What it is a précis?
A précis is a summary of an article in which a student or a reader accurately and briefly reproduces the author’s arguments in his or her own words. There is no hard and fast rule regarding the size of a précis. If the original article contains 600 words, the précis can contain 100 to 150 words.
Good précis writing skills show that the student is capable of analyzing, synthesizing and comparing ideas and then presenting them in a logical manner. Needless to say, these skills are essential for your success in college and in the profession you choose once you graduate.
How to write a précis?
Before you start summarizing, read the article at least once. Skimming and scanning won’t help. You have to read the article thoroughly. If time permits and if the article is of a reasonable length, you should consider reading it two or three times.
While reading jot down important points. You can use them as the outline for your précis. Once you have prepared an outline, develop them into sentences. Do not exceed the required word length.
A précis should express the author’s ideas accurately. Even if you don’t agree with the author, you are not supposed to make changes to the main ideas of the passage.
Important points to remember
A précis is not a review or a report. It should express the exact same ideas of the passage in the exact same order. It just has to be shorter than the original passage and written in different words.
Do not quote sentences from the passage. All sentences you write in the précis should be your own.
Do not add your own opinions or examples.
Avoid starting the précis with phrases like ‘According to the passage…’ or ‘According to the author…’. You don’t have to stand apart from the text. You just need to reproduce its intent, tone and mood in different words.