Caleb S.
Caleb S.

All You Need to Know Before Writing a Precis

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Published on: Jun 25, 2022

Last updated on: Jan 30, 2024

how to write a precis

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Many individuals struggle with the task of condensing lengthy texts into concise summaries while preserving the key ideas.

This can lead to frustration, as crafting an effective precis requires a specific set of skills and techniques.

However, fret not! In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of writing a precis. We will provide you with valuable tips and strategies to help you master this essential skill.

By following our step-by-step approach, you will be equipped to create compelling summaries that capture the essence of any given text.

So without further ado, let's delve into the art of writing a precis.

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What is a Precis? 

A precis is a concise and condensed summary of a longer text or speech. It aims to capture the main ideas of the original content in a concise manner. 

The goal of a precis is to provide an accurate representation of the source material while maintaining brevity and coherence.

Difference Between Precis and Summary

While both precis and summary serve the purpose of condensing information, there are a few key differences between the two:

Length and Level of Detail

  • A precis is significantly shorter than the original text, typically one-third to one-fourth of its length. It focuses on the essential points and eliminates unnecessary details.
  • A summary, on the other hand, can vary in length and may retain more details from the original text. It provides a broader overview of the main ideas and supporting details.

Writing Style

  • A precis is written in a more formal and academic style. It maintains the author's tone and uses direct quotes sparingly, primarily to capture key phrases or ideas.
  • A summary can be written in a more casual or conversational style, depending on the intended audience. It aims to present the main points in a clear and accessible manner.

Audience and Context

  • A precis is typically written for an academic audience or as part of a formal assessment. It aims to demonstrate comprehension and analysis of the original text.
  • A summary can be written for a broader audience, including general readers, or researchers. It provides a condensed version of the content for quick understanding or reference.

Characteristics of Precis Writing 

Have a look at precis writing qualities:

  • A precis is a piece of writing that gives readers the key idea
  • It should be well-written and easy to understand 
  • It must be correct and error-free
  • Make sure it has good facts and figures, which are accurate
  • Be objective; don't give your personal opinion or not include anything unnecessary in your precis
  • Keep it concise; make sure it stays on topic, doesn't go off on tangents, and is brief enough to read with ease

Structure of Precis Writing 

When it comes to writing a precis, following a structured approach ensures clarity and coherence. The structure of a precis typically consists of four key elements:


Begin the precis with a heading that includes the title of the original text, the author's name, and any relevant publication details. 

Example: "Precis of 'The Importance of Environmental Conservation' by John Smith."


The introduction should provide a concise overview of the original text's main idea or thesis statement. State the author's name and the title of the text while capturing the central theme or argument in a sentence or two. 

Avoid excessive details or examples in the introduction; focus on the core message. 

Example: "John Smith's article, 'The Importance of Environmental Conservation,' highlights the urgent need to preserve our natural resources and mitigate the impacts of climate change."


The body of the precis expands on the main ideas and supporting points from the original text. Each paragraph should focus on one key idea or argument, presented in a logical order. 

Paraphrase the author's ideas and arguments using your own words, maintaining the original meaning. Write a summary that has a critical analysis of the text. 

Eliminate unnecessary examples, illustrations, and anecdotes while retaining the essential information. Include transitional phrases to ensure smooth flow between paragraphs. 


"Smith argues that environmental conservation is crucial for preserving biodiversity and maintaining ecological balance. He emphasizes the depletion of natural resources due to human activities and highlights the severe consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels and habitat destruction. Moreover, Smith suggests that immediate action is necessary through sustainable practices, renewable energy sources, and international cooperation."


The conclusion of the precis provides a summary of the main points discussed in the body. It should restate the author's main argument and emphasize its significance. Avoid introducing new ideas or arguments in the conclusion. 


 "In conclusion, Smith's article underscores the paramount importance of environmental conservation as a response to the pressing environmental challenges we face. By adopting sustainable practices and prioritizing the protection of our natural resources, we can mitigate the adverse effects of climate change and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come."

Essentials of Writing a Precis - H3

Here are the following characteristics of a precis that should never be overlooked:

  • A precis is a summary of a longer piece of essay writing. It does not rewrite the original scholarly article, but it is written in your own words. 
  • It is ¼ the length of the original article or more if you are told to by your professor.
  • A precis includes the thesis that the author supports, methods he used, results, and conclusions from his original work.

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How to Write a Précis Step by Step? 

Writing a precis can be a systematic process that involves several key steps. By following these steps, you can effectively condense the main ideas and arguments of a text into a concise precis. 

Here is a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Read the text 

Carefully read the original text to gain a thorough understanding of its main ideas, arguments, and supporting details.
Take notes on the key points, important examples, and any relevant quotes or phrases.

Step 2: Identify the Main Idea and Supporting Points

  • Identify the central theme or thesis statement of the text.
  • Determine the main supporting points that contribute to the author's argument or message.
  • Highlight or underline these main ideas and supporting points for reference.

Step 3: Paraphrase and Summarize

  • Start writing by paraphrasing the author's ideas and arguments in your own words while maintaining the original meaning.
  • Summarize supporting details and examples, focusing on the most relevant and significant ones.
  • Use direct quotes sparingly, only when necessary, to capture key phrases or ideas.

Step 4: Organize the Precis

  • Structure the precis with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
  • In the introduction, provide a concise overview of the main idea or thesis statement of the original text.
  • In the body paragraphs, present the main supporting points in a logical order, with each paragraph focusing on one key idea or argument.
  • In the conclusion, summarize the main points discussed in the body and restate the author's main argument or message.

Step 5: Edit and Revise

  • Carefully review the precis for clarity, coherence, and conciseness.
  • Ensure proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
  • Remove any unnecessary details or repetitions to maintain brevity.
  • Check that the precis accurately represents the main ideas and arguments of the original text.

Step 6: Proofread

  • Carefully proofread the precis for any errors or typos.
  • Read it aloud to check for flow and readability.
  • Make any necessary edits or revisions to improve the overall quality of the precis.

Precis format

Writing a precis requires attention to style and formatting to ensure clarity and readability. Here are some guidelines for the style and formatting of a precis:

  • Language and Tone

Use clear and concise language to convey the main ideas and arguments of the original text. Maintain a formal and objective tone throughout the precis so that ensures you have a grasp of academic writing skills. 

  • Paraphrasing and Summarizing

Paraphrase the author's ideas and arguments in your own words while maintaining the original meaning. Summarize supporting details and examples, focusing on the most relevant and significant ones.

  • Sentence Structure and Clarity

Craft well-structured sentences that are grammatically correct and easy to understand. Ensure coherence by using appropriate transitional words and phrases between sentences and paragraphs.

  • Concision and Brevity

Aim for brevity by eliminating unnecessary details, examples, and repetitions. Focus on the essential ideas and arguments of the original text.

  • Formatting and Presentation

Follow these guidelines whenever you format the precis.

  • Font Size: 12 point
  • Spacing: Double
  • Margins: At least 1 inch from all sides
  • Name and Pledge: [Your Name], [Your Pledge]
  • Tone of Voice: Reflect the author's voice in the original piece
  • Direct Quotations: Place quotes in quotation marks and include page numbers in parentheses after each quote.
  • Order and Organization: Maintain the original article's order and organization.

Citing a Precis

When citing a precis in your academic work or research, follow these steps:

Author's Name: Include the author's name or the person who created the precis.
Precis Title: Provide the title of the precis in quotation marks.
Source Information: Include details about the original text, such as the author's name, title, publication or website, and publication date.
Publication Details: If the precis was published as part of a larger work or on a specific website, mention relevant publication information like the title, volume, issue, page numbers, or URL.
Citation Style: Follow the citation style specified by your institution or professor, such as APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, or Harvard.

Example (APA Style):

Smith, J. (2023). "Understanding Climate Change: A Precis." In Climate Change: A Comprehensive Analysis (pp. 55-68). Oxford University Press.

Remember to adapt the citation format according to the specific style guide you are using and ensure accuracy.

How to Write a Precis - Examples

When you are writing a paper for the first time, you might not understand how to do it. You can find examples of papers here at 

If you don't know how to do a rhetorical precis, use these examples.

Do’s and Don'ts of Precis Writing

To write an outstanding precis follow the following do’s and refrain from the don'ts.

Do’s of Precis Writing 

  • To write a good precis, use shorter words and keep your text up to a point. 
  • Use simpler words instead of jargon and complex sentences.
  • If you do this, you should find it easier to understand what is being said in the original piece of text.
  • Keep the core of the original text, but make sure that your precis is a miniature version of it too.
  • Use shorter words. For example, use "because" instead of "owing to," use "although" instead of "in spite of the fact that."

Don'ts of Precis Writing

  • Do not write a lot about one point.
  • Do not use your own thoughts and assumptions about the text.
  • Do not copy sentences from the original text or use abbreviations.
  • Don't criticize in a precis
  • Don't write questions in a precis

In conclusion, precis writing is an invaluable skill that can greatly enhance your ability to convey information effectively. By following the step-by-step instructions and examples provided in this blog, you now have the tools to create a well-crafted precis.

Remember, a precis should capture the essence of the original text while maintaining clarity and coherence. Practice makes perfect, so don't be discouraged if your first attempts are not flawless. 

So, why not put your newfound knowledge into practice? Start by selecting a thought-provoking article, book, or speech, and challenge yourself to create a compelling precis. 

If you still find yourself struggling or require assistance, our AI essay writing tools can help. Whether you need a rhetorical precis or any other writing task, we are just a click away. 

Contact our college essay help online today and let us support you on your journey to precision and excellence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the uses of precis?

Precis writing is writing that delivers the main points of something without changing it. It can be used to describe a chapter, for job descriptions, meetings, etc. It is also used in movies to describe the plot of the movie without changing anything about it.

How long is a precis?

A précis is a summary of reading. Sometimes it can be as long as 200 words or about one-sixth the length of the original.

In which person is precis written?

Precis writing is a third-person account of the subject. It tells what the writer said and what they think. However, if you use direct speech, it can confuse people who are not familiar with quoting arguments or essays.

Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Literature, Marketing)

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

Caleb S. has extensive experience in writing and holds a Masters from Oxford University. He takes great satisfaction in helping students exceed their academic goals. Caleb always puts the needs of his clients first and is dedicated to providing quality service.

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