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Summaries are everywhere. As the way we write changes to reflect how we read online, texts are becoming shorter and shorter. A written piece that a few years ago might have consisted of several paragraphs may now be just a few sentences and a link to follow if you really want to read more.
And the summary is the writing unit that best delivers what we’re trying to communicate in this time- and attention-pressured world — it’s the essence, the basics, the gist.
Go to the Globe and Mail home page and hover the cursor over a headline. What happens? Without having to click, you (usually) get a “hover text” summary of what’s inside. Think of it this way: a well written headline contains the main idea; the hover text provides the supporting detail(s).
Look for more online summaries here:
- IMDB.com for plot summaries of movies and television programs
- Amazon.ca for book descriptions
- Libboo.com for more book descriptions
- The first paragraph of a Wikipedia entry is usually a summary of the subject — Charlie Chaplin and the Halifax explosion are two examples.
Reading a few selections from these sites will give students a good idea of what goes into a summary. Note that these examples don’t match the structure required for the OSSLT, which was outlined in last week’s post.