Did you read a novel written by Ray Bradbury or Kurt Vonnegut, for example, and now a professor wants you to write a précis? Most students find it hard to fulfill tasks like this because of the requirements they get. And some of them just don’t know how to cope with a book précis. We collected the necessary information to help you to recognize what kind of a paper it is and how to compose it correctly. Keep on reading to influence your professor and get the highest grade.
Before you start fulfilling your task, you have to find out what a précis is. This word came to us from the French language and goes for “brief” or “precise”. It’s a short text containing core information about a novel, dissertation or any other written material. An author has to mention the key points of the publication trying to avoid giving his opinion. It’s not an analysis of a text – it’s just a synopsis that tells a reader about its main idea.
When writing a précis, remember that you don’t have to compose a long text or paraphrase each article. Keep the structure you’ll find in this guide and perform a short paper containing essential information for a reader who hasn’t ever seen the publication you’re telling about. Write only about things related to the original text and don’t get off the point. In other words, you have to sum up the writer’s ideas.
If you desire to write an impressive précis, always bear in mind that it’s not a critical paper or scope of quotes. It’s also not a poorly composed text containing sentences that exist separately and don’t relate to the topic. Follow these rules to succeed with a perfect précis:
Read an original text 2 or 3 times if possible. If it’s a novel, you can repeat it by looking through a shorter version;
Write a task in your own words. Don’t copy the author’s sentences but try to display their main idea in a shorter form;
Stick to the point and create a logical structure. Connect the sentences by telling more about the idea, giving facts and arguments. If you want to tell about different thoughts, separate the text with articles and it will make sense for a reader;
Write from the 3rd person and never use “I” or “We”;
Keep yourself from adding unnecessary thoughts that are not connected with the topic or contain your opinion.
Before starting writing a text, prepare a précis outline. It will be your draft containing a topic of your paper, list of main thoughts, your own ideas, and plan of your task. After you write an outline, you’ll have to revise it, remove excessive sentences, and make a greater structure.
Now, when you know what a précis is and its main characteristics, you have a clear understanding of how to write it. But you also have to find out how to do it correctly. Read the tips to write the best précis and upgrade your grades:
Keep in mind that the length of a précis is A ¼ of the resource you’ve read. Determine the key ideas of the original text and try to offer them in a shorter form;
Write a short abstract to explain what your text is about. One paragraph is enough for this part;
Provide the arguments in a clear language and avoid complicated phrases;
Always revise and proofread your writing. Correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors because you may spoil even a well-tailored text with mistakes;
Use facts but not your opinion. Even if you have a lot to say about the original text, you have to write only about evident things given in this article and the author’s attitude;
Use transitional words like “moreover, unlike, and, at this time, before, definitely, besides, however, etc.”. They will help you to set the connection between sentences and make your text flow;
Choose synonyms for the repeating words and shorten long sentences.
At first, you may think that a précis is a hard task but soon you’ll even appreciate it. It develops the ability to analyze, summarize, and think critically. This type of assignment teaches you to express thoughts on a paper.
There’s no common recipe for writing a great précis but you can use some special secrets to upgrade your chances for the “A” grade. We collected them and now we’re sharing them with you. You only have to follow these secrets:
Divide your text by paragraphs and subtitles. This is how you will separate your thoughts in a text;
Write down all the ideas while you’re reading an original text. It will be easier to analyze them later;
As we mentioned, shorten long sentences or divide them. Try to connect them with transition words if they keep describing the previous idea. And it’s better to start a new paragraph if you want to write about another thought;
Write a short introduction and summary. The first one will explain to the reader what this text is about and the second one will describe what the author tried to say;
Use facts and don’t add anything from yourself.
An outline is a great option when you’re writing a précis. Sometimes it seems hard to start making it but you’ll see how this process makes the task fulfillment easier. Use this guide to write a good outline:
Make a plan. You’ll have to determine the topic, purpose, audience to know in what way to move forward.
Organize the ideas. Check your notes and decide which thoughts will work for your subject and which can be removed. For this, you have to represent arguments proving the value of thoughts you want to write about;
Think of a structure. As written above, separate different thoughts with paragraphs and subheadings;
Write the subpoints and supporting sentences for each idea. They will explain the thought you’re describing and make it clear for readers;
Sum up your outline. Reread your text and then draw a conclusion.
Now, when you know how to write an outline, it’s time to find out how to compose a précis step by step. If your teacher didn’t give you a topic and you have to choose it by yourself, just select from the publications on the Internet. Read the text and start writing yours according to these simple steps:
Learn your teacher’s instructions and keep them in mind to follow the requirements.
Start the text with a little introduction explaining the mission of the original article. Here, you should mention the author’s name and a little analysis of his or her publication. Add a few words about the main ideas and facts to support them. Then you have to determine a target audience of the original text to help readers to understand the key thoughts better.
Describe the most important ideas and arguments explaining why they are the most important ones in the next paragraphs of a book précis.
Mention the key thoughts and their purposes in a short conclusion.
Follow these steps and you won’t have to worry about the Future of your text. You’ll fulfill the task excellently and impress your professor with a well-tailored paper. But if you still need help, keep on reading about the examples and structure.
A précis is a short text containing the information and main ideas of the publication you read. How long should it be? Well, you have only one page to explain the key point of the original text. That’s why you have to keep a structure:
Introduction part. It contains information about an author, title of the original text, publication date, and explanation of what this précis is about;
Text body with the key points and argument. Divide this part with paragraphs telling about separate ideas. And don’t forget to write the arguments and facts to prove the importance of the key points. We’re speaking about the evidence given by the author in the original text;
Conclusion or final words describing the importance of the given ideas.
A good introduction part engages the reader and makes him stay with your text to the end. You already know what you should write in this section and now it’s time to get inspired. Here are a few great précis examples that will definitely show you how to start correctly:
“Larissa MacFarquhar wrote an analytical article “Who Cares If Johny Can’t Read” insisting that today Americans read more than they read previously. She claims that media resources don’t give us proper information and this statement isn’t actual anymore. Larissa’s article is based on analysis and statistics concerning readers. These facts are directed on her target audience represented by young people. She wants to prove that reading practices are developing and not vice versa according to the existing myths”;
“In his book “On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction”, William Zinsser tells how to write a story based on real events, biography, scientific research, etc. Besides, the author shares the tricks that make the audience read the whole text, increase loyalty, and trigger emotions in people. He uses his best teaching and literature practices to help writers to compose interesting nonfiction stories”.
You can find many inspiring examples on the Internet and write an impressive introduction by yourself. Follow our plan and write the author’s name, the title of his/her work, explain what your précis is about, and mention the target audience. It will be a great beginning for your text.
When you’re finished, it’s better to put away your text for a while and check it a little bit later. It’s because you may be tired and there’s the possibility that you will miss a mistake. Revise your précis at least 2 times and correct all the grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. You can even ask your family members or friends to look at it to be sure that you didn’t miss any error.
You also have to check if you managed to save the main ideas of the original text and explained their importance. Be sure that the tone of voice of your paper reflects the mood of the author. Remove sentences containing your opinion and phrases that aren’t connected with that don’t refer to the original text or its ideas.
Precis Writing Final Words
We analyzed and collected the most essential information that will help you to write a good précis and earn a high grade. You only have to follow the main rules and steps when working on this task. Summarize the main ideas of the original text, write the facts explaining their purpose, and describe the details that will give a reader a proper understanding of this publication. This guide will definitely help you to succeed with your paper.