News articles can be long and often take too much time to get to the point. Because of this, writers may want to summarize a news article to uncover the objective faster. A summary offers readers a chance to understand the main idea of the piece, without needing to read the actual text itself. It helps present the reader with the main points in a shorter amount of time, by excluding details that aren't necessary. You can summarize any piece of writing, but many students get assigned a summary of a news article as a writing task at some point in their coursework.

The Goal of Summarizing a News Article

You can summarize a news article in several ways, but the main purpose is to take all the information and make it shorter. News articles can be very long, and sometimes they do not tie together ideas or details well. Summarizing a news article is a good opportunity for people to develop their writing skills, as most high school and undergraduate students will likely need to summarize heavier texts as they continue down their career path. There are several steps that a writer will need to follow in order to successfully summarize a news article.

Active Reading

Active reading is one of the first steps in summarizing a news article. While most people tend to just skim an article to get the main point, an active reader will read closely, perhaps highlighting points or taking notes. You will need to read the article or sections of the news article that you choose to summarize over and over again, in order to fully understand what it's about. To do this, you can ask yourself some questions:

  • What's the main idea?
  • Why did the author write this?
  • Who published the article (what company?) and does it fit their theme? Why?
  • What's the tone of the article?
  • If the article was a photo, what kind of photo would summarize it?

Create an Outline

Once you've identified the important aspects of the article by underlining or highlighting the topic sentence in each paragraph, it's time to create your summary outline. To create an outline for a summary of a news article, you need to take those important points as well as the answers to the questions you've asked yourself, and organize them nicely.

Make sure to get rid of any "fluff" or unnecessary details that don't support the main idea. For example, if the news article is about a hurricane which hit the coast of Florida, then the important details are regarding the type of hurricane, where it hit, who was affected, and how they are going to rebuild. If you read in the article that a family said their power went out, and they couldn't watch TV for four days after the storm, then that's not necessarily a detail that directly supports the main idea. It can, therefore, be left out of the summary.

Write the Summary

Once your outline is complete, take those points and blend them together to create your summary. Every summary should start with a description of the piece you're summarizing, especially its title and author. Then, using those key points you've outlined that directly support the main idea, re-write them in order to briefly discuss what the piece is about in your own words. Lastly, the length of a summary can depend on the length of the original piece. But, a good summary can be done in as little as a few sentences to a paragraph if the writer really focuses on the crucial details.

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