How To Write a Precis

Write the Précis Even Blindfolded - Valuable Tips for Students

Student life is full of fun and happy events but it also makes use cope with various difficult tasks. Every student is engaged in writing while studying and very often, he/she needs to write the précis. The following text will help you understand the term and its meaning, to know about various types of a précis, consult its structure, and learn about the rules of writing.

Précis - Definition and Essence

This word came from French and means the word "summary” (sounds more customary, really). Sometimes we call it digest or roundup, wrap-up or run-down. The term is not a big deal but its meaning is crucial to let everybody manage perfectly well.

Actually, Precis writing is very simple. It means a laconic summary of original material in the format of an article, review, speech or any other type of text. In other words, we take a passage and shorten it while turning it into a tiny replication.

However, nobody should neglect one nuance. The fact of the matter is that it's crucial to condense a passage to its key points and to put into the words the topic of the passage doing it as briefly as possible.

To some extent, a precis can be a bit more difficult than an essay if speaking of creative personalities that adore bringing their own vision and emotions into the original material. It's not always easy to stick to the fact and avoid guessing and suggestions. So, if you used to make your own claims, the following recommendations are exactly for you and they will help you to write objective pieces of content.

Types of Precis

When looking through some precis examples, you'll notice that there is a slight difference between them. It's not great but rather essential that's why let's shed light on some nuances.

Sometimes we're asked to build a critical precis that means a clear, concise, and logical roundup of a passage saving its key ideas and nothing more. Its main objective is to clarify the meaning of the basic material and explains its relevance. However, you should create rhetorical precis that demand some changes and additions since it displays how a writer argues rather than what he argues.

Besides, there's a precis of speech when you should build a short summary of your own or other person's speech. For example, your teacher has made the speech at the commemoration and now he gives you a task to make its precis. On the other hand, it may be your speech but nobody has enough time to listen to or to read its full variant that's why you should write it in brief.

Some types of summaries as precis of continuous matter or of correspondence, as well as telegraphese deal with professional activities mostly. For example, continuous matter contains every kind of matter other than correspondence, a question and answer form (it deals with parliamentary reports or reports of evidence, and other similar pieces of content.) or articles.

Precis Main Peculiarities

Like any other piece of content, Precis writing has its own set of specs and characteristics. Let's list all of them to build some kind of a map or even a check-list that will be a good landmark while doing a job. So, how should top-notch paperwork look like?

  • Short. It's hard to define the exact number of sentences because this metric is dependable on the volume of the basic material. Four sentences will be great for a short article but it's not enough for a book. That's why it deals with proportions but not numbers. The common rule implies from 20% up to 25% of the original text's length.
  • Clear. It's necessary to write the précis without frills and tricks in order to provide its clarity for the audience and don't make readers refer to the original passage.
  • This type of paperwork should cover all the main ideas and important points of the material.
  • Structured. It's important to stay logical from the very beginning and up to the end. A developed scheme exists to facilitate your task and you'll see it below.
  • Coherent. All the sentences and part of the paper should boast firm interconnections to keep the audience's interest all the time.
  • Literary. The work must be prevented from any kinds of mistakes, including not only wrong letters or words but also wrong or false facts and claims. Be very attentive not to miss even a coma.
  • Impartial. You should stay objective because your main concern is to inform but not worry a reader with questions or emotions. Unlike an essay, a precis doesn't reflect your own inner world.

Precis Structure

Well-structured text is easy to perceive and understand because it is logical and consistent. However, it's nor dealing with writing at once. Before you start, it's needed to make some preparations. Now, we'll pass all the stages together to make the process clear.

Preliminary Work You Must Do

Take the original piece and read it carefully. Have you done it? Ok, now, let's do it again…and again. Well, three times will be enough, however, five times would be perfect. Don't be scared because it's dealing with articles only. If speaking of a book precis, reading a novel two times will be good.

When the plot is getting clear, pay attention to the key points and ideas, as well as arguments. Then, as the writers don't claim anything over nothing, do your best to find out evidence. Don't waste your time on looking for the ready-to-use phrases because the authors prefer to hide them inside the characters and their deeds, emotions, as well as symbolic scenes or landscape.

Make some useful notes that will become parts of your work later. In fact, they will be ready-to-use phrases and even if changing them while writing, you'll be able to save the information and not to lose any smart thought.

Read the related articles in the case you're not very keen on the topic or you've met some unknown words during reading the material.

If creating a rhetorical precis, keep in mind that you should find out not only the key points of the text but also the ways that the author used to express them. Those means are somewhat like a catalyst that allows understanding of the authors' purpose of writing, the audiences, the idea, theses, and evidence.

Writing Precis

Start from the Precis outline. Fall a material into several paragraphs and write one or two sentences to each of them. Paraphrase those sentences to make them unique but don't forget to remove your own voice because you should always stay objective. Be sure that you start from the central point of the article. After you've written this "keystone”, introduce the significant argument and them go on with the evidence. Find out the thesis and paraphrase it. Use synonyms and another sentence order for this purpose.

In general, it's possible to draw an average scheme that will help to stay within the rules and write excellent piece of work. Let's look through the following template and steps that you should make to achieve your goal.

  1. Author's name, date of writing, type of the material (novel, article, etc.), and topic.
  2. Explain how the author introduces the arguments (if speaking of a rhetorical precis).
  3. Write about the writer's audience.
  4. Explain some evidence separately if it's implied to write a long book precis.
  5. Restate the original thesis to make a conclusion.

Precis Rules

When writing a Precis, it's crucial to stick to a list of the following rules that are rather straightforward and do not require much efforts to understand and to implement them. Let's look through the list below.

  1. It's strictly forbidden to copy and paste a single sentence from the article. Certainly, the keywords and phrases should be present but only with the purpose to express the points that are technically accurate and it's the best way to do it.
  2. You should avoid direct speech. Even if meeting it in the original, don't copy but transform it into indirect speech.
  3. Escape using contractions and abbreviations.
  4. The text can contain several ideas but you must write all of them into a single paragraph.
  5. You may use your own style of Writing a Precis but it's important to display the intelligence of the original material's author, as well as the text's mood and atmosphere.
  6. You should support the test quality that's why if it contains the stats you should use it in your work without changes.
  7. Don't confuse conclusion with the comments. The conclusion is based on the fact from the basic materials but comments reflect your own opinion (that's not needed, actually).
  8. Use the information from the given material without adding any other information.
  9. Don't use pronouns in the first person because everything should be written in the third one.
  10. Remove imaginary and direct speech from your text, as well as metaphors, oxymoron, allegory, allusions, etc.
  11. Any repetitions are forbidden. If some points from the basic text mimic each other, unite them into one paragraph.

Editing and Correction

Even if you made a Precis outline and only then start writing, you can't avoid some mistakes. To eliminate them completely, you should reread your work several times in order to reveal all the possible errors. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If you're unsure of your strength, use special online services to check literacy.

It's also crucial to check the logical structure of the precis. The structure given above is useful, of course, but you should ensure all the parts of your paperwork to be interconnected. The language is also important because slang, stop words, some phrases from the everyday speech are not suitable. To be confident that everything is correct, check some precis examples that you can find on the Web.

Why Write Precis?

This type of written work helps us read attentively and understand each detail of the text. Very often, we use to miss important details because we just look through the text but not dive into it. Besides, it gives an opportunity to develop logical and critical thinking that comes in handy almost in any profession. Moreover, we start distinguishing the essential and the non-essential that is a valuable skill in both professional and private life.

Maybe, you're going to make a career of an academic writer. It's a great dream but do you know that all of them analyze texts? For example, make article and book precis when critiquing published pieces of content, they assess the arguments, and reflect on essays.

Besides, summaries have several important uses. You'll be able to grasp the ideas of any piece of content. They enhance your concentration while reading either a novel or a scientific article. Moreover, this type of paperwork improves your writing skills and allows stay always logical without any efforts. In other words, your skills become automatic and can find the application in other fields of science and life. The ability to replicate information is in demand and useful for plenty of working professionals.


Now, you're completely armed with facts, rules, and tips to become a guru of writing precis. Write confidently and don't afraid of the possible failure. Certainly, your first work might be like the first pancake, but, as you know, when you make an omelet, you gotta break a few eggs. Be insistent and dedicated, hard-working and consistent to succeed fast. Remember that writing a precis is not an end in itself but it helps develop mental abilities and get useful skills.