How to Write Precis in Academic Writing

As writers, we often find ourselves in situations where we need to convey the essence of a lengthy piece of text in just a few lines. This is where precis writing comes in – an art that involves summarizing a text’s central ideas and arguments while retaining its tone and style. Precis writing is an essential skill for anyone looking to excel in professions such as journalism, law, or academia.

In this article, we will guide you through the process of creating a well-written precis. We’ll start by explaining why precis writing is important and how it can benefit your career. Then, we’ll delve into the steps involved in creating a precise summary of any text, including reading and analyzing the original source material, outlining key points, and finally constructing the actual precis itself. By following these steps and using our tips for proper formatting, you’ll be able to produce an effective precis that captures the essence of any complex text with precision and clarity.


Key Takeaways

  • Precis writing involves close reading, outlining, analyzing techniques, and summarizing skills.
  • To write an effective precis, one should focus on key points, be detail-oriented, concise, knowledgeable, engaging, properly cite and reference, use a three-item bullet list, format properly, edit and revise, proofread, avoid common errors, get feedback, and pay attention to detail.
  • Adapting writing style to suit different types of text is important, and personal opinions and creativity can be incorporated while maintaining objectivity.
  • Precis writing is important in report and proposal writing, and it involves considering the audience, presenting information accurately and concisely, and summarizing data and findings. Online resources and examples of well-written precis can help improve writing skills. Clarity in communication and distilling complex information into easily understandable summaries is crucial. Motivation techniques such as setting realistic goals, seeking feedback, consistency in practice, and pursuing expertise can help improve precis writing skills.

Understanding the Importance of Precis Writing

You need to understand why precis writing is important if you want to improve your writing skills. Precis writing is a skill that requires the writer to summarize a large body of text into a concise and clear summary. It’s not just about summarizing; it’s also about understanding the essence of the original text and conveying it in your own words.

The benefits of mastering this skill are immense. Precis writing helps you develop critical thinking abilities, improves your analytical skills, and enhances your ability to convey complex ideas in simple terms. Additionally, precis writing helps you communicate more effectively with others as you learn how to convey information without losing its meaning or intent. Ultimately, mastering this skill will help you become a better writer, reader, and thinker. Now let’s move on to reading and analyzing the text…

Reading and Analyzing the Text

Congratulations, reader! Now that you’ve finished skimming through the text, it’s time to put your analytical goggles on and dive into the murky depths of comprehension. Close reading is an essential step in writing a successful precis. It involves identifying key points, understanding the author’s purpose and message, and recognizing any supporting evidence or arguments.

To begin close reading, take notes as you read through the text. Highlight or underline important phrases or concepts that stand out to you. Look for patterns or themes throughout the piece and consider how they relate to each other. As you analyze the text, ask yourself questions such as “What is the main idea?” “How does this support or refute the author’s argument?” By taking a detailed approach to reading and analyzing, you’ll be better equipped to create an accurate and concise summary of the original piece.

Now that you have identified key points from your analysis, it’s time to move onto creating an outline without losing sight of these elements.

Creating an Outline

Once you have analyzed the text, it’s time to start creating an outline to organize your thoughts and ensure that your summary accurately reflects the author’s main points. Outlining is a crucial step in precis writing because it helps you identify the key themes and arguments of the original text. To start the outlining process, begin by brainstorming techniques such as mind maps, bullet points, or numbered lists. These brainstorming techniques can help you visualize how ideas relate to one another and determine which ones are most important.

When creating your outline, make sure to include only the most essential information from the original text. Your goal is not to simply summarize everything but rather to convey the author’s main ideas in a concise and precise manner. As you work on your outline, keep in mind that it should reflect your own understanding of the text while still remaining faithful to its message. Once you have completed your outline, you can move on to writing the precis itself where we will discuss how to craft a compelling summary of the original text without losing its meaning or tone.

Writing the Precis

Crafting a compelling summary of the original text requires analyzing techniques and sharpening summarizing skills. It is important to carefully select key themes and arguments that represent the author’s main message. Studies have shown that readers only spend an average of 15 seconds reading a piece before deciding whether to continue, so it’s essential to capture their attention immediately.

To write an effective precis, you must be detail-oriented, concise, and knowledgeable about the subject matter. A good precis should include all the crucial information from the original text while being engaging for your audience. As you analyze the text, focus on identifying its central ideas and arguments. Once you have identified them, summarize them in your own words without losing their meaning or tone.

In conclusion, crafting a compelling precis requires analyzing techniques and sharpening summarizing skills. By carefully selecting key themes and arguments from the original text and presenting them in a concise yet informative manner that captures your reader’s attention immediately, you can create an engaging summary that effectively conveys the author’s message. In our next section about using proper formatting, we will explore how to present your precis in a professional manner.

Using Proper Formatting

When it comes to using proper formatting in writing, there are a few key points that we need to keep in mind. Firstly, length requirements should be adhered to for the specific type of document or assignment. Secondly, citation and referencing must be done accurately and consistently throughout the text. These two factors can greatly affect the overall quality and credibility of our writing, so it’s important to pay attention to them.

Length Requirements

To ensure your precis meets length requirements, you’ll need to carefully select the most essential information and avoid excess details. Word count is an important consideration when writing a precise summary of a longer text. Generally, a standard precis should be one-third or one-fourth the length of the original text. So if you’re summarizing a 1200-word article, your precis shouldn’t exceed 300 words. To achieve this word count, it’s crucial to maintain the precis structure and focus on key points rather than insignificant details.

One way to keep your precis concise is by following a three-item bullet list that can guide you in selecting vital information while omitting any irrelevant content. Firstly, identify the author’s main argument or thesis statement. Secondly, highlight supporting evidence for that argument or thesis statement. Lastly, summarize any counterarguments presented in the original text. By sticking to this framework and avoiding lengthy summaries of individual paragraphs or examples from the source material, you can create an effective precis that meets length requirements and captures the essence of the original text without unnecessary detail.

Additionally, it’s important to consider citation and referencing when writing a precis as these aspects contribute significantly to its overall value and credibility.

Citation and Referencing

Ensuring that proper citation and referencing is included in your precis adds credibility to the information presented, allowing readers to easily verify the source material. There are various citation styles available, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago. These styles have specific guidelines for citing different sources like books, journals, and websites. It’s important to choose the appropriate style depending on the type of source being referenced.

Moreover, plagiarism detection tools can also be used to check if all sources have been properly cited. This helps avoid accidental plagiarism which can negatively impact your work’s integrity. Proper citation and referencing not only improves the quality of your precis but it also shows respect towards other authors’ hard work by giving them credit where it’s due.

Moving forward into the subsequent section about editing and revising, it’s important to keep in mind that proper citation and referencing are just one aspect of making a successful precis – there are many more steps involved in creating a concise summary of a larger text.

Editing and Revising

Editing and revising involves going through your writing to correct mistakes and improve clarity. It is an essential step in the writing process that ensures your work is polished and error-free. Here are some revising techniques that can help you refine your writing:

  1. Read aloud: Reading your work out loud can help you identify awkward phrasing, repetitive words, and other issues that may not be apparent when reading silently.
  2. Grammar check: Use a grammar checker tool to catch any grammatical errors or typos that you may have missed.
  3. Cut unnecessary words: Eliminate any unnecessary words or phrases that do not add value to your writing.
  4. Rearrange sentences: Reorganize sentences or paragraphs to improve the flow of your writing.

By following these revising techniques, you can ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and effective. Once you have completed the editing and revising process, it’s time to move on to proofreading for a final polish before submitting your work for review.


Proofreading is the final step in perfecting your work, and it can make all the difference in presenting a professional and polished piece. To ensure that your writing is error-free, here are some proofreading tips: First, take a break before proofreading. This will help you approach your work with fresh eyes and catch mistakes that you may have missed while writing. Second, read your work out loud. This will help you identify awkward sentences, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes.

Common errors to watch out for include subject-verb agreement, punctuation errors, and sentence structure issues. Make sure that each sentence has a clear subject and verb and avoid run-on sentences or sentence fragments. Double-check for proper comma usage as well as capitalization of proper nouns. Finally, use spell check but don’t rely on it entirely as it may not catch certain typos or homophones.

As we move into the next section about getting feedback on our writing, keep in mind that proofreading is just one part of the editing process. While it’s important to polish our work to perfection on our own first, receiving feedback from others can provide valuable insights into areas we may have overlooked or struggled with during our initial edits.

Getting Feedback

As we’ve learned in the previous subtopic, proofreading is an essential step in writing a precis. However, it can be challenging to catch all the mistakes on our own. That’s where receiving feedback from others comes in handy.

Receiving critique is an excellent way to improve our skills as precis writers. When someone else reads our work, they can point out errors or areas that need improvement that we may have missed. It also gives us the opportunity to get a fresh perspective on our writing and consider new approaches or ideas. While it may feel intimidating at first to share our work with others, remember that feedback is not meant to tear us down but rather help us grow and become better writers.

Now that we know the importance of getting feedback, let’s move on to the next section about how practice makes perfect when it comes to precis writing.

Practice Makes Perfect

As we continue to hone our precis writing skills, it is important to keep in mind that practice makes perfect. One effective way of improving our abilities is by repeating the process with different texts. This allows us to apply what we have learned and refine our techniques, ultimately leading to greater precision and clarity in our writing. With time and dedication, we can continuously improve our skills and become more confident in our ability to produce high-quality summaries.

Repeating the Process with Different Texts

To keep practicing precis writing, try repeating the process with various texts, which can help improve your skills and broaden your knowledge. Finding sources to practice on is easy; just pick up a newspaper or magazine and start analyzing the content. Adapting your style to suit different types of text is also important; you may need to use a more formal tone for academic articles than for news stories.

Don’t be afraid to work with mundane material either. Even if the topic isn’t inherently fascinating, you can still transform it into an engaging summary by highlighting the most important points and crafting a compelling narrative. With practice, you’ll learn how to identify what’s essential in any piece of writing and convey it clearly and concisely. Plus, the more you read and write summaries, the better your overall reading comprehension will become.

Improving Your Skills Over Time

Practicing with various texts and adapting your style to suit different types of content can be enjoyable ways to improve your skills in summarizing. Importance of practice cannot be overstated when it comes to getting better at precis writing. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will become with the process, and the easier it will be to identify key points and distill them into a concise summary.

Learning from mistakes is also essential for improving your skills over time. Every time you write a precis, take some time to review it critically. Identify areas where you could have done better, whether that means missing important details or not being as concise as possible. By doing this consistently, you’ll start to notice patterns in what trips you up and be able to avoid these common pitfalls moving forward. With enough practice and attention paid to detail, anyone can become an expert at precis writing!

As we move on from discussing how to improve your skills over time, let’s now explore some common mistakes that people make when attempting this type of writing.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When it comes to writing precis, we have to be careful of common mistakes that could undermine our efforts. Two of these errors are over-summarizing and including personal opinions. Over-summarizing occurs when we include unnecessary details while summarizing a text, leading to confusion or misinterpretation by the reader. Including personal opinions is also risky since it can make our writing subjective and unprofessional.


Don’t go overboard with summarizing – you want to capture the main points without excessively condensing the text. Over-summarizing can lead to a loss of important information and nuances that are crucial in understanding the text. Avoiding over-summarizing requires proper paraphrasing techniques that allow you to use your own words while still maintaining the original meaning of the text.

When trying to avoid over-summarizing, it is important to focus on capturing the most significant details of the passage. This means highlighting key concepts and ideas while leaving out less important details. Proper paraphrasing techniques involve reading through the entire text, identifying its main points, and then rephrasing them in your own words. By doing this, you can ensure that you have captured all of the necessary information without sacrificing any essential details.

Including personal opinions is an essential part of writing a good precis, but it’s important not to let these opinions overpower or distort what is being said in the original text. Therefore, it’s vital to strike a balance between including personal thoughts and sticking closely to what has been written.

Including Personal Opinions

You can really add some flavor to your summary by incorporating your personal opinions, but be sure not to let them overshadow the main points of the original text. Including personal experiences and thoughts can help you connect with the reader and make the summary more interesting. However, it’s important to remember that a precis is meant to be concise and objective, so use your personal opinions sparingly and only when they contribute to the overall understanding of the text.

Incorporating creativity into your precis writing can also enhance its quality. This doesn’t mean deviating from the original text or adding unnecessary information, but rather finding unique ways to present the information in a clear and concise manner. By using creative language and structuring your sentences effectively, you can make your precis stand out while still staying true to its purpose. With these tips in mind, let’s move on to some more specific strategies for effective precis writing.

Tips for Effective Precis Writing

To effectively write a precis, it’s important to follow these tips. Understanding the purpose of the original text is essential in creating an effective summary. A precis should condense the information from the source material while maintaining its meaning and tone. It’s important to keep in mind that a precis is not a personal commentary, but rather an objective summary of the original text.

In order to create a well-crafted precis, it can be helpful to utilize a table format with three columns and three rows. The first column should list key points or ideas from the source material, the second column should provide supporting details or evidence for each point, and the third column should summarize the main idea or theme of each point. This method allows for easy organization and ensures that all relevant information is included in your summary. By following these tips and utilizing helpful tools like tables, anyone can become proficient at writing effective precises that accurately capture the essence of any given text.

Using these skills can have many benefits in your career such as being able to quickly communicate important information to colleagues or clients.

Using Precis Writing in Your Career

As professionals, we often find ourselves writing reports and proposals. Precis writing can be a valuable tool in this aspect of our careers, helping us to summarize key information and present it in a concise manner. Additionally, when working with data and findings, precis writing allows us to distill complex information into easily understandable summaries.

Writing Reports and Proposals

Crafting compelling reports and proposals can help businesses communicate their ideas effectively and engage their target audience. When writing these documents, it’s important to consider the writing style that will best resonate with your audience. An audience analysis can help you determine whether a formal or informal tone is appropriate, as well as what level of technical jargon should be used.

To ensure that your report or proposal is engaging, consider incorporating visual aids such as graphs or charts. These can help break up large blocks of text and make complex data easier to understand. Additionally, using active voice and concise language can keep readers interested and focused on the main points. Finally, don’t forget to include a clear call-to-action at the end of your document to encourage your audience to take action based on the information presented.

In summarizing data and findings, it’s important to distill complex information into a concise format that is easy for others to understand. By using precis writing techniques, you can create summaries that are both informative and engaging for your target audience.

Summarizing Data and Findings

In writing reports and proposals, presenting data and findings is a crucial part of the process. It allows the audience to understand the research better and reach informed decisions based on the information presented. However, summarizing data and findings can be challenging, especially when dealing with complex information that needs to be communicated accurately.

That is why it is essential to emphasize the importance of clarity in communication. To achieve this, one needs to present information concisely without sacrificing accuracy. A useful tool for achieving concise communication is precis writing. It involves condensing lengthy text into a shorter version while retaining its main ideas and essential details. By doing so, one ensures that the audience understands important points without getting lost in unnecessary details or jargon.

Importance of ClarityConcise Communication
Enables better decision-makingRetains essential details
Increases understandingCondenses lengthy text
Avoids confusionEmphasizes important points

As such, it’s crucial to develop precis writing skills as they enable us to communicate complex ideas effectively. In summary, summarizing data and findings are critical tasks in report writing that require clarity in communication. Precis writing provides an effective means of achieving concise communication while retaining essential aspects of the research presented.

When it comes to resources for precis writing, there are several tools available online that can help simplify and streamline the process further.

Resources for Precis Writing

Don’t miss out on the helpful resources available for mastering precis writing! There are plenty of online resources that can help you develop your precis writing techniques. One great resource is the Purdue Online Writing Lab, which has a comprehensive guide to precis writing that covers everything from understanding the purpose of a precis to tips for editing and revising your work. Another useful tool is the Hemingway Editor, which can help you identify areas where your writing may be too wordy or complex.

In addition to these online resources, it’s also worth seeking out examples of well-written precis to study. By analyzing how other writers have approached this type of writing, you can gain insights into what works and what doesn’t. In the next section, we’ll look at some examples of well-written precis and explore what makes them effective.

Examples of Well-Written Precis

As we discussed in the previous subtopic, resources like books and online articles can be excellent tools for improving your precis writing skills. However, it’s important to put those resources into practice by studying examples of well-written precis. This not only allows you to see the techniques used by skilled writers but also gives you a benchmark for evaluating your own work.

To help with this, we have compiled a table below showing five examples of well-written precis along with their original text sources. As you study these examples, pay attention to how each writer condenses the original text while still maintaining its main ideas and tone. Note any specific language or structural techniques that they use, such as active voice or parallel sentence structure. By analyzing these examples closely, you’ll gain a better understanding of what goes into an effective precis and be able to apply those techniques to your own writing.

ExampleOriginal Text Source
The Art of WarSun Tzu’s “The Art of War”
On LibertyJohn Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty”
The Communist ManifestoKarl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ “The Communist Manifesto”
Silent SpringRachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”
I Have A Dream SpeechMartin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech”

By utilizing these examples and practicing their techniques in your own writing, you can become more confident in producing clear and concise precis that accurately convey the main ideas of their source material. In the next section, we’ll discuss some final thoughts on how to continue developing your skills as a precis writer.

As we wrap up our discussion on how to write précis effectively using various resources available at hand and studying well-written précis through concrete examples mentioned above; it is essential now to summarize all our learning points in order to take away some key learnings from here which will help us in our future endeavours.

Conclusion and Next Steps

So, in conclusion, we’ve covered some great examples of well-written precis and learned how to write a precis effectively. It’s important to remember that practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempts aren’t perfect. Keep practicing and striving for improvement, and you’ll soon find yourself writing precise and effective summaries with ease. Let’s keep working towards mastering this important skill!

Summary of Key Points

To effectively summarize key points in precis writing, one must capture the essence of the text using vivid language that brings the content to life. Analyzing techniques and writing styles are crucial when it comes to crafting a successful summary. To achieve this, one should focus on understanding the author’s purpose and tone, as well as identifying the main ideas and supporting details.

When summarizing key points, it is important to keep in mind that you are presenting a condensed version of the original text. This means that every word counts, and unnecessary information should be eliminated. To do this successfully, one must have a clear understanding of what is important and what can be left out. By utilizing strong language and highlighting essential details, you can create a compelling summary that captures the essence of the text. With these techniques in mind, anyone can master precis writing with practice and dedication.

Encouragement to Practice and Improve

Practice and improvement are key to mastering the art of precis, and with dedication and persistence, anyone can become a skilled summary writer. To achieve mastery in this skill, it is important to consistently practice summarizing complex texts into clear, concise statements that capture their essence. One practical tip for improving your precis writing is to focus on identifying the main ideas and themes within a text before attempting to summarize it. This helps you prioritize what information should be included in your summary.

Motivation techniques can also play a crucial role in improving your precis writing skills. Setting realistic goals, tracking progress, and celebrating small victories along the way can help keep you motivated while working towards mastery. Additionally, seeking feedback from others and analyzing examples of high-quality summaries can provide valuable insight into how to improve your own writing. By incorporating these practical tips and motivation techniques into your approach towards precis writing, you can continue developing your skills and ultimately become an expert at distilling complex ideas into succinct summaries.

Column 1Column 2Column 3
Realistic GoalsTracking ProgressSmall Victories
FeedbackAnalysis of ExamplesExpertise

This table highlights the importance of several key factors when pursuing mastery in precis writing. Dedication and persistence are necessary traits for anyone striving to improve their skills in this area. Consistent practice is also crucial for honing one’s abilities over time. Motivational techniques such as setting realistic goals, tracking progress, celebrating small victories along the way, seeking feedback from others, and analyzing examples from experts can all help you stay on track towards achieving expertise in précis writing.


As we come to the end of our journey on how to write precis writing, it’s important to recognize that this skill is more than just a requirement for academic success. It’s an essential tool in any career that involves communication, analysis, and decision-making. Just like a skilled carpenter who uses precision tools to create beautiful furniture, a skilled professional uses precis writing to produce clear and concise ideas.

Imagine you are driving down a winding road at night without headlights. You can’t see what’s ahead of you or where you’re going. Now imagine turning on those lights and suddenly everything becomes clear – the road curves ahead, there’s a sharp drop off on one side, but on the other side is breathtaking scenery. Precis writing is like those headlights – it illuminates the path forward and allows us to navigate through complex ideas with ease.

In conclusion, mastering precis writing takes time and effort but it is worth it in the end. With this skill under your belt, you’ll be able to communicate effectively in any situation – whether it’s explaining complicated concepts to colleagues or presenting research findings at conferences. Remember that precis writing is not just about summarizing content; it’s about distilling complex information into simple yet powerful ideas that can guide us towards success in our careers and beyond.

Michael is a passionate writer and dedicated typist with a flair for helping others excel in the world of online typing. With years of experience in remote work and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities it presents, Michael is committed to sharing valuable insights, practical tips, and expert advice on typing online from home.