The word “Précis” comes from the French language and means “brief” or “to cut short”. A précis is a brief summary of another work. The main purpose of a précis is to summarize the main ideas that were stated in the original piece, explain the main message, and give readers insight of how the original piece was structured.
Characteristics of a good précis
A good précis has to be short and straight to the point. The following characteristics will help you come up with a great précis:
- A précis should include a brief summary of the original piece.
- The content should be clear and straight to the point.
- A précis should be written in your own words.
- It should not include any personal opinions or views.
- It should contain only the main ideas provided in the original piece.
- The key points should be clearly and comprehensively covered.
- The information in a précis should be relayed in a logical order.
- It should not contain any details from other sources.
- A précis should not include any irrelevant or secondary details.
Why Students are assigned a Précis assignment
Professors usually assign précis assignments to assess a student’s ability to think critically, gather and summarize essential information. A précis also helps students to demonstrate their writing skills, their ability to express their thoughts clearly, and the ability to write with precision.
Since a précis is a brief summary of an original text, it can be easy to confuse it with paraphrasing. So how is it different from paraphrasing? Unlike paraphrasing, a précis does not require one to include all the details provided in the original piece but rather sum up the main details from it. A précis mainly guides readers through a piece they haven’t read while paraphrasing is mainly used to refer to certain ideas or information given in another work.
How to Format a Précis
When writing a précis, make sure that your paper has these 5 key elements:
- Conciseness.You should use as few words as possible when relaying your ideas or information. It should be concise and straight to the point. Avoid repetition and unnecessary details.
- Objectivity.Ensure you include the goal or aim of the essential information given in the original piece. However, avoid including personal opinions.
- Coherency.You must relay information in a logical and free-flowing order.
4. Clarity.A précis should be easy to read and understand. The main goal of this work is to make the reader understand the original piece and the ideas the author conveyed in it, without the reader even having to read it. Thus, use simple structure and language.
5. Accuracy. A précis should deliver accurate details, figures, facts, dates. Eliminate any grammatical, punctuation, and spelling mistakes to avoid confusion or misunderstanding.
How to Write a Précis in 6 Steps
Here is a comprehensive guide to help you succeed with writing an effective précis:
Step 1: Pick the article you will write a précis on
In case your professor never assigned you some specific materials to write your précis, you’ll need to choose an original piece yourself. Ensure you choose an article that is complete and publicly available in order to get full information.
Step 2: Read the original piece
carefully read the entire article and make sure you understand it fully. Avoid skimming or scamming
Step 3: Re-read it and take notes
Go back to the original piece after you’ve already read it and grasped the general idea. Now, your goal is to interpret the author’s core ideas—take notes.
Step 4: Make an outline
An outline is where you structure and organize the main points into paragraphs so that it will be easier for you to write an essay. Creating an outline before writing your essay helps you to develop a logical, reasonable structure for your paper. Once you create an outline, you will have a clear direction and focus for your paper.
Step 5: Write a précis
When writing a précis, be sure to follow your professor’s guidelines and the outline you have. Use simple language and structure, and keep an eye on the size of your précis.
Step 6: Proofreading and editing
The process of editing and proofreading is necessary before handing in your work since it improves its quality, readability, and increases its chances of success. Proofreading is also used in correcting inconsistent terminology, formatting, and referencing in an article. When proofreading, ensure you check and correct all spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors.
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