Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » What is “Precis Writing”, Hints for Writing a Good Precis for Students of Class 9, 10, 11, 12 Examination.

What is “Precis Writing”, Hints for Writing a Good Precis for Students of Class 9, 10, 11, 12 Examination.

Art of Precis Writing

There is a great importance attached to the art of precis writing in the modern age. Precis writing, in one form or the other, is a part of the daily job of the officials in both public and private organisations. It is for this reason that candidates for recruitment to almost all types of services are now-a-days required to do Precis-writing in the General English Paper. It is, therefore, highly essential for the students to learn the art of precis writing properly for obtaining good marks in the General English Paper.

Meaning of the word ‘precise’ : The word ‘Precise’ means ‘precise’. ‘definite’, or ‘concise’. The Chamber’s Twentieth Century Dictionary defines it as ‘a precise or abridged statement’.

Precise as used in the English language today, denotes a clear, brief, accurate, well connected abstract, summary or gist of a written or spoken matter. Its utility has been amply recognized and more emphasis is being laid on the development of the faculty to write a Precis. However, Precis writing is more an art than a science.

In other words, ‘Precis’ means a concise and abridged shape of the original longer passage without losing the main substance of the said passage. Precis, the English term has originated from the French word ‘Preza’, meaning limited. Precis, in the realm of literature, may be defined as the art of expressing the main idea of a literary composition, in the shortest and most logical manner. The ostensible object of a Precis is to provide the reader with an unbiased, correct and objective record of the writer’s views, ideas and arguments in minimum number of words. Clearly, the Precis writer will have to select and compress the information contained in the original passage.

The Precis writer should not have a careless and casual reading of the passage. He must understand every argument and the significance of each word and idea. Equally important is the writing part of the Precis. The choice of the words should be very judicious, because wrong selection will distort the ideas of the original. Thus, a Precis writer should not show flourishes of learning, flights of imagination and rhetorical talent. He has to pin down the facts, arguments, ideas or images with the accuracy of a scientist. He is in fact, an observant and accurate imitator of the ideas and the spirit of the writer. He is required to chisel, shorten and reshape the original passage without distorting the thought content. Thus, there is no doubt that a Precis is the mirror of the writer’s views.

Hints for Writing a Good Precis

  1. Read the given passage carefully and try to understand it. You may have to read it several times to have a complete grasp of the subject matter. Do not start writing the precis unless you have understood the given passage well.
  2. Mark out or underline the main theme of the given piece and its subordinate ideas and arrange them according to their relative value, importance and sequence.
  3. Now make out a rough sketch or draft giving the main theme and all the ideas in the original passage in a coherent, continuous narrative form using your own simple language. The length of your rough draft should approximate to one—third of the original passage. Avoid all superfluous remarks, illustrations, examples, quotations etc.
  4. Do not give your personal comments or views. You are to be faithful to the author of the original passage and should only put forth what he wants to convey. Give your attempted precis a simple, concise and well connected form so that the reader may understand it easily.
  5. As already pointed out the precis should be in ‘indirect speech’, ‘third person’ and ‘past tense’ unless of course a particular universal truth is to be necessarily expressed.
  6. Opening sentence of a precis is always very important. It indicates what is to follow. So be careful about it.
  7. When you are required to write a precis of more than one paragraph apply all the rules to each para.
  8. Do not borrow high-flown, ambiguous words or phrases from the original passage. That is suicidal for a good precis. Use your own simple, concise and idiomatic English. Avoid spelling, punctuation and grammatical mistakes.
  9. Now revise your draft keeping in view all the hints and requirements of a good precis given above.
  10. Never forget to give your precis a suitable title. That is a must.

Hints in Nutshell

  1. 1. Understand the given passage well.
  2. Mark or underline the points or ideas.
  3. Prepare a rough draft in your own words avoiding every superfluity.
  4. Give only the views of the author of the passage.
  5. Use only indirect form of speech, third person and past tense.
  6. Be careful of the opening sentence of your precis. It is important.
  7. Mark the central idea in each paragraph.
  8. Your precis should be simple, concise, clear and a coherent narrative.
  9. Revise your draft keeping in view the above points.
  10. Do not forget to give a suitable title to your precis.

Essential Principles of Precis Writing


In goes without saying that the first essential in making a Precis is a understand the original passage clearly. It is common error to begin making a Precis without properly grasping the meaning of the original passage. In fact, all attempts at short-cuts are bound to end in failure. Once the meaning of a passage has been understood clearly, it is possible to begin the task of stating the meaning in percise form. It should be explicitly borne in mind that Precis does not consist merely in omitting words and phrases. The Precis, in fact, is an entirely fresh statement, the fewer the words of the original passage are retained, the clearer the new version will be.


The Basic and foremost point a person must keep in view is that he should have a keen sense of judging the central idea, the main theme of the passage given to him for making a Precis. If he possesses a good power of judgement and concentration, it will enable him to arrange his ideas, his words, and his presentation in a precise manner by pruning all the unnecessary materials. Although, brevity is the central theme of a Precis yet, central theme or the proper arrangement of the ideas or the presentation of the facts is not to be sacrificed for the sake of brevity.



The next essential point is the possession i of a sound knowledge of vocabulary or word power. It is very essential that the writer of a Precis possesses a large worth power. Any candidate who is short of words or whose vocabulary is too limited will find it difficult to attempt a good Precis. It is good vocabulary only which coupled with concentration and conciseness makes Precis writing clear and smooth and also gives a unified impression of the passage in its final form.



Through the process of selection one can determine, what is essential to the understanding of, what the writer is saying and what is not? A candidate must read the passage a third or even a fourth time in order to understand it thoroughly. To read a passage repeatedly till you understand it thoroughly, is not a waste of time. It will help you to select the salient features of the Passage.



The precis writer must understand the passage in its true perspective. All the points in the passage are not equally important. It is even possible to write a Precis which omits nothing that is important and rejects all that is not, and which is still a bad precis because it loses the true perspective and does not make the central idea stand out.



 A good Precis should be written in a proper order. It must present a clear unbroken sequence of ideas. A breach of order is always inexcusable and most of all in a Precis. Therefore, a Precis must be made with careful attention to its order. The order in the Precis should be the same as the order of the original passage.



Conciseness is a quality which hardly needs emphasizing, since, it is the essential characteristic of a Precis, the characteristic which gives its name.



Another indispensable feature of a good Precis is its clarity. Without it no writing is good, but in a passage which is intended to give the reader as effectively and quickly as possible the gist of the matter, the writer must aim at it even more than usual. Clarity implies the absence of ambiguity, vagueness and circumlocution. All the sentence -I should be concrete, exact and loaded with ideas.



Finally a Precis must possess unity. The Precis must be an organic whole, and not a mere sum of its various parts. Unity is the real vital quality of a Precis and without it the Precis remains incomplete, a mass of words not yet fused into a living thought. When the Precis has unity, it is a complete literary form independent of the passage from which it is derived.


Making a Suitable Title

 The title is the most important part of the Precis. It shows, whether the student has understood the passage or not. Therefore, selection of the heading should be made judiciously.

Heading of a Precis differs from the title of a book, an article, or a news-story in its essentials. Title of a book is assigned to lure the reader into reading either by arousing curiosity or by giving imaginative touches. Title of an article is selected t-) give the latest slant to the topic. Similarly, for assigning the heading of a news-story human interest is kept in mind. But the heading of a Precis should be a faithful mirror of the analysis of the passage:


The main objective of this website is to provide quality study material to all students (from 1st to 12th class of any board) irrespective of their background as our motto is “Education for Everyone”. It is also a very good platform for teachers who want to share their valuable knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *