How To Write A Summary Essay

How To Write A Summary Essay (Writing Guide)

A summary essay is a type of writing which seeks to help a particular audience to fathom a source or to assess the writer’s comprehension of the source. Summary essays are written for other people, and therefore, when writing a summary essay, it is essential to factor in the specific attributes of your audience. The writer should aim at making it possible for the audience to grasp the main arguments within a source. The writer should make sure their article is objective and can be a credible substitute for the source.

How to start a summary essay

Every article has a main idea or a main argument, and while reading the source, the writer should, first of all, find the thesis statement. Writing a summary essay, however, starts by reading the source first. It is possible to mislead your audience and provide them with the wrong information, and some writers have been accused of misrepresenting their source. Therefore, reading and linking the arguments within a document is essential and should be seriously considered. Here are some tips to help you start a summary essay:

  • Read and understand the source. As already stated, it all starts with reading and understanding the article. Misleading your audience can be costly to them and yourself. Therefore, it is also necessary to consult other people while reading to help you grasp the main argument.
  • Identify the thesis or the main argument within the source. A good summary essay clearly identifies the main argument within an article and reveals it to the audience. In some instances, it can be quite a challenge, but you can always engage the ideas of others.
  • Include the author’s name, the title of the work, and provide some background information about the author if requested to do so. While writing the introduction, it is necessary to provide the audience with information regarding the document you are summarizing. Such information can be used to contextualize the document or the message therein by linking it to the author. While the above might not be the case all the time, it helps whenever applicable.
  • Do not provide your evaluation or assessment of the document or source. While writing a summary essay, writers are always advised to avoid including their opinion or sentiments. The essay should only be about the source.

How to write body paragraphs for a summary essay

Summary essay writing can be a challenge especially to people who do not pay attention to the small or supporting arguments within the source. In the body, like in all essays, the writer is expected to support their thesis statement or main argument. A summary essay is not any different, and writers are expected to provide minor arguments from within their source. The above helps to emphasize the importance of reading the source keenly while identifying the important points. Below are tips to help you write body paragraphs of summary essays:

  • Identify and include the source’s supporting arguments. While reading the source, identify the supporting arguments within the source. These are essential when writing a summary essay because they help you link the entire document to the thesis statement. The summary should flow seamlessly from the source, and therefore, the writer should make sure the supporting arguments are also well represented.
  • Make use of the author’s illustrations and examples. Examples and illustrations are important within a document because they help the audience to understand the points being communicated. Therefore, make use of them within your summary to make it easy for your audience to comprehend your article.
  • Do not include minor or unnecessary points or arguments. While it is necessary to include supporting arguments, it is essential to avoid the minor arguments which do not add any value to the summary. Everything the writer includes within their document should help the audience to comprehend the source.
  • Avoid using your ideas, examples, or illustrations within the text. Writers are always encouraged to use their words to explain the author’s ideas. However, avoid including your ideas within the summary and remain within the context of the source.

How to conclude a summary essay

When learning how to write a summary essay, students are often told to avoid including a conclusion within their summary essay. A summary essay does not necessarily need a conclusion and is often considered finished if the writer has clearly included all the main points from the source. However, in some occasions, instructors can ask for a conclusion, but this rarely happens.

Outline example for a summary essay

Write a Summary of the article Is Google Making Stupid?


  • The author is Nicholas Carr. The source is The Atlantic. Published in 2008.
  • Written to express concern over the influence of the Web and search engines such as Google. The influence is quite pronounced, but people are oblivious to it.

Main Body

  • People have been experiencing reading problems since the inception of Google.
  • Mental habits of a great number of people have also been altered.
  • Internet use affects cognition, however, it is not evident or obvious to the users.
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