ENGL101A students —

As you write your summaries for tomorrow, I’d like to remind you of a few key points.

1. You are writing a “straight summary,” which means cover all the main points in the article. This means: be “comprehensive.”

2. The “straight summary” also requires a neutral, objective tone. Keep your own opinions and responses out of the summary.

3. The “straight summary” requires chronological order. Just explain the main points, IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY ARE PRESENTED IN THE ARTICLE, and then stop at the last point. No conclusion needed.

4. As with all summaries, avoid detail, except where it is needed, to explain a more complex point to your reader. For this particular summary, we agreed that more detail is certainly needed in order to explain Roberts’ three categories of words at the end of the article.

5. Be sure to paraphrase Roberts’ language. If you use HIS phrases, you must put them in quotation marks.

6. When in doubt, consult the OWL!

7. Here is the sort of opening you need for the summary: we have discussed this in class. Feel free to use the words I use, or to change the words I use — but keep to the same basic idea.

A Summary of Roberts’ “How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Words”

In the article “How to Say Nothing in Five Hundred Words,” Paul McHenry Roberts offers college students tips on how to improve their writing. His first tip is _________ . (EXPLAIN TIP.) His second suggestion is ______. (EXPLAIN TIP).



Remember: use detail where needed. Imagine that you are speaking to someone who has not read the article. A related point is this: be careful when you refer to Roberts’ examples. If the reader does not know their context, the reader will not understand them, so you need to explain them, or just not use them. The football story is a good example of this sort of problem. I myself would just leave this example out entirely, as it’s too complicated to explain, and I would not refer back to it in the summary.

8. Your summary will be from one-and-a-half pages to three pages long. No more!

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