How To Write An Impressive Precis


For every student, when the submission deadline approaches, time becomes hectic. It’s especially true when you need to submit a precis as it is considered one of the most complicated assignments. We wrote this article trying to help you cope with this task. In the article, you will find information about a precis, how it differs from a summary, and effective advice on how to write it.

What Do We Call a Precis?

Precis is a French word that means “exact, clear, precise”. When your task is to fulfill this task, you should write a summary of a writing piece (for example, of an article) that would contain its principal points and reasoning. There is no need to provide a detailed analysis because you in an objective manner, will describe the story told in this piece of writing.

How Does a Summary Differ From a Precis?

Generally speaking, precis is a summary of the text. But the meaning of these two terms slightly differs. A statement that contains the main key points of the literary piece is a precis. A precis usually has a title, and its length is no more than one-third of the original text. In summary there is a broader description of the most important events, and a precis contains a thorough analysis of the situation, and attention is paid to details.

An Outline Is a Must

For a high-quality precis, a good outline is needed. An outline helps to structure thoughts and ideas better and allows distinguishing significant arguments. For a proper outline, you need to select one most significant topic and define the purpose of the outline in accordance with the topic you decided to write on (to inform, to make the reader think, to entertain, etc.).

It’s essential to study the piece of writing, pay attention to facts or quotes, and take notes. After that, one more important step is brainstorming that allows one to produce new ideas. For this effective technique, some students write scribbles. Others prefer a mind map. Some changes in the outline might be needed in case any of the ideas from brainstorming do not fit into it.

To arrange thoughts and ideas is the next important step in writing an outline. Decide upon what information you will use in every part (the introduction, the body, and the conclusion).

Read your outline several times, pay attention if you have missed something important. Edit the outline, check it for errors, proofread it.

Start Writing

Sometimes the preparatory phase seems more difficult than the writing process. Students may have plenty of questions as they don’t clearly understand the succession of steps they need to make. If you are one of such students, hopefully, this article will help you to avoid stress while fulfilling such tasks.

The first and the most important step is to read the text you have been given attentively, paying attention to detail. Try to understand the main idea of the text and the message that is conveyed; for this, read the piece of writing several times. Pay attention to unknown words, and find out their meaning.

When you are reading, don’t forget to underline or highlight the most important information. Make notes, and they will be useful for you when you write an outline. Annotations are useful and helpful to understand the main key points of the text better.

Writing the Paragraphs

In the first sentence, write the name of the author, the title of the writing piece, the publication date, and the topic. This will offer a brief idea of what the article or book is about. In the second sentence, you should dwell upon the method that is used in the narrative. Back up the author’s key point by various arguments, contrast, and compare them. In the next (third) sentence, clarify the objective of the text.

In the body, you mention the arguments that support the principal ideas, evidence, and purpose. Often the paragraph of the body is not long.

Include the key idea of the text in a couple of sentences in conclusion. State the thesis one more time, but in other words. You should also summarize the evidence the author uses.

The Structure

The introduction:

  1. Write the name of the author, the title, publication date, key topic you are going to dwell upon.
  2. Use one of the verbs that express the author’s objective (state, explain, wonder, question, deny, argue, explain, prove, etc.).
  3. Write the thesis of the book (article) using that clause.

The body:

  1. Explain in one sentence the way the key point of the text is expressed.
  2. Mention the author’s objective. Use “for the purpose of” or “in order”.
  3. Describe to the audience that the author aims to establish the link.

The conclusion:

  1. Write in two or three sentences the key message (idea) of the text.
  2. Restate the thesis.

Main Steps of Writing a Precis

This assignment is not as simple as it may seem, and you need to spend time and effort to do that. To get the highest grade, you need to fulfill several steps and stick to the requirements. Below we tried to break the process of writing into several easy to understand steps.

  1. Study the text thoroughly: To be able to write concisely, read the text as many times as needed to be able to state the main arguments.
  2. Structure it: Craft an outline, plan what you will write in the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
  3. Format it correctly: Consult your professor about formatting requirements. There may be various requirements. The length of the text influences the formatting requirements. If you write a precis for an article, its length might be up to 200 words. The precis for a novel can expand to a few pages.
  4. Use correct tenses: To use the wrong tenses is a typical mistake. Try to stick to the present tense, and it will make your precis easier to read.
  5. The author, not the book: Don’t forget to attribute the argument to the author, not the article or the novel. Use, “The author states,” instead of “The book states”.
  6. Don’t use personal opinions: Your opinion can make the precis too subjective. One of the purposes of such a task is to stay objective. If you express your own opinion, it may be the cause of a lower grade.

Secrets of an Awesome Precis

This assignment is significant as it demonstrates your ability to read and understand texts and also demonstrates your writing skills. To get a higher grade, you need to make no mistakes and express thoughts and ideas logically. If you want to know the secret characteristics of a perfect precis, remember such words: concise, correct, objective, clear.

Hopefully, this article helped you to understand the main principles of writing an impressive precis. Practice makes perfect, the proverb says. We hope that now that you know more about this assignment, you will manage to impress your professors and get an A-grade.

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