How to write a professional summary

Write a summary: Do's and don'ts for the perfect text

Writing a summary is one of the basic skills of writing. However, many people still do not know what a correct summary looks like. Here are a few rules about what needs to be done correctly when writing and what doesn't work at all.

The aim of a summary is that the reader gets a good and as detailed as possible impression of a text that he has not yet read. The summary should be as short and concise as possible and at the same time still inform the reader well. There are several steps involved in writing a good summary. The most important basis is that the summarized text is definitely understood. The drama "Die Räuber" by Friedrich Schiller serves as an example for the various points.

Writing a summary: the preparation

Writing a summary: Nothing works without preparation

do: The most important thing is that you read the text very well in preparation. That also means: Don't just read once, but at least twice, or even better three times. You should also be actively reading during the second round. This means that you should make notes in the margin on the one hand and underline important points with highlighters on the other. To do this, think about a certain system in advance that you feel comfortable with and that is logically structured for you.

Don´t: You should never assume that you can grasp a text completely if you have only read it once. An unstructured look at the template text is a big problem for a successful summary. The purpose of a summary is that the reader has a good overview of the template text and then knows exactly what it is about.

The writing style

do: Always write your summary in the present tense. This rule applies generally and universally to all similar forms of text. Texts that are written in the present tense are much easier for the reader to grasp and are much more accessible and digestible. A summary is about the reader being able to see very quickly what a particular text is about.

Good example: Franz is in love with Amalia and wants to ask for her hand. Since she doesn't want him and keeps rejecting him, Franz threatens her with sending her to a monastery.

Don´t: Avoid time changes and complicated sentence structures. Above all, passive constructions and past tenses are not conducive to a good and easy-to-consume text. You should also avoid writing long sentences and using many commas. After all, you should always leave out unnecessary information and filler words.

Bad example: Franz is very much in love with the beautiful Amalia and has long wanted to ask for her hand. Since the young thing is always gracious, Franz gets very angry and threatens her again and again to put her in a monastery for a long time.

The opening sentence

do: The introductory sentence or also known as the introductory part is a very important part of the summary and gives the reader an initial orientation. To write a complete introduction, always answer the six big W questions. Who, what, how, when, where and why. If you stick to these questions, nothing can go wrong, because you have definitely used the most important information in your introduction.

Good example: Friedrich Schiller's drama "Die Räuber" from 1781 is a play in five acts and was created in the epoch of Sturm und Drang. It is about the rivalry between the two brothers Karl and Franz von Moor. The younger brother Franz tries to outdo his older brother Karl through intrigues in order to get his father's inheritance.

Don´t: Never use too complicated and difficult sentences in your introduction, as this confuses the reader. It must be immediately clear in the first two or three sentences what the text is about, who wrote it when, where and why. Avoid long sentences and unnecessary information that can confuse the reader. Imprecise and unclear wording make the text tough and boring.

Bad example: The drama "Die Räuber" by Friedrich Schiller is written in five acts, which are also divided into different scenes. In addition, the drama was written in the earlier epoch of Sturm und Drang, in which many other dramas were created. Basically, the book is about two brothers fighting for an inheritance, one being uglier than the other.

The main part

do: The main part is the most important part of the summary. Here you not only show that you have understood the text, but also get to the heart of the template text. Always make sure that you structure the text in a structured manner and do not mix up individual points and the chronology of the summarized text. It is important that the reader of your summary get a complete picture of the template.

Don´t: What you should absolutely avoid in your summary are quotations and direct speech. Both have no place in your text and ensure an unstructured image of the text. A change of tense, for example from the present tense to the past, can also confuse the reader of your summary.

A good example of indirect speech: At the beginning of the drama, Karl mentions that mail has arrived from Leipzig.

Bad example: Franz says right at the beginning: "The mail has arrived - a letter from our correspondent in Leipzig"

The final part

do: The final part of a summary is usually optional. This is because he actually summarizes the summary again, which is often considered superfluous. You can also give the text a personal touch here. That means, for example, you can write your own opinion about the text, make a review of the work or write about the style. Keep yourself as brief and concise as possible and stick to the default of about three to four sentences. Above all, make it clear that the text of the final part clearly stands out from the main part. Make it clear that the text reflects your opinion and not a universal knowledge.

Good example: The drama is about a family feud that can be placed in a social context. Franz Moor intrigues against his father's preferred brother, Karl Moor. He believes he has been cast out by his father and joins a band of robbers to avenge the "social" injustice. Style and language fit perfectly into the spirit of optimism of Sturm und Drang and thematize the will to revolt against the authorities and the existing system at the time. For this time the language of the work was considered unrestrained, which was of great importance for the development of the dramas at that time.

Don´t: Avoid writing about your summary too much and for too long. In this part, too, you should avoid nested sentences. If you have decided on your own opinion, do not mix different approaches such as review and interpretation under any circumstances. Make a clear distinction here and try not to do both at once.

Bad example: The drama is a family drama that also fits very well into the time. Franz Moor intrigues against his father's preferred brother Karl Moor, so that he believes that he has been rejected by his father and has joined a band of robbers in order to avenge his personal injustice. Style and language fit perfectly into the spirit of optimism of Sturm und Drang and thematize the will to revolt against the authorities and the existing system at the time. For this time the language of the work was considered unrestrained, which was of great importance for the development of the dramas at that time. Perhaps the author has linked this with the intention of being rebellious. All in all, it's drama that fits in with today's times and is pretty easy to read.

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