How to Write a Critical Precis: Writing Guide with Examples

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How to Write a Critical Precis: Writing Guide with Examples
Table of Contents
  1. How to Write a Critical Precis: Writing Guide with Examples
  2. What Is a Critical Precis?
  3. Features of a Quality Precis
  4. What Is the Proper Precis Format and Structure?
  5. Introduction: How to Start a Precis Correctly
  6. Main Body Paragraphs
  7. How to Conclude a Precis
  8. How to Write an A+ Precis Step-by-Step
  9. Precis Examples
  10. Tips on Writing a Compelling Precis
  11. Final Thoughts

Précis comes from a French word meaning “precise explanation”. It is to some extent similar to an abstract and a summary. But these are not the same types of work. If you are looking for comprehensive writing guides to write a proper critical precise, check this article. It answers the questions:

  • What is a rhetorical precis and its format?
  • How to write a critical precis?
  • What are some good examples of a precis?

Whether you have never written a critical precis or know the basics but want to improve your skills, you will find insights in this article. Alternatively, you can leave a 'do my essay for me' request, and our pro academic writers will be happy to help you with a precis.

What Is a Critical Precis?

Critical or rhetorical précis is a type of academic writing which presents ideas of a book, abstract, or an article in a condensed form and is devoid of personal opinion. You should not criticize or question the author’s ideas and arguments or take a stand on the issue. The purpose is to acquaint a reader with the main points of the original work preserving its structure and arguments. Remember, you should not express your personal opinion about the analyzed work because you are not writing a critical book review. It means that you should retell the author’s opinion and ideas, using the writer’s word.

Features of a Quality Precis

To be able to write an informative, compelling, and objective paper, you should understand what features a good precis should have. Keep in mind that a critical precis is not a:

  • Plan or outline of the original passage or article
  • Retelling of the original source
  • Simple abstract of the text
  • Selection of the most prominent phrases and sentences
  • Chain of facts and sentences that are not connected.

On the other hand, a good precis has the following features:

  • Is about ¼ of the original source length
  • Is written in present tense
  • Does not contain personal pronouns I, we. Is written in the third person
  • Presents paraphrased ideas from the original source expressed in a concise form rather than copy-pasted sentences
  • Is logically ordered and coherent
  • Does not express your opinion or give additional information and details that are not mentioned in the original text
  • It should be clear, concise, coherent, and objective.

What Is the Proper Precis Format and Structure?

Precis often contains direct quotes. Thus, all the citations and references should be formatted following the corresponding formatting style requirements. The most common are APA, MLA, Chicago, and Harvard. However, you should always check the instructions given to you by your teacher.

Rhetorical precis is short by nature. Its length depends on the size of the original text. It should be about ¼ of the piece analyzed. Regardless of this fact, precis has all the structural components of a typical essay. Precis outline includes an introduction, thesis, main body paragraphs, and conclusion. Let's find out what should be written in each part.

Introduction: How to Start a Precis Correctly

Essays usually start with a hook. In case of a precis, it is an open question. Some argue that it is a compulsory part; thus, it should be the first sentence. Others claim that we should get straight to the point and omit the unnecessary details. However, the fact is that an introduction of a precis should contain a sentence introducing the original work. In this sentence, you should mention the author’s name, the name of the work, the publication date, and a power verb (such as claim, argue, criticize, recon, etc.), and thesis statement. It might be one or a couple of sentences, but the critical precis introduction is usually short.

Remember, when writing a precis, avoid providing details not mentioned in the original source. A thesis should also be the one stated by the author, not your opinion.

Main Body Paragraphs

In the main body, present the main ideas of the original piece of writing. Make sure to discuss only one issue per paragraph, as your precis should be logically organized and coherent. Also, do not forget that you are not supposed to either criticize the author's ideas, analyze them, take a stand on the issue, or provide additional details. You should present the ideas as they are in the original text. Convey the gist of the original work without distorting its meaning and structure. You may also add evidence used by the author and add direct quotes. However, make sure they are relevant and properly formatted.

How to Conclude a Precis

As in any essay type, in precis, conclusion summarizes the paper. You should restate the main idea of the work. Also, summarize the main points covered in the precis. However, avoid copy-pasting the sentences. Do not forget that a critical precis does not presuppose you analyzing the work, sharing your opinion, or taking a stand on the issue.

How to Write an A+ Precis Step-by-Step

Now when you know the peculiarities of the structure of a rhetorical precis, it’s high time to get to the writing process. It is rather easy. The main points you should consider while writing a précis is to keep to the original structure and avoid expressing your opinion.

  1. Read the text. First of all, take your time to read the original text carefully. Make sure you understand the content and the author’s purpose. If there are some unclear points, either try to find the answers by yourself or clarify the question with your friends or professor.
  2. Take notes. When reading the text, highlight the most important ideas. You may also highlight some examples and evidence the author presents. You will use all these details when writing a precis.
  3. Formulate a thesis statement and create an outline. After you have read and understood the text, create a plan. First of all, write down a thesis statement. Ensure it is devoid of your personal opinion and fully corresponds to the idea expressed in the original text. After this, draft an outline. Discuss one idea per paragraph. Otherwise, the paper might seem clumsy and illogical.
  4. Write your precis. With the outline ready, you only have to develop the ideas mentioned in it. Make sure that the paper is organized and developed logically. Be clear, specific, and concise.
  5. Revise your precis. The last step is proofreading. Check your paper for any inconsistencies and proofread it for any type of mistakes. Make sure you have preserved the original text structure and did not add any additional information or your opinion.
How to Write a Good Critical Precis?

Precis Examples

Here are several good examples of precis introductory paragraphs.

Example of Critical Precis Introduction Sample of Critical Precis Introduction

Tips on Writing a Compelling Precis

Consider these tips when working on your critical precis. They will help you improve your paper.

  1. Take notes. Whether you are reading the text for the first time or re-reading it, write down the key ideas to analyze them later.
  2. Have proper structure. Although being short, precis should have an intro, main body, and conclusion. You may also add headings to make your paper even more clear.
  3. Don’t express your opinion. You write about the ideas from the original text in a critical precis. Do not share your opinion.
  4. Do not add new information. Even if you have something to say, there should be no information from additional sources. It will be a mistake.
  5. Use present tenses. Avoid using past tenses in a rhetorical precis. Talk about the issues in the present tense.
  6. Discuss one idea per paragraph. To make your paper clear and logical, discuss only one idea per paragraph. Make sure each idea is related to the thesis statement and presented as in the original text.
  7. Keep it simple, specific, and concise. Critical precis is a short type of writing. Thus, try to be succinct in expressing the ideas.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know all the peculiarities of precis writing, you can do it fast and effectively. Just follow the 3 main rules:

  1. Introduce the original work, its author, and main idea.
  2. Do not add details not presented in paper
  3. Avoid expressing your opinion.

There are the basic requirements. However, if you are not sure you will cope with this task, you may ask professionals for help. They will give answers to your questions and help you write an informative and engaging rhetorical precis.