Toolkit for writing a summary

There has been so much confusion all over the internet about giving out various tips to summarize your content, but the biggest question still remains unanswered, where exactly to start from? To solve your question and to clear all of your doubts once and for all, we have curated a 5-minute tool kit to write a summary.

Action ItemNotesExample

Step I

The first step to writing a summary is to understand the objective of the text you're going to summarize. The idea behind identifying the objective is to have a clear idea of what you wish to achieve through the summary so that you can effectively communicate the same through your work.The objective of your summary entirely depends on the type of text. For example, if you're summarising an article about the negative effects of fast fashion, your objective would be to educate the readers on the ill effects of fast fashion and the proposed solutions to mitigate them.

Step II

In the second step, you need to skim through the entire text and mark the relevant terms that signify the main context of the text. These will be your keywords, and these keywords can be important names, places, dates, or terminologies. Make sure that all your keywords are specific and relevant, as they will be further used to paraphrase sentences while writing the summary.The keywords in the same example in the article negative effects of fast fashion could be "huge profits", "climate change", "landfills", "sustainable fashion", and "5 R's of sustainable fashion."

Step III

In the third step, you are required to read the entire text to get a comprehensive understanding. Once you are thorough with the text, only then you can distinguish between the main and secondary ideas. With this, you can easily grasp the author's core message and can accurately represent it to your readers.In the example article, the core message is to mitigate the negative effects of fast fashion and promote the idea of the 5 R's because Fast Fashion is a huge contributor to increased carbon emissions leading to climate change.

Step IV

With so many details at your disposal, it can be quite overwhelming to understand which details should be placed first and which should come next. To simplify your task, in the third step, all you have to do is to arrange all the information in order of its priority. This will help you keep the crucial information and get rid of the irrelevant details that might confuse the readers.For your topic, your detailed priority could be:
  • The trend of fast fashion
  • MNCs earn huge profits
  • Old clothes end up in landfills
  • The need for sustainable fashion
  • 5 R's of sustainable fashion

Step V

Once you have an ordered sequence of all the important information, you need to arrange these sentences in a consistent flow to prevent any abrupt shifts for readers while moving from one piece of information to another. To maintain the flow of reading, we use transition words that act as a bridge to carry one idea to another. However, there are certain common writing mistakes that you must avoid while using transition words.To shift from the visible side of fast fashion to the hidden one, we will use transition words such as “on the one hand" and “on the other hand” to conclude the summary with “finally.”

Step VI

The final step involves merging the core message in a detailed priority sequence while ensuring proper utilization of transition words to make sure that it maintains a coherent flow.The article discusses how companies launch new collections frequently to upkeep with the latest trends to attract customers. On the one hand, fast fashion provides global brands with huge profits but, on the other hand, leads to increased amounts of textile waste that end up in landfills. The textile waste in landfills is non-biodegradable and produces a higher carbon footprint, which contributes to climate change. Finally, a comprehensive approach to mitigating the negative impact of fast fashion is to follow the 5 R’s of sustainable fashion: reduce, re-wear, recycle, repair, and resell in our daily lives.

Now that you have understood the basic 6 steps required to write a summary, we will move further to understanding these steps in detail.

6-Step summary guide

1. Set your objective

The first step to writing a summary is to understand the objective of the text you’re going to summarize. In other words, you need to identify what you are going to achieve by summarizing the text. Likewise, different writing styles will have different objectives as they address different sets of audiences.

Types of Summary Objective

For example, if a text discusses the repercussions of technological advancements and its proposed solutions, then your summary’s objective, according to its argumentative style of writing, would be to focus on the impact of technological advancements by mentioning the suggested measures to prevent further harm.

Example of an objective

Topic: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The objective of summarizing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz will be to narrate the journey of the main character Dorothy and her dog Toto from the land of Oz back to her home in Kansas.

2. Keyword list

To advance to the next step, you need to skim through the entire text and mark the most important keywords that you find relevant to the summary's objective. By doing so, you will be able to extract all the important details that signify the main parts of the text. Also, this will help you avoid any additional details that are not crucial for understanding the main idea. These keywords can then be paraphrased to form short sentences that provide a quick and comprehensive view of the entire text.

Example of a Keyword list

Topic: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The keywords for the book can be the main characters, learnings, moral implications, and key events such as, “Dorothy”, ”Toto”, ”cyclone”, “seek help”, ”Wizard of Oz”, ”Scarecrow”, ”Tin Woodman”, ”Cowardly Lion”, “faced challenges”, “wishes granted”, and “moral.”

3. Core message

After you have marked down all the keywords by skimming, it's time to go through the text. This step requires you to read the text carefully to understand the main idea. Once you have understood the context, only then you will be able to explain the author's message in very few sentences to the readers.

Moreover, there are often some strong details in the text that might seem interesting to the eye but are irrelevant to the core message given by the author. While reading the same, make sure that you do not consider these interesting details when understanding the core message.

Example of a core message

Topic: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The book emphasizes how we humans often look outside for worldly gifts instead of focusing on our inner strengths due to our lack of self-confidence.

4. Detail priority

After you've read the whole text, note down all the essential information in one place. Then, sort through the information by arranging it in their priority order so that you do not miss out on crucial information. Make sure that you arrange the details according to their relevance to the text and not your personal opinion. It is important to understand that a summary should only be focused on what the author conveyed through the text devoid of any biases or personal opinions.

Example of a detail priority

Topic: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

When it comes to a book like The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, there are many important details that seem very interesting but are irrelevant to the summary. So, when we decide upon the detail priority, we have to cherry-pick the most important details like:

  • Dorothy and Toto landed in Oz from Kansas
  • They went to see The Wizard of Oz in Emerald City
  • They are joined by Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion
  • They are told to kill the Wicked Wizard of the West
  • Their favors are granted after they kill the Wicked Wizard of the West
  • Dorothy and Toto return to Kansas

5. Transition words

While writing, there is a crucial factor called readability. Readability is defined as a text's complexity to read and understand from the reader’s point of view. It is important that you realize that readability plays a pivotal role in your summary, as you cannot simply write sentences one by one; your summary also needs to be more readable for your readers to comprehend your context.

For the same reason, we add various transition words in paragraphs for a smooth flow while reading. Transitional words make the sentences more coherent, making the text look more professional. Here, mentioned below, are 5 different types of transitions:

1. Addition- These transition words are used to present similar information. For example- and, moreover, furthermore, in addition.

2. Contrast- These transition words are used to present different information. For example- but, however, nevertheless, nonetheless.

3. Compare- These transition words are used to draw differences and indifferences between different sets of information. For example- as compared to, comparatively, although, similarly.

4. Cause and effect- These transition words are used to describe an event and its subsequent consequences. For example- because, consequently, as a result, accordingly.

5. Conclusion- These transition words are used to club the whole information together at the end. For example- to conclude, in conclusion, to summarize, to wrap up, hence.

Example of transition words

Topic: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

We can use contrast transitions like “however” to present change in a situation in the summary: As the story moves further, they finally reach the Wizard of Oz expecting him to grant their wishes, however, he refuses to help them until the Wicked Witch of the West was killed.

6. Combine & write

At the end, follow all the steps mentioned above by identifying the objective and then making a list of important keywords. Next, read the entire text for better understanding and arrange all the information in order of their priority. Moving on, add transition words to maintain the reading flow and finally, combine all the sentences to form a summary.

And voila! By following all these steps you can create an accurate summary of any given text with clear and concise information.

Example of combine & write

Topic: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” commences when a girl named Dorothy and her dog Toto accidentally land in the land of Oz due to a cyclone. Upon their arrival, they are greeted by the Witch of North who advises them to visit the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz who could help them return. On their way to Emerald City, they are joined by the Scarecrow who wants a brain, the Tin Woodman who wants a heart, and a Cowardly Lion who wishes to be courageous. As the story moves further, they finally reach the Wizard of Oz expecting him to grant their wishes, however, he refuses to help them until the Wicked Witch of the West was killed. Ultimately, the five of them headed to see the witch who troubled them on their way, but Scarecrow's intelligence, Tin Woodman's compassion, and Lion's courage helped them persist despite the difficulties. In the end, Dorothy killed the witch, following which, the Wizard of Oz granted their wishes. The takeaway from the story is that Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion always possessed the qualities they longed for, however, they never truly understood their potential until they were met with harsh situations.


To wrap up, we write a summary to condense all the information mentioned in a large text into a relatively shorter paragraph. A summary is written to provide the readers with a concise explanation of the topic by highlighting all the relevant details. To write a summary, first, you need to understand the objective of the text you’re about to summarize. Once you have a clear understanding of the text's objective, you need to make a list of all the important keywords mentioned in the text which will be further paraphrased. After noting down the keywords, read the text thoroughly to understand the core message. Next, arrange the detailed information in order of its priority with respect to its details. Then, add transition words in between these arranged sentences to combine all the given information into a short and succinct summary.