Essentials of summary writing
A summary is a brief statement of main points of a paragraph, a short or long essay or a speech or lecture. It shouldn’t include details, examples, explanations or elaborations.
The best example we can think of for a summary is when your lecturer/ teacher gives, generally towards the end of a lecture or period, a recapitulation (‘recap’ informally) of what has been taught or dealt with and when he refreshes your memory with only the main points of a given topic in the next lecture.
Or when you say, at your breakfast table,
In my dream last night, I saw an accident. There was
a head-on collision between a van and a lorry; it was a
How to summarise
1. a paragraph
A paragraph is built on one main idea, which by now you know is in the form of the topic sentence; the other sentences that follow express ideas that are related to this main idea, and they provide support through examples, explanations, repetitions, elaborations.
To write a summary of a paragraph look for the main idea and express this in your own words.
1Let me begin with the conclusion. 2 Success or failure is determined
to a large extent by performers other than us in the human drama
we are part of. 3 Learners, syllabus designers, examining bodies, to
mention a few. 4 Besides, success and failure express values and are
hence relative terms. 5 We have our own pet definitions and
descriptions. 6 However, perform we must for we are committed to
Obviously, sentence 1 contains the main idea, but is it complete? It’s not because it doesn’t state what the conclusion is. Where do you find the conclusion—sentence 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6? On reading these sentences carefully, you’ll find that sentence 6 contains the conclusion with a ‘reason’ clause:
1Let me begin with the conclusion.
6However, perform we must for we are committed to a profession.
By joining these two we get the central (main) idea of the paragraph:
The conclusion is that we must perform for we are
committed to a profession
This can be further reduced to
The conclusion is that we must perform as professionals
But the summary is not complete because sentence 6 contains ‘however’ which links it to sentences 2, 3, 4 and 5. So to make the summary complete we must take something from these four sentences. What do we take?
They talk about how ‘our’ ideas about ‘success or ‘failure’ can differ from those of others’ and how we shouldn’t worry about whether we are successes or failures. This thought should be included in the summary.
So, the complete summary will be
The conclusion is that we must perform as professionals
without worrying about success or failure.
One of the mistaken ideas held by too many programmers is that the documentation
for a program should be written only after the program is ‘finished’. That is a very
dangerous point of view! It will certainly lead to inadequate documentation and might
very well result in an incomplete or incorrect program. Documentation is a continuous
process. It starts when we first begin to formulate a clear problem statement and
continues as we devise a solution, express the solution algorithmically and code the
algorithm as a computer program. The proper point of view is that documentation is an
inherent part of a program. It is therefore meaningless to assert that documentation
should be written after the program is finished.
A possible summary is
1. Documentation is an inherent part of a program and therefore cannot be written after
the program is finished.
How to summarise
2. an essay
If today’s world is as it is today, it’s because of the changes that took place nearly three hundred years ago. Read the passage and also the suggested summary carefully and benefit from this experience:
The term Industrial Revolution describes the historical transformation of traditional into modern societies by industrailsation of the economy. The main defining feature of revolution was a dramatic increase in per capita production that was made possible by the mechanisation of manufacturing and other processes that were carried out in factories (see FACTORY SYSTEM). Its main social impact was that it changed an agrarian into an urban industrial society. The historical term can be applied to specific countries and period of the past, but the process known as industrialisation is still going on, particularly in developing countries.
The Revolution in Great Britain:
Historian disagree on the exact causes of Britain’s industrial revolution, which may be viewed as stemming from a variety of related and coincidental factors.
Britain had certain natural advantages that help to explain why the Industrial Revolution began there. It was richly endowed with coal and iron ore, easily navigable waterways, and easily negotiated coasts. It was favourably placed at the crossroads of international trade, and internal trade was stimulated by the absence of domestic tariffs in what was, after the union of England and Scotland in 1707, the largest free-trade area in Europe. Political liberty was guaranteed, and a relatively open social structure made upward social mobility common, thus giving an incentive to the accumulation of wealth. The principles of the Protestant NONCONFORMISTS, who were to form the backbone of the new middle class, encouraged industry and thrift. New knowledge, especially in science, was freely disseminated, breeding an inventiveness and a willingness to accept change. In short, the 18th-century British society provided the framework within which could interact the effects of five fundamental sorts of change—in agriculture, population, technology, commerce, and transportation.
The Agrarian and Demographic Revolution:
Industrialisation usually goes hand in hand with agrarian reform if for no other reason than that an agrarian revolution allows a relatively small agrarian labor force to feed a larger manufacturing work force. In Britain, the revolution in land use, even more than improved technology, dramatically increased agricultural production. The ENCLOSURE movement of the 18th century increased the efficiency of farm lands as common pastures and fields were replaced by more compact and easily farmed private holdings. Farmers were motivated to experiment with new forms of husbandry—notably root crop rotation and convertibility between cultivated and pasture land—that increased productivity.
The stimulus to these agrarian changes was the increased demand for food generated by a demographic revolution—Britain’s population nearly doubled in the 18th century and doubled again by 1850. Population growth tends to retard economic development in a modern developing country, but Britain was a wealthy country with a standard of living well above subsistence; thus the population explosion from 1750 on enlarged the effective demand for consumption and had a beneficial effect on economic development.
The Technological Development:
Because British entrepreneurs were unable to meet the increased demand for goods by traditional methods of production, the domestic handicraft system of manufacture gave way beginning in the late 18th century to factory-based mechanisation.
The cotton textile industry was the first to be fully mechanised. The crucial inventions were John KAY’s flying shuttle (invented in 1733 but not widely used until the 1760s), James HARGREAVES’s spinning jenny (1765), Richard ARKWRIGHT’s water frame (1769), Samuel Crompton’s mule (1779), and Edmund CARTWRIGHT’s machine LOOM(1785).
The first factories were driven by water, but James WATT’s improved Newcomen’s STEAM ENGINE (1769) made steam-driven machinery and modern factories possible from the 1780s. This use of steam power led, in turn, to increased demand for coal and iron. Each development spawned new technological breakthroughs, as, for example, Sir Henry BESSEMBER’S process for making steel (1856). Other industries such as chemicals and mining also developed rapidly.
Capital, Commerce, and Transportation:
British industrialisation was financed almost wholly by domestic capital. The accumulation of capital from land and overseas trade was a long-term process in which the propensity to save was crucial; thus the emergence of banking and insurance services oiled the wheels of a market economy.
For the market to respond to demand, an adequate transport system was essential, and the in the 18th century British roads were improved for the first time since the Romans had withdrawn. Even more important, in the last quarter of the century a burst of CANAL building enabled raw materials to reach the factory quickly and cheaply and allowed finished goods to supply an even larger market. From 1830 on, the development of steam-driven LOCOMOTIVEs brought the advent of RAILROADS, extending the transportation network.
The net effect of all these changes was a dramatic increase in production; during the 19th century the gross national product per capita in Britain increased an unprecedented 400 percent in real terms.
The Spread of Industrialization:
Until well after 1850, Britain dominated the international economy. Britain itself, however, sowed the seeds of industrialisation elsewhere by exporting knowledge, engineers, entrepreneurs, and above all capital.
In continental Europe, Belgium, rich in iron and coal, was first to embark on indusrtialisation in the 1820s, and by the 1830s the French Industrial Revolution had begun. Prussia, much richer in essential minerals than France, developed rapidly from the 1840s; by the time of German unification in 1871, Germany was a powerful industrial nation. Those countries which industrialised most rapidly were those which established an extensive rail network—Belgium, Germany, and the United States.
The United States:
American society was an ideal vehicle for industrialisation. The Puritan ethic and a belief in free enterprise fostered technological innovation and economic growth, and the country had enormous natural resources. In the late 18th century, Samuel SALTER, a textile worker from England, copied Arkwright’s machine designs and opened a cotton mill in Rhode Island. Under the leadership of such entrepreneurs as Francis Cabot LOWELL, the New England TEXTILE INDUSTRY continued to develop. The supply of cotton fiber for the textile mills was vastly increased by Ell WHITNEY’S invention (1793) of the COTTON GIN. Another major mechanical innovation in crop harvesting was Cyrus MCCORMICK’s reaper (1831). Labor-saving devices such as these freed workers to enter the factories, which also drew on immigrant labor.
Aided by the spread of the transportation network, the boom period in American industrialisation came in the second half of the 19th century. By the turn of the century, the United States had overtaken Britain in the output of iron and coal and the consumption of raw cotton. Britain, with older plants and equipment, faced increasing economic competition from other countries. In the 20th century, the United States dominated the new automobile industry, which Henry Ford (See FORD family) revolutionised by introducing a system of coordinated ASSEMBLY LINE operations. Ford’s success led to the widespread adoption of mass-production techniques in industry.
By 1914 other European countries such as Italy and the Netherlands had begun to industrialisae, and the process spread to Japan. There, rapid industrialisation made a small island people a world power, just as it had done for the Britain.
The Industrial Revolution in Russia had started well before 1914, but economic development was halted by World War I and the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. When Soviet industrialisation resumed about 1930, it was no longer in response to market forces but a planned economic development by the Communist state. From the 1950s, Communist China also embarked on a planned Industrial Revolution, seeking to accomplish in a decade what had taken Britain a century.
The social effects of industrialisation may be summed up as short-term misery for long-time gain. Factory labor was often more disciplined, tedious, and dangerous than work in agriculture or domestic industry. It exploited women and, until the introduction of child-labor laws in most countries by the early 20th century. People felt that they had less control over their destiny as machines, although created by humans, seemed to become their masters.
At the same time, life in the 19th century city was unpleasant. The environment was often polluted with filth and smoke, and housing conditions were crowded and unsanitary. Basic amenities such as water supply and sewage disposal were deficient, and as a result disease and death rates were high. For all its ill effects, however, the Industrial Revolution solved the problem of the poverty trap described by Thomas MALTHUS in An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798)—the cycle of low income, low consumption, low demand, and low production.
Source: pages140—142 of Grolier’s Encyclopaedia of Knowledge
The following is a suggested summary:
In about 200 years, the Industrial Revolution has propelled
such a permanent change in the perceptions and practices in
several countries that the world has never been the same
since its onset---from agricultural-based economy to industry-
In Britain, if rich minerals, waterways, tariff free zone, free
dissemination of new knowledge, were ideal promoters of
industry-based revolution, common pastures-turned-private
holdings were responsible to start it with increased productivity
to meet the demand for food, generated by a sudden spurt in
population growth. Mechanisation of goods production began
in textile industry and continued in mining, steel and chemical
industries. These were ably supported by increased improvement
in transport---improved roads, canal building and locomotives.
In the USA, free enterprise concept and enormous natural resources,
increasing mechanisation of industries, improved transport network,
availability of vast labour force [immigrants included] provided a
healthy climate for the growth of North America as an industrial
The Industrial Revolution occurred in Europe, too. Belgium, France,
Prussia, Germany taking the lead and Italy and the Netherlands following
suit. Japan also joined the company of idustrialised nations. And
Russia entered late but became industrialised through planned
Of course, as in all human systems, ill effects were easily visible
like exploitation of women and children, pollution of environment,
high death rates. But it chiefly solved the problem of poverty trap
and has been responsible for a dramatic increase in per capita