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Write a Précis

How long should a précis be?

In general, a précis should be one-third (or less) the length of the original.

What are the parts of a précis?

The parts of a précis will depend on the original text. Here are some steps to follow:

  • Read and reflect on the original text carefully, several times. You will need to know the original text very well in order to write a proper précis.
  • Write down the main points of the passage in order they appear.
  • Draft a paragraph that links these points without adding any new content.
  • To keep the précis brief, look for places where you can shorten phrases and remove any non-essential language. For example, Paulo Coelho’s quotation, “It’s part of the human condition to want to share things—thoughts, ideas, opinions,” could become “Humans want to share ideas with others.”

How can I improve my précis?

  • Make sure you keep the author’s tone and meaning.
  • As much as possible, follow the order of the original text.

Example of a Précis

Original text

In the beginning of the twenty-first century, more unrelated people are living together under the same roof. These people may be joined together for love. They may be joined for convenience. Or, they may be joined out of necessity. Whatever the reason, choosing a roommate is one of the most important decisions you will make. If two people are united for love, then choosing a roommate is a very personal decision. If two or more people are going to live together for convenience, or out of necessity, then choosing roommates is an important decision. This decision must be well thought out because choosing the wrong roommate could cost you financially, physically, and mentally. Choosing a roommate is difficult, but the process you use in choosing a roommate is as important as the roommate you choose, because the process you choose will lead to your roommate, and your new roommate will have a significant effect on your life.


More unrelated people are living together out of love, convenience, or necessity. When choosing a roommate for convenience or necessity, the process is must be well thought out because the person you choose will have a significant effect on your life.

(Adapted from Buckley, 2013, p. 162).

Buckley, J. (2013). Fit to print. 8th ed. Toronto: Nelson.

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