How to Write Precis – Some Important Points

Definition Of a Precis –

Précis is a French word. An English word near to it is precise which means an accurate and complete brief of the original. To make Précis of a given sentence, paragraph or passage is to ” extract its main points and to express them as clearly and in a few words as possible.

In fact, ‘ a Précis  is just a straight forward statement of true facts without any unnecessary trimmings.” Precis, therefore, is more logical, consistent and artistically finished work of art.

A Précis writer should not involve his personal opinion whether in favor or against the subject, rather, he should pick up main features or true essentials of the original. In the words of a famous write Moles :

” The aim of Precis writing is to absorb mentally the gist of the original passage and then to re-express the meaning in one’s own way.  Then the passage must, as it were, be distilled in the alembic of the mind…….”

Its Importance/ Significance –

Precis is not limited only to the writing or understanding of a language. It plays a vital role in making a true assessment  of the students‘ intelligence quotient. It forms an integral part of almost all the important competition examinations these days. So we advise the students to have a good practice of making Précis. It is important not only in many activities of our day to day life but also in Governmental and Commercial carriers.

Extremely busy politicians, businessmen and other executives find no time to read lengthy lectures, comments, complaint. Such lengthy writings are précised and then forward by their officials for their quick disposal.

Important Points in a Precis –

  1.  Completeness – To make a faithful completeness of the original should be the foremost priority of the Précis writer. He should read the original passage thoroughly at least two times or three times so as to master it fully. He should then underline the important points carefully avoiding the irrelevant or unimportant facts.
  2. Conciseness – Brevity is the soul of wit. Conciseness, therefore, is the most important characteristic of the Précis. However, it should not there at the expense of completeness and clarity of expression.

Remember these points while Precis writing –

  • Clarity – Since the purpose of precis is to facilitate the reader with the gist of the original effectively and quickly, clearness becomes an indispensable feature.
  • Unity – The thread of unity must run through out the precis.

It should not be a mere accumulation of odd words or sentences. In the zeal to economize words, the precis writer should not leave gaps and make it jerky. Without links and unity of thought expressions it would not achieve the quality of organic wholeness.

  • Coherence – Precis should present the main ideas in a clear and unbroken sequence of events.

Length of Precis –

Precis should normally be one third of the original.

Title of the Precis –

Title of the precis must be given even if it is not asked. Even by reading title only the examiners comes to know how far the examine has understood the original. Title is ‘ in effect a precis of the precis ‘. In making the title the central idea of the original should be there. Sometimes a proverb may be there as the heading of a reflective passage.

Where to use Capital/ Small letters in the Title when writing Precis –

While writing the title, except Articles, prepositions and conjunctions, all the words should begin with a capital letter.

Useful Tips for Writing Precis –

To facilitate a sound approach to precis writing, the following tips should be kept in mind –

  1.  Read the original writing over and again carefully and underline the important points.
  2. Try to form an overall impressions of the complete original so as to understand whether the writer wants to appreciate or support or criticize or expand or analyse or expound or illustrate the main idea.
  3. Leave out superfluous, ornamental and roundabout phrases such as – figures of speech, repetitions etc.
  4. Keep noting down the main points on the rough sheet.
  5. Make a rough draft of the precis on the rough sheet before writing it on the answer sheet.
  6. Write down in the beginning one or two sentences highlighting the general theme of the original.
  7. Write the precis in indirect speech, third persons and past tense if there is the need.
  8. It is not necessary that the order of expressions of ideas in the original writing precis.
  9. Break into right paragraph if the precis is lengthy.
  10. Useful words must be in the original precis.

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