Guidelines for Summarizing Sources

Most students do not realize that summaries require citations similar to those used for quotations. Learning how to summarize your sources properly will help you avoid "accidental" plagiarism. Moreover, you should use these guidelines when writing an Annotated Bibliography.

What is a summary?
A summary requires you to "condense an extended idea or argument into a sentence or more in your own words" (Aaron, Sole, & Martucci Lamarre, 2009, p. 298). Moreover, a summary should not change the meaning of the original source.

When is a summary useful?
You should summarize when…

How is a summary written?
Before you write the summary…

When you write the summary. . .

Summary Sample

Original Source
Pendergrast, M. (1999). Uncommon grounds: The history of coffee and how it transformed our world. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Coffee is an extraordinarily delicate commodity. Its quality is first determined by essentials such as type of plant, soil conditions, and growing altitude. It can be ruined at every step along the line, from fertilizer and pesticide application to harvesting methods to processing to shipping to roasting to packaging to brewing. A coffee bean greedily absorbs odors and flavors from a host of nauseating companions. Too much moisture produces mold. A too–light roast produces undeveloped, bitter coffee, while overroasted coffee resembles charcoal. After roasting, the bean stales quickly unless used within a week or so. Boiling or sitting on a hot plate quickly reduces the finest brew to a stale, bitter, mouth–turning cup of black bile. In addition, it can be adulterated with an astonishing array of vegetable matter, ranging from chicory to figs.

Student Version
In his introduction to Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How it Transformed Our World, Mark Pendergrast (1999) explains that coffee is an easy–to–manipulate—maybe even temperamental—bean that requires special attention for the duration of its lifespan, growth to consumption (p. xvi).