How to Write a Synthesis Essay

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A synthesis is the combination of the ideas from more than one source with your own ideas. Note that the term “idea” does not constitute an opinion.

What does a successful synthesis include?

ACCURACY: an accurate report of information from the sources using different phrases and sentences not found in the original text.

ORGANIZATION: readers should be able to see immediately where the information from the sources overlap.

INTERPRETATION: a synthesis makes sense of the sources and helps the reader understand them in greater depth.

How to get started:

Summarizing the main points/themes/traits of the sources you are comparing will help you organize your thoughts. You will need to decide which elements of the texts being compared are most relevant. You also need to think about your audience: what points will give your reader the best overall picture of the texts? What will be most interesting for the audience to read?

Standard format:


A one-sentence statement that sums up the focus of your synthesis (i.e. your thesis statement)

An introduction of the titles and authors of your sources (following specific citation guidelines)

Relevant background information about the authors, texts, OR the general topic from which the texts are drawn


Each paragraph must:

begin with a topic sentence

include information from more than one source

clearly indicate where the material comes from using lead-in phrases and in-text citations…BEWARE OF PLAGIARISM

show similarities/differences between or among the different sources

Last but NOT least: represent the texts fairly. Your job is to present what the source says, in fewer words and your own words. Using your own words does not mean that you are in any way changing what the source says.

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