No matter what job a person has, he needs to read a lot. Only by wide reading can a person keep up with the latest developments in his own field of work and in the world at large. But since there is too much to read, people make use of summaries.
A good summary is generally one-third of the length of the original passage. It must present all the important points in a precise form. Hence it is also called a "precis" (pronounced: pray-see).
To make a precis, there are five skills which are needed. The first is generalising. This means that one must be able to give one general word or phrase for a long list of words. An example is: "Oranges, bananas, apples, grapes, pears, peaches." All these can come under the general word: "fruit".
A more important skill is the ability to select facts which concern the main ideas in the passage, and reject details having little or no importance. For example, out of the following three sentences, the middle one could easily be rejected: "The dog was very fierce. The dog howled all night. So the neighbours never went near it". It is useful to give the passage a title. This helps us to select what is important.
The third skill to learn is to compress several words into one word or phrase. For instance, "that which cannot be seen" can be compressed into "invisible", and "that which cannot be avoided"; can be reduced to "inevitable".
One difficulty which arises is how to deal with sentences having direct speech (i.e. sentences in inverted commas). If we retain the inverted commas, we should not make any reduction in the sentences, as this would not be correct. Quotations must be given intact, without change. So to overcome this problem, we change the passage from direct speech to indirect speech. After this, we are free to summarize what has been said.
For example: "Please stop that noise. I want all of you to be quiet", J she said. This can be reduced to: She told them to be quiet.
Care must be taken when making a precis not to state personal opinions as if they were true for all people at the times. Look at this: "Wasim is the best cricketer in world, and there is no one to equal him". Obviously, this is a personal opinion. The summary is not: Wasim is the world's best cricketer" but: The author feels that Wasim is the world's best cricketer".