How To Write A Precis: Multiple Handy Suggestions, Step-by-step Guiding, And Sample


A precis is a category of academic document that supposes writing a summary of an article or other text. It emphasizes its key messages, arguments for an insightful review. The term «précis» comes from French and means «precise,» «short and brief.» Perspicuity, brevity, and logical approach, and the basic principles of precis. 

Precis: Key Regulations, Appliance

This type of academic writing drastically differs from an essay. With understanding its attributes and regulatory requirements, an author should exclude retelling the text. A precis writer should provide the observation about the meaningfulness of the analyzed document. 

It happens when an audience has no idea about the summarized content. Realizing this, a writer should provide a comprehensive review to inform people about it briefly. A precis focuses on the transmitting of the primary points and structure. It does not suppose any estimation or feedback. Let’s totalize the core features of precis. It:

  • provides a legible summary of a source;
  • excludes rephrasing or expounding of an original document;
  • eliminates using the words from the primary text except for the quotes;
  • resumes the entire content, focuses on the points of the utmost importance;
  • discloses the sense, emphasizing its benefits;
  • contains approximately a quarter of words from the source;
  • maintains the structure of the analyzed text with the same methods of representing and outcomes.

Students of studying establishments often receive a task to write a precis. And rightly so, because the benefits of this assignment are numerous. It develops critical thinking, totaling abilities, and emphasizing the meaningful information from the entire text. Also, precis is a perfect method for exploring and learning new information. Obtaining this task, students get an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their writing prowess and thoughts flow. 

It is worth mentioning that writing a precis and a rhetorical precis are not similar tasks. The purpose of the paper is the same. However, a rhetorical precis is pithier and harder to compose. It also requires summarizing the most vital thoughts of the original text, concentrating on the information delivery. The result of a rhetorical precis is a brief (four sentences length) analysis of the source ideas, namely:

  • noting the bibliographical data (the name of an author, title, date of publication, etc.);
  • observing the methods of conception developing;
  • indicating statement of purpose;
  • identification the engaging methods;
  • analysis of the ways of idea transmitting  

Short quotes are appropriate in a rhetoric precis. They allow a better understanding of the source, its tone, and style of conversation.

The Structure of Competent Precis and General Writing Rules

Like any assignment, a precis has a structure template that a writer should follow for a precise explanation. It does not differ from the three-parts classic plan, applicable for all essays. However, a precis has distinctive features for each chapter. Let’s observe them in details to catch the idea of how to write a precis:

Introductory part. Only one sentence long, it must represent the complete information about the source text:

  • the name of an author;
  • the title of the original document;
  • the date of release;
  • thesis statement with action verbs («determines,» «provides,» «reasons»).

Including a hook into the introductory part of a precis is a controversial issue. Some experts insist on its appliance, while others say it is inappropriate in a precis. Find out the instruction from your coordinator on this matter. 

Body text. Each chapter should explain the particular fragment of the source. Each of them must entail evidence, target, and ideas. Avoid interpreting in your precis. Focus on the source analysis instead. Use the quotes carefully to let the readers understand the content.

The summarizing. Wrapping up all said above is the goal of this chapter. Exclude mentioning your views and opinions.

While writing your precis, mention the words carefully and featly. The entire text of the precis should be:

  • clear: readers must understand the intention of the source author (simplicity of language and structuring is appreciated);
  • correct: check your text for grammatical, punctuation errors, examine the accuracy of data, and provided facts as well;
  • impartial: only objective information is apposite without conclusions of a precis writer;
  • succession: exclude a mess of outcomes, implement the ideas according to logical chain to hold on the interest of the readers;
  • laconic: avoid minor details from the source text, wordy sentences, reoccurrences, fulfilling a precis with vital facts. 

To make your precis ideal, avoid the most frequent mistakes:

  • copying the phrases from the source;
  • including the aside information;
  • misleading by the wrong facts and digits;
  • speaking in precis from the first person («I,» «We»);
  • overburdening the text;
  • providing a precis as a plan of the source without revealing the theme;
  • omitting background details;
  • numerating the quotes without a subsequent analysis.

Make your text smoothly flowing using the recommendations described above.

Make sure that you realize the difference between a summary and precis. A summary covers the main points of the text, observing the details in general. A precis has more words, focuses on the specific features and their deep analysis. 

A Precis: Writing Process

Writing a press demands some time and report. Let’s observe the sequence of steps gradually for proper time management:

  1. Begin a precis writing process by choosing a topic and the purpose of the precis. Once you have it, start writing an outline. Find out the precise formatting requirements from your research advisor. That will save plenty of time or even the entire work. These can differ depending on the theme and the rules studying establishment. Receive the instructions about the length of the paperwork. Usually, these are about 200 words for an article precis. Books or expanded paperwork may take up to several pages.
  2. Study the source material thoroughly, collecting the crucial information and facts. Continue the research until you understand entirely the primary thought, which an author transmits in the document, article, or book. Perhaps, you will need to read it several times. Notes can become a helpful tool to keep all crucial pieces together without limiting the necessary information. 
  3. Move to the writing draft stage. It will allow managing your thoughts, smooth and sequent flowing of ideas. Use the following suggestions: 
    1. writing a body text, use the power of your analytic thinking to generate the most comprehensive summarizing; 
    2. abide the correct tense while writing a precis. Usually, it is present tense, but past tense is not an exception as well. The detailed information on this matte you can get from your academic instructor; 
    3. when providing evidence, ascribe it to the author, not to a book or article, e.g. «Michael claims,» not «the article claims»;
    4. state the thesis statement. Remember that authors do not usually highlight it, hiding behind the writing text;
  4. Do the final sense checking, editing, and proofreading. Pay attention to possible tense, grammatical, punctuation, structural, stylistic errors to polish your work. Voice the text loudly to check how it sounds. Also, you can involve your friend, family member, or all of them in the process. They will give you an aside opinion about your precis. Also, you can compare their comments to know what impression your precis makes in general.

The process may seem tedious and long-term (especially if the source text is a novel or other lengthy literary work). Split it into several stages for convenient navigation. With enough training, experience, and a weighty knowledge base, you can organize the process effortlessly. 

The Example of Precis

Here is a precis example on the topic «Influential Architecture.»

In her article «Influential Architecture,» Isabella Dantes implicates that the engineering project is not only a piece of art that evokes formidable sensations. When designed for a charitable purpose, these are also powerful engines that can change lives. Dantes provides evidence of this claim by an example of Roland Tremblay (the architecture designer from the US who created a meeting center for volunteer women of Karabakh refugees union in cooperation with the non-profit partnership program «Save Lives International.») 

Dantes convinces that architecture can be more than a piece of art. It can contribute to the community by consolidating the welfare initiatives while remaining successful in the commercial field. The author suggests getting acquainted with the readers with the modernistic master builders, representing the cooperation results to the design-oriented audience.

Brooks provides a detailed history of Roland Tremblay’s success and his overall career path, basing on the supporting facts with the quotes with minor comments. 

The article is preeminently expository with one detailed example. It doesn’t contain any convincing and appeals to follow the stated point of view.

Here is one more example of precis on the topic «Idealized Architecture.»

In the «Idealized Architecture» article, Melanie Brook argues that fantasy images have been overburdening architecture recently. That comes to a significant problem for young designers during their educational course. An author refers to credible art professionals and journalists who stand against conservation development, performing and promoting idealized projects. 

The purpose of Melanie Brook is to shed light on the problem of idealized architecture projects. The article contains an appeal, evoking the readers to decide. The tone of the article is informal and subjective. Art students and staff of educational establishments are the target audience. 

The structure of the article is systematic. It contains the argument of the author contradicting the architecture idealization. Also, it encompasses questionnaire addressed to the readers. In her piece, Melanie Brook does not represent her view on the situation. She remains the topic open for further discussion.

Both precis include the precise information about the source, indicating its purpose and the core points. The authors do not input their opinion relative to the analyzed document. They focus on a brief and cut summarizing of the analyzed documents. Following the recommendations described, you can write a brilliant precis that your professor will remember forever.

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