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What It Is

A summary is a concise and general restatement of a source's ideas and findings using your own words and sentence structure.

Length of a Summary

The length of a summary is usually 1/3 of the length of the original source if the source is in an article format, but larger works, such as books, may not follow this rule.  Ask your instructor for specifics.

What To Include

A summary is a generalization of the source and does not require specific evidence.

The summary must include the following pieces:

  • subject
  • thesis/purpose
  • main arguments/points

The following are pieces your summary may include:

  • author's credibility
  • methods used (for original research)
  • limitations/biases

Ask your instructor which pieces should be included in your summary.

How To Write a Summary

  1. Read the source carefully.
  2. Highlight the thesis or argument and reword it using your own words.
  3. State key ideas or main points using your own words.
  4. Write general ideas; avoid using specific examples from the source.
  5. Provide a reference on a separate page. Ask your instructor for specific requirements.

How To Cite Within a Summary

In the first or second line of the summary, include the title of the source, the author's last name, and the year of publication.  Follow APA @ Conestoga format for titles in a paper.  Because you are not using specific examples or evidence in your summary, you do not need to include an in-text citation with author, year, page/paragraph number.

Summary Example

The following example is in APA @ Conestoga format.

The article “Using Technology in the Classroom” by August et al. (2012) described the impact of various types of technology on student learning. Technology has improved students’ ability to manipulate and absorb learning concepts. Statistics outlining the rate at which students absorb information using technology compared to traditionallearning methods are given in this article. The authors illustrated how cognitive development can be enhanced through the use of appropriate technology. A focus on implementation of pedagogy in relation to the use of technology is also addressed.


Elements to Notice


  • The example uses paragraph structure, so be sure to indent each new paragraph.
  • The citation is provided within the first sentence of the summary and includes title, authors, and year.
  • The thesis of the original text is provided using new words and a new sentence structure.
  • The main points of the original text are shown in the summary text using new words and new sentence structures, but appear in the same order of the original text.

Other Resources

Check out these other useful resources: