Whether you are a student, clerical officer, secretary, teacher or a speaker, preparing a summary of a document is a skill you will find handy.


A summary suggests that you both understand the body of text you have read, and are able to relay your understanding in concise terms without disrupting the intended meaning.


In order to write a worthwhile summary, ensure that you are able to provide answers to the under-listed:


  1. Identify the main idea or theme
  2. The mood of the writer
  3. The type of writing
  4. Ability to give a title to the passage


Let’s look at them closely:


  1. Identify the main idea or theme

Summary writing is aided by the ability to understand and identify the main gist of a passage. For instance, a passage on violence could lift other qualities, such as crime, armed robbery, child abuse, rape, etc. From these, you can sum it up to arrive at a suitable theme for the passage.


  1. The mood of the writer

This is very visible in some writing whereby the author’s tone or expression informs of what he or she is writing about, the pain he feels, and other similar emotions, and you should be aware of it.


  1. The type of writing

Every writing has a category to which it belongs. It is your duty to know if it is  descriptive, narrative, argumentative, expository, explanatory, etc.


  1. Ability to give title to the passage

Title is a brief statement at the top of the summary or comprehension passage. It could be a means of locating the main idea.

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Note that in writing a summary, there are supporting details, which must be differentiated from main detail and should not be exchanged for each other in anyway. There is no space for repetition or redundancy in summary, however you say what is intended straightaway. The idea is to Keep It Short and Simple (KISS).


Care must be taken not to include quotations, metaphors, similes and other figures of speech in your summary. Outright lifting of the author’s word is not permitted; write in your words only. That’s how you get a good summary done.

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