Summarizing- an Important Job Skill

In professional writing, it can often be beneficial to keep word count to a bare minimum. Texts such as abstracts, press releases, and newspaper blurbs focusing on TV shows or movies benefit from being as succinct as possible while still getting the point across. Summarizing can seem counter-intuitive when you’re in an education system where papers often need to reach a minimum length. You learn to put as much information into a paper as you can while still trying to remain focused on a thesis. However, once you get the hang of summarizing, it will become an important tool in your professional writing repertoire that you can use in all sorts of situations. Here are some tips on summarizing:

  1. Take time to take in the information. If it is a written text, read over it multiple times. If it is an audio or visual text, listen or watch it more than once. If you only take in the information one time, you risk missing the crucial points.
  2. Interact with the text. Use a highlighter or underline words and phrases that seem essential to the understanding of the text. Take notes on important information that stands out. Creating an outline can also be helpful.
  3. Look back over your notes. In the specific details you wrote down, try to identify a connection between them.

For example, take the Harry Potter series. In each book, Harry encounters a new adventure, such as finding the Chamber of Secrets and defeating Tom Riddle or competing in the Triwizard tournament. Instead of listing each of these events separately, a summarizing sentence could be:

Throughout his education at Hogwarts, Harry Potter goes through a series of adventures and trials that provide him with essential knowledge going forward in his life.

  1. Write down, in your own words, what the overall message of the information seems to be. This is the major point you want to convey in your summary.

For more information, check out the websites of Williams College and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Both websites provide great tips as well as detailed examples of summary.


This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.