"I know this is long and heartfelt. Do you want to summarize it for me?

--Mr. Jimmie James (Sitcom, NewsRadio)


Article Summarizing Requires Steps

Article summaries are prepared because the business writing student wants to show that secondary research has been gathered. Secondary research means someone came up with an idea and placed the thoughts in a magazine article, a journal reference, a newspaper column, or some publication.

Your job is to summarize. How do you go about that job? Certain steps need to be followed:

As you read the article summary and reaction, please pay particular attention to how the writer summarizes the article. Look at the format for each page. Note the double spacing. Note the headings.


Holt, Andrew. "Controlling Employee Theft." CMA Magazine 67
(September 1993): 16-19.

Think about: Did you notice heading of the article summary was a bibliographical entry? The last name of the author or writer is always given first. That differs from a footnote entry where the first name is given after the superior or raised number. Next, did you see the quotation marks for the title of the article? Did you spot the difference between the magazine underlined and the article in quotes? The volume number of the magazine or journal must be given to help the researcher find the publication. Most magazines have a volume, except for Business Week and a few others. The date is placed in parentheses according to the Turabian format. Now, let's deal with the page numbers.

Suppose you have gone to one of the newer databases (formerly InfoTrac) called Business and Company ASAP and found the following entry: 16(3). You write this citation as part of your article summary entry. Unfortunately, you have made a citation error because the article needs to be looked at to see if advertisements or other columns interfered with the numbering of the actual article pages.


	R.C. Hollinger and J.P. Clark, authors of Theft by Employees (1993), 

examined  and researched internal theft among companies.  Their research broke 

down the main characteristics of thieves and what makes them steal from their 

employers. In addition, Hollinger and Clark also evaluated forms to stop and 

prevent employee theft. In this article Holt wrote about Hollinger's and 

Clark's findings.

Think about: Did you read how strongly the person started out with the summary? The writer did not waste any words. You realize by the end of the paragraph that the article is about an article within an article. Do not be fooled that you can copy the abstract provided on the abstract. You have to write your own summary of the article. Look critically at the underlining in the first paragraph. That is not an article. You are reading the underlining for a book. Holt is not even mentioned; Hollinger and Clark wrote a book about employee theft. Let's continue the summary.

	The author defines five theories that explain theft:  external pressure, 

vigorous youth, possible opportunity, job dissatisfaction, and impossible 

controls. The external pressure theory says that people who come from bad 

backgrounds, use drugs, and gamble are more likely to steal.  Individuals need 

extra money to support their lifestyle, and that need urges them to steal. 

However, these people make up only a small percentage of workers.  Age also

becomes a factor when dealing with respect and integrity.  Researchers state 

younger employees  aren't as loyal to businesses as older ones.  The younger 

workers believe they have less to lose, and mainly preoccupy themselves 

with school.

Think about: The summary continues strong with specifics from the article that should interest the reader. Notice how the writer drives home each point with clarity.

	The opportunity theory suggests that, given the chance, people will 

steal.  In retail,  lower-level employees make up most of the thieves.  Also, 

access to money and merchandise remains an important factor.  Job 

satisfaction, as another theory, states an employee who is unhappy with his job 

will steal to spite the company; those who think their pay is too small take to 

collect what they deserve.  Finally, the last theory deals with the type of controls 

put on employees by the company and management. If the controls are weak, and 

employees don't have much respect for them, then controls prove ineffective.

Think about: The writer continued the summary by explaining each theory. If one read the entire article, you would find the theories in much more detail than the writer penned.

	Four formal controls establish the organization's culture and how it 

handles theft. Policy control deals with the company policy about employee 

behavior.  Inventory control serves as a deterrent, because missing merchandise 

can be detected.  Security control depends on what emphasis the security 

department places on theft, such as preventive measures. 

Punishment controls explain and show the consequences the company and 

management place on those who commit crimes.

	Through research, certain solutions occur on how to stop and prevent 

employee theft.  When hiring a potential employee, background checks prove 

beneficial.  Management assumes the most critical role.  Although senior 

executives must develop objectives to follow,  prevention responsibilities lie on 

the manager's shoulders.  To make employees more loyal to the company, they 

must be included and team efforts emphasized.  Proper lines of communication 

must remain open between executives, managers,and operatives.  With open 

communication, employees tell of peer crimes;  management becomes involved 

with problems;  and corporate can instill social norms with the workers.  Finally,

to reassure the validity of the solutions and prevention methods, these ideas 

should be audited for effectiveness.
Think about: Did you notice how effectively the summary writer brought the points to a conclusion? The summary had a final quality to it. If the reader never read the article, he or she would still have some idea of what the article contained: the essence of it.


	Holt's article became both incisive and true.  The assumptions of 

theories and solutions seemed logical.  The article proved valuable for my 

research in finding a solution to theft with the company.  Some of the suggested 

preventive methods have been implemented in my company; however, I 

believe the simultaneous practice of all the solutions causes low employee 

theft.  Unfortunately, Holt didn't discuss what to do with the employees who

were hired without being screened, or what measures to take after a bad


Think about: The writer got to the point about whether the article helped the research for the report. The writer critically looked at the article suggestions and also criticized what the article did not contain. The analysis proved more fruitful than saying "informative and interesting."

	The most important point in the article dealt with company culture.  If 

corporate creates a strong culture where theft is considered horrible with 

consequences worse, the problem in our company could be lessened.  If 

employees, when brought into the company were educated about these effects 

and believed they were part of the team, then employee theft wouldn't be a 
problem to solve.

Think about: The writer immediately related the article to company he or she works for. The writer pointed out how the problem of employee theft could be lessened by following the article's advice. The reaction became one of how the article helped the student's report. The writer gave specifics, which impressed the reader.

Quotes Need Special Handling

Sometimes in summarizing an article the writer is forced to state an actual quote because of the message's importance. When this situation occurs, be warned about the handling of quotes. The passage you will read suggests the writer did not understand the integrating of a quotation in the summary:

According to the author, "by allowing the telemarketing staff to feel like they are part of the "big picture," they will understand the importance of their role in the organization."

Think about: The writer attempted to integrate the quote without realizing the sentence has to stand without the quote. How much better it would have been if the writer might have said the following:

The author recommended the telemarketing staff needs a clear picture of the organization when she said: "By allowing the telemarketing staff to feel like they are part of the big picture, they will understand the importance of their role in the organization."

Think about: Now the writer has used the quotation as a supplement to the entire meaning of the sentence. "The author recommended . . ." can now stand by itself, and the writer has avoided the tricky phrase, "According to the author." Also, quotes do not have to be used except once. You don't have to provide quotes within quotes.


Day and Night Classes

How did Mrs. Fronmueller/Mrs. Anderson describe the meaning of truncation or a truncated word? Please give three different examples related to different databases.

Day and Night Classes--Ninth/Tenth Week

Mr. Jacobi talked about tone, level, and content. How does level apply to the assignment coming up with indexes? Why do readers worry about the level of communications?
Last updated Wednesday, November 1, 2000

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Please check the home pages for additional help, including the executive summary, analytical report memo, bibliography and footnotes, business plan, and make references count (bibliography).