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19 - Summary Methods - To reduce the Word-Count.

You can provide lots of evidence – in a small number of words.

How to fit a lot of Information into a small word-count.

Summary Methods


Students often ask us how to fit all the information they want to provide into a word-count.

In many reports and some essays the answer is to use lots of dot-point lists and tables. These are “Summary Methods”. You are providing information in a summary form.

Ask your teacher if you are unsure about whether dot-point lists and tables are acceptable in essays in their subject.


Dot-points allow you to use unconnected sentences and part sentences to summarize something. This greatly reduces the number of words required.

For example;

This dot-point list allows you to include a lot of information using a small number of words. If you were to use normal paragraphs to describe this you would need to use 2 or 3 times the number of words to make it grammatically correct.


If you put the answer to my pet’s eating and sleeping habits (from the technique: Dissecting the Question) into a table it may look like this:


Do you see how much information is provided in a very few words. Please note that in this example we have used the absolute minimum number of words. Often you will need to put sentences or half sentences into each cell of the table. You can even put dot-point lists into the cells of the table where several points are needed, as follows:


The power of the matrix.

In business, the technique of putting information in a table like this to “Matrix it.” A “matrix” is a table, often used in mathematics.

A matrix is a very powerful way of showing a lot of information in a concise way. It is used for reports and when presenting information to management or to a customer.



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