Writing Magazine Summaries

Error message

Notice: Undefined index: db43380 in include_once() (line 1 of /home/studygui/public_html/sites/default/settings.php).

Writing Magazine Summaries

1. Read the passage carefully.


2. On a piece of paper, write down these questions in list form: Who? What?  When? Where? Why? and How?  Try to answer all these questions about the article.  For example, who is the article about?  What happens in the story?  When did it happen?  Where did it happen?  Why did this event take place?  How did the event take place?


3. Reread the article. This time divide the passage into sections or stages of thought. Label, on the passage itself, each section or stage of thought. Underline key ideas and  terms.


4. Write one-sentence summaries, on a separate sheet of paper, of each stage of thought or, if appropriate, of each paragraph.


5. Write a topic sentence--a one-sentence summary of the entire passage. The  topic sentence should express the central idea of the passage, as you have  determined it from the above steps. You may find it useful to keep in mind the  information contained in the lead sentence or paragraph of most newspaper  articles--the what, who, why, where, when, and how of the matter. In the case of persuasive passages, summarize in a sentence the author's conclusion. In the case of descriptive passages, indicate the subject of the description and its key feature(s).

Be sure to include the author's name and the title of the essay (or passage) being summarized in your first sentence. Example:

In her article "Home in West Virginia," Mary Smith
argues that West Virginia is the  best place to live.


6. Write the first draft of your summary by combining the topic sentence with the information from steps 2 and 4. Eliminate repetition and combine sentences for a  smooth and logical flow of ideas, NOTE: You need not include sentences "in  order."


7. Revise your summary, inserting transitional words and phrases where necessary  to ensure coherence. Check for style. Avoid series of short, choppy sentences.


8. Edit your summary. Check for grammatical correctness, punctuation, spelling.   Completed magazine summaries are often between 1/2 and 1 page in length when handwritten on notebook paper. 


Brevity  +  Completeness  +  Objectivity = Effective Summary

  Student Exemplar

JoJo Eliott

Mrs. Adams

Senior English: Magazine Article Summary

January 29, 2003



Andrew Curry reports in his U.S. News and World Report article, “Civil War Sleuths,” that historians now know that more spying occurred in the Civil War than anyone previously thought.  Secrets were being let out when they were not supposed to.  Elizabeth Van Lew and her slave, Mary Bowser, were very quiet and no one paid any attention to them in the 1860s.  Whenever Mary Bowser was in Jefferson Davis’s office in the Confederate White House, where she spent most of her days as a volunteer, she would read the papers on the desk about plan for Union Prisoners of War.  She would later slip out and tell Yankee sympathizers about everything that was going to happen.  She was a spy, but she didn’t look like one, and she didn’t have any special gadgets to help her like spies do today. Instead, she just looked like a Southern belle.

Spies were important in the Civil War.  Many generals relied on these spies for information about their enemy’s numbers, strategies, and looked for sympathetic locals.  Usually, the spies were not men but women and ex-slaves.  Because women and ex-slaves had low status, many people did not believe that they had the courage or intelligence to give them data about the enemy.

Another spy was a woman named Rose Greenhow, who was a Maryland widow, who entertained high-ranking politicians at her house for dinner.  When they let secrets slip out, she would make sure the secrets would get to Confederate ears.  But, she got caught and was put in jail.  Somehow, Rose found ways to pass messages to the Confederates from prison.

These Southern belles and ex-slaves were great spies because no one suspected them.  They worked so quietly that it has taken years for us to find out about them.

Article: Curry, Andrew.  “Civil War Sleuths.”  U.S. News and World Report
        Feb.3, 2003 issue.  Page 55

Need more help? Read questions and answers from fellow students below. If you're question hasn't already been asked, ask it now.

Report This
Report This