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How to Write a Precis Like a Pro

Here's What We'll Cover

Do you want to learn how to write a precis? Before going into the details, you need to understand what a precis is. Precis is derived from “précis”, a French word, which means “clear, precise, and up to the point”. 

In writing, precis refers to a concise and brief synopsis of a novel, article, book, or any written piece. It must be precise, must contain all the main arguments and points found in the original piece. Although, a precis should not contain any critical or deep analysis of these arguments and points. Instead, it should objectively explain the idea in the original literary piece.

As a student, you’ll be tested on precis to gauge your understanding of a piece of writing, whether it’s a novel, an article, or a book.  It can be tedious and really hard to write. However, this article will give you an idea of where to begin. Additionally, our essay writing tutors are always ready to help you with any challenge you might have while writing.

The Difference Between a Summary and Precis

Most students do not know how to write a precis and some confuse it with a summary. Summary and precis have some similarities, hence why they confuse students. The following table summarizes the differences between summary and precis. 

Summary Precis
DefinitionA summary is a short description or a concise version of the main points in an article.A precis is a short model of a paragraph or article which only includes the crucial points.
Purpose The purpose of a summary is to cover all the important points in an article/book.The purpose of a precis is only to cover the key points in an article/book. 
OrderBriefly lists the text’s important ideas. There’s no need to maintain the order of the original text. Must contain the keywords and structure of the original piece. The precis must maintain the original order of the piece
StyleCan use the writer’s own words. It’s a paraphrased description of the original piece. No paraphrasing, but it has to maintain the same mood and tone as the original piece.
Heading The heading isn’t necessaryMust have a heading
Form A summary can be written or spokenPrecis is always written
A table showcasing the differences between summary and precis

Features of Good Precis 

For your precis to be of high quality and serve its purpose, make sure it has the following features: 

Length of the Precis

There are no hard and fast rules on the length of a precis. Generally, a precis shouldn’t go beyond 200 words when dealing with an article or three pages when dealing with a big book. The general rule is that a precis should be between a fifth or a sixth of the original piece. 

Clear and Accurate

Since precis must be short, you need not add a lot of fluff to the content. It has to contain only the relevant information, which must be presented clearly and accurately to convey the message in the original text. Do not include assumptions in your Precis.

Simple and Easy to Read 

To convey your message effectively, you need to use simple language that can not confuse the reader. Also, make sure your precis is easy to read by avoiding complex sentences. You can achieve this by using simple language and structure. 

Cover All the Major Points

The main purpose of a precis is to convey the message in the original text. This can only be possible if you include all the crucial points in the original piece. 

Be Coherent and Concise

Coherency here means your views and ideas should be logical. As you discuss the main points, make sure you tie them together logically to ensure the ideas are interconnected. Don’t leave any gap as you present your ideas. As you do so, make sure you are concise. Thus,each word you use should contribute something to the precis. 

Have a Title

Give your precis a catchy title that connects it to the article or book you are writing about. 

Build Logical Connections with the Original Text

As you write your precis, present your views and facts without bias. Remember the points in your precis are derived from the text or passage given. So you need not include your personal opinions. Instead, make sure you connect the precis to the ideas in the original text. 

Precis Outline and Format 

The precis outline is crucial because it will allow you to organize and structure the flow of ideas. Not only that, but it will also help you to point out the main points of your precis sequentially and logically. 

Before writing the outline, list down the main points, then combine them into a few major points. After writing the outline, you can follow the format below to write your precis. 


In the precis introduction, include the title of the article/book, the author’s name, the date of publication, and your topic of discussion. Make sure you include a rhetorical verb that outlines the author’s primary purpose, e.g., explain, disprove, prove, refute, deny, argue, assert, etc. 

The last sentence in the introduction should be a thesis of the book or article. It should also connect the introduction to the body of the precis.

Main body

The main body of the precis is where you clarify how the author explains and formulates the main points in the text. Additionally, the body should explain the main points of the piece, with each paragraph dealing with a particular point. 

The body should also include a sentence that explains the author’s purpose for writing the piece. Therefore, this means you have to read the piece and understand why it was written. You also need to include a description of the targeted audience and a depiction of how the author connects with them.


The conclusion is where you wrap up what you discussed in the main body of your precis. It’s like a summary, so you need to remark on the author’s intended idea for the article or book. You can also restate the main points used by the author to develop the evidence in the text. 

Precis Writing Style You Should Follow

Apart from the correct structure, you also need to follow the correct style for writing a precis. Here are the factors you need to consider:

Precis Title

The title of your precis should include the name of the author of the book or article and reflect what you want to write about. It must be short but precise.

Font Size

Choose font size 12 for ease of reading. You can use Times New Roman or any fond that’s eligible.


The recommended spacing for a precis is double space. Hence,making it easier to read your precis.


Your margins should not be less than an inch on all sides. But don’t make them too wide. 

Name and Pledge

Make sure your pledge and name appear at the end of your precis. 

The Tone of Voice

Do not change the author’s tone of voice. You have to maintain the same tone used in the original text. 

Direct Quotations

If you have any direct quotations in your precis, put them in quotation marks and include the page number where the quotes are coming from. The page numbers should be in parentheses.

Order and Organization

As you come up with the precis format, make sure you don’t change the order of the original piece. 

How to write the Precis -Step by Step Process 

So you want to learn how to write a precis step-by-step? Below is a comprehensive guide that will help you write an excellent precis

1. Pick the Text

If your tutor doesn’t assign a specific article or book to you, you’ll have to pick one by yourself. So, make sure you pick a publicly available piece. The material you choose should be interesting to you, so you’ll find it easy to write the precis. 

2. Read the Original Text

Read the piece you’ve chosen carefully, making sure you understand it well so you can pick the main points. 

3. Read Again and Take Notes

Read the piece for the second time, and this time take some notes. Also, try to comprehend and interpret the author’s main purpose for writing the piece. 

4. Make an outline

Now that you have your notes, you can use them to list the key arguments and details. This is to ensure you’ve covered all the important points. You can then create a well-structured and clear outline for the precis. Find out if your college has a precis template you can use for this purpose. 

5.Write the Precis

Before you write the precis, read and understand your tutor’s guidelines. Make sure you use simple structure and language and keep the length of the precis within the recommended number of words. 

Proofread and Edit

Lastly, before you submit the precis to your professor, you have to ensure there are no grammatical or spelling errors. Proofread the precis to eliminate these errors and adit it to ensure it has the right format. 

Tips on How to Write a Precis

The tips outlined here will help you write a good precis.

Do not paraphrase or Copy the Original Piece

Provide an analysis of evidence without distorting the idea of the piece. Therefore, remember that this is not an interpretation or a shortened version of the text. Also, remember copy-pasting might lead to you having a plagiarised precis.

Be Precise and Clear

Keep your precis clear and brief. You don’t have to beat about the bush. Be specific and avoid long sentences. Also, make sure each word you use contributes something to the precis. 

Use Quotes from the Original Piece

As we have stated earlier do not copy-paste original text. Instead, use you can quote from the original piece, but you have to use quotation marks and indicate the pages where the quotes come from. 

Do Not reflect Your Personal Opinion

In writing a precis, you have to stick to the central idea without providing your own opinions. Therefore, you have to write the precis from the author’s perspective. 

Cover Key Points Comprehensively

A precis isn’t like a summary. So, make sure you only include the most crucial points. Even though the precis should be short, ensure you discuss the key points adequately so the reader can know you understood the original piece. 

Avoid Outside Sources

Remember you are writing a precis from an article or a book. In this case, you must focus only on the book or article without looking for any additional information elsewhere. 

Write in the Third Person

Finally, always remember that precis is written in the third person. So, avoid words like “you”, “I”, “we”, etc. 

What do you mean by a precis in writing?

The word precis means clear and precise. In writing, precis means creating a shortened form of an original text (novel, article, or book) by dealing only with the crucial points. 

What should be the length of a precis?

There’s no rule governing the length of a precis. The length will depend on what material you want to analyze. If it’s a book, the precis will be longer than when it’s an article. So, before you write a precis,  ask your professor the number of words they expect to be written. A precis should not be less than 200 words. 

How to write a precis for a government exam?

The method of writing a precis is the same, whether it’s written for a college or government exam. To write a good precis, read and understand the original text. Next, write down the important points. You can then come up with an outline of the precis then write it out. Finally, proofread and edit it before submitting it to your tutor. 

Do you have to paraphrase in a precis?

No. You have to write a precis in your own words, but you must maintain the ideas and tone of the author of the article or book.

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