How to Write a Critical Summary of an Article

Criticism is a time-honored tradition and a valuable part of modern culture. Professional critics offer up their insights on movies, books and other media. What they do might look easy, but a good review requires more than just voicing your option. To write a critical summary of an article, you need organized and objective critical thinking as well. The process of writing a critical summary includes brainstorming to form a list of questions, answering these questions one by one and then finalizing your review in a structured and readable form.

Before You Read

Read the subject and title of the article you are reviewing. Before reading any of the text body, write your subjective opinion on the subject and basic points you would write about if you were the author of the article. These preliminary ideas will help you form your critique and personal opinion at the conclusion of the review.

Read the Article

As you read, be sure to take notes. Underline important sentences that indicate the author's main ideas and arguments. Pay special attention for lines to use as quotations to back up your own thesis. Remember to take notes as you read. This way you will have your first impressions on hand as you're writing.

Analyze the Article's Composition

Create a list of analytical questions about the subject and title that will help you form an objective analysis of the writer's technique. For example, are all the key words in the title addressed? Is the author generally objective or very biased? Are the claims substantiated by valid arguments that can be confirmed? Read the article again to find answers to your questions.

Organize Your Thoughts into an Outline

Formulate an outline of your review based on the answers to your analytical questions. Show how you justify your objective points based on specific ideas and quotes from the article. Use other sources if necessary to challenge what may be erroneous points.

Determine What Kind of Review to Write

When writing a critical review keep in mind the word critical means analytical not negative. You can write a critical review that is entirely positive in tone. Sometimes reviews are written for a specific audience and require a specific format. Is it an intellectual, academic article or a creative, artistic one? Check on these points and consider if the length of the article, the vocabulary and the overall tone and voice are appropriate for the audience and purpose.

Compose Your Analysis

Write an essay that follows your outline, fleshing out each point until you can make a convincing argument. Write a conclusion summarizing key points of your analysis as well as some of your personal insights into the subject and how it was handled. If you are an expert on the subject, make sure to write with a sense of authority.

Edit Your Response

Review your analysis one last time to look for any errors and add any more touches you believe will create a helpful review. While it is good to pepper your analysis with a touch of creativity, remember to leave the overall impression of an objective review.