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Summarize With AI: A Comprehensive Guide

Updated on February 21, 2024Professionals

Whether you’re researching, searching for sources, or summing up your own writing, AI summarization can make the work go faster. Below we talk about how to summarize with AI: why it’s useful, when it comes in handy, and how to do it yourself.

But first let’s talk about what AI and data summarization is and how automated summarization technology works.

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What is AI summarization?

AI summarization is the use of AI like Grammarly or ChatGPT to provide a brief synopsis of a larger document. By using AI for quick information processing, you can read short summaries of long works to see if they contain what you’re looking for before you commit to them. You can also use AI and data summarization for your own writing as a shortcut to condense your own points.

How to summarize with AI

Automated summarization technology works just like other AI: It all starts with AI writing prompts. An AI prompt is the command a user types into the message window that tells the AI what to do and explains the details, such as the topic or length. The wording of your AI prompt is crucial to getting the results you need.

First you need to research AI tools to find one that suits you. When you’re ready, tell the AI to summarize what you need. If it’s a shorter document or passage, like an email, you can copy and paste the text directly into the AI message window. If it’s a longer work, like a book, you only need to mention the title, as the AI should be able to reference it from the internet. If it’s a website or an online article, you can paste the URL in the prompt window.

The writing prompt doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should include everything the AI needs to know. A basic AI summarization template prompt could be as simple as:

Summarize this text: [paste copied text].

Summarize [title of document].

Summarize the text here: [URL]

However, you’ll get more precise results if you add more details.

Summarize The Count of Monte Cristo in three paragraphs, using language a third-grader could understand.

One last tip—it’s best to include all the information the AI needs in a single message. Some AI tools treat each message as an independent session.

AI document summarization: Books, articles, emails, etc.

AI document summarization has a variety of uses, including practical applications in research and more personal conveniences in everyday life.

Using AI in content analysis is perhaps the most common use. When conducting research for academic writing like a research paper, you don’t have time to read every potential source to see if it has what you want. Instead, you can use AI to summarize both primary sources and secondary sources to reveal if they fit your research topic.

You still need to read the final sources to find the key information (summaries don’t typically cover those details). Still, AI summarization can narrow down your sources so you only have to read the ones you think are relevant.

AI summarization can also make your daily life easier by giving you the gist of materials so you don’t have to read or watch them yourself. For example, if you’re behind on your emails, AI email summarization can sum up particularly long messages so you don’t have to read each one word for word.

Summarizing with AI can even help you choose which books to read or movies/TV shows to watch, although if you don’t phrase your prompt carefully, you might get spoilers. Also, if you forget where you left off with a TV series, you can read AI summaries of episodes until you find your place.

Summarize your writing with AI

It can be difficult to summarize your own work because you’ve spent so much time on it and see the relevance of every detail. Summarizing with AI provides an unbiased, outside perspective on what the key points are that you might have missed.

AI summarization is useful whenever you need to summarize yourself. For example, when applying to jobs, employers often want you to give a résumé summary in the cover letter (even though the résumé is right there, but whatever . . .). Summarizing your résumé with AI can save you some time, especially if you need to write a few cover letters simultaneously.

Likewise, writing an executive summary of a business report or another work document can be faster with AI. This applies even if you’re tasked with summarizing a work document you did not write, although in that case you should probably read it yourself, as AI is known to make mistakes.

Another less obvious application for AI summarization is helping you write a thesis statement for a research paper or other academic writing. A thesis statement is a succinct sentence that encapsulates the entire point of your paper, usually placed in the introduction as a way to explain to your readers what the paper is about.

Thesis statements can be difficult to write—after all, if a topic takes pages to explain, how can you cut it down to a single sentence? An easier workaround is to finish the rest of the paper first and then summarize it with AI into a sentence. You can then work that sentence, your thesis statement, into the introduction when you revise.

When using AI summarization with your own work, the most important thing to remember is that you need to reword it. Copying AI text is still plagiarism, even if the AI is summarizing you. The AI summarization can help you see which points to mention and recommend certain phrasing, but be sure to change the wording and revise it to make it your own.

AI summarization FAQs

How do you use AI for summarization?

In the AI prompt, simply ask the AI to “summarize” a text. You can refer to the text by its title if it is a well-known work or copy and paste the text directly into the message window if it’s not too large. If you want to summarize a web page or an online article, you can add the URL to the prompt.

Can you use summarizing with AI for papers and reports?

Summarizing with AI is incredibly helpful when it comes to finding sources for research. AI summarization can reveal whether or not a source is relevant to your paper’s topic before you commit to reading the entire thing.

What are the best tools for efficient summarization with AI?

Most functional AIs can handle summarization, although some are better than others. Try using an AI tool that’s already established itself, like ChatGPT, or one from a well-known brand, like Grammarly.

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