Tuesday, December 27, 2016

How to Write a Precis?

Precis writing is an important skill in both academic and professional spheres.  A precis can be defined as a clear, compact and logical summary of a passage.  Its recommended length is about a third of the original.  The function of a precis is to outline what is said in the original passage and not to support or criticize it.

Techniques of Writing a Precis

There are three distinctive phases in producing a clear and successful precise.  They are reading, writing and revision.

➤ First of all you should read the passage carefully and identify the main ideas.  While reading you can jot down the points in a paper or you can underline them in the original text. 
➤ Then you can prepare a rough draft keeping in mind the need to reduce the original to one – third of its length.  Re-read it, avoid mistakes and write the fair copy. 
➤ Finally you should carefully revise your final draft.  Look for any mistakes or slips in grammar or spelling and rectify them.
➤ Do not forget to give your precis a title that clearly reflects the its theme.

Steps in Writing a Precis

Writing a precis becomes easier if you follow certain norms.
  • Read the passage carefully and identify the central idea. Start your precis with the theme of the passage.
  • Quickly calculate the total number of words in the passage. You have to reduce the original passage into a third of its length.
  • Re-read the passage a couple of times, until you are sure that you have grasped it clearly. You are now ready to start write a draft of the précis.
  • Identify the most important points in the passage. Leave out all that are absolutely irrelevant or inessential.
  • Now you are ready to prepare a draft.
  • Provide an apt title for your précis. Often the theme of the passage will give you an idea.
  • Check your precise again and again to find whether there are any spelling or grammatical errors.

Dos in Writing a Precis

  • Use your own language - A précis has to be written in your own words. You cannot avoid reproducing a few significant phrases or technical terminology but make sure that the sentence structure is entirely your own.
  • Make use of Reported Speech - A précis is always written in the third person, in reported speech or in the past tense. If the author has used the autobiographical form of narration you should change it into reported speech. And a dialogue or conversation may be best articulated as a narrative.
  • Write in a brief, crisp and uncomplicated way. - Do not air your views regarding the topic or the author, appreciative or otherwise. Your job is to interpret faithfully and not to evaluate or be judgmental.  A précis is not a critical summary
  • Simple language and simple structures - You should use simple language and simple structures. It is an easy way to achieve clarity

Don’ts in Writing a Precis

  • Including your views – One should write a precis objectively without any addition from one’s part.
  • Copying sentences – Précis writing is not a process of selection and deletion. So do not copy sentences. But you can make use of keywords and important phrases from the passage.
  • Using Questions – A precis has no room for questioning the statements of original passage.
  • Your own conclusion – Never arrive at your own conclusions regarding the author or the theme.
  • Grammatical and Spelling errors – As always, say No to errors.


Prepare a precis of the following passage:
       There is a false idea that a man lives up to his position.  It is said that one’s house, furniture and dress should inform the world of one’s rank. This idea is foolish. Throw it aside.  Find out what you want, and spend money on that; find out what you do not care about, and spend nothing on such things.  Find out practical tests what you really want and enjoy.  A man who has not experienced ups and downs, a man who has not been forced to live more cheaply than in former times, has still his education to begin.  Let the experiment be made.  He will find to his surprise that he has been eating more than it was necessary; that the cheap lodging, the rough clothes, the plane foot, give him as much pleasure as the costly things that he had previously enjoyed.
       The happy man is he who lives wholly in himself.  He does what he wishes and not what is though proper by others.  He buys what he wants for himself and not what others expect him to buy.  He works at what he believes he can do well and not what will bring him money or favour.  However poor he may be, he is always open handed to his friends.  I he has more now, he does not care to save, or he knows he can do with less. He shares his sovereign or shilling with a friend.  Where do beggars usually go?  Not to the great houses where people are rolling in wealth, but to the doors of poor men who have scarcely enough to meet their own needs.  (277 words)


How to Become Happy and Good
       Man must give up the false and foolish idea that material possessions make for his importance and contribute to his happiness.  He must, instead, look into himself and understand what he really needs in order to live happily.  The pressure of adverse circumstances may make a man realize that many things he thought essential are in essential.  A man should live from within himself, doing what he wants to do and not what others want him to do.  Once he does so, he will be happy, and ready to help others in need. (92 words) 

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