The ability to come up with a good summary is one of the critical skills you need as a college student.

Writing a college summary enables you to capture important information from a large volume of texts such as research essays, novels, presentations, stories, lecture notes, and extensive articles you use in your daily learning process.

College summaries require you to summarize a text and show your comprehension of the text in question. In this article, you’ll learn ten best practices for writing a college summary that you can use the next time you’re faced with this assignment.

Four elements of a college summary

Summaries play a significant role in restating essential ideas from a text. It condenses a large piece of text and makes it shorter and more reader-friendly. Summaries can also improve your writing skills as you rewrite the text in your own words.

You must be asking yourself what makes a good summary. An effective college summary should have the following elements:

States the main topic of the text

A good summary should state the main topic to enable the reader to identify the focus of the main text. The main topic should also act as a “roadmap” for readers, so they know where they are going when reading your summary.

Highlights the thesis statement

The thesis statement states the author's central argument or point and offers a glimpse into their overall purpose or objective. A good summary should, therefore, include a thesis statement. This will give readers a snapshot of what they can expect from the rest of the material.

Points out supporting evidence

A good summary should also highlight the supporting evidence provided in the main text. It should summarise the main arguments that support the author's thesis. Supporting evidence proves that the main points stated in summary are legit and not the student’s ideas.

Includes the five Ws

A good summary should include the five W’s (Who, what, when, where, why). Ensure your summary mentions each of these elements in brief. Mentioning the five W’s will ensure your summary shows the relevance and validity of the text.

What are the characteristics of a good summary?

A good summary should be comprehensive and independent. It should also be coherent and concise to remain relevant. It should have a title, thesis, and topic sentences. All the points in a summary should support the thesis. A good summary should flow and refrain from making personal judgments about the topic in question.

What are the four rules of writing a summary?

When writing a summary, here are the four rules to keep you in check:

a. Find the main idea and ensure all the points you highlight surround it;

b. Keep it brief and to the point (avoid fluff);

c. Write without judgment or including personal opinions;

d. Ensure the summary flows smoothly and logically.

10 Best Practices to Write a Strong College Summary

Here are the ten best practices you should follow when writing your college essays.

Read the full text twice

Before you write a college summary, ensure you read the text you want to summarize twice to help you outline the main points. Reading the text twice gives you detailed knowledge and understanding of the text's main point.

This will also prevent you from giving your opinions while writing the summary. Moreover, you can explain the main points without reading the text all over again.

Identify the title and author

The title and author are critical elements of a summary. You, therefore, have to make them part of your introductory sentence. These elements will draw the reader's attention and help them know the text you were referring to while writing your summary.

It will also clearly show that the work you are summarizing belongs to someone else. As a result, you will build credibility from the beginning.

State the topic right away

When writing a college summary, it's essential to start by stating the topic right away. This will let readers know what your summary is about and give them context on what is to come.

By starting with a clear statement about your topic, you can ensure readers have all the information they need to understand and appreciate your summary before diving in.

Outline the main points

Once you've identified the main topic, it's time to outline the main points of the text. List all the main points logically as they appear in the main text. This will help you organize your thoughts and keep them from becoming too scattered as you write.

When outlining your points, be sure to identify all the essential facts, evidence, and argumentation that supports each point and should form part of your summary. This way, your summary will present all the facts in the main text and communicate to your readers effectively.

Focus on important arguments

When writing a college summary, avoid getting caught up in details or insignificant arguments that contribute little value to the overall piece.

Instead, focus on ensuring that each argument, in summary, is relevant and meaningful. This will ensure your readers can gain insight from your summary without being overwhelmed by unnecessary information.

This will also help keep your college summary concise while still delivering powerful arguments that capture the essence of what you are trying to say.

Make it clear and concise

It's also important when writing a summary that you make it clear and concise.

Ensure each sentence is simple, so there is room for understanding and clarity when reading through it. Additionally, use concise language throughout so readers know exactly what they're getting out of each sentence in terms of meaning and purpose.

Be careful to avoid filler, fluff, and too many explanations that only make your summary look wordy. Finally, try not to use overly long sentences or paragraphs, as this will make it difficult for readers to follow along with what you're saying throughout the document.

Don't include your opinions

When writing a college summary, try not to include any personal opinions or interpretations of facts or evidence presented in the main text. You’re simply summarising what the author has written.

Instead of giving your opinions, focus on reporting facts objectively. This way, readers can draw their own conclusions about what was said without being swayed by your personal biases or perspectives.

Being objective also ensures that readers remain impartial when reading through your work and can form their own opinions without feeling influenced.

Keep it short and sweet

Always try to make your essay as brief as possible. Your college professor reads hundreds of essays daily, so they don’t have the time or energy to read long-winded summaries.

Try to keep your summary within the 500-word limit. This way, you can ensure that all the key points are included without rambling on too much.

How long should a college summary be?

The college summary should be shorter than the original essay. An ideal summary should be at most 500 words. It only needs to highlight the main points and answer any questions the readers may ask about the essay or text.

Avoid quotations

Your text summary should be in your own words— not someone else’s. While it’s okay to reference other people’s work or ideas in your essay, try not to copy and paste quotes from the main text into your summary.

Quotes can take away the power of your writing, so focus on paraphrasing the text and expressing yourself effectively.

Use reporting verbs

Always use reporting words to make your summary more effective. Reporting words will help you clearly show that the ideas you are summarizing are not your own. It will show that you are just restating what belongs to someone else; hence, there will be no plagiarism.

Reporting verbs will show that the author owns all the rights to the essay. Examples of reporting verbs to use when writing summaries include:

  • Reports on;
  • Deals with;
  • Examines;
  • Covers;
  • Addresses;
  • Describes;
  • Presents.


When writing a summary for college, it’s important to remember that clarity and conciseness are key. Additionally, ensure you include all the necessary details while still remaining brief to get your point across. Once you finish writing your summary, always proofread your work and edit it thoroughly before submitting it.

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Achieve Academic Success with Expert Assistance!

Custom Essays:

Crafted from Scratch for You.

Plagiarism Removal:

Ensuring Your Work’s Originality.

Rewriting & Paraphrasing:

Transform Your Draft into Excellence.

Editing & Proofreading:

Perfecting Your Paper’s Grammar, Style, and Format (APA, MLA, etc.).