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An excerpt ( late Latin excerptum , substantiated participle II from Latin excerpere 'excerpt', actually: 'pick out') is an extract from a text or a short compilation of the most important thoughts of a given text for answering one (or more) questions. In addition to paraphrases, an excerpt often also contains quotations (nowadays often transferred to the excerpt via copy & paste ).

The process of creating an excerpt as a method of scientific text work is called excerpt . The activity of writing out of a book is called excerpt . The person who makes or has made an excerpt is called an excerptor .


It is an old literary and scientific technique; already Socrates is said to have worked with excerpts. In the Middle Ages, too, excerpting was a popular method for opening up individual subject areas or the core statements of an extensive work. Excerpting has been one of the canonical practices of scientifically taught work since the early modern period ; other, more complex recording techniques such as loading and interrogating card boxes arise from this. The excerpt came in the 18th century - especially in the context of the genius era - in the focus of a criticism of the rhetorical topic ; even some lectio teachings, i.e. instructions on how to read them correctly, polemically devalued the excerpt method. Excerpting was still practiced. If the philologist August Boeckh has maintained historical retrospect: "Such list works had Leibniz , Kant , Jean Paul , .. Alex [other] v [on] Humboldt - very different spirits", one can accordingly heterogeneous for the newer time, Ghost ' as Walter Benjamin , Niklas Luhmann , Friederike Mayröcker , Hans-Ulrich Wehler call them.

Scientific excerpt

The production of an excerpt is a "basic technique [...] of scientific work". When excerpting, the text is read with a specific question. For example, one can evaluate a text on global warming from the perspective of the question of which factors are accelerating global warming.

The reader records passages of text or impressions that he has while reading. An excerpt can therefore contain its own thoughts , doubts or hints that arise during reading, provided that these are strictly separated from the thoughts of the excerpted author . In order to deepen the scientific work that follows , important literature references , ideas , basic statements and arguments of what has been read are recorded.

There are two main technical points to consider:

  • Don't forget to quote quotation marks ;
  • Note the source after what is quoted or paraphrased .

Literary excerpts

In literary studies , the excerpt serves on the one hand as a “literal or summarizing excerpt” - as in the other sciences - for the inventory processing of existing research literature. On the other hand, however, the research objects, i.e. literary texts, are also excerpted. And because these are always about the shape, so u. a. When it comes to the wording of the text to be examined, such excerpts contain extremely detailed quotations , precise descriptions, notes on individual sections of meaning and particularly precise references .

A collection of excerpts - a compilation of selected passages or passages (verses, sections or chapters) from one or more large written works - can itself acquire literary value. Such compilations of excerpts from literary works, which have been selected as particularly important and valuable from a certain point of view, are, for example, anthologies , florilegia ("flower reading") or chrestomathies .

Excerpt as a summary of the contents

If the word excerpt can now also be used synonymously for " abstract ", then it is a term for a very free form of a short analogous rendering.

Use of literature management programs

Excerpts can be managed with modern reference management programs such as B. Collect Zotero or Citavi.

Excerpts upon excerpts

"Excerpts isolates and highlights one thing."

- Jean Paul

"In order to have my life story, I only need to open the volumes of excerpts in front of me: on every extracted book hangs a glowing piece of my story."

- Jean Paul

“I feel great at the moment; the daily 10-12 hour study, the 'tapping' and [nd] excerpting find me insatiable ”. - “[S] ore many excerpts transferred to the card index; the [...] work system proves to be a great instrument for the systematic collection of material in the form of catchphrases that participate in the everlasting flow of the mind through connection cards. "

"[W] uring the excerpt I always think of such beautiful things - it's a kind of parallel process, I excerpt something, I then hear something similar in my head, something echoing, so I am, so to speak, fertilized by the acoustic when I read that is also very interesting, it is almost like a READ, a READ, I hear something, I write so that I can later recognize it as my own idea from the excerpted person, a big 'F' behind it. "

See also


  • Alberto Cevolini: Excerpt . In: Heiko Christians, Matthias Bickenbach, Nikolaus Wegmann (eds.): Historical dictionary of media usage . Vol. 2. Böhlau, Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2018, ISBN 978-3-412-50512-7 , pp. 149–166.
  • Elisabeth Décultot (Ed.): Reading, copying, writing. Reading and excerpting skills in European literature of the 18th century. Ripperger & Kremers, Berlin 2014, ISBN 978-3-943999-33-4 .
  • Konrad Ehlich : On the analysis of the text type “Excerpt”. In: Wolfgang Frier (Ed.): Pragmatics, Theory and Practice. Rodopi, Amsterdam 1981 (=  Amsterdam contributions to recent German studies  13), ISBN 90-6203-993-6 , pp. 379-401.
  • Helga Esselborn-Krumbiegel: From the idea to the text. A guide to academic writing during your studies. Schöningh, Paderborn / Munich / Vienna / Zurich 2002, ISBN 3-8252-2334-5 , pp. 73-83.
  • Gefion Fix, Jürgen Dittmann : Excerpts . An empirical study of excerpts from high school students in the upper level. In: Linguistics online . tape 33 , no. 1 , January 1, 2008, p. 17–71 , doi : 10.13092 / lo.33.529 ( bop.unibe.ch [accessed on April 13, 2020]).
  • Jean Paul: The pocket library. In: Jean Paul: Complete Works. Edited by Norbert Miller . Dept. II: Youth Works and Mixed Writings , Vol. 3: Mixed Writings II . Hanser, Munich 1978, ISBN 3-446-11662-1 , pp. 769-773.
  • Bettine Menke : One-cases - from "excerpts". The 'inventio' of Jean Paul. In: Renate Lachmann , Riccardo Nicolosi, Susanne Strätling (eds.): Rhetoric as cultural practice. Fink, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-7705-4490-5 , pp. 291-307.
  • Götz Müller: Jean Paul's excerpts. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1988, ISBN 3-88479-371-3 .
  • Manuel René Theisen (with the assistance of Martin Theisen): Scientific work. Successful in Bachelor and Master theses. 16th, completely revised edition. Franz Valen, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-8006-4636-4 , p. 137 f.
  • Helmut Zedelmaier: De ratione excerpendi: Daniel Georg Morhof and excerpting. In: Françoise Waquet (Ed.): Mapping the World of Learning: The "Polyhistor" of Daniel Georg Morhof. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2000, ISBN 3-447-04399-7 , pp. 75-92.

Web links

Wiktionary: Excerpt  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  1. According to Xenophon : Memorabilia 1, 2, 56 and 1, 6, 14; see Jørgen Mejer: Diogenes Laertius and his Hellenistic Background. Steiner, Wiesbaden 1978 (=  Hermes , Vol. 40), ISBN 3-515-02686-X , p. 16 ff.
  2. Michael Cahn: Hamster: Science and media history foundations of collecting reading. In: Paul Goetsch (ed.): Reading and writing in the 17th and 18th centuries. Studies on their evaluation in Germany, England and France. Narr, Tübingen 1994, ISBN 3-8233-4555-9 , pp. 63-77.
  3. Johann Georg Philipp Thiele: To the young men of education through reading. CF Schwan, Mannheim 1781, pp. 269-274.
  4. Christoph Meiners : Instructions for young people on their own work [,] especially for reading, excerpting and writing. 2nd, increased edition. Helwingsche Hofbuchhandlung , Hanover 1791, pp. 85-92 (chapter “About the method of excerpting”).
  5. ^ August Boeckh: Encyclopedia and Methodology of the Philological Sciences. Edited by Ernst Bratuschek. B. G. Teubner, Leipzig 1877, p. 124.
  6. Alberto Cevolini: Where Does Niklas Luhmann's Card Index Come From? In: Erudition and the Republic of Letters , vol. 3, n.4, 2018, p. 390-420 .
  7. Klaus Neumann-Braun , Axel Schmidt (Seminar for Media Studies at the University of Basel ): Excerpt creation leaflet (PDF; 120 kB).
  8. Gero von Wilpert : Excerpt. In: Ders .: Subject dictionary of literature. 8th, improved and expanded edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2001, p. 253.
  9. ^ Benedikt Jeßing : Working techniques of literary studies. An introduction. Reclam, Stuttgart 2001, pp. 87 ff.
  10. ^ Georg Bangen: The written form of Germanistic work. 5th, reviewed edition. Metzler, Stuttgart 1968, p. 4 f.
  11. Jürgen Schutte : Introduction to the interpretation of literature. Metzler, Stuttgart 1985, p. 202 f.
  12. As it says in the OpenThesaurus under "Excerpt" , albeit unassigned.
  13. University of Basel. Recommendations for reference management and the creation of excerpts , p. 3; University of Leipzig: reference management ; Citavi: excerpting texts
  14. Jean Paul: Remarks on Man. In: Jean Paul: Complete Works. Historical-critical edition. Edited by Eduard Berend. 2nd department: estate . Vol. 5. Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar 1936, reprint: ISBN 3-412-01485-0 , p. 97.
  15. ^ Jean Paul: Idea swarm. Texts & notes from the unpublished estate. Edited by Thomas Wirtz, Kurt Wölfel. Eichborn, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-8218-4453-1 , p. 76, Nº 361.
  16. Rudi Dutschke: Everyone has to live their whole life. The diaries 1963–1979. Edited by Gretchen Dutschke . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-462-03224-0 , p. 14 f. (Berlin, March 30, 1963).
  17. [E] t is such a wheel of fire. Bodo Hell in conversation with Friederike Mayröcker in her Vienna study - on September 28, 1985. In: Friederike Mayröcker: Magische Blätter II . Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1987, ISBN 3-518-11421-2 , pp. 177-198, here p. 197.