Summary/evaluation memos | Reading homework help

These are the guidelines that describe performance of completing the summary/evaluation memos. The basic goals of the summary portion of your memo follow:

  1. Condense the reading selection. (Be brief yet complete; no major ideas should be missing.)
  2. Summarize completely. (Include the author’s thesis, main points, and conclusions.)
  3. Paraphrase. (Put the author’s ideas into your own words.)

The basic goals of the evaluation portion of your memo follow:

  1. Relate the reading to personal experience.
  2. Use logical, well-developed examples to explain the response to the reading.
  3. Demonstrate critical thinking. 


  • Length: Summaries roughly should be 10-15% of the original. Thus, if you are summarizing a ten page article, your summary should be two to three pages. Your evaluation should be brief yet complete, using PERSONAL EXAMPLES from your experience at work, in school, through reading/watching media, and other venues that inform your insights into why you agree with, disagree with, or wish to modify in some way the author’s main argument.
  • Protocol:
  1. Follow Guidelines for Summarizing and Evaluating in the attachments.
  2. Follow the template provided in The attachments. That means: Use those four headings to organize your summary/evaluation. You are summarizing when you identify the author’s THESIS, MAIN POINTS, and CONCLUSIONS. You switch from “summary” guidelines at that point and start using “evaluation” guidelines in the final memo/email heading, EVALUATION.

In short: THESIS/MAIN POINTS/CONCLUSIONS sections of your memo/email refer to the author’s argument, while you are speaking from your own experience, using first-person voice if you wish, in the EVALUATION section.


  • Get copies of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” and Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” You can get the copies from attachments.
  • Summarize King’s and Swift’s documents. Paraphrase their theses, main points, and conclusions. To accomplish this feat, look for the six features of successful proposals.

Successful proposals and reports:

  1. Define a problem.
  2. Define a solution.
  3. Discuss the advantages of the solution.
  4. Anticipate and refute objections to the solution.
  5. Discuss how to implement the solution.
  6. Justify costs of the solution.

When you find these features of successful proposals in Swift’s and King’s documents, you have found their theses and main points. Look for their conclusions in the paragraph(s) ending their documents.


Evaluation Section: Present comparative analysis of the two documents in the evaluation section of summary/evaluation memo answering these two qustions:

  1. How would Swift’s audience have reacted to his “Modest Proposal” if Swift had used King’s tone?
  2. How would King’s audience have reacted to his “Letter” if King had used Swift’s tone?

In order to answer these questions thoughtfully, you must


Define each author’s purpose and audience.

Analyze each author’s relationship to his respective audience.

Define each author’s tone.

Analyze the motives behind each author’s choice of tone.


The docemnts in the attachments:

  1. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” 
  2. Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal.” 
  3. Use the summary template in the attachments
  4. Guidelines for Summarizing and Evaluating

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