Writing a Summary Essay — Harder Than You Think

A summary essay sounds so easy – just take another persons work and summarize it. But it is quite a bit more difficult than you would imagine – the writer has spent considerable amount of time into writing. How are you going to condense say, five paragraphs into a single sentence? Think about how daunting that task is – you have one sentence to say what took another author five paragraphs to do!

In a typical essay, you take a fact or assertion and elaborate on it, trying to prove your point. This is what makes a traditional essay effective. However, in a summary essay, you are taking someone else’s work and summarizing it, trying to convey the same message in far fewer lines.

Unlike other types of essays, a summary essay serves great purpose outside of the academic world. You will rarely be assigned a summary essay in college, but there are many outside professions that require summary essays. These include, but are not limited to, the legal field, medical field, and finance field. For instance, a lawyer may be required to write a summary essay on a contract.

Now, how exactly do you write a summary essay? The simplest and easiest way to approach it is by starting with the source material. Read through the material once first, to get a general understanding. Next, skim through it again, but this time highlight or underline key points. This will serve as the foundation of your work.

In your first paragraph, you will introduce your reader to your topic. An introduction paragraph is important in any essay, but doubly so in a summary essay – often times, the introductory paragraph makes up half a summary essay!

In this introductory paragraph, you want to try to make a single concise statement that conveys the other author’s intentions. This is also called your thesis. Your thesis will form the crux of your summary essay, so take your time here. A thesis should be short and concise, and will need to be supported by the body of the essay.

The introductory paragraph also elaborates on the material being summarized. You will usually provide the name of the author, as well as the title of the work to be summarized. Perhaps you can explain why you need to summarize the work in the first place.

Now comes the body of the paragraph. It is important to note that unlike a traditional essay, there is no opinion or assertions made in the body of a summary essay. Instead, the body will merely summarize the source material.

Remember, in order for a summary essay to work, you must not offer your own opinion. The introductory paragraph and body of the summary essay must be consistent in summarizing the source material. It is easy to tell if you’ve done a summary essay right or wrong. The body must prove the thesis and summarize the source material concurrently. Everything seems to be very simple, but in fact it is a very complicated process and many students are ready buy assignment online, there is no need to be ashamed of it.

Traditionally, a summary essay does not contain a closing paragraph. The summary essay is short and concise, and if you feel that it needs a closing paragraph, it is probably too long.

In closing, a summary essay does not offer any additional information or opinion – it merely summarizes another person’s work.

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