Précis (precis)

A précis (precis) is a short but effective summary of a long passage. It is a piece of work that can be best explained by the saying “brevity is the soul of wit”. Therefore, a well-written précis allows the reader to quickly understand a much larger original work. The goal of a précis is to summarize the gist of the larger work in a concise and clear manner. To write a precis, one should have a clear understanding of the whole passage and know the following précis writing tips as outlined below.
Overall, any effective summary comprises the following elements:

  • Thesis or the main topic of the larger work;
  • Purpose of the paper or research that is being summarized;
  • What was studied, argued or discussed in the work;
  • What methods of research or enquiry were used and how they were used;
  • What results were obtained; What was learnt;
  • What insights were obtained; Why was it important to conduct a research, write a particular larger text, or explore a given topic.
  • What recommendations, discussion and conclusion does the work have.

Goal of a precis

Précis compresses and clarifies a lengthy passage, book, excerpt or an article, while at the same time retains the important concepts, ideas, or statistical data. The précis focuses on teh core essence of the work and the key terms, while at teh same time removes the superfluous material. Précis is an intelligent summary of a longer passage.

Précis writing tips:

A summary should generally be three times shorter than the larger text, so it is 1/3 of the passage. Therefore, if the original article is 10 pages, the précis should be around 3-3.5 pages.

Precis uses factual, effective language, focusing on the gist and removing unimportant or unnecessary sentences and information.

Precis contains ALL the essential thoughts, and ideas of the original passage.

Précis does not contain any outside information, such as observations or things that are not relevant to the original passage.

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