Valuable Tips On How To Write A Precis

The precis is a short record of the text for the purpose of analytical processing of the information of the primary source, which is valuable for the subject-compiler. Written fixation of the text in the form of a synopsis allows you to create a manuscript that is not intended for publication, without the need for additional references to the primary source. It includes not only the foremost provisions, but also the arguments supporting them, specific facts and examples, but without their detailed description. So, it is necessary for subsequent usage in more complex work: for creating a presentation, when preparing an abstract, term work, diploma work, etc.

Objective, Tasks, and Sequence of Writing

If you want to learn how to create a good synopsis, you should know that the aim of writing this paper is to record individually important data with possible subsequent recovery. Tasks of writing usually include acquaintance with primary sources and developing the ability to choose the main thing in the flow of information and the skill of its processing.

The work can be completed in three ways:

  • citation (full or partial) of the key provisions of the source material;
  • transmission of the main ideas of the text through your own expressions;
  • mixed option.

All variants assume the use of abbreviations.

The following sequence of writing is recommended:

  • analyze the content of different fragments of the text and highlight those that have a relatively independent meaning;
  • highlight important data from each part, removing redundant data;
  • record significant information in your own words or quote. The usage of abbreviations is recommended.

How to Write a Precis Based On Its Type

As practice shows, there here are four types of a conspectus:

  • textual;
  • planned;
  • free;
  • thematic.

The textual (the simplest) one consists of individual quotations from the author. All you need is the ability to highlight phrases that carry the central semantic load. It is an excellent source for the author’s verbatim statements and facts. The textual synopsis has been used for a long time. Disadvantage: It does not sharply activate attention and memory.

Planned is a summary of individual fragments of the material corresponding to the names of the points of the previously developed plan. It teaches you to consistently and clearly state your thoughts, work on a book, summarizing its content in the formulations of the plan. Such a written work is short, simple, and clear in its form. This makes it an indispensable tool for the quick preparation of a report, speech. Disadvantage: after the lapse of time from the moment of writing, it is difficult to recall the content of the source.

Free synopsis is an individual presentation of the text. It reflects the author’s thoughts through your own vision. A detailed study of the material is required. A free paper is a combination of extracts, quotations, sometimes abstracts, part of its text may be provided with a plan. This is the complete type of synopsis.

A thematic summary is a presentation of info on one topic from several sources. Drawing up a thematic synopsis teaches you to work on a topic, thoroughly thinking it over, analyzing different points of view on the same issue. Thus, this paper makes it easier to work on the topic, upon condition that multiple sources are used.

How to Write a Precis: Detailed Manual

When looking for material on how to write a precis, try to stop your attention on the following guide:

  • determine the basic purpose;
  • indicate the title of the outlined work (or part of it) and its output, i.e., make a bibliographic description of the document;
  • comprehend the main content of the text by reading it twice;
  • when reading the studied material for the first time, divide it into the general semantic parts, allocate the basic thoughts and conclusions;
  • make a plan for the text – the basis of the paper, formulate its paragraphs, and determine what exactly should be provided for the disclosure of each of them;
  • the most significant provisions of the studied material (theses) should be consistently and briefly stated or cited in the form of quotations, including specific facts and examples;
  • when composing a paper, you may inscribe individual words and whole sentences in abbreviated form, choose only key fragments, and apply symbols;
  • the form of a conspectus should reflect its content as clearly as possible. So, highlight the paragraphs, apply underlines, apply different colors, etc.;
  • it is appropriate to use a referential way of presenting the material. Therefore, phrases such as “According to the opinion of the author …”, “The author notes …”, “The author points to …”, etc. should be widely applied;
  • your own questions, thoughts, and comments can be placed in the margin.

How to Write a Precis of Various Types of Papers

The guidelines on how to write a precis may differ depending on what paper (book, scientific article, literary work, etc.) is being outlined. Let’s consider these features bases on the example of several papers.

A Conspectus of the Scientific Article 

When making a summary of scientific articles, the most important thing is the ability to emphasize the main and the secondary. But the nuance here is that it is not allowed to change the text of the original source. You must keep the author’s punctuation and represent quotations unchanged. The conspectus of a scientific article must be extremely accurate so that it can be used in further work. Notes are indicated here with special characters such as Sic! (means that it was written that way, even if the mistake is obvious) or NB – Nota Bene (means that you need to pay attention or remember).

A Conspectus of the Dictionary Entry

When generating the conspectus of dictionary entries, the main task is to determine the meanings of certain concepts. Despite the fact that many represent them in full, without shortening or changing in any way, this is not entirely correct. It is enough to inscribe only the most important thing about the term, and grammatical characteristics and examples of use can be completely omitted.

A Conspectus of the Literary Work

When creating notes on a literary work, it is very significant not to get confused, because very often you have to work with voluminous texts or study several texts in parallel. For this, it is recommended to use schematic notes, better known as mind maps or memory cards. When composing such notes, you need to apply arrows, circles, and other graphic elements that can illustrate the development of storylines. This option is not only convenient but also develops imaginative thinking and allows you to remember more information.

Basic Techniques for Creating a Precis

There are several world-renowned techniques for creating a synopsis. Within the framework of our article, it seems appropriate to consider some of them.

Mental Maps Method

The mental maps technique is considered one of the most popular for creating a summary of complex topics. It was developed by English psychologist and TV presenter Tony Buzan in the 70s of the twentieth century.

You take a blank sheet of paper and place a central concept in the middle. Already from it, you scatter branches or arrows in different directions, leading to key ideas related to the general theme. It is best to allocate one word, based on which, with the help of associations, you will extract information from memory. To use this method, you will need colored pens or markers. It is much easier to navigate the material by emphasizing certain words with various colors.

Bill Gates Method

In general terms, the technique looks like this: you divide a sheet of paper into several squares, for example, four. In each square, you illustrate info on a specific topic in a thesis form. For example, in one square, you may have dates, in another – names, in the third – places or events, in the fourth – questions you may have, etc. According to some people, the Bill Gates technique is a slightly modified version of the Cornell method.

Flow Method

The flow method is suitable for those who do not want to make notes after the lecturer, as a stenographer. It was developed by Canadian writer and journalist Scott Young. The basic idea is that the lecture should be perceived not as passive, but as an active process because only in this case, you can get the maximum benefit from it.

In the process of creating a conspectus, you should reflect and develop your ideas, writing down only the key points, commenting on everything else in your own words. Naturally, in this case, your notes will differ from the words of the lecturer, so it is better to use the technique if the discipline allows the subsequent formulation of thoughts in its own way. If you have to take notes on a lot of any exact data, but you still like the method, take a dictaphone to the lecture so that after listening to it, add the notes with what you missed.

The Sentence Method

One of the simplest note-taking techniques is the sentence method. It resembles the classical method of stenography when the listener seeks to record absolutely everything that he hears from the lecturer. However, the difference is that you provide each sentence on a new line while numbering it. Thanks to the numbering, you may easily refer to another in one sentence, simply by creating a corresponding note, for example, “see No. 17”.

Cornell Method

The Cornell method was developed in the middle of the twentieth century by Walter Pauk, a professor at Cornell University. The bottom line is this: you need to take an A4 sheet and mark it in a certain way.

Draw two horizontal lines: one at the top of the sheet for dates and headings, and one at the bottom for a summary (there should be space for 5-6 sentences under the line).

Draw a long vertical line in the middle of the sheet so that it divides the sheet into two columns: the column on the left should be small, and on the right – large (it is better than its width is just over 6 cm).

When you take notes on an article, book, or lecture, keep your basic records in the right column. Leave a little space between sentences so that you can add something later.

When you are finished taking notes, complete the left column. It should include key ideas, dates, names, places, etc. You may also enter your questions here. Then, fill in space under the bottom horizontal line – indicate there the main point of the entire paper in a few sentences.

Paper Design

In this article, it also seems appropriate to talk about how to draw up a paper for the convenience of its further use:

  • when making a summary, leave space (wide margins) for additions, notes, recording unfamiliar terms and names requiring clarification;
  • apply a specific system of underlining, abbreviations, conventions;
  • observe the citation rules – enclose a quote in quotation marks, provide a link to the source indicating the page;
  • learn to use color to highlight certain informative nodes in the text. Each color must have a strictly unambiguous, predetermined purpose. For example, if you use blue ink to mark notes, then: in red – underline the names of topics, inscribe the most important formulas; in black – underline the headings of subtopics, paragraphs, etc.; in green – make extracts of quotations, number formulas, etc.

How to Complete a Conspectus Without Mistakes

It is very significant for each modern student to learn how to write a precis without mistakes. Here is a list of the most common mistakes you should avoid while writing:

  • the paper repeats the theses word for word; there is no coherence in the retelling;
  • the general data is not related to the plan;
  • verbosity (many introductory words) or excessive brevity, the incompleteness of the main semantic provisions of the text;
  • when transferring the content of the text, the author’s peculiarity of the text, its structure is lost.

Try to pay special attention to preventing these mistakes in your paper, and you will definitely learn how to write a precis correctly. Start active work, and soon you will get excellent results!

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