Precis writing means summarizing a piece of text while keeping its main ideas and essence. It aims to present the key points clearly and concisely. Precis writing is an important skill needed in school and at work to convey information accurately in a shortened format. Let’s understand what precis writing is, why it matters, how to do it, its format, rules, examples and tips to practice.
What is Precis Writing?- Precis Writing Meaning
Precis writing involves expressing the central points and important details of a passage in a short, coherent summary. The word “precis” means a concise summary covering the essential information. Precis writing requires identifying the main concept and key arguments or facts in a passage and rewriting them clearly and concisely in your own words.
The precis allows readers to quickly grasp the core message and purpose of a longer text. A precis is much shorter than the original passage – usually one-third or one-fourth of the length. For instance, a 300-word passage may be summarized into an 80-100-word precis.
Importance of Precis Writing
Precis writing is an important skill with many benefits:
- It improves reading comprehension by teaching how to identify key points and arguments.
- It develops concise, clear and organized writing by requiring summarizing of main ideas.
- It helps retain and recall information from lengthy texts for quick reference.
- It improves focus on primary arguments and facts versus peripheral details.
- It teaches critical evaluation of information and filtration of irrelevant points.
- It provides good writing practice for competitive exams that test precis skills.
- It enhances professional communications by enabling crisp, focused conveying of information.
Precis writing strengthens understanding, brevity, precision and analysis – skills useful in education and workplace. It helps absorb, evaluate and re-express information efficiently for better reading, writing and retention.
How to Write Precis?
Here are some tips for writing effective precis:
1. Read, understand and analyze the passage:
- Read the passage carefully to grasp the main idea and arguments. Make brief notes.
- Identify the author’s primary goal, viewpoint and reasoning.
- Note key points supporting the main arguments.
- Understand how ideas connect to reinforce the core message.
- Spot and remove non-essential details.
2. Plan the precis structure:
- Organize notes logically with main points and sub-points.
- Group related arguments and facts into coherent paragraphs.
- Sequence points and paragraphs logically based on passage flow.
- Write a rough draft precis in point form to plan structure.
3. Write concisely in your own words:
- Avoid direct quotes from the passage. Summarize points concisely in your own words.
- Use clear, simple language to improve readability. Don’t use complex words.
- Craft short, focused sentences to convey each point crisply.
- Reduce elaboration of support; keep only relevant details.
- Omit examples, stories, repetition etc. not key to arguments.
4. Maintain flow and connection between ideas:
- Use connecting words to link sentences and show idea connections.
- Maintain logical flow and grouping of points as in the original text.
- Check the sequencing of sentences and paragraphs to make the summary coherent.
- Revise unclear language, gaps in flow and lapses in logic.
5. Stick to word limit:
- Review and cut content to fit the required word/percentage limit.
- Omit peripheral points if needed to match reduced length.
- Refine language and sentence length to cut excess words. Remove repetitions.
Following these steps will produce a concise, coherent precis conveying the essence of the original passage in a structured way.
Precis Writing Format
A precis generally follows this structure:
- The opening sentence introducing the topic, passage theme and author if known.
- Main body summarizing key points in coherent, flowing paragraphs.
- Closing sentence reflecting the concluding idea or overall effect of the passage.
The precis format should:
- Not exceed stipulated length (usually 1/3rd or 1/4th of original)
- Be written in the third person without direct quotes.
- Use paragraphing to logically group related information.
- Maintain flow through transitions between ideas and paragraphs.
- Omit examples and repetition unless central to the main idea.
- Retain the essence and logic flow of the original’s arguments.
- Use concise language suitable for a summary.
The précis structure mirrors the passage’s logic flow but shortens non-essential elaboration. The goal is to summarize the core message and supporting points precisely.
Precis Writing Rules
Certain rules should be followed when writing a precis:
- Precis length should be 1/3rd or 1/4th of the original passage length.
- The précis must be written objectively in the 3rd person without opinions.
- Don’t quote directly from the passage; use your own words.
- Summarize the passage’s primary intent and main ideas.
- Omit non-essential details like examples, repetition, and elaboration.
- Use transition words to show connections between ideas.
- Retain the essence and logical flow of the original’s arguments.
- Write concisely with no redundancies or unnecessary words.
- Adopt a formal tone suited to a summary.
- Don’t add any new points or ideas not in the original text.
- Read the précis to check it captures the core message of the passage.
Following these rules will produce a clear, concise precis focusing only on the passage’s key information in a coherent, flowing style.
Do’s and Don’ts of Precis Writing
Let’s take a look at some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when writing your own Precis.
|Do adhere to the stipulated word limit||Don’t exceed the specified length|
|Do retain the essence of the original passage||Don’t add new ideas not present in the original text|
|Do use your own words and sentence structures||Don’t quote directly from the passage|
|Do maintain objectivity without opinions||Don’t insert your own perspective or analysis|
|Do summarize only the most important points||Don’t include minor details and examples|
|Do keep the logical flow and structure of the original||Don’t present the ideas in a disconnected manner|
|Do use transitions to connect ideas smoothly||Don’t make abrupt jumps between ideas|
|Do write concisely using clear, simple language||Don’t use complex vocabulary or verbosity|
|Do read and edit the precis to ensure coherence||Don’t submit without checking for clarity and concision|
|Do focus only on the central theme and arguments||Don’t include peripheral points and tangents|
|Do retain the tone and register of the original||Don’t use informal language unsuited to a precis|
|Do paragraph logically to group related points||Don’t present as long, unbroken text|
|Do introduce the passage theme in the opening||Don’t start writing without any background|
Precis Writing Examples
Let’s look at two sample precis to understand the format and structure better.
Original Passage 1:
The pace of climate change is speeding up, along with the harmful effects of pollution and environmental damage. This points to a worrying future for the Earth. Science paints a very concerning picture about the state of the planet in coming decades. Global warming will melt polar ice caps, raise sea levels, and permanently change weather across the world. Deforestation and urbanization have dangerously lowered green cover and natural habitats. Plastic pollution has reached alarming levels, contaminating land and choking marine life. Urgent action is needed to address climate change and restore environmental balance. Countries must unite to develop sustainable solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, expand green cover, and balance economic growth with ecological needs. Individuals too must modify lifestyles to conserve resources and generate less waste. A healthy planet can only happen through global cooperation and personal responsibility.
This passage highlights the serious future facing the Earth due to escalating climate change and environmental damage. Science warns rising temperatures will melt icecaps and alter global weather patterns. Loss of forests and wildlife habitats is also a concern. Plastic pollution has worsened matters by contaminating land and oceans. The author stresses urgent, collaborative action is needed by countries to cut emissions, increase green cover and balance economic growth with ecological needs. Individuals too must modify lifestyles to conserve resources and reduce waste. Global cooperation and personal responsibility are considered essential to restore environmental health.
Original Passage 2:
Democracy is based on principles of representation, discussion, equality, diversity and participation. Citizens appoint elected representatives who discuss and create laws on their behalf. Universal adult voting rights grant all citizens above a certain age the right to vote. Regular, free and impartial elections enable formation of diverse governments representing different sections of society. Freedom of speech and expression allow open debate on public issues key for a democratic system. Constitutional protections safeguard minority groups and prevent rule by the majority. Citizens participate directly by debating legislation, engaging with local officials and holding representatives accountable. While no system is ideal, democracy remains best suited to promote inclusiveness, self-governance and rights protections. However, democratic nations must aim to strengthen institutional checks on majority rule and deepen mass participation to achieve the vision of government “of the people, by the people, for the people”.
This passage examines core aspects of democracy. It states democracy is founded on representation, discussion, equality, diversity and public participation. Citizens elect representatives to discuss issues and make laws on their behalf. Universal adult suffrage provides all citizens voting rights. Regular, impartial polls lead to diverse governments. Free speech enables debate essential for democracy. The author argues democracy is optimal for inclusive, participatory governance although no system is ideal. However, democracies must enhance checks on majority rule and encourage greater participation to fully realize “government by the people, of the people, for the people”.
Precis Writing Samples with Answers
Examining sample precis with answers can help understand the expected structure, length and format. Here are two examples:
Original Passage 1:
In the age of rapid technological progress, ethical concerns around scientific advances are also on the rise. The invention of “deepfakes” that manipulate digital content has enormous potential for misuse, as seen during recent elections. Gene editing tools like CRISPR hold great promise for disease treatment but pose risks like biohacking. Facial recognition and AI are revolutionizing services but also threaten privacy and control. While innovation is key to human progress, the consequences of new technologies cannot be ignored. Scientists today have a greater moral responsibility than ever before. Ethics must be central to education in both sciences and humanities. Governments need to balance innovation incentives with reasonable checks against potential harms. Support for high-risk, high-reward research must be accompanied by discussions on social implications. Ultimately, mindful utilization is as important as scientific ingenuity for technology to uplift humanity.
The passage discusses how rapid technological advances are accompanied by ethical concerns regarding misuse, as evident from deepfakes, gene editing, AI and facial recognition. While innovation is vital for human progress, the consequences of new technologies cannot be overlooked. Scientists and governments must make ethics central and balance incentives with safeguards against harm. More debates are needed on the social implications of high-risk research. Responsible usage is as critical as ingenuity for technology to uplift humanity.
Original Passage 2:
The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital payments worldwide. Fear of infection transmission through cash has prompted the use of contactless payment modes like cards and e-wallets. Government incentives for digital transactions have also catalyzed the shift. Digital payments enable remote transactions, instant settlements and streamlined processes to facilitate economic activity amidst lockdowns. Small merchants and vendors now readily accept various apps and QR code-based payments. However, the digital divide still leaves many out of e-commerce systems. Strengthening digital infrastructure universally will ensure the benefits of the digital economy reach all. The pandemic has spurred the transition to cashless transactions. Sustaining the momentum requires bridging digital gaps and designing user-friendly systems accessible to all.
The passage highlights how the pandemic has hastened the adoption of digital payments for contactless transactions. Government incentives have further propelled this shift. By allowing remote settlements, digital payments aid economic activity despite lockdowns. Acceptance of apps and QR-based transactions has risen among small vendors too. Nevertheless, the digital divide leaves many outside e-commerce systems. Universally strengthening digital infrastructure is vital to make the benefits of a cashless economy inclusive. The pandemic-induced transition to digital transactions must be sustained by focusing efforts on bridging digital gaps through user-friendly systems.
Precis Writing Practice
Here are some tips for improving precis writing skills through practice:
- Read opinion articles, news reports, book excerpts to become familiar with different styles.
- Time yourself when reading passages to build quick comprehension.
- Note core arguments and supporting points during the initial reading itself.
- Underline key sentences capturing paragraph main points.
- Try to orally summarize the passage in 1-2 sentences – the crux of the précis.
- Write rough point-form précis before full sentence draft.
- Start practice with shorter ~100-150 word passages.
- Gradually attempt longer 300+ word extracts.
- Time yourself to finish precis within given word limits.
- Avoid verbatim phrasing; practice paraphrasing ideas concisely.
- Review precis to check logical flow, brevity and coherence.
- Compare your precis to sample answers to identify areas for improvement.
Regular practice with self-assessment is the best way to build expertise in this specialized writing skill.
Precis Writing Questions and Answers
Here are some common precis writing questions answered:
Q 1: What’s the ideal precis length?
A: A precis is usually 1/3rd to 1/4th of the original passage length, written within a specific word limit.
Q 2: Can we use direct quotes in a precis?
A: Avoid direct quotes. The precis should summarize ideas using your own words.
Q 3: Does a precis need a title?
A: Titles aren’t required but some instructions may specify including a suitable title conveying the essence.
Q 4: Can opinions or examples be included in a precis?
A: A precis shouldn’t contain opinions or unsupported examples unless critical to the main arguments.
Q 5: How is a précis different from an executive summary?
A: Both summarize content but executive summaries highlight key takeaways from reports while précis emphasize central themes and the flow of a passage.
Q 6: How to write good precis?
A: A good precis accurately conveys the essence in fewer words using clear, concise language in a logical, flowing structure.
Q 7: What’s the difference between a precis and a summary?
A: A summary briefly describes the main points while a precis compresses the original text to its core arguments in a structured format.
Q 8: Does précis writing require critical analysis?
A: Yes, critical analysis is needed to judge relevance and only summarize the most essential arguments and points.
Q 9: Is précis writing tested in exams?
A: Precis writing is tested in many competitive exams including civil services to evaluate summarization skills.
Q 10: How does precis writing improve language skills?
A: Precis develops the ability to express ideas clearly and precisely while improving vocabulary, grammar and analytical skills.
In summary, precis writing is an important skill requiring summarizing the essence of a passage precisely using clear, concise everyday language and structured formatting within specific word limits. Frequent practice and critical analysis of passages are key to improving precis writing abilities.