How to Write a Summary

How to Write a Summary thumbnail

What is a summary?

A summary is an overview or condensed version of a full story or text. Summaries can be written or visual - for example, a movie trailer can be considered a summary, or “sneak peak” and its aim is to encourage viewers to watch the full film!

In theory, writing a summary should be easy, as your child will already have all the information needed to produce this piece of writing. However it can be a difficult task to accomplish without the right guidance.

Here are some aspects your child should consider when writing a high quality summary:

What is the purpose of this summary?

Sometimes it’s important not to give everything away, as it may tarnish the reader’s experience when or if they decide to read the full text. When writing a summary, your child should think of whether they wish to provide a complete overview of the piece (which is usually quite successful when the full text is factual or informative), of if they’d prefer to give their audience just enough information to prompt them to read the full version of the text (much like a movie trailer or a book blurb).

Who is the target audience?

The summary should “speak” directly to the text’s target audience, which can be tricky to achieve! For example, if your child has written a funny story and is looking to produce a summary for it, they should take a comedic approach to the way they describe the full-length text, whereas if they’re writing an overview for a factual piece, this summary should be a lot more formal.

Summaries should be short, concise and direct

They’re very useful as they’ll let your child’s target audience know what the piece is about and the key events that take place, even if they know nothing about the full-length story.

What makes a good summary?

Think about the key questions - who, where, when, what, why and how:

  • Who is/are the character(s)?
  • Where does the main action take place?
  • When does the story take place?
  • What is happening?
  • Why is this happening?
  • How is it resolved?

The last question can be optional, if the aim of the summary is to encourage the audience to read the text in order to learn what happens in the end.

What information should be relayed to the reader?

Remember, summaries should be short and easy to understand, so all the information included should be concise and relevant to the overall plot.

Write in a neutral perspective

Sometimes we can be a little biassed (especially if we’re the author of the full story), therefore it’s always important to remember that a summary isn’t a review of the text at hand!

Ensure chronological order

It’s crucial that the summary follows the same chronological order as the full-length text, as the aim is to provide the audience with a clear overview of the events that take place. Changing the order of these events will result in some confusion and maybe even give the reader the wrong impression.

Remove all unnecessary information.

Editing is your child’s best friend! A summary should always be reviewed and edited in order to condense information and remove all irrelevant aspects (which contribute to the development of the full-length text but don’t play a part in the plot - an example of this is the description of a specific setting).

In "summary"...

We hope this guidance sets your child up for success! You can always share your child’s wonderful work with us on social media using the hashtag #nightzookeeper. You can find us on:





We always love hearing from parents! Got any suggestions for future blogs or questions about our reading and writing program? You can reach out to us via email at [email protected].

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