Summary Essay

Summary writing can be divided in two common types. The first one is called a “reader summary” – a sketch or notes that you make while reading the paper, which help you better comprehend authors’ ideas. The second summary type if called a “summary essay” – an academic piece of writing that students are asked to submit as a part of educational curriculum in different subjects. Summary essays help teachers check if students have read the assigned text or not.

Simple Stages for Summary Essay Writing

  1. Always read the assigned book or article to the full. Skim reading will not help you, especially if your teacher gave you precise instructions and asked to analyze each part separately. Try to identify the mood and tone of writing as well as major themes that authored explored in writing.
  2. No matter how many chapters your book includes, you can divide it into more sections. It will be much easier to work with small sections. In such a way, you will never overlook essential elements that author tried to address. While reading, you should write down the most remarkable ideas that will constitute your summary writing.
  3. Write down your own ideas and interpretations of author’s claims. You can provide a short overview of writer’s standpoints.
  4. Create an introduction. You should include a full title of the article or book and author’s name. There is a need to provide some background details that made the author explore this topic. The last sentence in your opening paragraph (thesis statement) should clearly state your standpoint.
  5. Your main body paragraphs in a summary essay should be dedicated to the detailed discussion and exploration of the text. You can divide information into different sections and create subheadings to make reading easier. Choose relevant and significant points for your discussion, proving that you carefully read and analyzed the book.
  6. Conclude your summary essay stating what the author tried to address in the book. You should restate the main points from the thesis statement.

Follow Simple Writing Rules

  • Summary writing deals with a close connection to the source (book, article, etc.). If you cannot interpret author’s ideas and provide false claims, you will mislead the reader. Do not distort and adjust the meaning of your text.
  • Your summary should include enough details for the reader to understand the whole book. By reading it, the reader should have a sense of exploring the original source.
  • Summary writing differs much from criticizing. Your goal is to summarize the source and not to state if author was successful in writing or not.

Do and Don’t


  • Do provide in-text citations for the paraphrased or exact author’s words. Otherwise, your teacher will blame you for plagiarism.
  • Do use present tenses to describe events in summary writing, even if the setting took place long in the past. It will make your writing more vivid and imaginative.
  • Do comprehend all author’s ideas while reading the text. If you encounter some terms, do not hesitate to check their meaning in the dictionary.
  • Do work on a revision of your paper. Always proofread a summary essay before submission.


  • Don’t provide any examples about the issue that author explored. Moreover, do not provide any interpretations or suggestions about how the author could address the topic differently. You should simply summarize the original text.
  • Don’t try to summarize every single idea from the text. Check the word count limit and deal with the key ideas only. A summary essay is usually short and you will not manage to address everything in writing.
  • Don’t incorporate secondary details. Focus on the primary themes discussed by the author.
  • Don’t forget to use a number of transitions between paragraphs and lengthy sentences. It will smooth the reading process.

Take a Look at Our Free Excellent Summary Response Essay

Download PDF Sample.