Summary-Response Essays:

The “Small Details”


1.) What do we call these readings -- stories, short stories, or essays?

Technically, they are essays.  (Essays can tell stories: an entire essay can tell a story, or a part of an essay can tell a story, or an essay can tell several different stories.  However, a short story is normally the term given to a fictional writing which tells a story.  What we’ve read is nonfiction, so the proper term is essay.)


2.) How do you refer to the writer in your paper?

The first time you mention the writer's name, use her or his FULL name -- Patti See, Davina Ruth Begaye Two Bears, or Jennifer Crichton.

Every time thereafter, use either the writer's LAST name, or FULL name, or a variety of both.

Using Ms. See, Ms. Two Bears, or Ms. Crichton is also appropriate.

NEVER use only the author's FIRST name.

Be sure the names are SPELLED correctly!


3.) Your own title (examples):

Essay #2

A Single-Source Essay

A Summary-Response Essay

A Summary and Response to Patti See's "Outside In"

Patti See's "Outside In": A 2007 Update

You should NOT quote, bold, underline, italicize, capitalize, or enlarge your own title.


4.) Writing other titles in your paper:

Underline or Italicize (but not both) the titles of longer works like books, newspapers, and magazines, and be consistent with which one you choose.

Higher Learning --> Higher Learning or Higher Learning

Newsweek --> Newsweek or Newsweek

Star Tribune --> Star Tribune or Star Tribune

Use “quotation marks” around the titles of shorter works like essays.

Outside In --> "Outside In"

I Walk in Beauty --> "I Walk in Beauty"

"Who Shall I Be?" The Allure of a Fresh Start --> "'Who Shall I Be?' The Allure of a Fresh Start"


5.) Quotations:

Be sure to quote accurately.  Copy the text exactly, word for word, all punctuation marks, etc.  Sloppy quoting is a form of unintentional plagiarism -- you are mis-representing the words of another writer.

Be sure to use quotation marks.

Be sure to introduce all quotations using a “signal phrase.”

Be sure to end all quotations with a parenthetical citation which includes the page number from which the quote was taken.


6.) Using ellipses to shorten quotations:

Original: “But students like the ones who wrote those notes can also be found on campuses from coast to coast -- especially in New England and at many other private colleges across the country that have high academic standards and highly motivated students.” (from Zinsser, page 95)

Sample: According to Zinsser, students under pressure “can also be found on campuses from coast to coast … that have high academic standards and highly motivated students” (95).

Original: “I think the observable reluctance of the majority of Americans to assert themselves in minor matters is related to our increased sense of helplessness in an age of technology and centralized political and economic power.” (from Buckley, page 37)

Sample: Buckley thinks that “the observable reluctance of the majority of Americans to assert themselves … is related to our increased sense of helplessness in an age of technology” (37).


7.) Is it required that we have quotes in our essays?

No.  And do not quote just for the sake of quoting.  Only quote if you have a really good reason to.  Otherwise, you can summarize or paraphrase information from the essays to put in your own essay.

There is also no specific number of quotes needed in your essay.


8.) In your introduction:

Try to avoid phrases like “In this paper, I am going to write about …” or “I will argue that …” or “I hope to show you that …” or “I chose this essay because …”

These phrases are O.K. for the first draft, but revise them out by the final draft.

You do not need to include background information about the author in our introductionDoing so was a suggestion.  If it fits, or if you feel it is necessary or helpful, put it in.  Don’t force it.  And, if you want to put it in but not in the introduction, you might consider putting some information later in your essay, perhaps even in the conclusion.  But, again, this is only a suggestion.  You won't "lose points" for not doing it.

You do not need a "forecast" statement in your introduction as part of your thesis statement, but one is sometimes helpful, not only for your readers, but also for you as a writer as you are drafting.  Just be sure that, in the final draft, the forecast statement "matches" the rest of the paper.

Other introduction ideas:


9.) In your summary paragraph:

Can we combine the summary with the introduction?  No, let's keep them separate in this essay. That's why I'm calling it a "free-standing summary" -- it can stand alone.

Can we include our own ideas, feelings, or opinions in the summary?  No, the summary should be straight reporting -- keep it objective.

Does the summary have to begin with the author's full name and title?  Yes.


10.) In your conclusion:

The typical / standard conclusion is a restatement of your thesis statement (central idea) and your main points (body paragraphs). This is "OK," but it can be over-used. Perhaps try something else.

Since your essay was primarily a "response" essay, perhaps evaluate the essay you chose as your conclusion strategy. Evaluation means making a judgment about something -- was it good or bad, effective or ineffective, well written or not, useful or not, etc.

Or, perhaps analyze the essay you chose as your conclusion strategy. Analysis means to break something apart in order to study it better -- what are the parts, and how do the parts work together?

Other conclusion ideas:


11.) Short paragraphs:

Carefully study any "short" paragraphs -- paragraphs less than five typed lines or less than about three sentences (although there is NO "magic" length for a paragraph).  Sometimes, a short paragraph is used as a transition paragraph, which is OK, but most of the time, short paragraphs indicate either (A) a lack of development, or (B) a need to be combined with another, related paragraph.


12.) All paragraphs:

Each paragraph should have its own topic sentence, and everything in the paragraph should relate to and support that topic sentence.


13.) Formatting:

Remember to format this paper as you've formatted all past papers -- double-spaced, 1.0-1.25" margins on all four sides, and a 12-point "normal" font (Calibri or Arial or Times New Roman). See LBB, pages 521-530 for more information, details, and a model.


14.) Length:

Your final draft should be at least 2 pages long but no longer than 4 pages long.


15.) Transitions:

See LBB, pages 55-57 and 69-70.


16.) Comma Splices, Run-Ons, and Fragments:

Click here for information about comma splices and run-ons.

Click here for information about fragments.

Also study the HANDOUTS given in class.


17.) Commas:

See LBB, pages 348-363.


18.) Contractions:

For example: Can’t, won’t, couldn’t, it's, you're, etc.

See LBB, page 377.

Some professors say to avoid ALL contractions -- it has to do with the level of formality in academic writing (see LBB, pages 86-91. My opinion is to use them sparingly, but use them if the alternative sounds “weird.”


Any Other Questions?