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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 and show how they are related.
  3. Combine several main ideas into a single sentence.
  4. Substitute a general term for lists of items or events.
  5. Do not include trivial information or unimportant details.
  6. Do not repeat information.

Summary Street . . . will compare your summary to the original text. It will tell you how well your summary covers the information in the original text. It will tell you if your summary is too long for a good summary. It will also give you advice on how to improve your summary.

Summary Street . . . 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.

So far, the software can only help you with summaries of a few texts. Select a text from the list below. Read it carefully. Type in your summary. Then go to Summary Street. Click on the underlined words in these instructions for more explanation.

Steps for using Summary Street . . .
  1. Enter your initials in the box, if you are a student at Platt Middle School.
    Otherwise, enter guest.
  2. Select the essay topic you are summarizing from the pull-down menu.
  3. Click the "New Summary" button if you are going to write a new summary from scratch, or the "Last Summary" button if you want me to retrieve your latest summary.
  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.

Using feedback from Summary Street . . .
  • In a moment you will get some feedback about content of your summary. Think about the feedback and use it to revise your summary: The bars will tell you which sections need more information. Make thorough and thoughtful revisions. When you have done as much revising as you can, submit your summary again. Repeat these cycles of revising and resubmitting until your summary passes all the thresholds at the content level.

  • You will also automatically receive feedback about the length of your summary. If your summary is too long you will receive some advice about how to shorten it. Again, make thoughtful revisions using the feedback. Repeat these cycles of revising and resubmitting until your summary is the right length and also passes all thresholds at the content level.

  • When you have improved your summary as much as you can by using the feedback from Summary Street, use the "Format for Printing" button in the textbox window to get a double-spaced copy. Print out this version and show it to your teacher for further feedback.

    Texts on Energy Sources:

    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 Summary Street
    1. Enter your initials: Topic:

    Please send ideas and feedback to the Summary Street webmaster. The people who made Summary Street 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 March 14, 2001.