Examples of Precis Writing

 Speech is a great blessing, but it can be a great curse, for while it helps us to make our intentions and desires known to our fellows, it can also, if we use it carelessly, make our attitude completely misunderstood. A slip of the tongue, the use of an unusual word, or of an ambiguous word, and so on, may create an enemy where we had hoped to win friend. Again different classes of people use different vocabularies, and the ordinary speech of an educated man may strike an uneducated listener from what it does to men of our own class. Thus speech is not a gift to use lightly without  thought, but one which demands careful handling: only a fool will express himself alike to all kinds and conditions of men.

       The above paragraph is directly summarized here: 

Speech is a valuable gift, but, if we are to make ourselves understood, we must use it carefully,since we may distort our meaning not only by the careless use of words, but by ignoring  the fact that words do not always mean the same thing to different  people.

Some Practical Hints To Write Precis

  1. Follow the five R techniques.
  2. Try to maintain leading thoughts, unity, coherence,clarity brevity, accuracy and completeness.
  3. Make the precis simple, direct, natural and idiomatic.
  4. Use indirect speech.
  5. Reduce the length of time adverbs and place adverbs.
  6. Remove phrases and use words for them.
  7. Replace nouns by pronouns.
  8. Remove repetitions and unnecessary illustrations.
  9. Compress figures of speech into literal expressions.
  10. Don't include own opinions.
  11. If necessary , remove adverbs and adjectives.
  12. Use single word for group of words.
  13. Use your own words.
  14. Limit the length.
  15. Give the title or heading at the top.

Difference between Precis Writing and Summary Writing

 It is very difficult to differentiate between precis writing and summarizing because 'precis and summary are often treated synonymously.although they are same, some differences can be discussed as below:

  1. A precis is a concised summary or abstract whereas a summary is normally one third or more/ less of the original passage, so they differ in the length. Normally a precis is shorter than summary. 
  2. A precis include only principal theme whereas a summary includes all the main points.
  3. precis writing has to be the language of the text itself whereas summary writing can be done in the language of the writer.
  4. Writing a precis should follow the order of original text but it is not basically necessary for summary writing.
  5. Precis writing is always written form whereas summary can be written or spoken.

Difference and Similarity between Precis and Summary

 Precis writing and summary writing are used synonymously but some  minor differnces can be found. A similar differences exists, in theory at least, between a precis and a summary. The latter, for instance, doesnot have to confirm to definite rules; it enjoys comparative freedom. It includes all the ideas, important as well as  unimportant, often uses the language of the original, and may be divided into paragraphs. A precis, on the other hand, concerns itself only with essential ideas, is written in the writer's own language, and must be in the form of one continuous passage. But the distinction, as we have earlier noted, is merely academic. For all practical purpose, the two terms may be regarded as identical, for the word summary has now widely replaced the older term precis.

   Similarity between Precis Writing and Summary writing

      As  'precis' and 'summary' are often treated synonymously, there  are overt similarities between precis writing and summary writing. Both follow 5R technique. They are briefly discussed below:

Structural Similarity: 

  • They are normally prepared in one third of the original text.
  • They are normally prepared in the same order how the original text develops.
  • Both are short forms and re-statement of the original text.
  • They are prepared in full and formal sentences.
Substantial or Factual Similarity

Both include the important points of the original text.

Additional points cannot be added in both.

Functional Similarity

Both provide the most important points as the gist of the original text.

Both facilitate the readers to get the main idea of the text.

Both help the reader to read larger texts in a short period of time.

The Five R Techniques of Writing Precis

 The stages / procedures here are techniques of writing precis. The five R's stand for Read, Reduce, Record, Review, and Rewrite.

  1. Read: It is the first stage. We have to read the given passage thoroughly in order to understand it clearly and properly. We have to read the passage three or four times intensively depending upon the complexity of the passage and the time limit.
  2. Reduce: It  is the second stage. In this stage, we have to note down all the important and relevant points or details, but less important or unimportant ones and irrelevancies should be left. We must take down all the points from the original passage, but we cannot add our own opinion.
  3. Record: It is the third stage. This is the  stage of writing or preparing the draft  of yhe precis from the notes made in the stage of  'Reduce', i.e. second stage. We have to try to use our own words. It is better not to copy the direct phrase or sentence from yhe original passsage , but it is not forbidden.We should write the draft in the proper order, or coherence is to be maintained while writing the draft of the precis.
  4. Review: This is the  fourth stage. In this stage, we have to read the draft recorded or prepared in the third stage intensively. A precis writer is  supposed to check the following aspects in this stage:
  • Check the important points; if left, include them.
  • Check the points borrowed from outside; if included, remove them.
  • Check the coherence; properly introduced or not; if not, maintain it.
  • Check grammatical and lexical mistakes; if any, correct them
  • Count the words. 
  • Check the sense of the draft comparing to the original  text.
      5  Rewrite: It is the fifth or last stage. In this stage, the final form of the precis is written neatly and clearly from the corrected draft. The final form of  the summary is to be one third of the original text.

Procedures of Preparing a Precis

 Different schpolars have suggested differnt procedures of preparing a precis, but most of the procedures are similar. We cannot find uniformity in these procedures. "There is no royal road to making a precis; It is to o much of an intellectual process. To boil down a passage in as few words as possible needs concentrated thoughts, close attention and hard thinking. Therefore, rules can only be a rough guide"

           The following are some of the rules as rough guidlines about how to write a precis:

  1. Reading: First read the passage through carefully to get the general idea. Read three or four times to get all the controlling or leading thoughts.
  2. Finding the title: Next, try to find out the appropriate title. It can be supplied by the key sentence or pilot sentence.
  3. Re-reading: Further study is needed to ensure that you have completely understood the details of the passage.
  4. Selection: Select the important details and arrange them in proper order.
  5. Writing: On the basis of details prepared, write the draft of the precis.
  6. Review:  Read the precis carefully and correct the mistakes, remove unimportant details and irrelevancies
  7. Re-write: From the draft corrected, write the final form of the precis.

Qualities or Essentials of good precis

A precis is the gist or main theme of a passage compressed in as few words as possible. Qualities of good precis writing are as below:

  1. Leading Thought: A good precis should give the leading thoughts or the main points and the general impression of the passage summarized. It should convey the central idea completely and clearly.
  2. Coherence: A good precis should be a continuous piece of prose, i.e. coherence should be maintained in a precis. It must be a connected whole.
  3. Brevity: A good precis should be precis  and brief. Only leading thoughts should be included but unimportant points shouldnot  be included. Brevity with completeness, clearness and accuracy means here precis and brief. 
  4. Accuracy and completeness: A good precis shouldnot be sketchy. It should be complete in everyway. All the important points should be included.  It should convey the same message or information that is conveyed by the original text.
Unity: Unity should be introduced in a precis. Irrelevancies should not be included. Unimportant and less important details should be removed. 

                                                   Thus, a precis having leading thoughts, coherence, clarity, brevity, accuracy, unity and completeness is known as a good precis.

Use or importance of precis writing

 Precise writing is the process of summarizing the original text. Precis writing is useful in reading, writing and in practical life. A person, who is involved in academic works, must have the adequate skill of precis riting. For example,a scholar who is doing a research study must know how to summarize the data or information obtained.

           The uses of precis writing are as below:

  1. Reading:   Precis writing  is a very fine exercise in reading.  if we read carelessly , only the vague idea of the passage or text can be understood. Nothing provides a stronger corrective to such a habit than the practice of  writing down the main points or writing precis of the text which have been just read. No one can write the precis or summary of the passage unless he has read it attentively and grasped its meaning completely. Thus, precis writing or summarizing is an excellent training in concentration. It teaches us to read with the mind along with the eyes. It can be said precis writing strengthens real reading.
  2. Writing:   Precis writing is a good exercise in writing. It teaches one to express one's thought clearly, concisely and effectively. The habit of vague and disordered writing can be removed by means of the exercise of precis writing of the passage. While writing a passage, repetition of the same points and room for irrelevancies can be omitted if we are well skilled in writing precis because precis writing teaches us to choose the words carefully, to construct our sentences completely and briefly, and to put our matter in a strictly logical order. thus, the exercise of precis writing or summarizing certainly strengthens writing skills.
  3. Practical life: The skill of precis writing really  helps everyone  in practical life because it  teaches us to express our thoughts in few words, and to express them clearly, coherently, logically and effectively as in the practice of precis writing, the practice in compressing teaches us to economize the words, phrases and sentences. Thus it helps us to put our thoughts successfully in our practical life.

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.