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How to Write a Précis

The term ‘précis’ (pronunciation: ‘pray-see’) is French for ‘précise, clear or straight to the point.’ It refers to a type of summary writing that lays out the essential elements of an argument. Unlike a typical summary which broadly highlights the main points in general, a précis aims to keep only the critical ideas in a text intact.

Precis Writing Samples

An excellent précis should be able to function as a substitute for the original piece. As such, the process of writing it involves; a thorough examination of the text and summarizing the main points. In this article, I will show you how to do both so that you can produce a competent précis.

Qualities of Good Précis Writing

A well-written précis should demonstrate your academic writing skills. It should have the following qualities.

  • Clear. A précis serves to satisfy one essential need, which is, helping your reader understand what the author is conveying. So, the language and structure you use should be comprehensible to the audience. Any ambiguity will only cause the reader to miss the central message of the work.
  • Accurate. Considering the brief nature of a précis, you should aim to erase the margin of error as much as you can. Any mistakes will work to misdirect the reader. As such, avoid; misspelling words, misrepresenting figures and dates, and punctuation, and grammatical errors.
  • Objective. This means that you should not present facts under the influence of emotions, opinions, personal experience, or bias. Do not add any information that is not in the source text.
  • Coherent. This refers to a logical interconnection of the overall impression of a written piece. The thoughts you present in a précis must have a rational connection and sequence. You should maintain a consistent flow of ideas so that you do not confuse the reader.
  • Concise. Conciseness is an essential element of a well-written précis. It means that you should only say what you need to say, no more. You will want to eliminate unnecessary details, wordy expressions, and unneeded repetitions. On the other hand, you will have to preserve all the fundamental facts.

Steps Involved in Writing a Précis

Three main steps comprise the process of précis-writing. These are; critical reading, writing, and revision.

Step 1: Critical Reading

This step involves an actively engaging process of analyzing the text you are summarizing. It requires you to find out the fundamental notions the writer is relaying so that you can later restate them.

Before you start reading, skim over the material to identify its context, genre, and purpose. You could derive this information by intently assessing the title, topics, and subtopics. Doing so may help you to understand how to divide the work into sections for easier reading. It will also help determine how long it will take you to read the piece.

Next, start reading the source text. As you do so, take note of the basic ideas that form the epicenter of the narrative. You could achieve this by highlighting or underlining the keywords and phrases that carry the weight of the subject’s meaning.

Find the topic sentences used in the original work. These sentences carry the crux of a passage. Identifying and understanding them plays a crucial role in developing a good comprehension of the text. It is alright to read the piece several times to ensure you have a good grasp of the content.

To ensure you get as much as possible from this step, try to paraphrase or summarize the information you assess. 


It entails explaining the writer’s argument, their line of thought, and idea-sequence using your own words. The purpose of paraphrasing is to relay the meaning of the original text and proving that you understood it well enough to rephrase it. A paraphrase should provide the audience with an accurate comprehension of the writer’s perspective on the topic.

When paraphrasing, you should substitute the vital terms of the text with accurate synonyms. You do not need to agree or disagree with the passage; your apprehension of the message it is conveying is what is crucial. You may alter the wording of the piece as long as you do not change the writer’s meaning. Your paraphrase does not need to be shorter than the original text.


This is quite similar to paraphrasing. It ensures you preserve the author’s original ideas while broadly restating them in your terms. However, it omits the examples and evidence the writer uses to support their argument. When summarizing, ensure that you represent the full scope and emphasis of the source material.

If you find it challenging to reproduce the source in your own words, you probably have not adequately understood the subject. Read through the material again until you have a good perception of the issue.

Step 2:Writing Your Précis

When writing your précis, you need to keep a few things in mind. These considerations will assist you in putting together a competent précis.

You will want to incorporate the main idea at the beginning of the précis. This will ensure that the reader can quickly identify the essence of the summary. Ensure that you can discuss all the fundamental factors briefly and exhaustively.

The length of a précis should be about a third of that of the source. Condense your précis while ensuring that you maintain the relevant data, keywords, and theme of the original writing.

Removing the fluffy details may help you attain this. Identify any inconsequential information; this is data that does not directly affect the central meaning of the text. Sieve them out and retain the core ideas of the passage.

Précis writing

Avoid presenting your opinions and remarks in a précis. Limit yourself to using only the facts and details in the original piece. Also, refrain from using abbreviations and contractions. Write words only in their full form.  

The structure of your précis should be as follows;

  1. Your first section should contain; the author’s name, the title of the original work, the publishing date, and the author’s claim.
  2. The next part should elaborate on how the writer develops and organizes the argument.
  3. Thirdly, explain why the author wrote the piece. This means that you identify the author’s purpose and intended effect.
  4. The final portion should present the writer’s intended or assumed audience. For more information on the above, have a look at the parts of a rhetorical précis.

Step 3: Editing

After writing your précis, do some thorough proofreading and editing to ensure that you have accurately recorded all the data.

Final Thoughts

Understanding how to make a précis is a step in gathering exceptional writing skills that will earn you the best grade. At this point, you should be comfortable to tackle any précis-writing assignment.

However, if the thought of working on your précis is still overwhelming, worry not. Let us do it for you at an affordable price. If you subscribe to our services, we will deliver you a comprehensive write-up even in the face of a strict deadline. Our professionals will ensure that your paper earns you a good grade and your convenience.

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