Distinguishing between a Summary & a Synopsis

Summary vs Synopsis

Writing a summary is a skill taught to students early in their education. The goal is to create a short, condensed version of a story or play while maintaining the original author’s viewpoint. There are other terms for this task, such as synopsis, gist, and abstract, which can be confusing for non-native speakers. Both summary and synopsis involve condensing or abridging a work, but there are some differences between the two tasks.


When faced with a large book containing a story or a play, many people may not be tempted to read it, thinking it would consume too much time. However, if there is a short version of the same play or story containing the main points, most people show interest and read it. Thus, a summary is a condensed and shortened version of a work of prose.

The person writing the summary does not make judgments or pass personal remarks or opinions. They try to present the author’s viewpoint while keeping it short. A summary can be quite brief, maybe just a page or two at the most, no matter how long the original work may be.

Key Takeaways

  • Summary is a short, condensed version of a story or play while maintaining the original author’s viewpoint.
  • A summary is typically only a page or two long, even if the original work is much longer.
  • There is no attempt by the person writing the summary to be judgmental or pass personal remarks or opinions.


A synopsis is more or less the same as a summary, as it has been defined in various dictionaries as an outline, condensation, or summary of the main points of a work, book, or article. A synopsis carries the gist of a work of prose without presenting the viewpoint of the writer of the synopsis.

Précis writing is a skill that is taught at an early age to students. A synopsis is another term representing the same skill. A synopsis is short but longer than a summary, and in some cases, it is deliberately kept 25-30 pages long.

Summary vs Synopsis

  • Synopsis, summary, précis, gist, abstract, etc., are all shortened and condensed versions of a long story or play.
  • Both synopsis and summary retain the author’s viewpoint, but a summary is very short, maybe a page or two long, while a synopsis can be 25-30 pages long.
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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