Writing a Précis: Step-by-Step Instructions

By Editorial Team Last updated: Oct 12, 2023

Writing a Précis: Step-by-Step Instructions

Have you been having trouble drafting a precis as the time for submission approaches? Relax and take a deep breath - we'll make your essay a visual treat. “Brevity is the Soul of Wit,” stated William Shakespeare. While we've all heard this statement, not everyone understands how to apply it to their work. There is a way out if you've gotten yourself into this mess. In this post, we'll cover the nature of the precis essay, its characteristics, and how to write a readable piece that everyone will enjoy.

What exactly is a precis?

Merriam-Webster describes a precis as a word derived from the French term "précis," which means "as precise, clear, and to the point." A summary of any written piece, whether it's a book, an article, or a novel, is referred to as a precis. The outline of the main ideas and arguments presented in the given paper is characteristic of this particular form of assignment. Any in-depth or critical analysis should not be given in detail, but it should objectively clarify the circumstances depicted in the literary work.

“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead,” Mark Twain famously stated. His assertion nailed the core of precis writing. While writing a brief paper dedicated to the condensation of story events may appear simple, this is not the case with precis. It should be brief, yet writing it may not be simple or quick. Given that a precis is a form of summary, there should be no need to rewrite the original material. As a result, precis writing necessitates extensive critical reading and study.

Read also: What Is A Précis?

Precise vs. a Summary

As we previously stated, a precis is essentially a text summary. However, there is a thin line that separates the two terms. A summary is a short remark that briefly summarizes the key points of a document. A precis, on the other hand, should have a title and be 1/3 of the length of the original piece. In addition, a summary explains the major events in general, whereas a precis focuses on every detail and analyzes a specific scenario in depth. Let's look at an example to clear up any doubts you might have. Assume you've lately been assigned the responsibility of analyzing the second scene of Shakespeare's play "Macbeth" in the first act. Do you think this assignment belongs in the summary or precis category? If you choose the second option, you were correct. A precis can thus be characterized as a condensed version of an essay, a chapter in a book, or an act in a play.

Precis Outline

  • One of the most important aspects of precis writing is the outline. It lets you to correctly structure and organize the flow of thoughts, as well as highlight out the essential arguments of your precis in a logical order. It's critical to narrow down the list of probable themes before beginning to write the plan. Then, depending on the topic you've chosen to write about, you'll need to decide on the goal of your outline. The outline, for example, could be created to entertain, reflect on, or inform readers about a particular topic.
  • Another vital element in creating a solid outline is conducting research. Read the text completely and jot down any pertinent information, such as quotes or facts. Then take notes and put all of the parts together to begin creating an outline, adding information as needed.
  • Move on to brainstorming once you've completed this challenge. This effective method of producing ideas may be able to assist you in resolving that brilliant idea that has just occurred to you. You can scribble down your brainstorming results or make a mind map to generate linkages with the ideas. You can always remove or cross out any things that don't fit into your concise outline.
  • The next section of an outline is devoted to thought arrangement. If you're unsure how to arrange an essay, keep in mind that the information that will be included in the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion should all be written first.

Remember to read your precis outline again at the end of the process and fill in any gaps if necessary. Also, proofread the plan before beginning to write ideas on the actual work. Check for typos, grammatical and spelling problems, and formatting faults.

Related: Précis, Definition and Examples

How do you begin a precis?

For others, the process of preparing a precis is far more difficult than the process of writing one. Many issues arise at this moment, such as “Where should I begin?”, “What should I do first?”, and “How much time do I need to prepare my precis?” A thorough examination of the offered material is the key to good setup. You'll need to read the material first. Not only should you skim through the material, but you should also ensure that you thoroughly get the message that the author provides during the reading. You'll probably need to read the book numerous times for this. If it's a novel, you should read it twice; if it's a short tale, 3-5 times should suffice. If there are any unknown words, you can also write down their definitions.

Annotate your text

  • Don't forget to annotate your material as you're reading. This method entails underlining and highlighting important information while taking notes. Annotation is useful when writing a précis since it allows you to focus on key text elements and become more familiar with the subject quickly.

How is a precise paragraph written?

In the first sentence, Precis usually includes information like author, article/book title, publication date, and topic. The idea of the book or novel will be quickly stated in such a lead-in. The evidence that articulates the author's approach of conveying their story should be the focus of the second sentence. To highlight the author's thesis, you could wish to focus on a few arguments and compare and contrast them. You'll need to describe the text's purpose in the third sentence. There's no need to come up with a new goal to replace the one you already have: define the text's meaning in the same manner you think, feel, or believe.

The author's evidence, aim, and views are frequently explained in the main body, which expands on the supporting arguments. The major body is usually written in a single paragraph. In 2-3 phrases, the concluding section captures the main author's idea for a work. You'll need to restate the thesis and produce a brief summary that explains the author's method of evidence.

Related: Precis Writing - Rules, Tips & Questions

Precis Format

To tie up the preceding information, let's sketch out the standard format of a well-written summary.

In the first sentence:

  • Indicate the author's name, the title of the article or book, the date of publication in parenthesis, and the issue you'd want to debate.
  • A rhetorical verb that expresses the author's main point (e.g., "claim," "argue," "deny," "refute," "prove," "disprove," "explain").
  • The thesis statement of the book or novel is included in this sentence.

The key body paragraphs are as follows:

  • Write a phrase that clarifies and expands on how the author formulates and explains the reading's major idea.
  • Include a statement that represents the author's purpose in a sentence. To complete this sentence, use the term "in order."
  • Write a sentence that includes a description of the assumed audience as well as a depiction of the author's connection with the readers.

In the conclusion:

  • Present a concluding remark of 2-3 phrases to clarify the author's intent for the book or article.
  • Give a one-sentence explanation of the main point that the author utilized throughout the reading to develop their evidence.

What are the four steps in the precis writing process?

Writing a summary is an art form in and of itself, which, as you can see, necessitates a significant amount of time and effort.

Aside from that, there are a few stages and standards you must follow in order to write an A+ precis. So, to make it easier for you to go through a slew of lengthy processes, we'll split them down into manageable chunks.

The four steps of precis

  1. Study the text
  2. Structure your précis
  3. Revision and proofreading
  4. Make it objective

As for the fourth step, we’d like to share the best practices for writing a worthy precis to guide you in the right direction. In order to help you with the fourth stage, we'd like to provide some best practices for producing a worthy precis.

  • Make every effort to confer with your instructor about the formatting requirements. These could be unique to a specific precis. As a result, the format can be heavily influenced by the length of the text. A summary for a short piece, for example, will typically be 100-200 words long. Long books, on the other hand, necessitate a summary that can span several pages.
  • A tried and true method of creating a proper precis has to do with composition style. The most common blunder made by most people is using the wrong tense. When it comes to writing a synopsis, using the past tense is not uncommon. However, it's critical to use the present tense so that the instructor can easily understand your content. Also, rather than attributing your evidence to the book or article, remember to attribute it to the author. Instead of writing "the book argues," write "Brown argues."
  • Avoid any personal viewpoints, as they may distort your precis due to excessive subjectivity. Because the point of precis is to remain objective, avoid making claims from your personal point of view if you want the instructor to compliment you. Because, in the end, expressing personal ideas may result in your precis receiving a lesser score.

What is the ideal length for a precis?

  • There is no uniform rule for the length of a precis because it varies greatly depending on the assignment. For example, if the prescribed reading is an article, your synopsis can be 100-200 words long, while it can be 2-3 pages long if the material is a large book.
  • Whatever length you choose for your precis, keep in mind that it should be one-fifth to one-sixth the length of the original reading. In any case, you should request length specifications from your lecturer before beginning to write a synopsis.

How Do You Make Perfect Precise Writing?

A precis is a terrific approach to show instructors your writing skills as well as your ability to think critically and logically. Working on such a project will also help you to hone a new skill: creating concise summaries with precise data and text descriptions. As a result, the secret weapon of any good precis is adhering to the attributes required to make your precis stand out. Do you know which ones these are? Clarity, correctness, objectivity, coherence, and conciseness are among them. While each of these qualities of a flawless precis exists on its own, they are all interconnected and designed to assist you in overcoming any obstacles you may encounter when writing a synopsis.

Characteristics of a perfect precis

  • If your precis is clear, it signifies that your reader fully understands the author's idea, meaning, and intent.
  • If your precis is correct, it is free of errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and it is simple to understand. It also signifies that you've used all of the information, figures, and dates in a method that's appropriate for a precis.
  • Objectivity refers to the neutral tone of a book or article summary that excludes any first-person viewpoints.
  • Interconnectedness of the main text's themes is referred to as coherent precis. This is critical since your readers will want to observe the logical flow of concepts and ideas without losing interest while reading your summary.
  • Finally, conciseness refers to your capacity to express your ideas succinctly while avoiding unnecessary elements in your summary. Of course, facts should never be avoided, but long and ambiguous expressions, repetitions, and well-known idioms should be avoided.

To cut a long story short, producing a precis is a difficult process with many steps and needs. It may appear simple in principle, but as you write, you'll realize how difficult and time-consuming this process is in practice. Your precis, on the other hand, can become a writing piece that your professor will remember with the correct level of preparation and knowledge on how to accurately organize the material. So, the next time you have trouble creating your own precis, use our instructions to learn how to write a high-rated work that both your instructor and parenthesis will like.

Do you have no idea where to begin?

It's not easy to write a précis. You may wish to compose a high-quality one, but you lack the time or expertise to do so. We can assist you with your précis or if you need someone to write any other paper for you. At Eprowriters, our writers have studied and produced hundreds of précis and are specialists in a wide range of fields.

Our writing service can help you with both précis and other types of academic writing, editing, or proofreading, and and all of your worries will be gone!


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