You are currently viewing Difference Between Summary and Precis

Difference Between Summary and Precis

  • Post last modified:April 2, 2023
  • Reading time:8 mins read
  • Post category:Words
  • Post author:

Brief explanation of summary and precis

A summary is a condensed version of a larger text or document that presents the main points and ideas in a brief and concise manner. It provides a general overview of the original text, highlighting the most important information and omitting details and supporting evidence.

A precis, on the other hand, is a highly structured summary that condenses the main ideas of a text or document into a shorter version while retaining its meaning and tone. It is written in a specific format, including a heading, a statement of the author’s thesis or main argument, a summary of the key points, and a conclusion. A precis aims to provide a comprehensive and objective summary of the original text.

Summary

A summary is a brief and concise version of a longer text, document, or speech that highlights the main points and ideas. It presents a general overview of the original content, focusing on the most important information while omitting details, supporting evidence, and examples.

A summary is often used to provide readers or listeners with a quick and accessible understanding of a complex or lengthy text. It requires careful reading and analysis of the original content in order to identify the key elements that need to be included in the summary.

Precis

A precis is a highly structured and concise summary of a longer text or document that retains the meaning, tone, and emphasis of the original. It aims to provide a clear and comprehensive understanding of the main ideas and arguments presented in the original content while condensing it into a shorter version.

A precis typically includes a heading, a statement of the author’s thesis or main argument, a summary of the key points, and a conclusion. It requires a deep understanding of the original content and the ability to rephrase and condense complex ideas into a few sentences. A precis is often used in academic writing, especially in fields such as literature, philosophy, and social sciences.

Differences between Summary and Precis

There are several differences between summary and precis, including the purpose, length, level of detail, and writing style.

  1. Purpose: The primary purpose of a summary is to provide a general overview of the original content by highlighting the main points and ideas. It aims to give readers or listeners a quick and accessible understanding of the text. A precis, on the other hand, aims to provide a comprehensive and objective summary of the original content while retaining its meaning, tone, and emphasis. It typically includes a heading, a statement of the author’s thesis or main argument, a summary of the key points, and a conclusion.
  2. Length: A summary is usually shorter than a precis, ranging from a few sentences to a few paragraphs. It focuses on the most important information while omitting details, supporting evidence, and examples. A precis, on the other hand, is more detailed and structured, ranging from one-third to one-fourth of the original length.
  3. Level of detail: A summary provides a general overview of the text by focusing on the main points and ideas. It omits supporting evidence, details, and examples. A precis, on the other hand, includes more detail, retaining the meaning and tone of the original content while condensing it into a shorter version. It provides a comprehensive understanding of the main ideas and arguments presented in the text.
  4. Writing style: A summary is usually written in a casual or informal style, using simple language and avoiding technical terms. It aims to be accessible to a general audience. A precis, on the other hand, is written in a formal and objective style, using technical terms and following a specific format. It aims to provide a comprehensive and accurate understanding of the original content.
  5. Examples: Examples of a summary include news headlines, book reviews, and abstracts. Examples of a precis include academic papers, research reports, and literary analyses.

While both summary and precis involve condensing the main points of a text or document, a precis is more detailed, structured, and formal than a summary.

How to Write a Summary

Here are the steps to follow when writing a summary:

  1. Read and understand the original text: Before you can write a summary, it’s important to read and understand the original text. Take your time to carefully read the text, and make note of the main points, ideas, and arguments.
  2. Identify the key points: Once you have a good understanding of the original text, identify the main points, ideas, and arguments that the author is making. Highlight or underline them for easy reference.
  3. Create a thesis statement: Based on the main points, create a thesis statement that summarizes the author’s main argument or point of view.
  4. Write the summary: Use your thesis statement as a guide to write the summary. Start by introducing the author, title, and main point of the text. Then, summarize the key points in a clear and concise manner. Avoid including any details, supporting evidence, or examples, as these can make the summary too long and detract from the main points.
  5. Edit and revise: Once you’ve written the summary, review it for clarity, accuracy, and conciseness. Make sure that it accurately reflects the main points of the original text and is easy to understand.
  6. Check for errors: Before submitting or sharing your summary, check for any spelling or grammatical errors. Make sure that the summary is free of errors and ready for publication or sharing.

By following these steps, you can write a clear and concise summary that accurately reflects the main points and ideas of the original text.

How to Write a Precis

Here are the steps to follow when writing a precis:

  1. Read and understand the original text: Before you can write a precis, it’s important to read and understand the original text. Take your time to carefully read the text, and make note of the main points, ideas, and arguments.
  2. Identify the author’s thesis: Once you have a good understanding of the original text, identify the author’s thesis or main argument. This is the central point around which the rest of the text revolves.
  3. Identify the key points: Based on the author’s thesis, identify the key points, ideas, and arguments that support it. These should be the most important elements of the original text.
  4. Condense the text: Begin by condensing the original text into a shorter version, making sure to retain the meaning, tone, and emphasis of the original. Use your own words to rephrase and summarize the key points, while maintaining the author’s original ideas.
  5. Write the precis: Follow a specific format when writing the precis. Start with a heading that includes the author’s name, title of the text, and date of publication. Then, write a sentence that includes the author’s thesis or main argument. Next, summarize the key points of the text in a few sentences, making sure to use concise and clear language. Finally, write a concluding sentence that highlights the author’s conclusion or main message.
  6. Edit and revise: Once you’ve written the precis, review it for accuracy, clarity, and conciseness. Make sure that it accurately reflects the main points and ideas of the original text and that it follows the specific format.
  7. Check for errors: Before submitting or sharing your precis, check for any spelling or grammatical errors. Make sure that the precis is free of errors and ready for publication or sharing.

By following these steps, you can write a comprehensive and accurate precis that condenses the main points and ideas of the original text while retaining its meaning, tone, and emphasis.

Conclusion

Summaries and precis are both important tools for condensing and communicating the main points of a larger text. While summaries aim to provide a brief overview of the most important ideas and arguments, precis are more focused on condensing the author’s thesis and supporting arguments into a concise format.

Writing a good summary or precis requires careful reading and understanding of the original text, as well as the ability to condense its ideas into a shorter format while maintaining its meaning and emphasis. By following the steps outlined above, you can improve your skills in writing effective summaries and precis that accurately convey the main points and ideas of the original text.

Reference website

  1. Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL): https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/summary_and_paraphrase/how_to_write_a_summary.html
  2. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Writing Center: https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/summary/
  3. The Elements of Style by Strunk and White: https://www.bartleby.com/141/