Learn How to Write a Summary

Writing a summary is a special skill that requires deep thinking.

You have to find the main idea and ignore minor details. Learning how to write a good summary is important, especially if you want to do research, write university essays or business reports.

In this lesson you will learn the four steps to writing a one-paragraph summary. I call this FACT summary writing.

Photo by Johnb2008

We’re going to use a video for this writing lesson. You will write a summary about the video called “Nuit Blanche.”

Nuit Blanche from Spy Films on Vimeo.

Read the steps, watch the video and then write your first draft.

Step 1. Focus.

Write one sentence that tells the reader the main idea. This will be the first sentence of your paragraph. To find the main idea ask yourself these questions:

  • What is the story’s theme?
  • What is the thesis?
  • What is the purpose?

You may want to use sentence patterns like these:

  • Nuit Blanche is a story about ….
  • The video Nuit Blanche investigates what happens when ….

Step 2. Analyze.

Analyze means you take a big thing and divide it into small pieces. This is a great way to understand something.

Divide the story into big pieces. Give each piece a short name. This is called “chunking.”

Now, you have a list of ideas. Use these chunks to write two or three sentences that describe or explain the main idea. Provide the information in the same order as the story.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What happens?
  • Who are the characters?
  • What is the setting?
  • Is there conflict or tension?

Step 3. Conclude.

Write one sentence to say what happens at the end of the story.

Step 4. Tighten.

Tight writing means there are no unnecessary words and the paragraph talks about one idea. Tight writing is a skill that all good writers have.

Edit the paragraph so that the middle sentences and conclusion explain or support your first sentence. This is called paragraph unity.

FACT summary writing.

  • Focus on the main idea.
  • Analyze by describing the main pieces of the story.
  • Conclude means tell us the ending.
  • Tighten your writing by editing grammar errors, deleting extra words and creating paragraph unity.

7 thoughts on “Learn How to Write a Summary”

  1. Awesome! That really helps me to make a summary for my english class, this language is not my favorite one but I have to learn it to graduate from the College.
    Greetings from Peru.

  2. The video, Nuit Blanche, is a story about a man, who fantasizes about kissing a women in front of a cafe. In a dream like state, the man is unfazed by the obstacles in front of him and unflinchingly walks across the street into a rain filled puddle and in front of an on coming car. After the kiss, he awakens from his dream like state, and realizes the women is smiling and starting right back out him.

    Hello, this is my short summary on the film. I am not a very good writer, but gave it a shot. Can you please review and let me know how I did on my first try?

    Also, I really enjoyed this post. It was very informative.

  3. Thank you for posting this. I have to teach a lazy class how to write a summary and it’s the hardest thing n’ I have 2 days to do this.

    I will try this, BTW use googlechrome as the browser ‘cuz FF takes forever to load.

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