Once we have read over an article to establish a good understanding of the main topic and ideas, we can begin to filter the information.
We filter all the information in an article in order to highlight the essential points and illustrate the logic within the author’s argument.
This lesson includes two steps:
- Distinguish the essential information from supporting detail.
- Create a reverse outline of the article, which means to recreate the outline of ideas the author used to write the article.
Distinguish Key Points from Supporting Details
Perhaps the biggest challenge in producing a summary of an article is forcing yourself to distinguish between key points and supporting detail. Often the examples and anecdotes that make up the supporting detail are the easiest parts of an article to understand and engage.
However, it’s essential not to be drawn into the detail. Your task is to find the most important things the author wants you to know. One way to do this is to create a reverse outline.
Create a Reverse Outline
To create a reverse outline, you work backwards from the article to produce what the author might have used as an outline.
Now, we will work to refine and filter information to avoid too much detail. Based on a reverse outline, we should be able to see exactly what the author wanted to say, and get a clear sense of how they said it.
|Topic and Main Ideas:
|Topic:||State the topic or question the author is interested in.|
|Main Idea:||State the main message or argument. What does the author say about the topic?|
|Key Point #1
|Key Point #2
|Key Point #3
Practice Completing the Reverse Outline
Let’s use this template now to practice completing a reverse outline of the Wohlsen article.
Wohlsen, M. (2016). Digital literacy is the key to the future, but we still don’t know what it means. WIRED. Retrieved 14 April 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2014/09/digital-literacy-key-future-still-don’t-know-means/
Type your answers into the boxes provided, and click to see sample answers.