How to Write a Summary of an Article

How to Write a Summary of an Article
Coming up next: How to Write an Article Review

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 The Summary
  • 0:55 Steps for Writing a Summary
  • 5:19 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up


Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Janovsky

Angela has taught middle and high school English, Business English and Speech for nine years. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology and has earned her teaching license.

Have you been tasked to read and report on a concept discussed in a magazine, newspaper or other type of article? Then work through this lesson to learn how to create the perfect article summary.

The Summary

The summary. It is used in so many ways. What's the plot of the book you're reading? Tell me about the movie you saw. What happened in that baseball game? On a daily basis, we are asked to give summaries of various events.

Unfortunately, not all of us are natural summarizers. Important details may be missing, while insignificant ones are included. So how is a precise and comprehensive summary written? First, let's look closer at the term. A summary is a brief account of something. To be more specific, a summary of an article should give a recap of the article's main ideas, concepts or points.

This might not sound too difficult, but when writing a summary, you need to strike just the right balance between covering the important concepts and rewriting the whole article. Let's look at the steps to writing an appropriate summary.

Steps for Writing a Summary

Now that we have reviewed what a summary should do, let's discuss specific steps you should take to write a perfectly balanced summary.

Step 1: Determine Length

First off, do a quick estimate of how long your summary should be. To do so, you need to note the length of the original article. Is it a few paragraphs? A page? Five pages? If the article is a few paragraphs, then a one paragraph summary should suffice. If it's five pages, then you'll most likely need a full page to summarize it. In general, the longer the article, the longer the summary. Of course, if you have a length stipulation from your teacher or professor, defer to those expectations.

Step 2: Determine Topic

The next step is to determine the main topic of the article so that you know what to focus on in your summary. Imagine someone asked you what the article was about. What would you say? Explain it in only one sentence. Your response to this is the main topic of the article. Focus on that in your summary.

Step 3: Begin Writing

The next step is to start to write. The simplest way to do so is to write a sentence that introduces the main topic you determined in the previous step.

To demonstrate this, let's use a topic in current events. Say the original article was about immigration into the United States. Specifically, it detailed the recent statistics and consequences of illegal immigrants in the country.

Your topic sentence for your summary must introduce this idea without getting into the specific details of the article. Here are a few examples.

  • Illegal immigration is a hot-button issue in the political climate of our nation.
  • One important concern for many citizens is illegal immigration into our county.

From these examples, you can tell the summary will focus on illegal immigration, but no specific details are given. Depending on the tone and direction of the original article, write a topic sentence to introduce the main topic.

Step 4: Use Support

Once you have the introductory sentence for your summary, you need to break down the supporting details, which are the reasons and ideas that back up the author's main point. If the article was persuasive, then you need to determine the ideas that support the argument. For instance, imagine the author argued that illegal immigrants have more positive effects on the nation than negative. Your job is to find out why he came to that conclusion. What were his reasons for making that argument?

On the other hand, you may have an article that is informative and does not make an argument. In this case, you still need to find the supporting details. Perhaps the author describes the positive and negative effects of illegal immigration. Then, those will be the details you summarize.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account