How To Write A Short Summary Of A Book Crisp & Correct

How to Write A Book Summary
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Reading Time: 8 minutes

This guide teaches you how to make a good summary of a book.


But, before that, what is a summary?


In simple words it is a concise and easy-to-understand summarization of a detailed work. To write a summary of a book, the writer gathers the primary vision from the book, condenses all the central ideas, describes the main characters, and prepares a brief overview of it without any judgements.


So, by reading the summary, the reader can get a gist of the book.


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What Is The Purpose of A Summary?

A summary is an abridged description of someone’s work in a paragraph form that provides all essential details to help the reader understand the summary’s subject. It subtly brings out the writer’s perspective of the subject too.


Hence, writing a summary is an attempt to extract and absorb all the central ideas from the book. It provides you with a quick reference, and you can use it whenever you wish to recall the key points associated with the book.


It also offers an in-depth understanding of what you have read. In addition, a summary also makes it easier to memorize the grasped information via reading. There can be many different reasons to write a summary. But, how to write a summary of a book? Continue reading to find out.


How Do You Begin With A Book Summary Writing?

How to make a summary of a book good with a good beginning? When you summarize a book, it is vital to be able to curtail all that you have learned in a single paragraph. Here are some tips that can help you write a summary.


1. Hunt for the primary idea

When you begin to think how do you start a summary of a book, remember that for creating a good summary, you need to filter the main book to its most vital points to give necessary information to the reader.


So, pick the main point you wish to communicate to the reader.


2. Keep it short

You should master how to write a summary of a book in limited words. The idea behind a summary is not to rewrite. It is only a brief summation of the main piece.. Eliminate repetitive text and redundancies to keep the whole text concise and clear.


3. There is no room for judgment

Make sure to train yourself in summary writing without being judgemental. Please do not add your opinion about the book to the summary, but write what’s the book is about in your words.


4. It should have a flow

Your writing should have momentum. You can achieve it via transitions. So, use transition words to connect your sentences, but ensure that everything flows well to put forth the summary.

What Should You Include In A Summary Of A Book?

Here is all you need to know about how to write a good book summary:

  • First things first, it should be in the form of a paragraph.
  • A summary starts with an introductory sentence, the title, the primary point, and the author’s name.
  • It is not a rephrasing activity. So, write in your own words.
  • A summary is not a review and should have the ideas from the original text. You cannot include your comments, deductions, opinions, or interpretations.
  • Dig for the sub-claims author used to defend the main point.
  • Copy the three separate paragraphs from the main essay you feel, defend or support the primary aspect of the book.
  • Cite every passage with quotation marks around your chosen paragraph. Put a passage number where you can find the passage.
  • It is vital to use the source material through and through.
  • Finish the summary by a concluding statement. It should be a wrap-up sentence.


What Are The Five Stages Of Summary Writing?

Here are the five steps to keep in mind on how to write a short summary of a book?


Step 1 – Read the book

The obvious step before you learn how to write a summary of a book, is to firstly, read the book. Ideally, read it more than once to ensure you understand it wholly.


Begin with a scan of the book to get an overall feel. Then carefully read it to pick on vital points and make notes. Lastly, skim it again to ensure you understand everything you read.


If you cannot identify the central point of the book, follow this trick:


  • Start with the abstract. It has the author’s summary and details on what to expect from the book.
  • Be careful about the chapter headlines and titles. It should give you the crux of every part.
  • Read the first and the last chapter together and draw a comparison. Did the author achieve the book’s central purpose?


Step 2 – Break the whole book into sections

So, how do you start a summary of a book? Ideally, a book already divides the whole story into chapters, but if you want to write a summary, further distil this text to achieve smaller sections.


Step 3 – Search for the main points in every section

Now, once you break down the whole text into smaller sections, you can easily list central points from there. The best way to do it is to write a word or a phrase in the margin that sums up the whole paragraph while reading the book. If multiple passages across the chapters cover the same idea, club them together.


Step 4 – Write the summary

From the above three steps, you have everything ready. So, put all the main points in your words. Properly paraphrase the author’s ideas to avoid plagiarism. Do not copy any sentence as that amounts to duplicity.


Since it is a larger text, cite the sources properly while summarizing. The format depends on your citation style, but it should have the complete reference and the in-text citation towards the end.


Step 5 – Check the grammar

After writing the summary, read it once, and check it for grammar. Also, ensure that you have adeptly covered the author’s ideas and did not miss any important detail. You can use a tool like Grammarly and Copyscape to ensure everything is alright.


With that, you have learned how to make a summary of a book.


Roadmap To Writing A Summary

Here is a detailed guide on how to write a summary of a book.


1. Take note as you read

When reading the book, highlight the questions, ideas, and quotes, and then mention the page number and make notes for every chapter as you go.


2. Have a running list of all the main characters

Next, note down the names of every main character in the book with a brief description of their characteristics and personalities. You can also include a line or two about their part in the book, interests, goals, or any specifics the reader should know. Use these notes to analyze the characters and see how they contribute to the book’s central theme.


3. Make a timeline of significant events

If the chronology seems complicated, have a handy timeline of all the significant events across the book. Feel free to maintain multiple timelines if the story jumps back and forth.


4. Break down the book into sections

Cut the sections – the beginning, middle, and the end. Next, organize the notes and timeline according to these sections.

  • Focus the beginning on establishing the story and the central characters.
  • In the middle section, you identify the problem – the purpose.
  • In the end section, you will solve this problem.


5. From every section, find the main point.

Now, every section you have found above should serve a purpose and have a theme. Look at it from the author’s perspective. What do you think is the most pivotal point of the section? Try to identify what this book attempts to teach you. There can be one primary idea and a few supportive ideas backing it.


6. Is there a word limit?

There will be a limit if writing for an online publication or a school assignment. Please keep the summary as close to the word count as possible. If too short, it implies that you did not understand the book, but if it is too long, it means you do not know how to write a summary. But, if it is for your use, you can keep the length long but do not exceed 500 to 700 words.


7. Conclude the main idea

Now, as you approach the final lines of the summary, conclude the main plot line. You can use your notes for reference.


8. You do not have to offer your opinion

The summary should end with a conclusion of the author’s ideas and not your input or review. So, avoid that.


9. Proofread and check for errors

Read the summary once to check for grammatical, spelling, punctuation, or factual errors. You cannot convey wrong information to the readers who did not read the book. So, be very cautious.


10. Share for feedback

If you know someone who has read the book, you can share the summary with them. This person can tell you about its accuracy and aptness.


Related: How to write an academic book review?,How to prepare an article outline?


Different Types Of Summaries

1. How to write a nonfiction book summary?

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Think about the book objectively.
  • The summary should be in sync with the book’s tone to ensure the reader can assess what to expect from the book. For instance, if it is a suspense thriller, it should captivate the reader to know further. Alternatively, if it is a funny book, it should bring a smile to the reader’s face.
  • Commence with the summary. Explain the central problem and introduce the characters in the first few lines.
  • Give the summary an introduction, a mid-section, and the conclusion.
  • Read some book reviews for clarity.


2. How to write book summary in elementary school?

Here are the steps on how to write a short summary of a book in elementary school:

  • Make notes as you read the book.
  • Put down a main idea, phrase, or word in the margin that describes the paragraph.
  • Maintain a timeline of events and a running character list.
  • If the book switches from one event to another and back to the first event, keep details of the older event clubbed together.
  • Find the main idea in every chapter of the book in its entirety.
  • Detail the events in sequence.
  • Maintain the tone in the book.
  • Start writing.


3. How to write a summary of a story book?

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Read the whole story, and write some sentences that put forth the main gist or message in the story.
  • Now, add more sentences that build the story.
  • Write some stories around the context and the primary characters.
  • Dedicate the following few lines to the story’s conflict.
  • Elaborate on the sequence of events.
  • Mention how the author resolves the problem or conflict.
  • Conclude the main message.


4. How to summarize a novel?

Here are the steps to follow:

  • Take a pen and paper when reading the novel, and make notes.
  • Add vital words or phrases near every paragraph or section.
  • Break the chapter into smaller sections.
  • Prepare a timeline of events and a character list.
  • List vital details around every character for a thorough analysis.
  • Find the central idea in the book, and start writing about it without changing the flow of the events.
  • Talk only about specifics the reader should know.
  • Please do not keep it too long or short.
  • Conclude the main idea without adding your review.


Common Mistakes To Avoid When Planning To Write A Summary Of A Book

  • Not understanding the key idea or concepts.
  • Writing in passive voice.
  • Using incorrect pronouns and overuse of pronouns.
  • Keep the introduction unnecessarily long.
  • Reading the book very fast.
  • Skimping through the main parts.
  • Paraphrasing or presenting an abstract as a summary.
  • Using the exact sentences from the book or quoting the sentences.
  • Not following a chain of events.
  • Exceeding the word count
  • Adding your personal opinion
  • Creating a half-baked conclusion.
  • Not proofreading properly


Related: How to write an article title?


Frequently Asked Questions

Ques 1. What do you call a summary at the end of a book?

Ans. The summary in the end, or the book’s concluding part, is the epilogue.


Ques 2. What is the difference between a book summary and a book review?

Ans. There is a distinguishing difference between a book review and a summary. The former is a report, a critique, or an opinion on the book. On the other hand, the summary is a brief of the whole book. It is also known as a synopsis.


Ques 3. How long should a book summary be?

Ans. There is no fixed word count for a book summary. It all depends on the book for which you are writing the summary. A lot of people argue that it should be around 1/3rd of the original text, however, this idea is not always feasible, especially when you are writing the summary for a long novel or any other book that has too many pages.


Try not to focus on the word count but on how to make a good summary of a book. Cover everything that a summary needs in minimum word count possible. That should do the trick!

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