Meaning and Quality of a Good Precis

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Precis is a french word, and precis meaning in English is a summary or abstract of a speech or a written article. The importance of precis writing lies in the fact that it is like a miniature portrait of the main passage which retains the mood and tone of the original passage. The Precis meaning is to retain the essential parts of the message in its original form, without adding your subjective interpretation of the article. Precis must stick to the original author’s voice and opinions.

The importance of precis writing can also be seen as it helps in showing how good you are at critical thinking, analyzing, and highlighting the crucial points of an essay. By writing precis, you can also learn a lot of new skills in summarizing and the appropriate usage of English phrases and vocabulary.

The importance of precis writing holds for students as well. If you follow the principles of precis writing, you will be able to demonstrate your ability to express your thoughts intelligently to your professors by highlighting crucial points.


Characteristics of a Precis

  • To define a precis in technical terms, it should be one-fourth of the original paragraph in length.

  • Another word for precis is “synopsis” which categorically means only the critical summary of writing abstracts.

  • It is marked by clarity, precision, and brevity.

  • It must be coherent.

  • It should have a title

  • It is written in the own words of the precis writer and not written by picking words of the original write-up.

  • It should have a logical order and flow, with well-connected sentences and paragraphs.

  • The ideas and context of the original extract need to be strictly adhered to.

  • A precis does not have any detail which is not present in the original write up.

  • Precis is written in reported speech.

  • The sentences in precis must use linking devices like: therefore, so, because, and, etc.

  • A precis maintains the order and structure of the original speech or text.

  • A precis serves as a shorter substitute for the original speech or text.


Difference Between Summary And Precis

The main difference between precis and summary or a paraphrase is that precis is brief and concise. A summary is a different treatment of the original text, and it is longer and more detailed. To write a precis, one has to read the text and extract the main idea from it and then rewrite it in one’s own words. In general, a word count is given for precis where you need to fit in the essential parts of the written abstract. In summary, word limits may or may not be given. A summary’s function is not so much to interpret the meaning or idea of the original text but to relay information. 


What Precis is Not

The true meaning of precis is understood if we also learn and keep in mind what does not come under precis writing or what a good academic precis is not supposed to be. They are given as follows.

  • Precis should not convey your own opinions, remarks, or criticism. It is not your own interpretation of the main idea.

  • You can not add a question in the precis writing.

  • It is not just a summary or re-writing of the original abstract.

  • It is not about just using some important sentences from the original write-up.

  • It is not a collection of disconnected facts, thoughts, and statements.

  • It is not an outline of the passage.

  • It should not use abbreviations or contractions. Always use full forms.

  • Precis cannot be shaky since that will reflect on your understanding level of the essence of the text.

  • Precis does not have unnecessarily long sentences.

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Types of Precis 

Precis can be of 4 types:

  1. Precis of Speech.

  2. Precis of Continuous Matter - Precis of continuous matter includes every type of matter except for correspondence. It includes questions and answers format like reports of evidence, parliamentary reports, etc. It must contain the date and time of the passage.

  3. Precis of Correspondence - It can be of two types: Index precis and narrative precise. Index precis is also known as docket precis, abstract, or schedule. It is presented in the form of a table. 

  4. Telegraphese - The language of this type of precis resembles a telegraph i.e. it is terse.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Are Some of The Qualities of A Good Precis?

A good precis demonstrates the following writing abilities of the writer.

  • Clarity - A basic need for precis is to be clear and concise so that the reader gets the message across easily. By using simple language and structure, this objective of a precis can be achieved. The writing must not show any ambiguity.

  • Correctness - Grammatical correctness is an important part of precis. Misspelled words and wrongly placed punctuation would irritate the reader as well as make the reading incomprehensible. Precis must also denote all the facts and figures (like date and time, etc.) correctly.

  • Objectivity - Writers’ feelings and personal bias must not come in the way of writing a precis. A precis is a pure summary of the original abstract without additions and deletions.

  • Coherence - All the ideas presented in the precis must be interconnected logically. A well-knitted precis will capture the attention of its reader.

  • Completeness - It means that all the important facts in the original text must be presented in the precis by the writer. Omitting any of the essential ideas in the main abstract would defeat the purpose and importance of precis writing.

  • Conciseness - A reader will get bored by unnecessary details in a precis. So the precis writer must omit wordy sentences, unnecessary repetitions, etc. Only the relevant material should be presented in a good precis.

2. Explain The Procedure of Writing A Precis in Brief.

A precis writer would go through the following process while writing a precis.

  1. Read the original piece carefully, several times to understand the essence.

  2. Jot down or underline the main points in the passage, in the order they appear.

  3. Create a draft of the precis with the ideas that you underline in the above process, without adding any new content.

  4. You might have to research if there are any new ideas present in the original piece which you are not familiar with.

  5. Keep an eye for the word count, as precis should be one-fourth of the original text in length.

  6. Write the precis in your own words in indirect speech and look for places where you can shorten phrases by removing non-essential language.

  7. Reread the precis and the original write-up and compare them for its completeness.

3. How Can One Gain Expertise in Précis Writing?

Practicing precis writing is the best way to master this art. One must write at least 60 to 70 pieces of precis paragraphs before sitting for any exam. You can take any book and choose simple paragraphs from there to write a sample precis. Apart from that, editorials of some good newspapers are also a good piece of passage to practice your precis writing. Another essential part of honing your precis writing skills is to get your precis evaluated by an experienced mentor.