essence.gif (6415 bytes)

What is a Summary? . . . A summary is a concise statement of the most important information in a text. It should describe most of the main ideas. Details and repeated information should be omitted. Here are some guidelines you can refer to in order to write your summary. For more explanation please click on the underlined words.


Guidelines for Summary Writing. To summarize a longer text, you should follow these steps for each section of the text; for a shorter (1 page) text, you can apply them to the entire text:

  1. Find the most important information that tells what the paragraph or group of paragraphs is about. Write this into a topic sentence.
  2. Find 2 - 3 main ideas and important details that support your topic sentence.
  3. Relate the supporting information to the topic and main ideas.
  4. Substitute a general term for lists of items or events.
  5. Do not include trivial information.
  6. Do not repeat information.

State the Essence! . . . will compare your summary to the original text. It will rate your summary on a scale of 0 to 100 points. It will tell you if your summary is too long or too short for a good summary. It will give you feedback on how well you covered each section of the text.

State the Essence! . . . is experimental software. It is not perfect and it cannot understand everything you write. It cannot recognize what you mean by misspelled words, so be sure to check your summary for spelling before submitting your summary to request feedback. You should show your summary to your teacher when you have improved it as much as you can by using the feedback you get from the software.

So far, the software can only help you with summaries of a few texts. Select a text from the list below. Read it carefully. Write your summary. Then go to State the Essence! Click on the underlined words in these instructions to get more explanation of the terms. Use the Help links in the feedback to get some hints on what to do to improve your summary.

Steps for using State the Essence! . . .
  1. Enter your initials in the box, or (if you are not a student at Platt Middle School) enter GUEST.
  2. Select the essay topic you are summarizing from the pull-down menu.
  3. Check one box for the feedback or function you want.
  4. Type your summary into the white text box, or copy and paste it from a word processing document.
  5. Press the "Submit request" button.

In a moment you will get some feedback. Think about the feedback and use it to revise your summary. Make thorough and thoughtful revisions. (If your first draft is much too long, it may be better to start over and write a new summary.) When you have done as much revising as you can, submit your summary again. Repeat these cycles of revising and resubmitting until your summary is as good as you can make it. Enjoy!

Texts on Energy Sources:

Appropriate Technology
Natural gas

Texts on Ancient Civilizations:

Aztec, Inca, Maya  texts

Texts on the Circulation System:

I. The Role of the Lungs
II. The Heart and Circulation of Blood

There is also a web site on the ancient civilizations of the Aztec, Inca and Maya. You have to log in to use this.

Run State the Essence!
1. Enter your initials: Topic:

Please send ideas and feedback to the State the Essence webmaster. The people who made State the Essence! are interested to know if you think it was helpful and how you think it could be improved. Click here for more information on this research project.

This page last revised on 07/29/98.