounds it makes, was found by a team of researchers from the University of Texas. The discovery is significant as it offers insights into the biodiversity of the region, and the Emerald Whisperer might also play a pivotal role in understanding the ecosystem balance.

Summary: Researchers from the University of Texas have discovered a unique frog, termed the “Emerald Whisperer,” in the Amazon rainforest. This finding sheds light on the region’s biodiversity and underscores the importance of the frog in ecological studies.

Example 2: Summary of a Research Paper

Original Paper: In a study titled “The Impact of Urbanisation on Bee Populations,” researchers conducted a year-long observation on bee colonies in three urban areas and three rural areas. Using specific metrics like colony health, bee productivity, and population size, the study found that urban environments saw a 30% decline in bee populations compared to rural settings. The research attributes this decline to factors like pollution, reduced green spaces, and increased temperatures in urban areas.

Summary: A study analysing the effects of urbanisation on bee colonies found a significant 30% decrease in bee populations in urban settings compared to rural areas. The decline is linked to urban factors such as pollution, diminished greenery, and elevated temperatures.

Example 3: Summary of a Novel

Original Story: In the novel “Winds of Fate,” protagonist Clara is trapped in a timeless city where memories dictate reality. Throughout her journey, she encounters characters from her past, present, and imagined future. Battling her own perceptions and a menacing shadow figure, Clara seeks an elusive gateway to return to her real world. In the climax, she confronts the shadow, which turns out to be her own fear, and upon overcoming it, she finds her way back, realising that reality is subjective.

Summary: “Winds of Fate” follows Clara’s adventures in a surreal city shaped by memories. Confronting figures from various phases of her life and battling a symbolic shadow of her own fear, Clara eventually discovers that reality’s perception is malleable and subjective.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is a summary.

A summary condenses a larger piece of content, capturing its main points and essence.  It is usually one-fourth of the original content.

What is a summary?

A summary is a concise representation of a larger text or content, highlighting its main ideas and points. It distils complex information into a shorter form, allowing readers to quickly grasp the essence of the original material without delving into extensive details. Summaries prioritise clarity, brevity, and accuracy.

When should I write a summary?

Write a summary when you need to condense lengthy content for easier comprehension and recall. It’s useful in academic settings, professional reports, presentations, and research to highlight key points. Summaries aid in comparing multiple sources, preparing for discussions, and sharing essential details of extensive materials efficiently with others.

How can I summarise a source without plagiarising?

To summarise without plagiarising: Read the source thoroughly, understand its main ideas, and then write the summary in your own words. Avoid copying phrases verbatim. Attribute the source properly. Use paraphrasing techniques and cross-check your summary against the original to ensure distinctiveness while retaining accuracy. Always prioritise understanding over direct replication.

What is the difference between a summary and an abstract?

A summary condenses a text, capturing its main points from various content types like books, articles, or movies. An abstract, typically found in research papers and scientific articles, provides a brief overview of the study’s purpose, methodology, results, and conclusions. Both offer concise versions, but abstracts are more structured and specific.

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Academic sources, also known as scholarly sources or academic references, are materials used by researchers, scholars, and students to support their academic work. These sources are specifically created for use in academic contexts and contribute to the body of knowledge in a particular field of study.

In the digital age, where information is abundant and readily accessible, quickly finding precise and relevant information is paramount. This is where Boolean operators come into play. 

Scholarly sources, also known as academic sources, refer to materials created to meet the standards and expectations of the academic community.

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  • How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples

Published on 25 September 2022 by Shona McCombes . Revised on 12 May 2023.

Summarising , or writing a summary, means giving a concise overview of a text’s main points in your own words. A summary is always much shorter than the original text.

There are five key steps that can help you to write a summary:

  • Read the text
  • Break it down into sections
  • Identify the key points in each section
  • Write the summary
  • Check the summary against the article

Writing a summary does not involve critiquing or analysing the source. You should simply provide an accurate account of the most important information and ideas (without copying any text from the original).

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Table of contents

When to write a summary, step 1: read the text, step 2: break the text down into sections, step 3: identify the key points in each section, step 4: write the summary, step 5: check the summary against the article, frequently asked questions.

There are many situations in which you might have to summarise an article or other source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to show you’ve understood the material
  • To keep notes that will help you remember what you’ve read
  • To give an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review

When you’re writing an academic text like an essay , research paper , or dissertation , you’ll integrate sources in a variety of ways. You might use a brief quote to support your point, or paraphrase a few sentences or paragraphs.

But it’s often appropriate to summarize a whole article or chapter if it is especially relevant to your own research, or to provide an overview of a source before you analyse or critique it.

In any case, the goal of summarising is to give your reader a clear understanding of the original source. Follow the five steps outlined below to write a good summary.

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You should read the article more than once to make sure you’ve thoroughly understood it. It’s often effective to read in three stages:

  • Scan the article quickly to get a sense of its topic and overall shape.
  • Read the article carefully, highlighting important points and taking notes as you read.
  • Skim the article again to confirm you’ve understood the key points, and reread any particularly important or difficult passages.

There are some tricks you can use to identify the key points as you read:

  • Start by reading the abstract . This already contains the author’s own summary of their work, and it tells you what to expect from the article.
  • Pay attention to headings and subheadings . These should give you a good sense of what each part is about.
  • Read the introduction and the conclusion together and compare them: What did the author set out to do, and what was the outcome?

To make the text more manageable and understand its sub-points, break it down into smaller sections.

If the text is a scientific paper that follows a standard empirical structure, it is probably already organised into clearly marked sections, usually including an introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

Other types of articles may not be explicitly divided into sections. But most articles and essays will be structured around a series of sub-points or themes.

Now it’s time go through each section and pick out its most important points. What does your reader need to know to understand the overall argument or conclusion of the article?

Keep in mind that a summary does not involve paraphrasing every single paragraph of the article. Your goal is to extract the essential points, leaving out anything that can be considered background information or supplementary detail.

In a scientific article, there are some easy questions you can ask to identify the key points in each part.

Key points of a scientific article
Introduction or problem was addressed? formulated?
Methods
Results
Discussion/conclusion

If the article takes a different form, you might have to think more carefully about what points are most important for the reader to understand its argument.

In that case, pay particular attention to the thesis statement —the central claim that the author wants us to accept, which usually appears in the introduction—and the topic sentences that signal the main idea of each paragraph.

Now that you know the key points that the article aims to communicate, you need to put them in your own words.

To avoid plagiarism and show you’ve understood the article, it’s essential to properly paraphrase the author’s ideas. Do not copy and paste parts of the article, not even just a sentence or two.

The best way to do this is to put the article aside and write out your own understanding of the author’s key points.

Examples of article summaries

Let’s take a look at an example. Below, we summarise this article , which scientifically investigates the old saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.

An article summary like the above would be appropriate for a stand-alone summary assignment. However, you’ll often want to give an even more concise summary of an article.

For example, in a literature review or research paper, you may want to briefly summarize this study as part of a wider discussion of various sources. In this case, we can boil our summary down even further to include only the most relevant information.

Citing the source you’re summarizing

When including a summary as part of a larger text, it’s essential to properly cite the source you’re summarizing. The exact format depends on your citation style , but it usually includes an in-text citation and a full reference at the end of your paper.

You can easily create your citations and references in APA or MLA using our free citation generators.

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Finally, read through the article once more to ensure that:

  • You’ve accurately represented the author’s work
  • You haven’t missed any essential information
  • The phrasing is not too similar to any sentences in the original.

If you’re summarising many articles as part of your own work, it may be a good idea to use a plagiarism checker to double-check that your text is completely original and properly cited. Just be sure to use one that’s safe and reliable.

A summary is a short overview of the main points of an article or other source, written entirely in your own words.

Save yourself some time with the free summariser.

A summary is always much shorter than the original text. The length of a summary can range from just a few sentences to several paragraphs; it depends on the length of the article you’re summarising, and on the purpose of the summary.

With the summariser tool you can easily adjust the length of your summary.

You might have to write a summary of a source:

  • As a stand-alone assignment to prove you understand the material
  • For your own use, to keep notes on your reading
  • To provide an overview of other researchers’ work in a literature review
  • In a paper , to summarise or introduce a relevant study

To avoid plagiarism when summarising an article or other source, follow these two rules:

  • Write the summary entirely in your own words by   paraphrasing the author’s ideas.
  • Reference the source with an in-text citation and a full reference so your reader can easily find the original text.

An abstract concisely explains all the key points of an academic text such as a thesis , dissertation or journal article. It should summarise the whole text, not just introduce it.

An abstract is a type of summary , but summaries are also written elsewhere in academic writing . For example, you might summarise a source in a paper , in a literature review , or as a standalone assignment.

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McCombes, S. (2023, May 12). How to Write a Summary | Guide & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved 17 July 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/working-sources/how-to-write-a-summary/

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Summary: Using it Wisely

What this handout is about.

Knowing how to summarize something you have read, seen, or heard is a valuable skill, one you have probably used in many writing assignments. It is important, though, to recognize when you must go beyond describing, explaining, and restating texts and offer a more complex analysis. This handout will help you distinguish between summary and analysis and avoid inappropriate summary in your academic writing.

Is summary a bad thing?

Not necessarily. But it’s important that your keep your assignment and your audience in mind as you write. If your assignment requires an argument with a thesis statement and supporting evidence—as many academic writing assignments do—then you should limit the amount of summary in your paper. You might use summary to provide background, set the stage, or illustrate supporting evidence, but keep it very brief: a few sentences should do the trick. Most of your paper should focus on your argument. (Our handout on argument will help you construct a good one.)

Writing a summary of what you know about your topic before you start drafting your actual paper can sometimes be helpful. If you are unfamiliar with the material you’re analyzing, you may need to summarize what you’ve read in order to understand your reading and get your thoughts in order. Once you figure out what you know about a subject, it’s easier to decide what you want to argue.

You may also want to try some other pre-writing activities that can help you develop your own analysis. Outlining, freewriting, and mapping make it easier to get your thoughts on the page. (Check out our handout on brainstorming for some suggested techniques.)

Why is it so tempting to stick with summary and skip analysis?

Many writers rely too heavily on summary because it is what they can most easily write. If you’re stalled by a difficult writing prompt, summarizing the plot of The Great Gatsby may be more appealing than staring at the computer for three hours and wondering what to say about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s use of color symbolism. After all, the plot is usually the easiest part of a work to understand. Something similar can happen even when what you are writing about has no plot: if you don’t really understand an author’s argument, it might seem easiest to just repeat what he or she said.

To write a more analytical paper, you may need to review the text or film you are writing about, with a focus on the elements that are relevant to your thesis. If possible, carefully consider your writing assignment before reading, viewing, or listening to the material about which you’ll be writing so that your encounter with the material will be more purposeful. (We offer a handout on reading towards writing .)

How do I know if I’m summarizing?

As you read through your essay, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I stating something that would be obvious to a reader or viewer?
  • Does my essay move through the plot, history, or author’s argument in chronological order, or in the exact same order the author used?
  • Am I simply describing what happens, where it happens, or whom it happens to?

A “yes” to any of these questions may be a sign that you are summarizing. If you answer yes to the questions below, though, it is a sign that your paper may have more analysis (which is usually a good thing):

  • Am I making an original argument about the text?
  • Have I arranged my evidence around my own points, rather than just following the author’s or plot’s order?
  • Am I explaining why or how an aspect of the text is significant?

Certain phrases are warning signs of summary. Keep an eye out for these:

  • “[This essay] is about…”
  • “[This book] is the story of…”
  • “[This author] writes about…”
  • “[This movie] is set in…”

Here’s an example of an introductory paragraph containing unnecessary summary. Sentences that summarize are in italics:

The Great Gatsby is the story of a mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby, who lives alone on an island in New York. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote the book, but the narrator is Nick Carraway. Nick is Gatsby’s neighbor, and he chronicles the story of Gatsby and his circle of friends, beginning with his introduction to the strange man and ending with Gatsby’s tragic death. In the story, Nick describes his environment through various colors, including green, white, and grey. Whereas white and grey symbolize false purity and decay respectively, the color green offers a symbol of hope.

Here’s how you might change the paragraph to make it a more effective introduction:

In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald provides readers with detailed descriptions of the area surrounding East Egg, New York. In fact, Nick Carraway’s narration describes the setting with as much detail as the characters in the book. Nick’s description of the colors in his environment presents the book’s themes, symbolizing significant aspects of the post-World War I era. Whereas white and grey symbolize the false purity and decay of the 1920s, the color green offers a symbol of hope.

This version of the paragraph mentions the book’s title, author, setting, and narrator so that the reader is reminded of the text. And that sounds a lot like summary—but the paragraph quickly moves on to the writer’s own main topic: the setting and its relationship to the main themes of the book. The paragraph then closes with the writer’s specific thesis about the symbolism of white, grey, and green.

How do I write more analytically?

Analysis requires breaking something—like a story, poem, play, theory, or argument—into parts so you can understand how those parts work together to make the whole. Ideally, you should begin to analyze a work as you read or view it instead of waiting until after you’re done—it may help you to jot down some notes as you read. Your notes can be about major themes or ideas you notice, as well as anything that intrigues, puzzles, excites, or irritates you. Remember, analytic writing goes beyond the obvious to discuss questions of how and why—so ask yourself those questions as you read.

The St. Martin’s Handbook (the bulleted material below is quoted from p. 38 of the fifth edition) encourages readers to take the following steps in order to analyze a text:

  • Identify evidence that supports or illustrates the main point or theme as well as anything that seems to contradict it.
  • Consider the relationship between the words and the visuals in the work. Are they well integrated, or are they sometimes at odds with one another? What functions do the visuals serve? To capture attention? To provide more detailed information or illustration? To appeal to readers’ emotions?
  • Decide whether the sources used are trustworthy.
  • Identify the work’s underlying assumptions about the subject, as well as any biases it reveals.

Once you have written a draft, some questions you might want to ask yourself about your writing are “What’s my point?” or “What am I arguing in this paper?” If you can’t answer these questions, then you haven’t gone beyond summarizing. You may also want to think about how much of your writing comes from your own ideas or arguments. If you’re only reporting someone else’s ideas, you probably aren’t offering an analysis.

What strategies can help me avoid excessive summary?

  • Read the assignment (the prompt) as soon as you get it. Make sure to reread it before you start writing. Go back to your assignment often while you write. (Check out our handout on reading assignments ).
  • Formulate an argument (including a good thesis) and be sure that your final draft is structured around it, including aspects of the plot, story, history, background, etc. only as evidence for your argument. (You can refer to our handout on constructing thesis statements ).
  • Read critically—imagine having a dialogue with the work you are discussing. What parts do you agree with? What parts do you disagree with? What questions do you have about the work? Does it remind you of other works you’ve seen?
  • Make sure you have clear topic sentences that make arguments in support of your thesis statement. (Read our handout on paragraph development if you want to work on writing strong paragraphs).
  • Use two different highlighters to mark your paper. With one color, highlight areas of summary or description. With the other, highlight areas of analysis. For many college papers, it’s a good idea to have lots of analysis and minimal summary/description.
  • Ask yourself: What part of the essay would be obvious to a reader/viewer of the work being discussed? What parts (words, sentences, paragraphs) of the essay could be deleted without loss? In most cases, your paper should focus on points that are essential and that will be interesting to people who have already read or seen the work you are writing about.

But I’m writing a review! Don’t I have to summarize?

That depends. If you’re writing a critique of a piece of literature, a film, or a dramatic performance, you don’t necessarily need to give away much of the plot. The point is to let readers decide whether they want to enjoy it for themselves. If you do summarize, keep your summary brief and to the point.

Instead of telling your readers that the play, book, or film was “boring,” “interesting,” or “really good,” tell them specifically what parts of the work you’re talking about. It’s also important that you go beyond adjectives and explain how the work achieved its effect (how was it interesting?) and why you think the author/director wanted the audience to react a certain way. (We have a special handout on writing reviews that offers more tips.)

If you’re writing a review of an academic book or article, it may be important for you to summarize the main ideas and give an overview of the organization so your readers can decide whether it is relevant to their specific research interests.

If you are unsure how much (if any) summary a particular assignment requires, ask your instructor for guidance.

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Barnet, Sylvan. 2015. A Short Guide to Writing about Art , 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Corrigan, Timothy. 2014. A Short Guide to Writing About Film , 9th ed. New York: Pearson.

Lunsford, Andrea A. 2015. The St. Martin’s Handbook , 8th ed. Boston: Bedford/St Martin’s.

Zinsser, William. 2001. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction , 6th ed. New York: Quill.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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how to write a brief synopsis of an article

Learn how to prepare and write a synopsis assignment.

  • Newcastle University
  • Academic Skills Kit
  • Assignment Types

A synopsis is a brief summary which gives readers an overview of the main points. In an academic context, this is usually a summary of a text (a journal article, book, report etc) but in some instances you might be writing a synopsis of a talk, film or other form of presentation. A synopsis is a neutral summary, objectively capturing the main points, rather than your own perspective or critique, and it focusses directly on the text you’re summarising rather than being a wider discussion of a topic, as an essay might be.

A synopsis aims to give the reader a full, if brief, account of the whole text so that they can follow its main points without having to read it themselves. It’s not a ‘trailer’ designed to tempt your audience to read the text itself, so you don’t have to worry about ‘hooking’ them in with hints and high points or ‘spoiling the ending’ - give the whole text equal coverage, including the conclusions. You could add some commentary which gives the reader a bit of context about the text, including the authors and circumstances it was written in (for example, if it is part of a debate, particular school of thought or its significance and what impact it’s had).

Writing a good synopsis is a skill, and there are a number of challenges: 

  • Separating the main points from the minor detail
  • Knowing what to leave out as well as what to include
  • Giving a sense of the overall narrative as well as listing the key points
  • Covering the whole text within a small word limit
  • Knowing how closely to stick to the original, especially in terms of the wording
  • Whether to give all key points equal treatment, or cover some more briefly, even combining them
  • Rephrasing things concisely without losing the meaning or misrepresenting it
  • Not leaving out anything crucial to understanding the whole overall message

A good synopsis will allow the reader to feel as if they’d skimread the whole text themselves, understanding the overall gist and highlighting what they need to know. A poor synopsis will get bogged down in detail, giving a confused account of the whole story by just listing points, miss out major points or give an inaccurate or one-sided account or stick so closely to the original that it becomes plagiarism without demonstrating a real understanding by the person summarising it.  

How to prepare a synopsis

Boiling down the key points and overall narrative of the original means good reading and note-taking skills which aim to identify and boil down key points to their essence. You could try some of the following approaches: 

  • Read the whole text, and afterwards, without re-reading, jot down your first initial summary in 50 words to capture its overall point. You can check it back for accuracy or anything you left out, but stick within ca 50 words
  • Read the introduction and first line of each paragraph to get a sense of the overall structure and key points within it
  • Highlight one sentence in each paragraph that you think is essential detail to understanding that section
  • Alternatively, with a marker pen, cross out anything that isn’t essential to an understanding of the whole section or text 
  • Jot down only key words as a summary of each point rather than whole sentences
  • Read each paragraph and summarise it without looking, in one sentence of your own 
  • Consider how many points you can make within your word count, and reduce or combine your list of summarised points down to this number

You could start small, identifying just keywords or sentences at first and then work them up into phrases, bullet points and sentences as a rough plan or draft, or you could start big with the original text and reduce each section, paragraph and sentence summary again and again until you have boiled it down to its essence.  

When you start to prepare your first plan or draft, try to use your notes or memory and step away from the original as much as you can. You can go back and check it afterwards, but you need to create some distance to be able to create your own account and have confidence in the points you have identified as essential.

Writing a synopsis

The main decisions facing you as you write up your summary are about how closely to stick to the original in terms of structure and style, and how much attention to give to each point. 

  • You could begin your synopsis with a brief context, explaining who the authors are, the context and significance of their work, as well as anything you think might help the reader to understand the following summary
  • The most common structure is to follow that of the original text, to give a sense of its narrative flow as well as the key points within it. You could choose to depart from it a little though, perhaps glossing over some points faster than others, combining two sections which go together or aren’t enough in their own right, possibly even changing the order a little where it helps to combine two similar points. Careful use of signposting language will help the reader clearly follow the structure (and note anywhere you’ve changed it from the original) so they can identify the bit you’re talking about in the original if they want to
  • The style will naturally be strongly influenced by the original wording, but you should phrase it in your own words wherever possible. It’s harder to nibble away words from a much longer original than it is to start again and use your own concise phrasing, and you want to demonstrate your own understanding to the reader. You could use the odd original phrase or quotation here or there, but the synopsis needs to be more than a collage of quotations; it’s a thing in its own right rather than a cut-down version of the original
  • You can also show your own response to the text in the way you use language to guide the reader to what you feel are the key points and (briefly) why. Your own voice doesn’t need to be very obvious in the synopsis, as it’s about the text rather than your reaction to it, but you have made analytical decisions about what is important, and might want to explain to the reader why these points are significant in understanding the whole
  • What is the main purpose of this text? What did it aim to discover, explain or prove?
  • Why was this research done? How significant is it?
  • How was the research conducted? What kind of research is it?
  • What were the three (or four, five) main things I should be aware of from this paper?
  • What is their line of argument?
  • What is their overall conclusion, recommendation, finding? Why is that important?

Managing word count

The trick to writing a concise synopsis which keeps within your word limit is not to start from the much bigger original text, but from your own boiled down notes. If you’re over the word count, you could start cutting out words that don’t seem essential, but if you go too far, you end up with a text which does not read well and doesn’t hang together. It might be better to remove whole sentences and perhaps whole points, than nibble away at words here and there.

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Blog • Understanding Publishing

Posted on Sep 12, 2018

How to Write an Incredible Synopsis in 4 Simple Steps

Your novel is fully written, edited, and polished to perfection — you’re ready to pitch it to agents! But you’re missing a critical piece of persuasion: the synopsis. Even after putting together your entire book, you may have no idea how to write one, or even how to approach it.

Luckily, we’ve got answers for you. Read on for our best tips on writing a synopsis that’s clear, concise, captivating… and may even lead to an all-out agent battle over your novel!

What is a synopsis?

A synopsis is a summary of a book that familiarizes the reader with the plot and how it unfolds. Although these kinds of summaries also appear on the pages of school book reports and Wikipedia, this guide will focus on constructing one that you can send out to agents (and eventually publishers).

Your novel synopsis should achieve two things: firstly, it should convey the contents of your book, and secondly, it should be intriguing!

While you don’t need to pull out all the marketing stops at this stage, you should have a brief hook at the beginning and a sense of urgency underlying the text that will keep your reader going. It should make potential agents want to devour your whole manuscript — even though they’ll already know what happens.

While writing your synopsis, make sure that it includes:

  • A complete story arc
  • Your own voice and unique elements of your story
  • The ending or resolution ( unlike in a blurb )

As for the ideal length for this piece, it varies from project to project. Some authors recommend keeping it to 500 words, while others might write thousands. However, the standard range is about one to two single-spaced pages (or two to five double-spaced pages). And if you're interested in knowing how to format the whole of your manuscript for submission, we recommend downloading this manuscript format template. 

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You may also want to have an additional “brief” summary prepared for agents who specifically request a single page or less. Remember: as hard as it will be to distill all your hard work into that minimal space, it’s crucial to keep your synopsis digestible and agent-friendly.

How to write a novel synopsis in 4 steps

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1. Get the basics down first

When it comes to writing a synopsis, substance is the name of the game. No matter how nicely you dress it up, an agent will disregard any piece that doesn’t demonstrate a fully fleshed out plot and strong narrative arc. So it stands to reason that as you begin writing, you should focus on the fundamentals.

Start with major plot points

Naturally, you want agents to be aware of your story's plot . So the best way to start summarizing your story is to create a list of those plot points, including:

  • The inciting incident — what sparks the central conflict of your story?
  • The events of the rising action — what happens in the interlude between the inciting incident and the climax, and how does this build tension ?
  • The height of the action, or climax , of your story — this one is the most important, as it should be the most exciting part of your book !
  • The resolution or ending — again, unlike a blurb, a synopsis doesn’t need to dangle the carrot of an unknown ending to the reader; you can and should reveal your story’s ending here, as this brings the plot and narrative arc to a close.

Listing these points effectively maps out the action and arc of your story, which will enable the reader to easily follow it from beginning to end.

Include character motivations

The key here is not to get too deep into characterization, since you don’t have much room to elaborate. Instead, simply emphasize character goals and motivations at the beginning and end of your synopsis — first as justification for the inciting incident, then again to bring home the resolution. For example:

Beginning: “Sally has spent the past twenty years wondering who her birth parents are [motivation]. When a mysterious man offers her the chance to find them, she spontaneously buys a ticket to Florence to begin her journey [inciting action].”

Ending: “She returns to the US with the man who was her father all along [resolution], safe in the knowledge that she’ll never have to wonder about him again [restated motivation].”

Also note how the text here is written in third person, present tense, as it should be regardless of the tense or POV of your actual book. Writing a synopsis in first or second person doesn’t really work because it’s not meant to be narrated — just summarized. Basically, the present tense works to engage the reader while the third person allows the story to be told smoothly.

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2. Highlight what’s unique

Now it’s time to spice up your synopsis by highlighting the elements that make it unique. Agents need to know what’s so special about your book in particular — and moreover, is it special enough to get readers to pick it up? Below are some features you might employ to grab an agent’s attention and assure them of your book’s appeal.

Your writing voice is an essential tool here: it conveys your novel’s tone and is one of the most important factors in making your work stand out. However, it’s also one of the most difficult elements to evoke in such a small amount of space.

The best way to capture voice in a synopsis is through extremely deliberate word choice and sentence structure. So if you were Jane Austen, you’d use clever words to magnify your wit: “When Darcy proposes to her apropos of nothing, Elizabeth has the quite understandable reaction of rejecting him.” You may not be able to use all the elaborate prose of your novel, but your synopsis should still reflect its overall feeling.

Plot twists

Even though they’re one of the oldest tricks in the book, readers will never tire of juicy plot twists. If your novel contains one or more of these twists, especially at the climax, make sure your synopsis accentuates it. But don’t hint too much at the twist, as this will make it seem more dramatic when it comes; a couple of words in the intro will suffice as foreshadowing.

For instance, if you were writing a summary of Gone Girl , you might open with “Nick Dunne wakes up one morning to find that his wife, Amy, has apparently disappeared. ” This implies that she may not be as “gone” as we think she is, setting the stage for the later reveal.

how to write a synopsis

Point of view

Another aspect that might set your book apart is a distinctive point of view . Since you’ll be giving your synopsis in third person, you can limit this inclusion to an introductory sentence: “This book is narrated from the point of view of a mouse.”

Although this strategy works best for books with a highly unusual point of view (such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, in which the story is told by Death), it can also be very helpful to remember for seemingly bog-standard narrators. If one of your characters narrates in first person, make sure to address their individual narrative quirks as well as any biases or limitations; highlighting a narrator who's not the most reliable  can really add to your novel’s intrigue!

3. Edit for clarity and excess

Don’t shroud your synopsis in mystery; this is very frustrating to agents who just want to know what happens in your book! With that in mind, after you’ve written the bulk of your summary, it’s time to edit for clarity. You also may have to delete some text, so you can get it right in that couple-page sweet spot.

Editing for clarity

The paramount rule of synopses is a real doozy: tell, don’t show. It’s the opposite of that classic adage that writers have heard their whole lives, and it’s exactly what you need to write a successful synopsis. 

As you return to what you’ve written, scan for sentences that are vague or unclear, especially toward the beginning. Many writers fall into the trap of trying to hook agents by opening with a sentence akin to the first murky line of a literary novel. Again, though you do want your intro to be intriguing, it has to cut to the chase pretty quickly.

When it comes to opening a synopsis, you need to think like Tolkien, not Tolstoy. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Crisp, clear, and to the point: one of the very few times you should tell, rather than show.

Editing excess words

If your synopsis is longer than a couple of pages at this point, you need make some serious cutbacks. Read through what you have, scrutinizing every sentence and word, even if you think you’ve chosen them carefully. Reduce any run-on sentences or subordinate clauses that unnecessarily lengthen your piece.

Finally, eliminate irrelevant details — anything that doesn’t lead to the next plot point or directly contribute to your voice or other distinctive elements. It’s unlikely you’ll have included any of these in the first place, but just in case they’ve slipped through, cut them. Save the frills for your book; remember, your synopsis is all about substance .

4. Make sure it flows

By the time it’s finished, your synopsis should read like a summary from an excellent book review — or at the very least SparkNotes or Shmoop. This means not only clearly and concisely hitting every important point, but also reading in a smooth manner, placing just the right amount of emphasis on the critical moments and unique aspects we’ve discussed.

Get test readers

A great way to ensure that your synopsis is paced precisely and flows well is to give it to test readers, either someone you know or a professional editor . You’ve spent way too much time with these words to be objective about them, so pay attention to what other people suggest: possible word substitutions, transitions, and which details to emphasize versus delete.

Use professional synopses as models

You don’t want to look at examples of other synopses too soon, otherwise yours will come out sounding formulaic and stale. That said, professional synopses can be a very valuable tool for refining toward the end of the process! Compare and contrast them to the synopsis you’ve written, and adapt any techniques or turns of phrase you feel would enhance it.

Here’s an example of a strong (albeit brief) synopsis of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens , courtesy of the Oxford Companion to English Literature:

Phillip Pirrip, more commonly known as “Pip,” has been brought up by his tyrannical sister, wife of the gentle Joe Gargery. He is introduced to the house of Miss Havisham who, half-crazed by the desertion of her lover on her bridal night, has brought up the girl Estella to use her beauty as a means of torturing men. Pip falls in love with Estella and aspires to become a gentleman.

Money and expectations of more wealth come to him from a mysterious source, which he believes to be Miss Havisham. He goes to London, and in his new mode of life meanly abandons the devoted Joe Gargery, a humble connection of whom he is now ashamed.

Misfortunes come upon him. His benefactor proves to be an escaped convict, Abel Magwich, whom he as a boy had helped. Pip’s great expectations fade away and he is penniless. Estella meanwhile marries his sulky enemy Bentley Drummle, by whom she is cruelly ill treated.

In the end, taught by adversity, Pip returns to Joe Gargery and honest labor. He and Estella, who has also learnt her lesson, are finally reunited.

how to write a synopsis

This synopsis works well because it includes:

  • The inciting incident (Pip moving in with Miss Havisham), the rising action (him being in London), the climax (returning to Joe Gargery), and the resolution (reuniting with Estella)
  • Character motivations (Miss Havisham wants to punish all men because her fiancé betrayed her; Pip wants to become a gentleman so Estella will fall in love with him)
  • A plot twist (Pip’s benefactor being a criminal — whom he knows from his childhood!)
  • Distinctive voice (formal yet engaging, doesn’t detract from the plot) and smoothly written style (events are chronological and progress quickly)

Your synopsis is one of the biggest deciding factors in whether an agent wants to see more from you or not. No matter how chipper your query letter , the bottom line is that this summary tells agents (and later publishers) what they really need to know: what your book is about, what makes it unique, and most importantly, if they can sell it. 

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That’s why it’s vital that you make your synopsis airtight. Fortunately, if you’ve followed these steps, yours will be chock full of plot details with a touch of your own special writing sauce: a synopsis that any agent (hopefully) won’t be able to resist. 

Many thanks to Reedsy editors (and former agents) Sam Brody and Rachel Stout  for consulting on this piece!

Do you have any tips for writing an irresistible synopsis? Leave them in the comments below!

2 responses

Elizabeth Westra says:

12/09/2018 – 22:10

This looks interesting, and I will read every word, but this would be different for a picture book. You only get one page to query for many children's books.

Dorothy Potter Snyder says:

14/10/2018 – 20:11

I am curious if anyone has ideas on how translators can write a synopsis for agents / publishers of works in translation? Might there be something about why this author is important in his/her country of origin and literary tradition? Which authors more known to English language readers might relate to this author (they've never heard of before)?

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Day 2 of the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Man who smuggled military tech to Russia sentenced to 3 years in US jail

A Russian man who had pleaded guilty to U.S. charges that he smuggled large quantities of American-made military-grade microelectronics to Russia was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday, the U.S. Justice Department said.

Investigation begins after gunfire during Trump's campaign rally in Butler

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  • Waiter/Waitress Skills: Add...

Waiter/Waitress Skills: Add to Improve Your Resume!

8 min read · Updated on June 25, 2024

Marsha Hebert

There are over 2M jobs out there for Waiters & Waitresses

Think of the times that you've gone out to eat. You likely had a Waiter or Waitress taking care of filling your order and making sure your drink glass was never empty. How long did it take you to get an impression of how well that Waiter or Waitress would perform? Seconds? Minutes? 

That's how it is when you apply for a Waiter or Waitress job. You have to leave an immediate impression on potential employers so they'll have a reason to hire you. That's where your Waiter/Waitress resume comes in. 

So, if you're trying to land one of those 2M available Waiter/Waitress jobs, you have to have a resume that highlights the right skills. Let's take a look at the Waiter and Waitress skills you'll want to use to up your job-search game and improve your resume.

What do Waitresses and Waiters do?

Alright, let's talk about what Waitresses and Waiters actually do . Here's a quick rundown of the typical duties:

Greeting customers: Welcoming guests with a smile and seating them.

Taking orders: Getting customer orders right and passing them to the kitchen.

Serving food and drinks: Bringing food and drinks to the table and making sure everything is perfect.

Handling payments: Processing payments and making change.

Clearing tables: Cleaning up after customers and getting tables ready for the next guests.

Customer interaction: Chatting with customers and making sure they have a great experience.

What are the top Waiter and Waitress skills?

So, what skills do you actually need to be a great Waiter or Waitress? Well, they can be split into two main categories: hard and soft skills . 

Hard skills

Hard skills are the technical things you need to know to do the job effectively. They're learned through training and experience and are critical for performing your job as a waiter or waitress. In fact, mastering hard skills can make you more efficient, which can, in turn, lead to better tips and more job opportunities. 

Here are some key hard skills you should highlight on your resume:

1. Point of Sale (POS) systems: Being a pro at using POS systems is a must. You'll need to take orders, process payments, and maybe even manage tabs without breaking a sweat. Familiarity with different POS systems shows that you can quickly adapt to the technology used in various restaurants. This skill not only speeds up the service but also reduces errors in orders and billing.

2. Food and beverage knowledge: You must know the menu inside and out, understand the ingredients, and be able to recommend dishes like a food guru. This means being knowledgeable about dietary restrictions and allergens and pairing drinks with meals. Your expertise can enhance the dining experience and encourage customers to return.

3. Safe food handling: Keeping things clean and safe is super important. You need to know food safety and hygiene practices to keep everyone healthy. This includes understanding proper storage, learning about cooking temperatures, and avoiding cross-contamination. Certifications in food safety can be a big plus on your resume.

4. Customer service: This skill involves providing top-notch service, handling complaints like a pro, and making sure customers leave happy. It involves understanding the principles of excellent customer service , such as being attentive, courteous, and responsive to customer needs. Effective customer service can significantly enhance the dining experience and ensure repeat business.

5. Basic math skills: You'll need to calculate bills, make change, and handle tips accurately. Math might not be everyone's favorite, but it's necessary! Quick and accurate math skills help provide a seamless experience for customers when it comes to billing and payments.

Soft skills

Soft skills are all about how you interact with people and manage your tasks. These interpersonal abilities help you work effectively with others and provide excellent service. Here's what you'll need:

1. Communication: Talking clearly and effectively with customers and your team is key. Good communication ensures that orders are accurate and that any issues are resolved quickly. It also helps in building a friendly rapport with customers, enhancing their dining experience.

2. Teamwork: Working well with the kitchen staff and other servers to keep everything running smoothly. Being a team player helps create a supportive work environment and ensures that service is efficient and coordinated.

3. Time management: Being efficient and serving customers promptly without making them wait. This skill involves prioritizing tasks and managing your time effectively during busy shifts to ensure all customers are attended to in a timely manner.

4. Multitasking: Juggling multiple tables and tasks at the same time without getting flustered. This skill ensures that you can manage a busy shift efficiently, balancing taking orders, serving food, and attending to customer needs simultaneously.

5. Problem-solving: Quickly sorting out any issues that pop up during service. Whether it's a mix-up in the kitchen or a customer complaint, being able to think on your feet and find solutions is crucial.

What should a waiter put on a resume?

When you put together what a waiter/waitress does with the skills you need, you can start to write your resume . Match the Waiter and Waitress skills you have with the Waiter and Waitress skills listed here to make a master list. That's the best way to craft a resume that will help you stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive market!

Here's how to make your resume shine and catch the eye of hiring managers:

1. Contact Information

Make sure to include your full name, phone number, email address, and location.

2. Professional Summary

Since you'll be dealing with menus a lot as a Waiter or Waitress, might as well start thinking like it. In the spirit of comparing your resume to a menu, the professional summary is like an appetizer – it gives a quick taste of what you bring to the table and entices hiring managers to read more. 

Write a brief statement that sums up your experience and skills, making sure your summary is concise yet impactful, giving employers a snapshot of your professional journey and your dedication to excellent service. For example: 

"Experienced waitress with over 3 years in high-volume restaurants. Skilled in POS systems, customer service, and food safety. Committed to providing exceptional dining experiences."

3. Waiter and Waitress skills

Create a dedicated section for your Waiter and Waitress skills, as it'll help your resume get past the applicant tracking system . Use bullet points to list both hard and soft skills to cover all the bases and impress a hiring manager:

POS Systems Proficiency

Food and Beverage Knowledge

Safe Food Handling

Multitasking

Basic Math Skills

Excellent Communication

Customer Service

Time Management

Problem-Solving

4. Work experience

Back to comparing your resume to a menu, here comes the main course! List your previous jobs in reverse chronological order. Include the restaurant's name, your job title, and dates of employment. Highlight key responsibilities and achievements that demonstrate your Waiter and Waitress skills and accomplishments. Here's how to present your experience effectively:

Restaurant Name | Job Title | Dates of Employment

  • Managed up to 10 tables simultaneously in a busy restaurant.
  • Trained new staff on POS systems and food safety procedures.
  • Increased customer satisfaction scores by 15% through attentive service.

5. Education

Include any relevant education, like your high school diploma or any hospitality courses.

6. Certifications

List any certifications you have, like a food handler's permit or alcohol service certification.

Final tips for a stellar waiter/waitress resume

Tailor Your Resume: Customize your resume for each job application, highlighting the Waiter and Waitress skills and experiences most relevant to the job description.

Use Action Verbs: Start your bullet points with action verbs like "managed," "trained," "increased," and "handled."

Keep it Concise: Aim for a one- or two-page resume that is easy to read and free of unnecessary details.

Proofread: Ensure there are no typos or grammatical errors . A polished resume reflects your attention to detail.

Serving up a successful job search

By highlighting the right Waiter and Waitress skills and crafting a well-organized resume, you'll be ready to snag that Waiter or Waitress job you've been dreaming of. Remember, your resume is your chance to make a great first impression, so take the time to tailor it to each job application. Showcase your unique experiences, your dedication to excellent service, and your ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment.

Need to verify that you have the right Waiter and Waitress skills on your resume? Get a free review from our team of expert resume writers. 

Recommended reading: 

How to Tailor Your Resume to a Specific Job Description

100 + Keywords, Verbs and Action Words for Your Resume

How Many Pages Should a Good Resume Be?

Related Articles:

7 Signs Your Resume is Making You Look Old

Why a Simple Resume Layout is a Successful Resume

Software Developer Top Needed Skills

See how your resume stacks up.

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Guest Essay

George Clooney: I Love Joe Biden. But We Need a New Nominee.

how to write a brief synopsis of an article

By George Clooney

Mr. Clooney is an actor, director and film producer.

I’m a lifelong Democrat; I make no apologies for that. I’m proud of what my party represents and what it stands for. As part of my participation in the democratic process and in support of my chosen candidate, I have led some of the biggest fund-raisers in my party’s history. Barack Obama in 2012 . Hillary Clinton in 2016 . Joe Biden in 2020 . Last month I co-hosted the single largest fund-raiser supporting any Democratic candidate ever, for President Biden’s re-election. I say all of this only to express how much I believe in this process and how profound I think this moment is.

I love Joe Biden. As a senator. As a vice president and as president. I consider him a friend, and I believe in him. Believe in his character. Believe in his morals. In the last four years, he’s won many of the battles he’s faced.

But the one battle he cannot win is the fight against time. None of us can. It’s devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe “ big F-ing deal ” Biden of 2010. He wasn’t even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate.

Was he tired? Yes. A cold? Maybe. But our party leaders need to stop telling us that 51 million people didn’t see what we just saw. We’re all so terrified by the prospect of a second Trump term that we’ve opted to ignore every warning sign. The George Stephanopoulos interview only reinforced what we saw the week before. As Democrats, we collectively hold our breath or turn down the volume whenever we see the president, whom we respect, walk off Air Force One or walk back to a mic to answer an unscripted question.

Is it fair to point these things out? It has to be. This is about age. Nothing more. But also nothing that can be reversed. We are not going to win in November with this president. On top of that, we won’t win the House, and we’re going to lose the Senate. This isn’t only my opinion; this is the opinion of every senator and Congress member and governor who I’ve spoken with in private. Every single one, irrespective of what he or she is saying publicly.

We love to talk about how the Republican Party has ceded all power, and all of the traits that made it so formidable with Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, to a single person who seeks to hold on to the presidency, and yet most of our members of Congress are opting to wait and see if the dam breaks. But the dam has broken. We can put our heads in the sand and pray for a miracle in November, or we can speak the truth.

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Watch CBS News

Trump shot at rally in failed assassination attempt. Here's what we know so far.

By Olivia Rinaldi , Scott MacFarlane , Jacob Rosen , Nicole Sganga

Updated on: July 16, 2024 / 4:45 PM EDT / CBS News

Former President Donald Trump was shot and injured in an assassination attempt on Saturday night that also killed a spectator and critically injured two others. Snipers killed the shooter, a 20-year-old man, after he fired eight rounds at the rally in Butler , Pennsylvania.

The former president could be seen touching his ear as the shooting unfolded  before he was shielded by Secret Service and whisked offstage — with blood on his face — and into an SUV to safety. Trump said in a social media post that a bullet pierced the upper part of his right ear.

"I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin," he said. "Much bleeding took place, so I realized then what was happening."

Donald Trump injured in shooting at campaign rally in Pennsylvania

The Secret Service later said Trump was safe, and that he went to a local hospital and left hours later. 

The gunman was fatally shot by a Secret Service sniper, authorities said. 

FBI officials said the shooter appeared to be a lone actor, and the incident was being investigated as an assassination attempt and as a potential case of domestic terrorism.

Who shot Donald Trump?

The FBI identified the shooter early Sunday as 20-year-old Thomas Matthew Crooks, of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. The town in Allegheny County, just outside Pittsburgh, is home to about 30,000 people.

Law enforcement officials say he was armed with a semiautomatic AR-style rifle.  Law enforcement sources say  the gun was legally purchased in 2013 and registered to the shooter's father, Matthew Crooks. 

Crooks was a 2022 graduate of Bethel Park High School  School officials pledged to work with law enforcement investigating the shooting, and offered condolences to those affected by the attack.

Former classmate  Jameson Myers, a member of the school's varsity rifle team, told CBS News that Crooks had tried out for the team freshman year but did not make the junior varsity roster and did not return to try out for the team in subsequent years.  

He called Crooks a "nice kid who never talked poorly of anyone," adding, "I never have thought him capable of anything I've seen him do in the last few days."  

Thomas Matthew Crooks - High school yearbook and graduation photos

Another classmate, Jason Koehler, had a somewhat different view, telling KDKA's Megan Schiller that Crooks was a loner who was bullied for his appearance and wore camo/hunting outfits in class. He said Crooks would often sit in the cafeteria alone before class. He also said Crooks was very COVID-conscious and wore a surgical mask long after they were required. 

But Mark Sigafoos, who graduated with Crooks and had two classes with him senior year, said he never saw him bullied. He described Crooks as super smart and approachable, engaged in class and always volunteering answers. 

"This is one of the things that is being misconstrued — he was not some type of loner trenchcoat wearer. And I will say he was definitely nerdy, for sure, but he never gave off that he was creepy or like a school shooter," Sigafoos said. "He seemed like he wouldn't hurt a fly."

Crooks' political leanings were not immediately clear. He was registered as a Republican voter in Pennsylvania but Federal Election Commission records show he previously made a $15 donation to a Democratic-aligned group.

There was no indication that Crooks had a connection to any military branch, officials confirmed to CBS News. 

Crooks had a membership at a nearby gun club for at least a year. Bill Sellitto, the president of the Clairton Sportsmen's Club in Clairton, Pennsylvania, told CBS News that Crooks was a member.

A law enforcement official said early Sunday that the Secret Service and the FBI are investigating the suspect's background and speaking with his family. The FBI has secured his home and federal law enforcement is searching his family's residence in suburban Pittsburgh, the law enforcement official said. His family is cooperating with investigators, an FBI official said.

Law enforcement sources told CBS News on Sunday that suspicious devices were found in the gunman's vehicle. The gunman also had with him a piece of commercially available equipment that appeared capable of initiating the devices. Bomb technicians called to the scene were involved in securing and investigating the devices.

Do we know the motive for the assassination attempt?

In a news conference late Saturday night, Kevin Rojek, special agent in charge of the FBI Pittsburgh office, refused to speculate on a possible motive.

"Right now, we're tracking down all leads, and doing all interviews, and tracking anything that we can regarding suspicious locations, vehicles ... that's all related to this event, but I can't confirm or deny anything beyond that," Rojek said.  

A law enforcement official said no foreign terrorism ties were known and the suspect was not on the radar of law enforcement.

The FBI says investigators are combing through his social media postings and emails, but that so far they have found nothing to lead them to a motive. They said are not seeing anything threatening in his postings so far. 

Investigators also have accessed his cellphone, which was sent to the FBI lab in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis.

The FBI is leading the investigation, with assistance from the Secret Service and state and local agencies. 

How is Trump now?

The Trump campaign said in a statement Saturday night that the former president was 'fine." He was taken to a local hospital and left a few hours later.

In a post on Truth Social Saturday night, Trump described his injuries: "I was shot with a bullet that pierced the upper part of my right ear. I knew immediately that something was wrong in that I heard a whizzing sound, shots, and immediately felt the bullet ripping through the skin. Much bleeding took place, so I realized then what was happening. GOD BLESS AMERICA!"

He thanked the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies for their rapid response, and extended condolences to the family of the man who was killed.

Donald Trump Injured During Shooting At Campaign Rally In Butler, PA

He posted on Truth Social early Sunday that Americans need to "remain resilient in our Faith and Defiant in the face of Wickedness."

"In this moment, it is more important than ever that we stand United, and show our True Character as Americans, remaining Strong and Determined, and not allowing Evil to Win," Trump wrote. "I truly love our Country, and love you all, and look forward to speaking to our Great Nation this week from Wisconsin," where the Republican National Convention begins Monday.

Video  posted  by a Trump aide to social media early Sunday morning showed him walking down the steps of his plane unaided after landing at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.   

The following day, he made an appearance at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, with his right ear bandaged, and was greeted with rousing cheers from the crowd.

Former President Donald Trump, left, and Sen. JD Vance, a Republican from Ohio and Republican vice-presidential nominee, during the Republican National Convention at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Monday, July 15, 2024.

Where was the Trump rally and how far away was the shooter?

The rally was in Butler, Pennsylvania, which is north of Pittsburgh and is the county seat of Butler County.

The gunman was on the roof of a shed, outside the rally's security perimeter set up by the Secret Service, and opened fire from about 410 feet away from the stage where Trump was speaking, law enforcement sources said. 

Map shows location of the shooting site at Trump rally

Two law enforcement sources told CBS News that the shooter was spotted outside the security perimeter as people were filing into the rally, and he was reported by a bystander to the Butler County Sheriff's Office. He was identified as a suspicious person by police, the sources said. Multiple attendees also said they saw the gunman and alerted officers shortly before the shooting.

An armed municipal officer with Butler Township encountered the gunman before the shooting, Butler County Sheriff Michael Sloupe confirmed to CBS News. The officer and others had been previously alerted to a suspicious person and began searching for him right away, Sloupe told CBS Pittsburgh reporter Jen Borrasso.

At some point, the officer was hoisted by another officer onto the roof of the building where the shooter was in position. The shooter focused his rifle towards the officer, who let go and fell off the roof. Then the shooter began firing into the crowd, according to Sloupe.

The gunman fired 6 to 8 rounds using a semiautomatic AR-style rifle from his position approximately 400 feet from the podium, before he was shot and killed by a Secret Service sniper team.

Rojek, with the FBI, called it "surprising" that the gunman was able to fire multiple shots. 

"It is incredibly difficult to have a venue open to the public, and to secure that against any possible threat, against a very determined attacker," Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Col. George Bivens said of the Secret Service. "That's a huge lift to try and do it." 

Who was the victim who was fatally shot?

The spectator who was killed has been identified as Corey Comperatore , a 50-year-old man who was shot while attempting to shield his family from the gunfire, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro said at a news conference Sunday.

"Corey was the very best of us," Shapiro said. "Corey died a hero. Corey dove on his family to protect them last night. Corey was a 'girl dad.' Corey was a firefighter. Corey went to church every Sunday. Corey loved his community."

Pennsylvania State Rep. Marci Mustello called Comperatore "a devoted public servant, having served as the fire chief for Buffalo Township Fire Company, and he was a cherished member of our community in Butler County."

"His commitment to his wife and two daughters, and his unwavering dedication to his role as a fire chief exemplified his remarkable character," Mustello said. "My heart breaks for his loved ones during this incredibly difficult time, and I join the community in mourning his loss. A true American hero, Corey sacrificed his life to protect his family."

"May Corey Comperatore's memory be a blessing and a reminder of the selfless service he provided to us all."

The two spectators who were wounded have been identified as 57-year-old David Dutch, of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, and James Copenhaver, 74, of Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Both were listed in critical but stable condition Sunday.

What did Biden say about the shooting?

President Biden first responded to the shooting in a statement saying he was grateful to hear that Trump was safe and doing well. 

"Jill and I are grateful to the Secret Service for getting him to safety," he said. "There's no place for this kind of violence in America. We must unite as one nation to condemn it."

He then addressed the nation  shortly after 8 p.m. ET Saturday, saying "there is no place for this kind of violence in America."

"It's sick. It's sick," Mr. Biden said. "It's one of the reasons why we have to unite this country. We cannot allow for this to be happening. We cannot be like this. We cannot condone this."

On Sunday, Biden made  brief remarks  at the White House, saying he was "sincerely grateful" that Trump is doing well, adding that he spoke with the former president on Saturday night. He characterized the call as a "short, good" conversation.

The president has been getting briefed by top officials and said he has ordered an independent review of the security and events at the Pennsylvania rally to determine what went wrong. 

Mr. Biden also called for unity in the wake of the assassination attempt and denounced political violence.

"There's no place in America for this kind of violence, or any violence for that matter," the president said. "An assassination attempt is contrary to everything we stand for as a nation. It's not who we are as a nation."

The president said unity is the "most elusive goal of all" and added that "nothing is more important than that right now. Unity."

A Biden campaign official said Saturday that the campaign was pausing all outbound communications and working to take down their television ads as quickly as possible.

–Robert Costa, Pat Milton, Andy Triay, Arden Farhi, Fin Gomez, Aaron Navarro, Sara Cook   and other CBS News staff contributed reporting.

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Trump disavows Project 2025, but he has long-standing ties to some key architects

As President Joe Biden’s campaign seeks to rebound from his rough debate performance two weeks ago, it has increasingly tried to turn the attention to former President Donald Trump about Project 2025, an expansive conservative plan backed by more than 100 groups for Trump’s potential second administration.

Over the last week, Trump has tried to put some distance between himself and Project 2025.

"I know nothing about Project 2025," he said in a Truth Social post Friday. "I have no idea who is behind it.”

He doubled down in a social media post Thursday morning, saying, "I have not seen it, have no idea who is in charge of it, and, unlike our very well received Republican Platform, had nothing to do with it."

But many of Trump’s key allies have been directly involved in producing the project, which includes a 900-plus page policy road map and personnel database gathered by the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank leading the effort.

President Donald Trump is seen projected on a screen as he speaks at the Heritage Foundation's annual President's Club meeting  in Washington on Oct. 17, 2017.

Trump also spoke highly about the group's plans at a dinner sponsored by the Heritage Foundation in April 2022, saying: “This is a great group, and they’re going to lay the groundwork and detail plans for exactly what our movement will do and what your movement will do when the American people give us a colossal mandate to save America.”

The project’s website bills it as a “governing agenda” that would “pave the way for an effective conservative Administration.”

The website also notes that the project is backed by over 100 conservative organizations , many led by close allies of Trump, including Turning Point USA, the Center for Renewing America, the Claremont Institute, the Family Policy Alliance, the Family Research Council, Moms for Liberty and America First Legal — the latter of which is led by Stephen Miller, a top former Trump adviser.

Former Trump administration officials who have been directly affiliated with Project 2025 include former Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, former deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn and former Justice Department senior counsel Gene Hamilton.

Vought, one of the key authors of Project 2025, is also the Republican National Committee’s platform policy director.

Kristen Eichamer holds a Project 2025 fan at the Iowa State Fair, in Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 14, 2023.

The RNC this month adopted its official policy platform for the 2024 election cycle, a document that is less conservative than the Project 2025 handbook — including on key issues like abortion .

Despite the differences between the official platform and Project 2025, the Heritage Foundation is intertwined with the RNC and has been for years.

A spokesperson for the Heritage Foundation told NBC News that it will have a sponsored presence at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, as it did at the GOP conventions in 2016 and 2012.

The group was also intimately involved with Trump's transition to the White House in 2016. Beginning that August, top Heritage officials — including Ed Meese, Ed Feulner, Bill Walton and Kay Coles James — became key players in identifying personnel to fill out the administration. 

The Trump campaign declined to comment on who could be a part of a 2025 transition team. Typically, a party’s nominee selects a transition team several months before the general election.

In a statement to NBC News, Biden campaign spokesperson Sarafina Chitka called Project 2025 "extreme," and said it's, "written and led by [Trump's] own inner circle — the same extremists who stacked Trump’s first administration with loyalists and fired anyone who opposed his dangerous instincts, and the same enablers who will help Trump go even further to ‘terminate’ the Constitution, get ‘revenge’ on his enemies, and govern as a ‘dictator on day one’ if he wins this November. Donald Trump and Project 2025 are one in the same — and they’re both going to lose this November.”

Although the RNC’s official platform and Project 2025 differ, the goals espoused in Project 2025 are similar to some of the campaign promises Trump makes at his rallies.

He has promised to cut the Education Department, mirroring Project 2025’s proposal that “ the federal Department of Education should be eliminated .”

He has also promised to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Biden, alleging that the justice system under the Biden administration is “two-tiered” and “weaponized.”

Project 2025’s handbook echoes th at , saying the Biden administration has executed an “unprecedented politicization and weaponization of the [Justice] department,” which demands “a comprehensive response from the next Administration.”

Still, Trump’s campaign denies that the authors of Project 2025 are in any way shaping his plans for a potential administration.

Senior campaign advisers Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles said in a statement last year that “unless a message is coming directly from President Trump or an authorized member of his campaign team, no aspect of future presidential staffing or policy announcements should be deemed official.”

how to write a brief synopsis of an article

Vaughn Hillyard is a correspondent for NBC News. 

how to write a brief synopsis of an article

Alexandra Marquez is a politics reporter for NBC News.

How to Write a Synopsis

Last Updated: July 9, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Richard Perkins . Richard Perkins is a Writing Coach, Academic English Coordinator, and the Founder of PLC Learning Center. With over 24 years of education experience, he gives teachers tools to teach writing to students and works with elementary to university level students to become proficient, confident writers. Richard is a fellow at the National Writing Project. As a teacher leader and consultant at California State University Long Beach's Global Education Project, Mr. Perkins creates and presents teacher workshops that integrate the U.N.'s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the K-12 curriculum. He holds a BA in Communications and TV from The University of Southern California and an MEd from California State University Dominguez Hills. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 365,738 times.

A synopsis is an in-depth summary of a written work that describes the content of that work from beginning to end. Unlike a summary, which just gives a general overview of a story, a synopsis contains all of the plot details, including the end. Typically, synopses are submitted to publishers or agents after you have written a novel, screenplay, or other long work. A good synopsis will cover the main conflict and the resolution of the story while describing the emotional development of the main character. It is important to edit your synopsis carefully, as it will usually be included as part of a larger proposal.

Outlining Your Synopsis

Step 1 Start the synopsis after you have finished the project.

Richard Perkins

Step 3 Sketch out the major plot points in your story.

Step 4 Identify what is unique about your story.

Step 5 Research how long the synopsis must be.

Drafting the Synopsis

Step 1 Write in third person.

Step 2 Introduce your main characters and conflict at the beginning.

Step 3 Summarize the main events of the plot.

Step 4 End with resolution of the book.

Step 5 Include only necessary information.

Step 6 Demonstrate character development and emotion.

Step 7 Avoid complimenting your own writing.

Editing Your Synopsis

Step 1 Format your synopsis according to the publisher's guidelines.

Step 2 Proofread your synopsis.

Step 3 Ask someone else to read over it for you.

Step 5 Send out your synopsis with a query letter and samples.

Nicholas Sparks

Put time and effort into pitch materials. "Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It's the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It's that important, so don't mess it up. Mine took 17 drafts and two weeks to write."

Sample Synopses

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Richard Perkins

To write a synopsis, start by creating an outline that includes main characters and plot points so that you can cover the narrative arc of the story. Then, in the first paragraph of your synopsis, introduce your main characters and a general summary of the entire plot, like the conflict the main character must overcome. Next, summarize the main events, like obstacles the character faced and how they overcame them, and be sure to write your synopsis in the third person. Finally, leave the reader with a resolution of the story so they know how it ends. To learn how to edit your synopsis using general guidelines, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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  1. How to Write a Summary

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  5. How to write a synopsis for a novel

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COMMENTS

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  2. How to Write a Summary

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  14. Writing a Synopsis

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  17. PDF Microsoft Word

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