Your Practice Summary – due to my Hostos email address on – is on “What’s in a Name?” by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and is in your textbook. The reading is also available online and you can search for it by using the reading’s title. Be sure to consult in your Syllabus the Guidelines for Writing a Summary which I have also included in this Announcement. Note all the information on what should be in a summary and go over the sample summary with its explanation of a summary’s key points.
* Keep in mind that a summary is a brief, objective account of the main idea(s) of a reading stated in your own words.
* You are only re-telling what the author states.
* DO NOT INCLUDE any personal opinion or any interpretation of what you believe the author is saying.
Doing an initial draft of what is being summarizing and re-writing it as necessary after sufficient proofreading and revising should be done before turning in the final summary. Follow these guidelines in writing a satisfactory summary throughout this course:
1. The summary is one paragraph. Present the main idea of the reading. The summary should be coherent, concise and offer accurate, factual information from the reading. Avoid retelling the entire reading. The purpose of the summary is to REDUCE the original material to its main points. Do not include transitions such as “however,” “also,” “therefore,” “so” and “in the end.”
2. The TOPIC SENTENCE in the summary paragraph should have the following information:
* the author’s first and last names
* the title of the reading
* and the main idea of the reading stated objectively.
For example, here is a topic sentence based on “What’s in a Name?” with the required information: In Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s (the author’s name) story, “What’s in a Name?” (title of reading) he talks about an incident in his childhood when someone used another name for Gates’ father (main idea of the reading). When using the author’s name again in the summary, use only the author’s last name and not the first name.
3. Write in your own words and not the words of the author. This practice is paraphrasing which helps avoid the danger of plagiarism, using words or ideas of someone else as though they were your own. Avoid using any quotes from the reading. A quote can be a word, a phrase or a complete sentence. If you must use the author’s exact words, use quotation marks and include the page number(s) to locate the quotations. Only ONE quote will be accepted.
4. The summary should be written as an OBJECTIVE summary. Write it as if you are re-telling briefly an article in a newspaper the main points of the reading. Do not include any opinion, reaction or personal interpretation in the summary.
* Use in the summary these reporting verbs such as “says, tells, describes, discusses, states” or phrases such as “According to the author, according to ______(author’s name),” and “the (author’s name) states/says/tells (using any of the above reporting verbs).”
* Always use the present verb tense for the first verb and past tense for remaining verbs such as in this example: Gates states (present tense) that he had (past tense) an incident in his childhood about his father being called by another name.
5. REVISE, EDIT AND PROOFREAD THE SUMMARY BEFORE TURNING IT IN. As a student writer, this step is vital in your writing process. Keep in mind these questions as you are evaluating and comparing your summary with the original reading:
* Have you conveyed the important points as briefly as possible?
* Have you rephrased without changing the author’s meaning?
Sample Summary on “What’s in a Name?” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
In the reading, “What’s in a Name?” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., he talks about an incident in his childhood about his father being called by another name by a neighbor. Gates says he grew up in Piedmont, West Virginia. Gates says while he was walking with his father, a neighbor, Mr. Wilson, spoke to his father, calling him “George” (3). According to Gates, his father tells him that Mr. Wilson refers to all non-white people as George. Gates states that afterwards he could never look at Mr. Wilson directly again.
In writing an objective summary, note the following components in the sample summary above:
1. Format: The summary is the required one paragraph. A paragraph is about five to eight sentences in length. The first sentence is always indented five spaces in.
2. The topic sentence for this summary is:
In the reading, “What’s in a Name?” by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., he talks about an incident in his childhood about his father being called by another name by a neighbor.
The title of the reading is given with the author’s name. The main idea is the remaining sentence which has an objective reporting verb, it is an accurate factual statement from the reading and no opinion is expressed.
3. The objective reporting verbs used are the following:
Talks, says (in sentences 2 and 3), a phrase: According to Gates and states.
Every verb used in the summary must be an objective reporting verb.
4. The summary is written in the words of the writer and does not use the author’s wording. However, a quote is given as the third sentence. Note that the quote is one word and is formatted correctly with quotation marks and the page number following the quote in a parenthesis.
Gates says while he was walking with his father, a neighbor, Mr. Wilson, spoke to his father, calling him “George” (3).
The quote is the word – George – which is in quotation marks with the page number following the quote in a parenthesis.
5. All sentences are stated as accurate, factual sentences. Avoid presenting any interpretation/opinion so that the summary is objectively written.
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