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How to summarize a newspaper article

Updated February 21, 2017

Newspapers include articles focusing on current events, which sometimes have connections to the past, relevant to a local area or an entire nation. The length of each article varies depending upon the information available on the subject, its priority, and the section of the newspaper for which the article is written. When referencing a newspaper article (i.e. in a research paper, current events report, etc.), it is sometimes necessary to summarise an article, which means filtering out the unnecessary information and capturing in words the message the article was translating.

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  1. Find the "5 W's": who, what, when, where and why. These are the most basic facts that are found within a newspaper article and should be included when summarising an article. "Who" refers to the subject of the article; "what" is what is being said about the subject of the article; "when" can refer to the date the article was written as well as the date of the event; "where" refers all locations that are relevant to the subject and what happened; and "why" refers to the reason this event was reported. Remember to put these facts into your own words.

  2. Add the main idea(s). The author of the newspaper article wrote the article to get a message across and to create a sentiment among readers and that message is the main idea. The main idea has a direct correlation with the "why" of the article because it is an extension of it. No more than three sentences should be needed to summarise the main idea. Sometimes a newspaper article may have multiple main ideas and if that is the case, keep the description of each brief.

  3. Include supporting details. Once you have read the newspaper article over at least twice, you should have an understanding of the information that is essential and which details were just added for creative effect. The details that first must be added are those that are imperative to the understanding of the article, like the job position of the subject or how many years of research has gone into a new discovery. Next, those details that give help with imagery can be added.

  4. Finish your summary with a concluding sentence. You do not have to end where the article ends, just where the story ends.

  5. Tip

    Avoid plagiarism. If you must quote something from the article, make sure to cite it properly. Put all other information from the article into your own words.

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Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper article

About the Author

Shannon Johnson has been a freelance writer since 2008, specializing in health and organic and green-living topics. She practiced law for five years before moving on to work in higher education. She writes about what she lives on a daily basis.

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