Thursday 16 February 2017

Precis writing - Definition, Rules and Procedure

Precis writing - Definition, Rules and Procedure


    The word “Precis” is a French word, though it is now commonly used in English. Its real meaning is a “gist” or “summary” and as such it is very close to the English word “Precise”. Whereas the word “Precis” is a noun. “Precise” is an adjective which means exact and clear. Thus a “Precis” is a summary or statement of facts in the few possible number of words. A “Precis” gives the gist or main theme of a passage in a clear? lucid form giving all the essentials and leaving out all the redundancies.

    precis and Paraphrase 

    It is very important to understand the difference between a precis and a paraphrase. Whereas a paraphrase gives a11 the details of passage apart from its substance, a precis gives only the essential parts. Thus the paraphrase is usually as long as the original passage and may sometimes be even longer. But a good precis is much shorter than the original passage.. It is generally one-third of the number Of words in the original passage. Secondly, whereas the paraphrase usually follows the sequence of ideas in the passage. The precis is not bound. by a such consideration. Though it may endeavor to follow this sequence. Its main thrust is the cohesion of. the ideas in connection with the main idea (or the title) of the passage.

    Essentials of a Good Precis

    The following are the essentials of a good precis which should always be borne in mind while making a precis of a given passage:
    1. A good precis must give the impression of an original literary piece and not a combination of words, phrases, clauses and sentences extracted from the original passage.
    2. As such it must be written in one’s own language strictly adhering to the thorough content of the original passage, an overall impression of which must be conveyed in the precis.
    3. This tantamount to saying that the precis must contain all the important ideas of the original passage, while at the same time shedding all redundancies.
    4. The precis must be written in a natural, spontaneously flowing piece of prose without any hindrance to the general sense.
    5. It should be complete in itself, but at the same time clear, lucid and precise.
    6. It should contain no unnecessary examples, illustrations, quotations, proverbs and other such matter.
    7. It should be free from repetition of sentences and ideas.
    8. It should contain only the viewpoint as expressed in the original passage.
    9. It should contain no comments or additions in ideas made by the precis writer.
    10. Similarly, it should not eliminate any of the essential ideas contained in the original passage which are related to the central theme of the passage.
    11. It should be free from errors of spelling, punctuation etc.
    12. It should not exceed the prescribed limit of the number of words except by three or four words.
    13. When no limit is prescribed, it should contain about one-third of the number of the original passage.
    14. It must have a title, even if the student concerned has been asked to supply one or not.
    15. It should be written in the third person, in past tense and in indirect form, as far as possible.
    16. When the original passage contains a Universal truth or a statement of facts, it may be written in the same tense as the original passage.
    17. It can be written in the first person when it contains facts pertaining to mankind or countrymen in general.
    18. It must look impressive and perfect in all respects and it must be written in a beautiful handwriting, simple style, Consisting of short, pithy words and sentences, while bombastic and tough Words and complicated lengthy sentences should be avoided.

    Procedure for Making a Precis

    The following steps should be taken while making a precis
    1. Read the given passage twice or thrice or more times till you fully grasp its meaning. Even if you do not know the exact meaning of certain words, phrases or sentences. Try to follow the general idea of the passage.
    2. Try to bear the main idea in mind while making subsequent readings. At the same time, keeping an eye on some relevant catchy word or phrase, especially in the beginning or the end so as to write the title at the end.
    3. While making and third reading, go on underlining or marking important words and sentences. But it will be better if you jot down important ideas in a serial order without much looking at the original passage, after you feel, you have comprehended its general sense. These points should preferably be written in your own language, so that they prove useful while writing the precis in its proper form.
    4.Each point, as stated above, must be written very carefully while learning in mind that you neither omit an important, nor include a repetitive or redundant idea nor add anything from your own.
    5 On the basis of the points thus noted, make a rough draft. Count its number of words. Make necessary addition or deduction to make the precis contain about one4hird of the number of words in the original passage.
    6. You may in the first draft write two or three headings and then choose the one you think is the most suitable in the final or fair draft.
    7. The final or fair draft should be written when you are satisfied in all respects that you have properly modified the rough draft so as to become an ideal precis piece free from all errors and weaknesses.
    8. Before writing the title or heading, write the number of words in the original passage and those in the precis.
    9. It is important to remember that sometimes the original V passage consists of two or more paragraphs and the sense is overlapping in more than one paragraph. As such in the precis draft the number of paragraphs need not necessarily be the same as in the original passage.
    1O.It will also be much beneficial if the student learns by heart most of the “One-word substitution” given in the standard grammar books. This will facilitate him in writing fewer words for a number of words.

    precised Sentences

    Before we come over to making precis of paragraphs, we may have some practice in precising a number of a few sentences. This will give us a better preparation for undertaking making precis of paragraphs:
    Note: The following sentences are only examples:
    1. Some of them contain words which can be found in standard grammars in the chapter: “One-word substitution.”
    2. In some cases, change of parts of speech of words, change of kind or voice of sentence can help in reducing the number of words:
    (1) It was so dark that nothing could be seen.(Words: 9)
    Summarized: Nothing was visible in the dark. (Words: 6)
    (2) It was in the fitness of things to invite him to tea. (Words: 12)
    Summarized: It Was proper to invite him, to tea. (Words: 8)
    (3) The prices have risen so high that it is difficult for a common man to make both ends meet. (Words: 19)
    Summarized: A common man cannot make both ends meet in these hard days. (Words: 12)
    (4) He is not only honest, but also truthful; not only courageous but also brave. (Words: 14)
    Summarized: He is honest, truthful, courageous and brave. (Words: 7)
    (5) Science has proved both a blessing and a curse in as much as it has created means of abundance, luxury and comfort as also the destruction and tension. (Words: 26)
    Summarized: Science has brought to man both abundance, luxury and comfort and destruction and tension. (Words: 14)
    (6) The social qualities of man have manifested themselves to such an extent in the modern world that man cannot today afford to live in isolation, otherwise he can face a virtual ostracisation which is the other name for a stunted growth of personality and economic and psychological hardship. (Words:51)
    Summarized: Today man can live only in society, otherwise he has to face economic and psychological hardship. (Words: 16)
    (7) The modern man is so much dependent on machines that he can no longer live without them. (Words: 17)
    Summarized: The modem man is a slave to machines. (Words: 8)
    (8) Books stand by man through thick and thin when even his closest friends have left him in the lurch. (Words: 19)
    Summarized: Books are the best friends of man. (Words: 7)

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