The summary is a brief account of the chief points of a passage. There is a great difference between the summary and the precis or the substance. The precis or substance is the central idea of a passage.
The difference between them is not only in degree but also in kind. There’s no hard and fast rule about the length of the summary, but so much can be half of the original passage.
Summary Writing Tips
- Read the passage carefully so as to understand its meaning clearly.
- Read again and underline the main points in the passage.
- Write down the main facts briefly in logical order.
- Do not introduce any new idea or any remark in the summary.
- The length of the summary should be about half of the passage.
Do’s and Don’ts of Summary Writing
DOs of Summary Writing
- Read the passage carefully; more than once if needed.
- Make a note of the important points.
- Make at least two drafts—a rough one and a fair one.
- The rough draft has the essence of the original passage.
- The fair draft is a good summary of the main points from the rough draft.
DON’Ts of Summary Writing
- Express your own opinion.
- Use a question in the Summary.
- Use abbreviations or contractions.
Summary Writing Format
PASSAGE: When we survey our lives and efforts, we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We notice that the whole of nature resembles that of social animals. We eat food that others have produced, wear clothes that others have made, and live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been passed on to us by other people through the medium of a language that others have created. Without language and mental capacities, we would have been poor indeed comparable to higher animals.
We have therefore to admit that we owe our principal knowledge over the least to the fact of living in human society. The individual if left alone from birth would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly imagine. The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not much in virtue of individuality, but rather as a member of a great human community, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave. (193 words)
- Humans are social animals.
- They depend on each other for necessities and social needs.
- Humans use language to communicate with each other and further their mental development.
- Humans are superior to animals as they live in societies that guide their material and spiritual existence.
TITLE: Man and society
Summary: Human beings have their actions and desires bound up with society as they are social animals. They depend on each other for food and clothes and share their knowledge and beliefs, and use language created by others to communicate, which helps in their mental development. They are superior to beasts because they live in human society. An individual left alone since birth would grow utterly beast-like. Human society guides man’s material and spiritual existence. (76 words)
Summary Writing Examples
Summary Writing Example #1
Films should contribute to human understanding and progress rather than hinder them antisocially. The excitement of gangsterdom is permissible so long as the antisocial quality of gangsterdom is not held up as something desirable. Frivolous gaiety may be introduced, but it should not be presented as the be-all and end-all, of living. Life can be made exciting and romantic provided it is not permanently distorted.
For there can never be much human progress if we distort things by pretending the world is very much better than it actually is. Thus the attitude of a film to the grimmer side of life can not be worthwhile if it glosses it over, since that only confirms our backwardness. Nothing bad should be treated approvingly. The introduction of gangsterdom, war, idle luxury; slums unemployment, poverty, and their accompanying misery, crime, and disease, should not leave the audience complacent, but should if anything inspire them with a determination to end them. (159 Words)
Title: Social Purpose of Films
Films should help human progress by not glorifying antisocial themes. Life can be made exciting without distorting it and suggesting that it is perfect. Films should not avoid the darker sides of life’s problems and inspire the audience to get rid of these problems. (44 Words)
Summary Writing Example #2
Speech is a great blessing, but it can also be a great curse, for, while it helps us to make our intentions and desires known to our fellows, it can also, if we use it carelessly make our attitude completely misunderstood. A slip of the tongue. the use of an unusual or ambiguous word, and so on, may create an enemy where we had hoped to win a friend.
Again different classes of people use different vocabularies, and the ordinary speech of an educated man may strike an uneducated listener as showing pride; unwittingly we may use a word that bears a different meaning for our listener from what it does to men of our own class. Thus speech is not a gift to use lightly without thought, but one which demands careful handling. Only a fool will express himself alike to all kinds and conditions of men. (148 Words)
Title: Speech: A Blessing or a Curse by Use
Speech helps us to communicate with others but it may cause misunderstanding if used carelessly and make enemies instead of friends. The same word means different things to different classes of people. The speech of the educated may be offensive to the uneducated-turning the blessing into a curse. (48 Words)
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