Precis Writing = Summary Writing
A summary or precis is the shortened form of a passage.
A good summary should be complete in itself. It should be able to convey the ideas expressed in the original passage so that a reader who does not have enough time to read the original one should have no trouble getting the message.
Here are some features to keep in mind while writing a summary.
1. A summary should be brief, clear and precise. However, there shouldn’t be a number of disjointed simple sentences.
2. A good summary should give ideas, facts or points in the order in which they appear in the original.
3. The original passage may contain pieces of conversation. When you summarise it, all the sentences given in the direct speech should be changed into indirect.
4. The summary should be in the writer’s own words. As far as possible, avoid using the vocabulary used in the original.
5. Also note that a summary shall not contain points not mentioned in the original.
6. If the passage is in poetry, express its ideas in prose.
7. Write the precis in simple language. Avoid lengthy sentences containing many clauses.
8. Don’t use phrases such as ‘the writer says’, ‘I think’ or ‘in my opinion'.
9. The summary or precis of a passage has to be expressed in the fewest and clearest words possible.
10. In a summary, you should mention only important points and leave out all
Let us put some of these rules to practice. Here is a paragraph describing the author’s visit a town.
Note how the entire paragraph can be reduced to one sentence if we weed out all the
Let us look at the following examples.
The bent old lady with the tattered sari slowly shuffled across the crowded road.
The old lady crossed the road.
He crawled slowly, sometimes on his stomach, sometimes on his side, weaving himself a
path through the heather down to the stream. Once there, he decided that he had ample
cover and started to run. But he had erred, for bullets were soon whistling past him. He
dropped flat on the ground, counted up to a hundred and then began crawling again. He
moved tortuously and as silendy as he could to his camp at the foot of the hill.
Very stealthily, he moved towards the foothill camp.
Summary writing can be of two types.
TYPE – 1 :
You could be asked to condense the number of words of the whole passage to about one-third its length.
TYPE – 2 :
You could be given a specific question and given a specific number of words in which to limit your answer.
Modern summary writing is generally concerned with the second type. Hence we will study this in greater detail.
Related Links :
- Precis Writing - 2
- Precis Writing - 3
- Uses of Precis Writing
- Exercise on Precis Writing
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