download (1)Summarising is briefly describing the main idea, topic, or thesis of an entire source. When summarising, you are providing your reader with a very basic statement of the source’s content. For example,

In his book Ways of Seeing, John Berger discusses the political and social implications of how paintings and pictures are viewed in western society.

This sort of summary may be used to introduce your reader to a text that your essay could go on to discuss in further detail. When using a footnote referencing system, the first time a book is mentioned it should be referenced with a footnote. You do not need to include a citation with page numbers because the sentence is describing the main idea of the entire book. Thus the footnote for the above quotation would be this:

  1. John Berger, Ways of Seeing (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972).

You may sometimes summarise ideas from a number of authors, especially with very general subjects or concepts, or when providing an overview of scholarship on a particular theme.

Next page: paraphrasing