Prof. Fakhar Alam

Dept. of English

Govt. College Civil Lines Multan

Prof. Fakhar Alam

Dept. of English

Govt. College Civil Lines Multan

Prof. Fakhar Alam

Dept. of English

Govt. College Civil Lines Multan

Prof. Fakhar Alam

Dept. of English

Govt. College Civil Lines Multan

    BA English       BZ University Multan

    Précis Writing

    What is a précis?

    The definition

    Précis, from the Old French and literally meaning “cut short”, is a concise summary of an article or other work. The précis, then, explains the main point, logical support, and structure of the original work but in greatly condensed form. The précis is objective, unlike a critical analysis, which evaluates the argument and use of evidence within an article. Thus, the précis does not offer evaluations about a text, nor does it include personal reaction to a text.

    How should a writer begin to write a précis?

    The process

    • Read and annotate the article or other text.
    • Reflect on the author's purpose.
    • Consider the kinds of evidence the author uses.
    • Restate the author's thesis in your own words.
    • Write a one or two sentence summary of each section or subdivision of the article.
    • Reread the article to compare it with your summary notes.
    • Begin writing, using your paraphrase of the thesis and your one or two sentence summary statements.
    • Review your précis to confirm that you have explainedthe main point of the article, identified the supporting evidence that the writer uses, and have used the same logical structure as the text.
    • Finally, check for clarity, coherence, and correctness.

    How should a précis be structured?  

    The format

    Introduction

    What is a précis?

    The definition

    Précis, from the Old French and literally meaning “cut short” (dictionary.com), is a concise summary of an article or other work. The précis, then, explains the main point, logical support, and structure of the original work but in greatly condensed form. The précis is objective, unlike a critical analysis, which evaluates the argument and use of evidence within an article. Thus, the précis does not offer evaluations about a text, nor does it include personal reaction to a text.

    How should a writer begin to write a précis? The process>
    • Read and annotate the article or other text.
    • Reflect on the author's purpose.
    • Consider the kinds of evidence the author uses.
    • Restate the author's thesis in your own words.
    • Write a one or two sentence summary of each section or subdivision of the article.
    • Reread the article to compare it with your summary notes.
    • Begin writing, using your paraphrase of the thesis and your one or two sentence summary statements.
    • Review your précis to confirm that you have explainedthe main point of the article, identified the supporting evidence that the writer uses, and have used the same logical structure as the text.
    • Finally, check for clarity, coherence, and correctness.
    How should a précis be structured?  The format Introduction

    Some writers offer a hook; explain the author's broad topic; and then restate the author's thesis, while others may open with a restatement of the author's thesis and then explain the broader framework of the subject. In order to determine which approach would best suit the assignment, ask your professor about the format of the introduction. In either format, the restatement of the thesis should include the name of the author, the title of the article, and the date of its publication, as the following illustrates: “In his influential 1936 essay, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” J.R.R. Tolkien criticizes scholars of this day for mining Beowulf solely for historic evidence about the Anglo-Saxon period, rather than reading the poem as a great and inspiring work of literature.”

    Body Paragraphs

    Generally, each body paragraph should explain a separate section of the text and should provide the evidence (though in greatly condensed form) that the writer has used to support that section. If used, quotations should be brief, should be correctly introduced or incorporated, and should be correctly attributed.

    Conclusion

    The conclusion should restate the main idea of the text and reiterate the main support. Remember to avoid any personal statements about the text.

    Some writers offer a hook; explain the author's broad topic; and then restate the author's thesis, while others may open with a restatement of the author's thesis and then explain the broader framework of the subject. In order to determine which approach would best suit the assignment, ask your professor about the format of the introduction. In either format, the restatement of the thesis should include the name of the author, the title of the article, and the date of its publication, as the following illustrates: “In his influential 1936 essay, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” J.R.R. Tolkien criticizes scholars of this day for mining Beowulf solely for historic evidence about the Anglo-Saxon period, rather than reading the poem as a great and inspiring work of literature.”

    A Précis is a summary. Précis writing is an exercise in compression. A Précis is the gist of a passage expressed in as few words as possible. A Précis should give all essential points so that anyone reading it will be able to understand the idea expressed in the original passage. Note that Précis writing is different from paraphrasing. In a paraphrase you should give all the details: you should not leave out any details. A paraphrase will be at least as long and sometimes longer than the original. A Précis, on the other hand, must always be shorter than the original. It should express only the main theme that too as briefly as possible. How long should a Précis be? There are no rigid rules regarding the length of a Précis. But as a general rule, it should not contain more than a third of the total number of words in the original passage. Uses of Précis writing Most people read carelessly and fail to fully comprehend the meaning of the passage. Précis writing forces them to pay attention to what they read because no one can write a summary of a passage unless they read it carefully. So summarizing teaches one to read with concentration. Précis writing also improves your overall writing skills. It teaches you how to express your thoughts clearly, concisely and effectively.You learn to choose your words carefully and construct your sentences in a logical and concise manner.


    Précis writing is another name for summarizing. Writing a précis means to shorten a given passage to about one third of the original. So, a lot of things have to be omitted, but none of the important points or things can be omitted. It contains the gist or the main theme of the passage expressed in your own words. Précis writing needs unwavering attention and full concentration. One can follow the following method in order to become a good précis writer. 1. Read the passage thoroughly, and give it a title. The title you choose will indicate whether you have been able to understand the passage or not. If your title does not deal with the main idea of the passage, you have not understood the passage properly. 2. Give a second reading, underlining the main ideas of the passage. 3. Make a draft of the précis, using only the underlined sentences. 4. Omit illustrations, examples, details and repetition. 5. Arrange these points logically; generally the order of the original is retained. 6. Write in your own words. A précis which borrows phrases and language from the original usually crosses the word limit. Borrow only the ideas, and express them in your own language. 7. If the summary is too long, rewrite it to bring it within the limit of near about one third of the original. 8. The précis should be in the same tense, in third person and in indirect speech. 9. One word substitution of longer terms is very helpful.
    Sample précis:

    Trees give shade for the benefit of others, and while they themselves stand in the sun and endure the scorching heat, they produce the fruit of which others profit. The character of good men is like that of trees. What is the use of this perishable body if no use is made of it for the benefit of mankind? Sandalwood, the more it is rubbed, the more scent does it yield. Sugarcane, the more it is peeled and cut up into pieces, the more juice does it produce. The men who are noble at heart do not lose their qualities even in losing their lives. What matters whether men praise them or not? What difference does it make whether they die at this moment or whether lives are prolonged? Happen what may, those who tread in the right path will not set foot in any other. Life itself is unprofitable to a man who does not live for others. To live for the mere sake of living one’s life is to live the life of dog and crows. Those who lay down their lives for the sake of others will assuredly dwell for ever in a world of bliss.

    Title- Good men live for others.

    Outline: The character of good men is like that of trees _____ What is the use of this perishable body if no use is made of it for the benefit of mankind_____ The men who are noble at heart do not lose their qualities even in losing their lives _____ Those who tread in the right path will not set foot in any other _____ To live for the mere sake of living one’s life is to live the life of dogs or crows _____ Those who lay down their lives for the sake of others will assuredly dwell for ever in a world of bliss.

    Précis

    Good men live for others

    The character of good men is like that of trees. They live for others and do not lose their qualities even in losing their lives. They always follow the right path. Praise is immaterial to them To live for one’s own sake is to lead the life of beasts. Only those who lay down their lives for others will live for ever in a world of bliss.

    How to attempt the Comprehension Questions?

    It is absolutely essential to have thorough and complete understanding of the passage with all its nuances., Ideally one should read the passage twice in order to get to the bottom of the meaning. However, you will have time only to give a quick reading to the passage, which ultimately may prove insufficient. It can be a good strategy if you reverse the approach. In order. to overcome the problem of paucity of time, you can first read the questions before reading the passage, but you should be careful not to read the answer choices in the, first instance. Keeping the questions in mind read the passage, marking the important portions from the point of view of the main idea and its subsequent development or from the point of view of the questions asked. This way you may be able to save precious time and avoid making a random search for the answers. Immense concentration is required to be able to grasp the meaning of the passage while giving it a rapid reading. You must train yourself to fully concentrate by timing yourself when you read passages. The progress will be slow, but by steady practice you can considerably increase your reading speed. Try both the methods first read the passage and then read the questions; subsequently, first read the questions and then go to the passage. See for yourself which method suits you, which of the two are less time consuming for you-adopt it and practice hard. Patience, concentration and hard work will ultimately pay you the required 'dividend. You will have to develop the skill of skimming through the passage and registering its important aspects.

Prof. Fakhar Alam
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