How to Paraphrase

8 Steps to Getting to Know How to Summarize a Book

tips on how to summarize a book

What Is Summarizing?

When we state the main points of a book, briefly, it is called as summarizing. Summarizing is a collection of main ideas, eliminating unnecessary details and explanations. It gives us brief idea about a book or any text, which is being summarized. Summarizing saves a lot of time of the reader. Reading a book summary gives a clear idea about the topic and content of the book. If the reader is interested, he can read the full book.

Summarizing a Book: The Eight Easy Steps

Learning how to summarize a book is one of the most basic skills to master if you are a student. From time to time, your teacher or professor may assign you book summarizing task that you have to complete within the specified timeframe. You will save so much of your effort and time if you can master the art of summarizing because you will be able to shorten the book without having your readers to read the entire story. It is not the same thing as just rephrasing the author’s words: there is a big difference between paraphrasing and summarizing.

Check out the 8 steps to know in summarizing a book:

  • Read the book and understand it. This crucial step is the way to summarize the text. Without thorough understanding, you may have to spend a lot of time in going back to the chapters and take so much of it, meaning you may not be able to finish the task on hand at the desired time. With comprehension, you can independently rewrite the book without going back to the chapters one by one.
  • In each chapter of the book, take down notes on the most important events and names that you have to write in the summary. This is a skill to master in research. So here, you don’t only learn how to summarize but also to research. By taking down notes of significant events, places, and names in the book, you can be a credible author because you are leading your readers to better understanding of the story.
  • Also, be able to take down notes on clue words or keywords. These words can be used later in summarizing because these words also carry important messages presented by the author in his book. Have a dictionary in handy, but use it sparingly to avoid filling your summary with jargons or hard to understand words, which will just make your summary hard to understand.
  • Begin summarizing. Once you’ve read and understood the story, you can now start writing freely. At this point, you don’t have to edit yet, but to write continuously based on what you have understood from the book. Anyway, you can just go back later to your work and see that it has contained the most significant details that you think your readers have to know. Make sure that you have stated the name of the book author and its title, in the beginning, to let your readers know of who wrote this book and what its title is.
  • Use the important words you have taken note of earlier. Now if you also have to use statements by the author, be sure to rewrite words and them. You can use signal phrases, such as ‘according to…’ when writing.
  • When done summarizing, read your work and see to it that it has contained the most significant details in the story. Also, be ready to remove or omit unnecessary data in the summary, as it will just take up space.
  • See to it that your summary is no more than half of the story’s text. This is the purpose of summarizing. You are rewriting but you are making a shorter version for your readers to get the gist of the story without them having to read through the entire book themselves. You can rephrase a sentence or a paragraph.
  • Also, make sure that you don’t include your opinion about the book and its story. This paper is a summary and not a critique. Therefore, avoid injecting your point of view of the subject or of the author. Your task is to make a new version but a shorter one, and you’re not writing an opinion about the story. Make final touches by reviewing your summary!

Main Difficulties of Book Summarizing

When you are summarizing a book, you may face some difficulties. Summarizing is not easy and when you are summarizing a book, it’s even more difficult. Here we are discussing some problems, which you may face during book summarizing:

Pick the important idea

Summarizing a book is about collecting the important ideas and leaving the unnecessary details. But it’s not easy to decide that, which idea is important, and which is not. Sometimes every idea seems important. In this situation, only experts can take right decision.


When you are summarizing a book, you have to write the summary in your own words. A lot of paraphrasing is involved in summary writing, which is difficult for many people.

Time taking

Summarizing takes a lot of your time, depending on the length of the book. You have to read the entire book; may be many time. Then you have to select the important ideas and write them in a connecting way. This is a time taking practice and these days, people are short of time.

Lack of writing skills

Book summarizing needs good writing skills. As you have to pick the ideas and write them properly, as if nothing is missing in between them. The grammar should be perfect and here should be no mistakes of sentence structure. If someone lacks writing skills, book summarizing is not his job.

Expert Advice on Book Summarizing

If you are looking for an expert advice about how to summarize a book, these few lines can help you.

Give a strong structure to your summary and similar topics should be grouped together. don’t include any irrelevant detail, a concise summary is the good summary. However, make sure you have included all important ideas in your summary.

An Effective Summary

You may be finding how to summarize a chapter in a book example. Here are few points which make your summery an effective one:

  • The first sentence should give introduction about the topic of the book.
  • All the important points of the book should be included in the summary.
  • Remove all the irrelevant details.
  • Similar ideas should be combined, properly.
  • Paraphrasing should be done properly; the original meaning should be preserved.
  • Personal opinion should not be added in the summery.
  • Summary should be well organized.
  • It should not be very long. The length can vary according to the length of the book.
  • It should be free from any grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Make sure you edit and review it at the end.

Follow these tips in summarizing a book and you will surely achieve the best results that you are looking for. Finally, spend enough time in reading and understanding so that the process of summarizing would be easier and faster.

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