Writing a Summary of a Current Event

What is a Summary?

The key points worth knowing about in a longer text are sifted down into a much shorter text so that only the main points remain. The form, vocabulary and structure are all different but the main ideas remain the same. The goal is to be as accurate as possible to the full sense of the original.

The purpose of summarizing is to:

  • pull out main ideas
  • focus on key details
  • use key words and phrases
  • break down the larger ideas
  • write only enough to convey the gist
  • take succinct but complete notes
  • help you better understand the major ideas of what you read

Background understanding:

The structure of a news article is: the 5W’s of News: Who, What, When, Where, Why (and sometimes How). The most essential information is told first up at the top of the article. The more detailed and less important information gets put after this—it goes last. The structure is referred to as an inverted pyramid.

What to do:

Find your article. Look for the key words and main ideas as you read using the 5 Ws: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How to help you. Use your highlighter pen on your word document and highlight the 5 ws. Color code each of the five Ws according to the colors you see each word highlighted in above.

Organize notes in a double entry note format by putting the main points of the article on the left and the information about those points on the right.

Main Ideas                         |   Information/Explanation

Write your summary.

When writing your summary using the 5 Ws:

  • Be sure your summary is significantly shorter than the original.
  • Show the article’s main point. Why was it written, to inform you of what?
  • Be sure to use relevant information, including background information, so that the reader will fully understand the information.
  • Be sure information is paraphrased–in your own words. To paraphrase, read the material, then put it away, and without looking at it, put it in your own words. Afterwards, you can compare it to the original and make adjustments for facts you may have misinterpreted, important main points you missed, or deleting details you don’t need.The grammar and vocabulary should be different.
  • Work on ordering the ideas and using transition words to link your ideas. You can use academic language such in your summary, such as, “According to…” or “In conclusion…”
  • Avoid adding in your own opinions or ideas.

See more about summaries here.

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