next step: summarize!

Now that most of you have achieved levels of genius never before attained, locating precise and reliable information in the giant pile of dung known as the Information SuperWebnet Highway, you are ready to take the fruits of your labors, your precious articles, and prepare them for presenting to the class.

When you summarize, the point is to take the most important and interesting information and leave all the other nice connective stuff behind.

But first…we need a reference. If you want to use information or quotes from these articles in any piece of your own writing, and you don’t want to be arrested and imprisoned and/or  beaten with a rubber hose for plagiarism, you’ll need to cite the source (give the author’s name and the page number), and then, somewhere in your paper, provide complete information about the source, also known as the reference.

At the top of each article summary, provide a complete reference for the article. Here’s how to do it (substitute the specific info for your article–and don’t forget the periods, commas, and colons–they’re important!):

Magazine Article

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Magazine Title PublicationDate: page#-page#.

Journal Article

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Journal Title Vol. #(Year): page#-page#.


Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name [City]Date: Section & page.


Last Name, First Name. “Page Title.” Site Title. PublicationDate. Organization. Date accessed <URL>.

NOTE: You may not have all of the information required for your reference. Be resourceful–you may have to click around a site to find out about the author, publisher, and date. Do your best with what you have!

Okay, now it’s time to summarize. An article summary should be no more than 1-2 paragraphs, and it must have the following elements. As long as you have these elements, you can write the summary in any style or voice that you prefer:

  • In your first sentence, summarize the big idea of the article–this big idea is usually found in the article’s introduction. Be sure to restate it in your own words
  • Summarize each major point in the article in a separate sentence. Give a brief description of a few of the examples the author uses to illustrate the main points. Choose examples you think would be most interesting for your fellow students to hear about.
  • If you want to be really smart, take a sentence or two to connect the article to the ideas in one of the other articles you’re summarizing. Explain how they work together to give you a better understanding of your topic.

That’s it! When you summarize, everyone knows that you are borrowing someone else’s ideas, and you’ve got the reference up at the top so no one will think you’re plagiarizing, but please do make sure that everything you write is in your own words. If you must quote the article, include “quotation marks.”

Here’s a sample document to show you how to set up yours:  summary sample



4 responses to “next step: summarize!

  1. moar funny pictures

    fear me, matt thomas, fear me.

  2. Dude, I’ve been hasing cheezburgers since before you were born–check the blogroll! However, it is stoopid enough to merit as many links as we can type. Do you have any other dumb animal-related sites?

  3. brighton the great

    Oh, I am a dullard!
    I meant to link to you a lolcat I myself manufactured. That I can hazd.

    Fie upon my life.

  4. Well. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for the lynx.

    I’ve been delving into the LOL myself this past week, although when I focus-grouped the poster I was working on, one perceptive youth said “I like the picture, but get rid of the gangsta talk.” I won’t tell you what the picture is (maybe you can guess), but the caption was “Iz in yur skool lookin fer nutz.” I may have misspelled some of that. Do they say “yur” or just the staid, stoic “yr”?

    You send link!

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