The UVic Writer's Guide

Grasp The Main Trend Of Thought

In writing a summary, make sure that you grasp the main trend of thought in the work being summarized. Above all, you need to understand the work's organization clearly. To help you, concentrate on these three closely related tasks:

  1. Identify key sentences (underline them as you read): thesis statements (which sum up the major point of the whole work or its particular sections); and topic sentences (which are developed in the rest of the paragraphs they begin).
  2. Look for the author's own compact summaries, either at the beginning or end of a passage, or at points of transition.
  3. Finally, formulate in your own words major points that seem to be implied by the author but not spelled out in any sentence (remembering that your purpose is to report what is said, not to interpret it).

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Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria, 1995
This page updated Sept. 24, 1995