Précis Writing


Précis Writing

Bhajan Goyal


The word précis comes from the French language and it means ‘summary’. Hence, précis writing means the art of summarizing. It is one of the most useful skills you should acquire for your work both as a student and as a professional. Précis writing involves summarizing a document to extract the maximum amount of information, then conveying this information to a reader in minimum words.


A précis is a clear, compact logical summary of a passage. It preserves only the essential or important ideas of the original.

Qualities of a Good Précis

A good précis shows the writing skills of a person. It must have the following qualities.

  1. Clarity

Clarity means getting your message across so that the receiver can understand what the writer is trying to convey. There should not be any ambiguity in your writing.

  1. Correctness

Mistakes in your writings always irritate the examiner. Of course, mistakes are never intentional; even so there is no excuse for them. We may consider the mistakes under the following headings.

  • Misspelled words
  • Mistakes in figures and dates
  • Mistakes in punctuation
  • Mistakes of grammar and structure
  1. Objectivity

Objectivity means the ability to present or view facts uncoloured by feelings, opinions and personal bias. While writing a précis, you should adopt an objective approach.


  1. Coherence

Coherence means the logical and clear interconnection of ideas in a written piece of work. A good précis should be coherent.

  1. Completeness

Another striking feature of a good précis is completeness. A précis should be complete in all respects. Completeness means that the writer should include all the important facts in a précis.

  1. Conciseness

Conciseness is a desirable quality of a good précis. Conciseness means to write all that needs to be written, no more! To achieve conciseness, notice the following suggestions:

  • Omitting unnecessary details
  • Eliminate wordy expressions
  • Include only relevant material
  • Avoid unnecessary repetition



A well-written précis should be a serviceable substitute for the original work. The goal of a précis is to preserve the core essence of the work in a manner that is both clear and concise. While writing a précis, do follow the below-given rules to make it an effective piece of work.

  1. Read Carefully

First read the passage twice or thrice carefully to summarize it. This will enable you to understand the main theme of the passage.

  1. Underlining

Underline and mark the important ideas and essential points from the original text.

  1. Outline

With the help of underlined ideas, draw the outline of your précis.

  1. Omission

Omit all the unnecessary information or the long phrases which could be replaced by one word. All the adjectives and the adverbs can also be omitted in order to make a good précis.

  1. Don’t Omit

While making a précis, the writer should never omit the important points and ideas which are essential to be described.

  1. Size

Keep in your mind all along that the length of the précis should be one-third of the original passage.

  1. Indirect Speech

A précis should be written in indirect speech. If there is direct speech in the passage, do change in into indirect speech.

  1. Tense and Person

It should be written in the third person and past tense. In case of a universal truth, the present tense should be used.

  1. Own Words

Write précis in your own words. Also, abstain from borrowing words from the original passage.

  1. Précis of a Dialogue

The précis of a dialogue or conversation should always be expressed in form of narrative.

  1. Objective Approach

Do adopt an objective approach; do not add your personal ideas to a précis. Put all the important points and ideas in a logical order.

  1. One Paragraph

There could be two or more paragraphs in the original text. While making the précis, try to write all the ideas in one paragraph.

  1. Rough Draft

After omitting all the unnecessary ideas, prepare a rough draft to finalize it.

  1. Final Draft

Having read the rough draft and rectifying the mistakes therein, write the final précis.




A life of action and danger moderates the dread of death. It not only gives us fortitude to bear pain, but teaches us at every step the precarious tenure on which we hold our present being. Sedentary and studious men are the most apprehensive on this score. Dr. Johnson was an instance in point. A few years seemed to him soon over, compared with those sweeping contemplations on time and infinity with which he had been used to pose himself. In the still life of a man of letters there was no obvious reason for a change. He might sit in an arm chair and pour out cups of tea to all eternity would it had been possible for him to do so. The most rational cure after all for the inordinate fear of death is to set a just value on life. If we mere wish to continue on the scene to indulge our head-strong humour and tormenting passions, we had better be gone at once,; and if we only cherish a fondness for existence according to the good we desire from it, the pang we feel at parting which it will not be very server..


Important Points

  1. i) Suitable Title: The fear if death.
  2. ii) People who spend much time sitting and studying are the most afraid of death because they lead a peaceful life and want no change.

iii) The most sensible way of getting rid of the fear if death is to value life properly. We should know that our hold upon life is very risky and that we may die any moment.

  1. iv) From this passage we learn that Dr. Johnson was afraid of death. He led a peaceful life and wanted no change. He was fond of tea.


If we lead an active life facing dangers, we will less fear death. People, who lead a lazy and peaceful life, are the most afraid of death. The most sensible way of getting rid of the fear of death is to value life properly. If we do not give unnecessary importance to our life, we will not feel the pang of death.

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