Summary Methods - To reduce the Word-Count.

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

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

In many assignments the answer is to use lots of dot-point lists and tables. These are "Summary Methods". You are providing information in a summary form.

I recommend that students ask their teacher if they 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 us 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: Disecting 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 I 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.