Article Summary Writing Tips

3 Keys to Compelling Summaries and More Quick Tips

Next to your article title, the summary is one of the most critical aspects to capture your reader’s attention.

An article summary is a brief teaser or synopsis highlighting the benefits of your article. Appearing anywhere from RSS feeds to your Expert Author profile page, article summaries bring your readers in after the initial title hook. Article summaries should entice the reader and should make the reader want to read your article above all other articles.

Many Expert Authors will reuse their article’s introductory paragraph as their summary.* While this practice is considered acceptable, unique article summaries can go much farther in delivering results.

3 Keys to Writing Great Article Summaries

1. Don’t Play Cat and Mouse with Your Readers

Your main point(s) and benefit(s) of the article should be clear to the reader in the summary. Of course you don’t want to give too much away, but don’t rely on the reader’s curiosity. Think taste, not hint, to compel the reader forward. This means the reader has had a taste of the article and wants more, rather than what they imagine the article will be like.

2. Less I and We, More You and Yours

Target your reader’s needs and wants with strong benefit-oriented language. Avoid using self-serving information in your summaries, including your name, website, and other blatant self-promotion. Compel the reader in one direction: your article.

3. There’s No Time like the Present

Use present-tense language for a sense of immediacy, use active language to excite the reader, and use stronger, more descriptive language.

Considering the 3 keys above, here’s a me-oriented summary that lacks informative value and uses round-about language:

EzineArticles Managing Editor, Penny describes how to write engaging article summaries. Discover this and more writing tips at our website http://Blog.EzineArticles.com

You are less concerned with who I am and more concerned about what I can provide you, i.e. “What’s different about THIS article that will go above and beyond what I need?” Also, this summary pulls you in two directions: should you read the article or follow the URL?

Here’s a more compelling summary:

Want to take your article writing efforts to the next level? Discover the strategies, like reader-targeting and language tweaks, to write an engaging article summary that delivers results.

Here are some additional quick article summary tips:

  • 2-5 sentences in length and a maximum of 200 words
  • Grammatically sound (including proper sentence structure, capitalization, and punctuation)
  • Free of special characters to make it ready for RSS feeds
  • Concise and precise, i.e. straight to the point
  • Keep it fresh and don’t repeat the article’s title

Use these tips to write compelling article summaries to give your article writing efforts a boost. And remember: the best summaries give a taste, not a hint.

*Attn. EzineArticles Expert Authors: If you choose to reuse your article’s introduction as a summary, please ensure the introduction is included in both the article Body field and the Summary field. Article summaries don’t appear at the beginning of the article and therefore can cause confusion when an article lacks an introduction.

19 Comments »


1
Online Jobs writes:

I use to write summaries of 250 words for my articles. Is this a bad practice?

Comment provided June 20, 2012 at 9:45 AM

[Reply]

This practice isn’t really bad, but it’s probably not ideal. We recommend 2-5 sentences in length and a maximum of 200 words. You want to be concise and precise, i.e. straight to the point.

– Marc

[Reply]

2
Uschi Wilson writes:

great, thanks Penny. I needed to hear that.

Comment provided June 20, 2012 at 9:52 AM

[Reply]

3
Martin Helm writes:

I only started reading this blog on Friday and already I’m hooked. I now look out for it every afternoon (UK time).

Interestingly, the me-oriented bad example of a summary (above) works quite well, with a few small changes, as a final paragraph – right at the end of the article.

It’s a poor start but a great ending.

If you kept your reader all the way to the end, they must have been impressed with what you wrote.

The example above is then saying “This great article which you have just enjoyed was written by Penny. You can see more of her work at …”

Comment provided June 20, 2012 at 10:09 AM

[Reply]

4
Jeff Herring writes:

I know a lot of people just use the first paragraph of their article for a summary, but that is just plain lazy. You miss the chance to craft an “assistant title/headline” for your article, and pull in more readers and prospects.

~ Jeff

Comment provided June 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM

[Reply]

Terry Newell writes:

I’d like more information about crafting an “assistant title/headline”. I’ve been an avid reader for years and enjoy reading almost anything as long as it’s well written. Necessity dictates that I learn how to write promotional articles, and although I realize it’s not necessary for me to write best selling material, I want to produce something better than adequate. I’ve never written anything before, so I turned to the internet to learn, but I was immediately overwhelmed with too much information. However, once I discovered this blog, that offers such concise information, plus your comments which seem particularly insightful to me, I stopped reading other sources. Thanks for any advice or comments you may have. Terry Ann

[Reply]

5
Randall Magwood writes:

I find article summaries quite easy to create. Takes about 30 seconds to write one, and it’s something that everyone should do to make their article more enticing.

Comment provided June 20, 2012 at 12:17 PM

[Reply]

6
Opal Marrs writes:

I think that a summary may also be a good way to introduce your writing to a magazine to describe an article you hope to be published by the magazine.

Comment provided June 20, 2012 at 4:43 PM

[Reply]

7
Eric jada writes:

I am at city college taking writting class and reading your main points about articles. Neverthelss, it sounds easy to do as a writer . . .

Comment provided June 21, 2012 at 6:54 AM

[Reply]

8
D A Gordon writes:

Good article. I especially appreciate the bullet list of guidelines / tips. Thanks!

Comment provided June 21, 2012 at 4:54 PM

[Reply]

9
Zahra J. Saleh writes:

I have the habit of getting the titles of my books or artilces very easily and my readers always find them attractive. So in my opinion as a writer you should always keep in mind the title of your topic while you writing in order the contents of topic reflectives the title of your article or your story. And yes, I full agree with you that the closing, the last paras or phrases are what makes the reader to laugh, to cry and rememeber you as a good writer!

Comment provided June 22, 2012 at 11:29 PM

[Reply]

10

Great insight and lesson pointed out and noted.
We all understand the essence of a summary, I do not see any reason why a summary should lose it’s value. Keeping it simple(2-5 Sentences, Not less than 200 words) and elaborate just as you have pointed out is the way about a good summary.

Thanks for sharing.

Comment provided June 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM

[Reply]

11
Pulin Dave writes:

Is it necessary to put Summary on all the post or we can put this as and when needed? Well to put summary is a good point and this article teach us many lessons. Thanks

Comment provided June 27, 2012 at 11:46 AM

[Reply]

Pulin –

A summary is part of every article we publish. If you don’t include one, it will typically be the first 2-3 sentences of your article.

– Marc

[Reply]

12
Brian Stephens writes:

Sensational points on article summary writing Penny. Seems the more you put in with summaries and your resource box, the more enjoyable and enticing the readers experience. Excellent info
Brian Stephens, real estate expert

Comment provided July 29, 2012 at 11:27 PM

[Reply]

13
Salihu S Dikko writes:

Tittle and summary are twins, so to say. While, tittle hooked the readers for you, summary backed them up for you to the place you want them dropped. As such, we must take proper note of it as well. Thanks for this.

Comment provided October 18, 2012 at 5:39 AM

[Reply]

14
Marshall Reyher writes:

Thank you for these useful tips on creating an effective article summary. It is definitely important, as it can grab a reader’s attention. If it is well-written, they are more likely to read your full article.

Comment provided January 25, 2013 at 9:25 AM

[Reply]

15
Durwood Walker writes:

Ok, I see! My summaries have been less than stellar.
But now I know what I’m suppose to do.

Thanks

Comment provided April 25, 2013 at 7:44 PM

[Reply]

16
Kieran Gracie writes:

Thanks for this excellent ‘summary’ summary! I find that it helps, when writing or editing the main article, to jot down bullet points for the summary as you go along. That way the main points for the summary tend to jump out when you get around to writing it.

Comment provided April 26, 2013 at 6:55 AM

[Reply]

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Please read our comment policy before commenting.