Difference Between Summary and Synthesis

Both the summary and the synthesis are writing resources used in the literary and educational field to carry out educational tasks, present texts, prepare research papers, among others. Although many people tend to think that these words have the same meaning, there are clear differences between the two definitions, differences that will be explained clearly and simply in this article with the intention of pointing out the appropriate use of each of them.


We can say that the summary is a brief exposition of a text that, in general, is limited to citing the most relevant ideas of it. In this way, the summary exposes the main ideas and a few secondary ideas of a text or audiovisual material. The summary is useful to delimit a general concept of the subject of study.

In other words, the summary is a reduction of an original text in which the main ideas of the author are reflected, so it is not modified by the person who writes it. In other words, when summarizing, the words that are expressed in the main ideas are transcribed so as not to alter the original meaning of the text.


We refer to a synthesis as a reduction that brings together main ideas from more than one text on the same topic of study. This means that synthesizing is bringing together various phrases and ideas in a single text. Also, this is done in order to obtain a short text on the same topic. The synthesis, in some cases, can be used in the same way as a summary (reduction of a single text), however, the synthesis can include ideas of the person who performs said synthesis.

The synthesis, generally, tends to expand the ideas of the author of the text, having as support the same text, but adding own ideas or knowledge and knowledge previously acquired by the person, on the subject that is being synthesized.

With the above, it is evident that both terms differ from each other. However, and to give greater meaning to this article, some differences between summary and synthesis are presented , in order to encourage their correct use.

Summary Synthesis
The summary is the reduced presentation of a text. Synthesis is the expression of main ideas of a text.
The summary arises from the reduction of words and phrases of a text. The synthesis arises from the interpretation of the text by the person who synthesizes.
The abstract presents the same words used by the author. In the synthesis, the exact words of the author are not used, but the words of the person who synthesizes.
The abstract does not include interpretation of the text. Synthesis may include the personal interpretation of the text by the person synthesizing.
In an abstract, the same original words of the author should be used. Words other than those used by the author are used in a synthesis
The length, in general, of the abstract with respect to the original text is usually approximately 25%-30%. The length, in general, of a synthesis is usually greater than 30% of the original text

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