Skip to content
RMIT University Library - Learning Lab



What is a summary?

A summary contains the main points without details. It is much shorter than a paraphrase, which is generally a similar length to the original text. 

When writing a summary, remember that topic sentences usually provide the main idea in a paragraph and conclusions usually provide an overview of the content of a chapter or article  

When summarising or paraphrasing, you should represent: 

  • the author's original idea(s) 
  • the degree of certainty with which the ideas are expressed 


Summaries need to be referenced. This is a citation of the original source of the words, thoughts, ideas, etc. When summarising the main points, ensure they are aligned with the aim of your assignment and the argument you are presenting. 

How to write a summary

To create a good summary of a text, you should identify: 

  • its main ideas and intentions 
  • the meaning  
  • relevant details
  • the tone with which the ideas are expressed. 

Use the following steps to write a summary. 

Step 1

Use the structure of the text to locate the topic and main idea. Identify the purpose. Select only the relevant information. Write notes in point form.  

Step 2

Write the summary directly from your notes with a different structure from the source. Use complete sentences.    

Step 3

Refer to the original text to ensure your summary reflects its main ideas. 


Time management is a critical skill for students to develop. Weekly and semester timetables are an excellent way to plan a study program. Students can use them to manage their most important study, work and social commitments and to set themselves study goals. Blocks of time can then be set aside for study, reading, researching and writing. The most urgent tasks can be addressed, whilst work continues on preparing for lectures, tutorials and assignments. If time has been allocated for specific purposes, it is easier to avoid unexpected demands like phone calls, visitors and invitations. Assignments can be completed and submitted on time and to a satisfactory standard. 


Effective time management allows students to utilise their time in order to successfully complete their study requirements.