How to Summarize an Article

You may need to summarize an article to find the author’s ideas that support your opinion, to argue against the author’s point, to summarize lots of information in a concise way, or to better understand the article. Learn more about writing an article summary with WritersHouse.

What to Include in a Summary of an Article

A good summary must contain elements that will make it easy to read. Here are the most important features of a summary:

  • The main idea of the article must be explained concisely and clearly;
  • The summary must be written in the writer’s unique style;
  • It should be much shorter than the original document;
  • It must explain the important arguments and notions;
  • It must condense the most important information.

To summarize an article, you should identify the main idea or topic of the article, select the important arguments, and write the summary itself. Let’s take a closer look at the writing process.

Identify the Topic or Main Idea

The purpose of an article is to explore a certain topic or idea. You need to identify the main idea and to convey this information in your own words. You may need to read the article more than once to make sure that you understand the main idea correctly. Take notes and write down your first impression. You can use it for your thesis statement. Make sure to write down the author’s name and the title of the article to use them later. To understand what the main idea of an article is, try to answer the question “Why was this article written and published?”

  • Consider the title.
  • Determine the place where the article was published and think of the target audience.
  • Determine the publication date.
  • Determine the type of article. Is it argumentative, expository, scholarly, or literary?
  • Consider the author’s writing tone.
  • Identify the key arguments.

Identify the Key Arguments

Read the article again and look for supporting arguments. Here are some tips.

  • Take notes while reading.
  • Highlight the topic sentence of each paragraph.
  • Rewrite the topic sentence in your own words.
  • Once you’ve finished reading the article, read all the topic sentences.
  • Rewrite the key ideas of the article.
  • Write complete sentences and use transitions.
  • Don’t use the same structure, phrases, and words, as the original.
  • Get rid of the unnecessary details.
  • Make sure that your summary is as concise as possible.

Your goal is to select the most important supporting arguments, leaving the unnecessary details aside. This way, you will have the basis for your summary.

Write Your Summary

Begin your summary with the author’s name and the title of the article. Connect the thesis of the article with its title and write a sentence that briefly summarizes it. Try to summarize the article in the first sentence, considering the supporting arguments in the rest of the paper. Make sure to restate all the author’s key ideas in your own words to make your summary concise. Leave out minor details.

How to Quote the Author

Use the author’s full name when referring to them for the first time. After this, you can use their last name only. Most often, there’s no need to include the author’s title (Professor, Dr., Mrs., etc.). However, sometimes, titles can help you emphasize the author’s credibility and authority. Include page numbers in parentheses at the end of a sentence.

Use Author Tags

When summarizing an article, you should clearly state the author’s name and the title of the article. For example, you can write a sentence that looks like this:

According to Mary Smith in her article, “Hamsters: the Best Pets,” hamsters are friendly and easy to keep as pets.

When talking about the author, you can also use so-called “author tags.” These may be the author’s last name or pronouns (he or she). Use different adverbs and verbs. Your word choice can have a significant impact on your analysis because certain words set a specific tone.

Author Tags

Says, suggests, persuades, presents, understands, comments, criticizes, elucidates, defines, intimates, lists, explains, reminds, helps us understand, creates the impression, concedes, presents the idea, highlights, admits, disagrees, thinks, states, emphasizes, observes, analyzes, shows, notes, identifies, presents the idea, implies, discusses, rejects, proves, responds, insists.

Adverbs for Author Tags

Clearly, dutifully, realistically, eagerly, evenly, tightly, expressively, quickly, conclusively, occasionally, elegantly, angrily, ironically, radically, sharply, honestly, sternly, hastily, rarely, finally, loosely, perfectly, warily, devotedly, exactly, never, completely, sometimes, warily, wearily, sarcastically, carefully, doggedly, unexpectedly, happily, iconically, politely, seriously.

How Long a Summary Should Be?

The length of your summary depends on the length of the article. For example, if an article is 10-12 pages long, your summary can be four pages long. If an article is very short, the summary can be just one page long. To understand how much you should write, you should also consider the instructions you’ve been given. If you’re writing a summary as a part of your assignment, the chances are that your instructor needs a specific length.

Editing and Revising

Before submitting your summary, make sure to edit it. Read it a few times and fix any obvious mistakes. You can also read it aloud to understand what sentences sound awkward. Give your summary to your friends or relatives and listen to their feedback. However, the best solution is to order professional editing and proofreading on Our experts will make sure that your summary is perfect in terms of style, grammar, and structure.

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