Writing Precis and Summaries

                                                            What is a precis?

 The word precis and summary are often used synonymously in the field of writing. A precis is a gist or main theme of a passage expressed  in few words. A precis is a concise and clear statement of the substance of a longer passage in a connected and readable shape. The word precis ( /preisi:/) has been derived from French. It means a shortened form of a speech or writing. A precis contains all the main and important points of the original text. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines precis as "a much shorter version of an article, a speech, etc. giving the main points or ideas from it; a summary." Here precis and summary are synonymously used.

  " A precis is a summary. In writing precis, you make a shorter version of a passage. The precis contains all the important points in the passage, but leaves out less important details". A precis is asummary, and precis writing means summarizing. Precis writing is an exercise in compression. It should be lucid, succinct and complete so that one may be able to grasp the main idea and the general effect of the passage summarized".

  The word precis and summary are synonymously used. Precis writing means summarizing. If we gaze at the depth, We can see some minor dissimilarities or differences between precis and summaries.

It is not a classroom exercise. It is of the great practical importance. It is agreat aid to study: you can prepare compressed version of essays, articles or chapters from books for future references. Ab executive in a business firm may ask his secretary to prepare a summary of a document or a series of letters. A news reporter has to summarize speeches and reports, and the proceeding of various official committees.

The importane of precis  writing is twofold. Firstly,  from the point of view of the reader for whom it is written, it is a means of saving time. Scholars and scientists are able to keep abreast of develpoments in their field with the help of summaries of research reports and learned articles. Without such summaries  they would be lost in the flood of reports, data sheets, research papers and monographs that appear everyday.

From the point view of the writer, the precis is an exercise of many skills. It is an exercise of reading and understanding. It involves analysis, judgment and selection of what is important. It calls for the ability to write clearly and briefly. Precis writing is closely related to note making. Precis writing differs from paraphrasing. A paraphrase includes all the information / details. A paraphrase can be longer than the original text whereas a precis should be shorter than the original. A precis includes only the main theme or it expresses, as tersely as possible, only the main theme leaving all less important and unimportant details. There is no any rule for the length of a precis. On the average, a precis should contain about a third of the number of words in the original passage.


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