Précis: Definition and Examples | Learn How to Write a Precise Summary

Précis: Definition and Examples | Learn How to Write a Precise Summary

Communication is a major part of our daily lives, and while we are often assigned to read or analyze various texts, it is important to take our own notes and summarize the key points. Whether you are a student, a professional, or working in the government, the ability to write a precise summary is an essential skill that can greatly improve your written work.

A precis is a brief summary of a text that identifies the main ideas and arguments in a clear and concise manner. It should capture the essence of the original text while presenting the information in your own words. A well-written precis demonstrates your understanding of the text and your ability to effectively communicate its key points.



When writing a precis, there are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind. Do use your own words and avoid copying directly from the original text. Do include all the major points and arguments, but make sure to leave out any unnecessary details. Do check for spelling and grammatical errors, and make sure to polish your precis for clarity and conciseness. Don’t forget to properly cite your sources using a bibliography or a list of references.

In order to write a good precis, it is important to understand the characteristics of the text you are summarizing. Is it an argumentative essay? A research paper? A news article? By identifying the genre and style of the original text, you can tailor your precis to meet the specific requirements and expectations of that genre.

Precis: Definition and Examples

What is a Precis?

When writing a precis, the first step is to read and research the text carefully to determine its main points and structure. Afterward, the writer outlines the body of the precis, focusing on the most relevant information and discarding any unnecessary details. It is important to throw away the desire to include personal opinion or interpretation, as a precis should remain objective and faithful to the original text.

How to Write a Precis: A Step-by-Step Explanation

Writing a precis may seem challenging at first, but with the right approach and some practice, it can become an easy task. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:



  1. Read and understand the original text thoroughly.
  2. Create an outline for your precis, organizing the information logically.
  3. Write an introductory paragraph that presents the author, title, and the text’s general context.
  4. Develop the body of the precis, focusing on the major points in a clear and concise manner.
  5. Use quotes or paraphrases from the original text to support your summary.
  6. Proofread and edit your precis, ensuring proper grammar, punctuation, and coherence.

Examples of Precis

To give you a better sense of how a precis should look, here are two examples:

Original TextPrecis
“In this Victorian novel, the author explores the themes of love and societal expectations. The story revolves around the protagonist, Jane, who desires freedom and independence. Throughout the novel, Jane struggles to find her own voice and assert herself in a society that values conformity. The author highlights the limitations imposed on women during this time and presents a compelling argument for individuality and self-expression.”In “Jane’s Desire: A Victorian Tale,” the author tackles the themes of love and societal expectations. This compelling novel follows the journey of Jane, a woman who longs for freedom and independence. It delves into her struggles in finding her identity and asserting herself in a society that prioritizes conformity. The author emphasizes the oppressive nature of Victorian society towards women and makes a strong case for the importance of individuality and self-expression.
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As you can see, a precis captures the essence of the original text while maintaining clarity and conciseness. It provides the reader with a comprehensive overview of the text’s main ideas and arguments.

Tips for Writing a Precis

Here are some tips and qualities that every effective precis should have:



  • Focus on the main ideas and arguments presented in the original text.
  • Avoid including personal opinions or interpretations.
  • Be objective and faithful to the author’s intentions.
  • Use quotes or paraphrases to support your summary.
  • Write in a concise and clear manner.
  • Ensure coherence and logical flow throughout the precis.

By following these tips and practicing the art of precis writing, you can become a more skilled and professional communicator. Whether you are assigned to write a precis for an academic or professional purpose, mastering this skill will undoubtedly benefit your writing abilities.

What is a precis and how to write one

A good precis should provide a concise yet compelling summary that captures the essence of the original piece. It should not merely throw together a few sentences and call it a precis. Instead, it should demonstrate a deep understanding of the text and its main ideas. A precis should be able to stand alone as a coherent and well-written piece of communication.

Here are some tips to help you write an effective precis:

1. Read the original text carefully:

Before starting your precis, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the original text. Take notes and highlight key points to refer back to while writing.

2. Identify the main ideas:

Focus on the main ideas and arguments presented in the original text. Identify the central theme or thesis statement and the supporting details.

3. Write concisely:

Avoid unnecessary words or phrases and aim for concise and clear sentences. Use active voice and strong verbs to create a more engaging precis.

4. Edit for clarity and coherence:

After writing your precis, read it again to ensure that it flows smoothly and makes sense. Check for any grammatical errors or inconsistencies.

5. Polish your precis:

Make sure your precis captures the quality of the original work and maintains its integrity. It shouldn’t be a watered-down version but rather a well-crafted summary.

Here is a sample of a precis:

Original Text:Precis:
The Youth by Herself: A Personal Approach to Feminism by Jane Doe explores the experiences and understandings of a young feminist in modern society. The author offers a compelling analysis of the challenges faced by young women in a male-dominated world. Doe argues that the youth should take a more active role in shaping their own futures and challenging societal norms. She emphasizes the importance of self-empowerment and the need for young women to prioritize their own goals and aspirations.In “The Youth by Herself: A Personal Approach to Feminism,” Jane Doe examines the experiences of a young feminist and highlights the challenges faced by young women in a male-dominated society. She argues for greater self-empowerment and encourages young women to prioritize their goals and challenge societal norms.

By following these guidelines and practicing the art of precis writing, you can effectively summarize and communicate the key ideas of a work in a concise and engaging manner.

Learn How to Write a Precise Summary

Understanding the Purpose of a Summary

A summary is a condensed version of a longer text that aims to highlight the essential information. It should provide a concise overview without going into unnecessary details. The main goal of a summary is to capture the main ideas and arguments presented by the author.

Methods for Writing a Precise Summary

When writing a summary, it is important to use your own words rather than copying directly from the original text. This allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the material and avoid plagiarism.

Steps to Write a Precise Summary

To write a precise summary, follow these steps:

  1. Read the text carefully and take notes.
  2. Identify the main ideas and arguments presented by the author.
  3. Organize your thoughts and create an outline for your summary.
  4. Write the summary using clear and concise language.
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Tips for Writing an Effective Summary

Here are some tips to help you write an effective summary:

  • Focus on the main points and avoid including unnecessary details.
  • Use headings or subheadings to organize the summary.
  • Include the main ideas in your own words.
  • Be objective and avoid adding your own opinions or interpretations.
  • Re-read and revise your summary to ensure clarity and accuracy.

By following these guidelines, you can develop the skills needed to write precise summaries of various types of literature, from British classics to modern American novels. Whether you are working on an analytical synopsis or a research abstract, knowing how to write a precise summary will be valuable in your academic and professional endeavors.

Step-by-step guide on writing a precise summary

  1. Read the text carefully: Start by reading the text or book you are summarizing attentively. Take notes and mark important ideas, examples, and quotes that you might want to include in your summary.
  2. Understand the main concepts: Identify the main ideas, argumentative points, and major motifs in the text. Be aware of the author’s purpose and the rhetorical styles they might be using.
  3. Break down the text: Divide the text into sections or paragraphs and note down the main idea of each section. This will help you structure your summary and make sure you cover all the essential points.
  4. Write an abstract: Start your summary with a brief definition of the text’s topic and its main arguments or themes. Specify whose ideas you are summarizing and use correct grammar and concise language.
  5. Compose a comprehensive summary: In the second and third paragraphs of your summary, present a breakdown of the text’s content. Analyze each section, support your points with examples or quotes, and give a summary of the author’s argumentation.
  6. Focus on the final paragraph: In the final paragraph, give your own critical perspective on the text’s content. You can include your agreement or disagreement with the author’s ideas, suggestions for further research, or connections to other texts or ideas.
  7. Polish your summary: Revise and edit your summary, making sure it is concise, well-structured, and grammatically correct. Use proper punctuation and formatting according to the professors’ desired formats.
  8. Check for coherence and readability: Read your summary as a whole and make sure it flows smoothly, with logical transitions between paragraphs. Ensure that your summary is easily understandable and engaging for your audience.
  9. Use reliable sources and citation: Support your summary with evidence from the original text, using accurate quotes and referencing your sources correctly. Include a bibliography at the end of your summary.
  10. Get feedback and make revisions: Share your summary with peers or professors and ask for feedback. Revise your summary based on the comments received, making sure it is polished and well-supported.

Following this step-by-step guide will help you write a precise summary that captures the essence of the text and presents it in an organized and analytical manner. Remember to be aware of the targeted audiences and their desire to obtain a comprehensive synopsis of the text you are summarizing.

Difference between Summary and Precis

Summary

A summary is a brief overview of a text, providing readers with a concise understanding of the main ideas and important details. When you summarize, you aim to capture the essence of a text in your own words, without adding your own analysis or interpretation. Summaries are usually shorter than the original text and are used to give readers a quick overview.

Precis

A precis, on the other hand, is a highly structured and concise summary that emphasizes the rhetorical structure and main points of a text. It is a formal piece of writing that follows a specific format and template. A precis must adhere to strict guidelines and include an analytical breakdown of the text’s main arguments and supporting evidence.

Precis writing is often assigned in academic settings, requiring students to carefully read and analyze a text before attempting to write a precise summary. This process helps develop critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as the ability to summarize complex ideas in a clear and concise manner.

To determine the quality of a precis, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does the precis accurately capture the main arguments of the text?
  • Does it provide an analytical breakdown of the supporting evidence?
  • Is the precis written in a well-structured and coherent manner?
  • Does it use correct grammar and punctuation?
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By answering these questions, you can improve the quality of your precis and ensure that it effectively summarizes the main points of the original text.

Understanding the distinction between a summary and a precis

The Summary

A summary is a condensed version of a text that captures the main points and important details. It aims to provide a brief explanation of the key ideas and arguments presented in the original content. Summaries are typically shorter than the original text and can be used as study guides or a quick reference for future research.

When writing a summary, it is essential to focus on the most important aspects of the text and avoid unnecessary details. It should be organized and well-written, capturing the essence of the original piece. Summaries can be in the form of paragraphs or bullet points and are commonly used in news articles, media reports, and research papers.

The Precis

A precis, on the other hand, is a more detailed and specific version of a summary. It is typically used in academic contexts and aims to demonstrate a clear understanding of the original text. A precis takes into account the rhetorical methods used by the author and includes a breakdown of the text’s organization, main themes, and supporting evidence.

Unlike a summary, a precis is written in complete sentences and includes analysis and interpretation. It goes beyond merely summarizing the content and delves into the author’s intentions and the effectiveness of their arguments. A precis is often used as a tool for professors and researchers to assess the quality of a student’s comprehension and analytical skills.

In British English, a precis is often referred to as a “synopsis” or “narration,” but the core purpose remains the same: to provide a concise and informative overview of a larger text. While a summary is more general and can be written by anyone, a precis requires a deeper level of analysis and understanding.

The Key Differences

To determine whether to write a summary or a precis, it is crucial to consider the purpose and target audience. Summaries are helpful when you want to quickly grasp the main points of a text or when you need to present an overview to a general audience. Precis, on the other hand, are suitable for academic settings and are necessary when a more detailed and critical analysis is desired.

Both summaries and precis have their own qualities and functions. Summaries offer a more general overview, while precis provide a more in-depth analysis. Summaries are shorter and simpler, while precis are longer and more complex. Knowing the difference between the two can help ensure that you use the correct method when working with texts, media, or government documents.

Tips to Write a Precis

If you are tasked with writing a precis, here are some tips to help you develop a well-crafted final piece:

  1. Read the original text thoroughly and take notes.
  2. Identify the main headings and subheadings to understand the organization.
  3. Analyze the rhetorical methods used by the author, such as the use of language, tone, and structure.
  4. Focus on the main themes and supporting evidence within the text.
  5. Write in complete sentences, maintaining the overall structure and style of the original content.
  6. Avoid personal opinions or additional information not present in the original text.
  7. Edit and revise your precis for clarity, conciseness, and accuracy.
  8. Proofread carefully for any errors in grammar, punctuation, or spelling.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to write an informative and well-organized precis that demonstrates your understanding of the original text.

FAQ

What is a précis?

A précis is a concise summary or abstract of a text, speech, or other piece of communication. It condenses the core ideas and main points of the original work in a clear and organized manner.

Why is it important to write a précis?

Writing a précis is important because it helps to develop and improve essential reading and writing skills. It allows the reader to extract and understand the main ideas from a text, and it helps the writer to practice summarizing and condensing information effectively.

What are some common verbs used in a rhetorical précis?

Some common verbs used in a rhetorical précis include: argues, explains, suggests, claims, emphasizes, examines, illustrates, compares, contrasts, challenges, and analyzes.

What are some sentence starters that can be used in a rhetorical précis?

Some sentence starters that can be used in a rhetorical précis include: “In [author’s name/work], [author] argues/suggests/explains…”; “According to [author],…”; “The main point made by [author] is…”; “In this text, [author] examines/illustrates/compares…”; ” [Author] challenges/analyzes the idea that…”.

How can I improve my précis writing skills?

To improve your précis writing skills, you can practice by reading a variety of texts and summarizing them in a clear and concise manner. Pay attention to the main ideas and supporting details, and practice condensing the information without losing the overall meaning. You can also seek feedback from others and study examples of well-written précis to learn from them.

What is a precis and why is it important to know how to write one?

A precis is a concise summary of a longer text, focusing on the main ideas and central points. It is important to know how to write a precis because it helps improve reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. It also allows readers to quickly understand the main ideas of a text without having to read the entire document.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.