Lesson: Understanding the précis: The definition
According to dictionary.com, Précis literally means to “cut short”.
If you were to go deeper, a précis is a form of an outline or a highly condensed summary of an article or any other work.
Précis, therefore, expounds the major points included in the original writing but in an abstract format.
Compared with the argumentative critical analysis- which must also be supported by sufficient evidence in the articles, the précis is highly objective.
And so, the précis neither evaluate the text nor will it include any personal reactions to texts.
How do you write a précis? The Guidelines
- Start by Reading and annotating the text or your article.
- Meditate on the writer's intentions.
- Study the evidence that the author based their text on.
- Using your own words, reframe the author's thesis.
- Summarize each subsection of the original article in one or two sentences.
- Take your summary notes and go through them again while comparing them with the initial article.
- Using your paraphrased thesis and the brief summary statements, write the précis.
- Re-evaluate the précis to ascertain that you’ve clearly explained the key point in the article, highlighted the evidence used by the writer to support his case and that you’ve also maintained the article’s initial logical structure.
- Lastly, check the précis for clarity, correctness, and coherence.
What is the correct structure of a précis?
Maintaining a formal flow is very crucial if the précis is to capture your audience’s attention.
Typically, the précis should include the following;
The opening is key. You can either capture or lose your readers at this stage.
Use your creativity to get it right.
A writer can use can offer a hook, describing the principal author's topic in broad terms before finally restating the author's thesis.
Other writers may open the précis with the paraphrased author's thesis before moving on to describe the topic’s broader framework.
So, which approach best fits your assignment?
The best way to ensure that the opening of your précis meets the requirements of the assignment is to enquire from your professor about their preferred format.
Whatever the rhetorical precis template, the thesis restatement must include the author’s name, the original title to the primary article, plus the date that the article was published.
Here is an example:
“In his influential essay (1936), “Beowulf: The Monsters (and the Critics)” J.R.R. Tolkien heavily criticizes modern day scholars for mining Beowulf principally for historical evidence concerning the Anglo-Saxon period, instead of reviewing the poem as one of the greatest and more inspiring literature works.”
As a general rule, each of the body paragraphs should clearly explain and provide the relevant evidence (of course, in summary) for a separate segment of the text.
Any quotations used should be precise, correctly introduced or added, and also accurately attributed where applicable.
The closing should restate the original idea of the article and also reiterate the key supporting evidence.
All along, you should avoid the temptation to include any personal opinions about the text.
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