What is a table of contents
Write a summary
Contents are part of the German lesson like the addition to mathematics. Summaries are an integral part of the curriculum. Contents are regularly the subject of exams and term papers. It's about getting the content of the reading to the point.
What is a table of contents?
A table of contents conveys the essential points of the plot of a book, drama or even a film. It does not go into details. Rather, a good table of contents enables the reader to get an overview of the most important steps.
In addition to the actual summary of the contents, the most important people as well as the place and time of the action are mentioned. Contents are written in a concise report form. The tense is the present tense, i.e. the present tense. Dialogues are reproduced in indirect speech.
Features of a table of contents
In the following we consider the school rules for table of contents. If a table of contents has to be prepared for the German lesson, the following characteristics should be observed. Summaries for other purposes may of course deviate from these guidelines. In actors' guides, on websites or in film magazines, for example, you can definitely find table of contents that contain quotations or have no introduction.
The most important rules for table of contents:
- Concise and factual language
- Correct sequence of steps
- Structure: introduction, main part, conclusion
- Tense: present tense
- Own words, no quotes
focus on the essentials
Important: A summary is not a retelling! In a good table of contents there are therefore no unnecessary details, embellishments or elements of tension.
Structure of the table of contents
In the introduction the most important facts about the work are mentioned:
Type of text, author, title, place of action, time of action and topic of the text; in addition, the plot is outlined as briefly as possible. Sometimes the introduction is also referred to as a basic sentence or a core sentence.
The main part of the table of contents summarizes the plot of the text. The steps are shown in the correct chronological order. You can find help on how to write the main part further down on this page (»Tips and Techniques«).
In the final part, the effect of the work, possible intentions of the author or linguistic characteristics of the reading can be briefly discussed. Such a conclusion is not always needed; the final part, however, rounds off a good synopsis.
More information: Structure of a table of contents
Objective, sober language
The right tense
Example of the correct tense:
Correct: "Dr. Heinrich Faust is a respected scientist [...]. "
Not correct: "Dr. Heinrich Faust was a respected scientist [...]. "
Only when reference is made to previous events within the action, then one reproduces this event in the past tense of the perfect.
Own words, no quotes
Your own words should be sober and factual. Colloquial expressions and general places are completely dispensed with.
The right length
That doesn't belong in a table of contents
- Minor details
- Linguistic embellishments
- Direct speech
- Your personal opinion
- Analyzes and Interpretations *
*) In the final part, possible statements or literary motives can be briefly discussed. In the main part of the table of contents, however, interpretations are not permitted.
How to write a synopsis
Tips and techniques for writing a synopsisThe following advice and working techniques have proven effective when summarizing text sources. The individual tips are also suitable as an exercise in preparing table of contents.
1. Markings in the text
2. Headings for text sections
3. Start with key words
A table of contents, written in bullet points, helps you to get an overview of the content of the reading. Now it becomes clearer which superfluous details can be omitted in the summary.
Once the framework is ready in the form of bullet points, the table of contents can be formulated in the next step.
4. Answers to the most important W-questions
When does the action play?
- In what year does something happen?
- At what time of the day or time of year?
- In what period of time does a certain action take place?
Where does the action play?
- Which places are relevant to the story?
- What are the locations?
who are the most important people in the act?
- Which people play an important role?
- Who are the main and minor characters?
- What is the relationship between the characters?
- What is the core of the plot?
- What are the important steps to take?
- What are the consequences of the processes?
Why do certain things happen?
- Why do people act the way they do?
- What leads to the individual action steps?
When answering the why question, care must be taken not to make any unauthorized interpretations or speculations. Only what is mentioned in the original text may be reproduced in the table of contents!
In general, the W-questions should not be answered too extensively. Make sure that the table of contents is written as briefly as possible and does not contain unnecessary details!
Checklist: write a summary
- Correct structure (introduction, main part, conclusion)?
- Completeness of the introduction?
- Have you mentioned all the important steps?
- Describing the events in the correct order?
- Restriction to the essentials (most important steps)?
- No unnecessary details or embellishments?
- Concise and factual expression?
- Is the table of contents written in the present tense? Prematurity in the perfect?
- No quotes or direct speech?
- Is the text easy to read and divided into meaningful paragraphs?
- Correct spelling and punctuation?
With the help of this checklist you can turn a good synopsis into a perfect synopsis!
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