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Summarising: Skimming and scanning

Summarising: Skimming and scanning

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Summary

Summarising: Skimming and scanning

​​In a nutshell

To summarise means to provide the key ideas and information of a specific text or piece of content. There are some techniques and methods you can apply to summarise a text successfully. In this summary, you will learn to apply the necessary skills to summarise a text.



How to summarise a text

When summarising a text, the goal is to provide the main ideas and key information. Writing a summary does not mean cutting phrases out of the original text, but expressing the main ideas precisely and briefly. The following information can help you identify what you need to do to write a summary:


​​Do's

don'ts

  • Include the thesis statement and main ideas of the text.
  • Use key words from the text.
  • Use techniques like scanning or skimming.
  • Include irrelevant information.
  • Write about your opinion.
  • Write redundant phrases.


Summarising techniques

One of the most important steps to writing a summary is finding information and key points. There are two techniques that can be helpful to do this.


Skimming

The skimming technique consists of letting your eyes 'skim' through a text to obtain a general view of it. The main goal of skimming is picking out the key words and sentences to get the general idea of the text. Generally, the first sentence of the text contains the thesis statement, so you should always properly read the sentence and make sure you understand it.


Example
TEXT
GENERAL IDEA
'The idea of increasing taxes on junk food is being considered by the government. Many people are used to consuming junk food very frequently, which has increased the prevalence of heart disease and obesity in the population. The government has thought of many possible ways to stop the number from increasing, for example making fruits and vegetables cheaper. However, more drastic ideas have been discussed in the last few days, which has led to many protests against increasing taxes on junk food.'
As the line in bold shows, the text is about increasing taxes on junk food.


Scanning

Scanning is a summarising technique that consists of searching for key phrases and words to work out specific information. 


Example
TEXT
SCANNING
'Emotional intelligence should be a subject at school. A recent study showed that kids that were taught about emotional intelligence from a very young age and in a consistent way have better control over their emotions. Since children spend a large part of their time at school and their brains are developing, they are more adept at learning things that can help them for the rest of their lives. Nowadays, some schools are implementing emotional intelligence as a subject to continue proving the positive impact it has on children.'
The words in bold represent what was scanned from the text:
'Emotional intelligence should be a subject at school. A recent study showed that kids that were taught about emotional intelligence from a very young age and in a consistent way have better control over their emotions. Since children spend large part of their time at school and their brains are developing, they are more adept at learning things that can help them for the rest of their lives. Nowadays, some schools are implementing emotional intelligence as a subject to continue proving the positive impact it has on children.'


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Exercises

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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is scanning?

What is skimming?

What does it mean to summarise?

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