Explanatory Summary Essay Outline


There are two basic types of summaries: a reader summary, that you compose to develop a better understanding of what you have read, or a summary essay, which is written for others and is an overview of an original text. The point of writing a summary essay is to convey an understanding of the essence of a source text to readers, without them having to read it in its entirety.

Steps for Writing a Summary Essay

  1. Thoroughly read and study the original text. When you read it, get a feeling for the author’s style, tone and mood, and try to identify the main ideas expressed.
  2. Divide the text into several sections, and sketch a rough outline. Breaking the text into several parts will make the material easier to grasp. Then read each part once more, but this time highlight some of the key points. Mark areas you want to refer to in your summary, as well as those that shouldn’t be included in your essay.
  3. When you have a clear understanding of the information in each part of the source, write down the main idea in each section in the form of a short overview.
  4. Write an introduction. It should briefly present the main ideas in the original text. The introduction should include the name of the author, the title of their work, and some background information about the author, if needed.
  5. In the main body paragraphs, state the ideas you’ve chosen while reading the text. Expand on them by including one or more examples from the original text. Include important information only and avoid describing minor, insignificant points.
  6. After you have summarized the main ideas in the original text, your essay is finished. A conclusion paragraph should be added if your teacher specifically tells you to include one.

Summary Essay Topics

You can write a summary essay on a scientific work, an interesting article, a novel, or a research paper. This type of essay can be on any subject. For example, you might want to write a summary essay on:

  • Catcher in the Rye (book)
  • Citizen Kane (film)
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (book)
  • Captain Fantastic (film)
  • Lord of the Rings (book)
  • Song of Two Humans (film)
  • Of Mice and Men (book)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road (film)
  • Moby Dick (book)
  • Ben Hurr (film)
  • For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • A movie by Ingmar Bergman
  • A novel by Jack London
  • The Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant
  • An article in The New York Times
  • A blog post of a famous journalist

Key Points to Consider

  1. One of the most important aspects about a summary essay is its connection to the source. Keep in mind that your interpretation of the source can mislead your readers or even distort the meaning of the original text.
  2. Your summary essay should serve as a substitute for the original source; by reading your summary essay, a reader should be able to develop an understanding of the original work.
  3. This type of essay is about summarizing the original text, not criticizing it.

Do and Don’t

Do
  • Do cite the author’s words if you need to use them. Otherwise, it may look like plagiarism.
  • Do write in present tense, even if the author of the original text has passed away a long time ago.
  • Do understand the original source completely. If you have doubts about the meaning of certain terms, clarify them before you start to write.
  • Do make sure you’ve said exactly what the author did when citing their words.
  • Do revise your paper when it’s ready. You may find a nice place to insert a new quotation, correct some mistakes, and make other improvements. You can also give your essay to a friend or a colleague to read to see if they can grasp the main idea of the source after reading your summary essay.
Don’t
  • Don’t include your own examples or interpretations in your paper. You literally need to repeat the information given in the original text, but in a shorter frame and in your own words.
  • Don’t insert any of your evaluations or judgments about the text. Your task is to summarize, not give a personal opinion.
  • Don’t try to grasp all of the ideas contained in the original text in your essay. Focus only on the most important points.
  • Don’t report on unnecessary details.
  • Don’t forget to include transitions to signal when you move to a new idea within the same paragraph.

Common Mistakes

– Including too much or too little information in your essay.

– Forgetting to cite quotations, so that the words of the original texts’ author looks like your own.

– Concentrating on insignificant details, examples, and anecdotes.

– Trying to interpret or explain what the author wanted to say in his or her work. You must give a concise overview of the source, not present your own interpretation.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic summary essay writing tips and rules, you can check out our summary essay samples to link theory with practice.

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Samples for Writing a Summary Essay

"1984" by George Orwell

“1984” is a novel about totalitarianism and the fate of a single man who tried to escape from an overwhelming political regime....

Nemesis by Philip Roth

By Miguel Fernandes Ceia The blurb on the dust cover of Philip Roth’s Nemesis is pretty accurate, ‘a terrifying epidemic is raging’, ‘focusing on [Bucky] Cantor’s dilemmas as polio begins to ravage his playground—and the realities he faces�...

"Three Comrades" by E. M. Remarque

Three Comrades, written by German writer Erich Maria Remarque, is one of the ...

History is always written by the victor; however, any topic, event or situation always has multiple viewpoints to it, depending on the angle of approach. It is rather hard to sway some ideology or way of thinking. So the most one can do is present an argument using statistics, logic, and evidence to showcase their idea as valid. This is what explanatory essay writing is all about.

What Is An Explanatory Essay?

An explanatory essay is a type of writing in which the author presents some point of view on a certain topic, event or situation.

Usually, the author will decide upon a set topic; then they will approach the issue from a specific angle. This angle is typically complicated, giving it room for discussion. At this point, they must present a point of view of their choice that sufficiently explains why a certain outcome was reached.

A mistake that many writers make comes from the belief that they are defending one side of an argument in a debate or criticizing some perspective.
Rather, explanatory essay writing is all about presenting a neutral point of view on the set topic by providing analysis from research and logically created self-theory. and present a lucid explanation as to why things happened the way they did. After finishing the essay, the reader should have a clear understanding of your idea, even if they disagree with it.

Explanatory Essay Example Topics


Almost any topic, event or idea can be described through an explanatory essay; here are a couple of good essay topics to get you started:

What were the key causes of the American Civil War?

  • From slavery to states rights and the aggravating feeling of power loss, this has been a question yet to be adequately answered.

How does depression affect the development of young children and teenagers?

  • Depression affects many people in various ways. From physical changes in diet to mental jumps in the form of mood swings, this topic still has much to uncover.

How has the overall development of technology impacted schools?

  • Although technology has significantly simplified lives for the entire world, has it brought with it a sense of laziness and reliance. Can it be considered as an addictive drug?

What positive and negative impacts have come from social media in today’s society?

  • Social media has turned everybody into a keyboard warrior nowadays. It does allow people to spread their thoughts and ideas freely, but what about the negative repercussions?

Define love

Your guess is as good as mine. Good luck!

Pre-Writing Steps

Before getting into the writing process of an explanatory essay, one must not forget to do proper research and data collection. Remember, the point of view being presented must be a combination of personal ideas and external information. Only then are one's thoughts properly validated. So research your topic and find multiple sources that defend your thoughts.

After collecting the required information, the next and most important step is to create a feasible thesis statement. This statement lays down a concise version of your overall point of view about the topic. In other words, you are explaining what you will be showing to your audience. Remember, you are not arguing or criticizing, just merely stating facts.

After both steps have been taken care of, it is time to create an outline for your paper.

Explanatory Essay Outline

The outline of an explanatory essay will vary based on the length of the topic and the information you are trying to present. However, most essays tend to be a page or two in length, so the overall essay will be around five paragraphs long. The introduction will present the subject of discussion to the reader and the thesis statement.
The body paragraphs will then follow, backing up your thesis statement with facts, logic, statistics, etc. Now, let’s break down each section into more detail!

Introduction

The introduction for an essay is made up of three main components and serves as a gateway for the actual content of the essay. First of all, just like with most types of essays, get the reader interested in the topic by presenting a hook statement. This can be an interesting fact, relevant quote, or anything that would captivate the audience's attention.

Afterward, offer any necessary background information that may not seem like general knowledge. This will help paint a clear picture for the reader to follow. Lastly, add the thesis statement at the end to fixate the focus of your essay. This should eliminate any confusion about what will be discussed in the body.

Body Paragraphs

Most likely, unless the topic is very in-depth, the body should contain three paragraphs, each with their point of approach. However, the general style of each body paragraph is identical. First of all, present a topic sentence that precisely explains what information you will be introducing. At the same time, this sentence should smoothly transition the writing from the previous point to the next.

Afterward, present a position or claim that directly supports the thesis. It’s important to make sure that the connection is evident, so the audience can easily connect the dots. Then, present the evidence found from the research you have done. This will validate your claim and enforce your position. Lastly, present a concluding statement that summarizes the significance of the claim in regards to the thesis statement. Follow this systematic approach three times for each one of your claims to complete your body.

Conclusion

When writing the conclusion, there are three main components that are crucial to properly finishing of an explanatory essay. First of all, restate your thesis statement. This will bring the audience's attention back to the main focal point as well as add strength to your presented point of view.

Next, make sure to summarize your three supporting points presented in the body paragraphs accordingly. It’s essential to restate the significance of each one concisely. This will show you that you have logically and correctly defended your thesis statement, increasing the strength of your overall writing. Last but not least, offer an overall concluding statement. This should explain the value of the specific point of view chosen from a global perspective. Once you have done that, you are ALMOST finished with your explanatory essay.

Polishing It Up

Before confidently submitting in your final work, make sure to take a couple of proactive steps to tie the knot around your essay.

Check The Clarity

Since the primary goal of an explanatory essay is to elucidate a topic or event, you want to ensure that your writing clearly explains and simplifies the comprehension level for the reader. The last thing you want is for your audience to be confused after reading the essay, questioning the overall point you were trying to make.

Reread and Edit

The worst thing a writer can offer is pesky grammatical and word usage mistakes that kill the eloquence of the text. Reread the essay several times and make sure it runs smoothly like a Sunday morning creek. Or delegate this task to the essaypro team.

Get A Second Pair of Eyes

Just because your writing may make sense to you, does not mean that Bob down the street will understand it. Have friends, acquaintances or teachers read over your essay to give it some final touch-ups and adjustments. This is the cherry that goes on top of the cake!

Example

Still Have Questions About An Explanatory Essay Writing?

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