Short Writing Four ENG 101 B05

Summary of "Staying Human" with Works Cited page


  • Summary may be one of the first steps in most academic discussions. Obviously, you cannot produce a good argument if you cannot summarize the main ideas embodied within the argument- although many people have tried. A summary and, subsequently, a summary essay show understanding. The purpose of the summary essay is to convey to others an understanding of a text you have read. Thus, the summary essay functions as a substitute for the source you are summarizing. You must accurately represent your source from the beginning of your argument or the entire argument is built on a shaky foundation and you may inadvertently mislead your audience. A summary has no room for personal response or opinion. Leave your opinions out of it. This is about the source, not you. You should not add your own experiences or biases.

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The following format works well for a summary essay:

"A. The introduction (usually one paragraph)--

1. Contains a one-sentence thesis statement that sums up the main point of the source. This thesis statement is not your main point; it is the main point of your source. Usually, though, you have to write this statement rather than quote it from the source text. It is a one-sentence summary of the entire text that your essay summarizes.

2. Also introduces the text to be summarized:

(a) Gives the title of the source
(b) Provides the name of the author of the source;
(c) Sometimes also provides pertinent background information about the author of the source or about the text to be summarized.
The introduction should not offer your own opinions or evaluation of the text you are summarizing.

B. The body of a summary essay (one or more paragraphs) paraphrases and condenses the original piece. In your summary, be sure that you--

(1) Include important data but omit minor points;
(2) Include one or more of the author's examples or illustrations (these will bring your summary to life);
(3) Do not include your own ideas, illustrations, metaphors, or interpretations. Look upon yourself as a summarizing machine; you are simply repeating what the source text says, in fewer words and in your own words. But the fact that you are using your own words does not mean that you are including your own ideas.

C. There is customarily no conclusion to a summary essay. When you have summarized the source text, your summary essay is finished."