As a student or professional, you may be required to write a synthesis. In some cases, it may also be wise to have it written by a freelance writer.
Whether it’s a synthesis note to prepare for an entrance exam or a project management synthesis, one guiding principle will help you master this task: methodology!
For a successful synthesis, follow our step-by-step tips and be inspired by the examples given!
1. The basics of synthesis
No matter the purpose of your synthesis, there’s one thing that defines all syntheses: they must be neutral, objective, precise, and concise!
This writing exercise is meant to synthesize a file that can sometimes be more than 20 pages long, not to mention the appendices, in just 3 to 5 pages!
However, a document synthesis is not a summary or a dissertation; it is meant to highlight its strengths and main ideas, structure and analyze them, in a coherent whole.
That’s the challenge of a synthesis, as your reader should be able to find all the necessary information to understand the initial problem without having to go through the entire file.
2. Sort the information
With a sometimes sizable file, the most challenging step is selecting information, especially if you have a given time to write your synthesis.
Many writers tend to note every piece of information to summarize it, which is the first mistake made.
Start by sorting essential information, keeping in mind the main objective of your synthesis. This can be:
- Answering a specific question.
- Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a file.
- Having enough data on a specific topic to make a decision.
- Giving an overview of a project to stakeholders.
3. Identify the guiding thread
Once your information is sorted, define the guiding thread of your document. Try to understand the logic and coherence of the file to avoid misinterpretations.
Scan the documents for keywords and remove all unnecessary details and complicated formulations.
By the end of this exercise, you should be able to focus your thinking around the central themes of each document and highlight the main idea to define the problem posed.
4. Refine your synthesis with a second reading
Before diving into writing your outline, take the time for a second reading of the documents, especially if your text is long.
As you’ve already had the opportunity to grasp the problem in a first quick reading, this second reading will allow you to better understand the text and incorporate its full scope.
The exercise also helps you more easily sort essential information.
Remember to copy the main ideas in a draft to help you plan and formulate your argument.
5. Build the synthesis outline
It’s time to organize the document’s ideas through an outline.
To establish an effective and relevant structure, each part of your synthesis must be connected by logical transitions that help advance the demonstration.
Constructing your outline is the most delicate step because the more coherent your detailed outline is, the more fluid, fast, and easy your writing will be.
Generally, a synthesis outline includes three main parts:
Your introduction should be short. Its purpose is to present the theme of your synthesis as clearly as possible. Don’t start writing a lengthy piece to introduce your ideas.
Explain in a few sentences why the initial problem is essential and why it’s interesting to address it. Then announce the main lines of your development.
The development will support the problem and provide elements in response to the introduction.
Each argument is presented logically, from the least important to the most relevant, with the aim of capturing your audience’s interest and making a lasting impression.
Throughout your development, two fundamental principles must emerge:
- Your arguments, based solely on facts and precise information.
- Your reasoning, which must be purely objective. Under no circumstances should your personal knowledge and interpretations emerge from your synthesis.
Your development will be divided into different parts; we recommend carefully choosing your titles and subtitles.
The goal is to demonstrate to your audience that you can qualify the information contained in your paragraphs.
The exercise will also help you stay focused. Always keep in mind that one paragraph equals one idea.
The conclusion should also be brief, summarizing the elements mentioned in the development without giving your opinion.
6. Argue with the given information
Writing a synthesis is a technical task that many business or administration executives are required to perform.
To facilitate decision-making, it’s essential to streamline substantial files to provide directly usable information on a problematic topic.
That’s why objectivity is THE fundamental rule in synthesis writing.
7. Use an effective style
Creating a synthesis requires concision. Use short sentences (subject, verb, complement) and get to the point.
To make your structure more fluid, insert logical connectors between your sentences: notably, for example, thus…
Don’t forget that, just like the content of your synthesis, your writing style must be neutral and impeccably master the language.
8. Incorporate relevant examples
Many writers support their synthesis with multiple examples, sometimes unnecessary, which can obscure important information.
Examples are necessary to illustrate your ideas, especially if your demonstration is lengthy.
However, focus only on relevant examples that bring new elements such as key figures or statistics.
9. Adopt the appropriate language codes
Although it’s not recommended to overuse professional jargon, if your base document contains technical terminology, reuse it to be as relevant as possible.
However, be careful not to use terms that might be difficult for your audience to understand, or explain them if their use is necessary.
10. A final review and correction of your synthesis
To determine if your synthesis is successful, ask yourself one last question: if you didn’t know the project or the initial subject, would your synthesis provide all the necessary information?
Of course, as with any written work, proofreading is essential to avoid typos or spelling mistakes.
Ideally, ask a colleague or collaborator to review your synthesis.
11. Different types of synthesis and their specificities
Synthesis is a frequently requested document, and while our general advice will help you write all types of synthesis, some cases require a more specific approach.
Here are examples of syntheses and their specificities:
The synthesis note requested during an exam
Most competitions and exams include a synthesis test.
The objective is not to assess the candidate’s or student’s knowledge but to judge their analytical, synthesis, reasoning, and writing skills.
It’s a challenging exercise, often new for participants, requiring precise know-how and good training.
The candidate must be able to reformulate and synthesize a document without philosophizing, all within a limited time!
Administrative synthesis is very similar to the exercise required for exams.
It’s an internal document within the administration that serves as a decision-making support.
The administrative note is addressed either to:
- A hierarchical superior: its purpose is to inform about a file or regulation or to propose solutions to an administrative problem.
- A department or group of departments: it is then called a service note.
- Public service users: it takes the form of an information note.
Synthesis for a marketing project
This synthesis is a purely commercial document addressed to business leaders, partners, banks, etc. Concise and brief, the document must be quickly read by often very busy managers.
Several documents can be the subject of marketing syntheses, such as business cases, market studies, project proposals, etc.
The peculiarity of the commercial synthesis is that it must be persuasive!
The goal is to promote the company, a business project, or present a commercial proposal.
Polish your opening sentence to prove to your readers that your project is the best. Remember that in this case, it’s YOUR solution that will solve the initial problem!
What is a synthesis?
A synthesis is a concise text that faithfully and comprehensively translates the ideas or points of view developed in a longer document, such as a press kit or market analysis.
It’s not an opinion or argument text. Therefore, you should not add your point of view but stick to the ideas, facts, and arguments discussed in the text you are about to read. You don’t need to summarize each article individually.
In other words, since you will be reading texts that present two points of view on the same topic, your summary must coherently reflect the content of these two views explained in the article.
Why is synthesis so important?
Allows summarizing a lengthy text.
As explained earlier, a synthesis represents a concise piece of writing used to summarize a file spanning several dozen pages, for example. This document can be very useful, as its summary nature allows you to condense all the information from your file into 2 or 3 pages.
As its name suggests, a synthesis is a summary of a large file, with a lot of writing and especially countless pieces of information. The synthesis will, therefore, allow you to select and highlight the main information from your file. This note ensures that the primary information in the file is conveyed to the reader.
Saves time for the reader
It’s somewhat like a trailer. This synthesis will serve to entice the reader to continue reading while presenting a brief content that outlines the main features of the file. In other words, it organizes the reader’s time and reduces the effort required to discover the essential aspects of the content.