"A précis is a brief, original summary of the important ideas given in a long selection. Its aim is to give the general effect created by the original selection." A summary or a précis is NOT a personal interpretation of a work or an expression of your opinion of the idea; it is, rather, an exact replica in miniature of the work, often reduced to one-quarter to one-fifth of its size, in which you express the complete argument! A précis is a short summary. It is not a paraphrase, which merely says in different and simpler words exactly what the passage being paraphrased has to say. A paraphrase may be a long as the passage itself. A précis rarely is more than onethird the length of the original selection and may be only one-fourth as long. A précis gives only the "heart" of a passage. It omits repetition and such details as examples, illustrations, and adjectives unless they are of unusual importance. A précis is written entirely in the words of the person writing it, not in the words of the original selection. Avoid the temptation to lift long phrases and whole sentences from the original. A précis is written from the point of view of the author whose work is being summarized. Do not begin with such expressions as "This author says" or "The paragraph means." Begin as though you were summarizing your own writing. Read carefully, sentence by sentence, the passage to be summarized. Try to grasp the writer's main point. Spotting the topic sentence will help. Look up in the dictionary any words whose meaning is not absolutely clear. As you read, take brief notes to be used in your writing. When you have finally decided what the author's main point is, write it out in your own words. Do not use the wording of the original except for certain key words which you may find indispensable. If you cannot translate the idea into language of your own, you do not understand them very well. Be especially careful not to rely too much on the topic sentence. Do not add any opinions or ideas of your own Revise your writing until you are sure that you have given an accurate summary. Usually you will find your précis is too long, if it is more than one-third the length of the original. Continue your revision until you have reduced the précis to the proper length. For the purpose of this class your précis should be no longer than 1 typed double spaced page with 1” margins (approx. 200 – 250 words). Original text At a typical football match we are likely to see players committing deliberate fouls, often behind the referee's back. They might try to take a throw-in or a free kick from an incorrect but more advantageous positions in defiance of the clearly stated rules of the game .They sometimes challenge the rulings of the referee or linesmen in an offensive way which often deserves exemplary punishment or even sending off. No wonder spectators fight amongst themselves, damage stadiums, or take the law into their own hands by invading the pitch in the hope of affecting the outcome of the match.' [100 words ] Summary Unsportsmanlike like behavior by footballers may cause hooliganism among spectators. [9 words] What To Do Mrs. Johnson, a strong black woman living on her southern farm with her younger daughter, Maggie, is waiting for a visit by her elder daughter, Dee. Dee is returning from her home in the city, and the mother has cleaned and swept the house and yard in order to make a good impression. What to avoid Walker opens the story by building up the contrast that will soon be made apparent. Her narrator, Mrs. Johnson, is a plain, down-to-earth woman who has worked hard all her life and whose basic value is her home and possessions. The contrast is her daughter Dee, whose visit she is waiting for. Dee has left home and lives a sophisticated life in the city. Mrs. Johnson takes pride in her home, while Dee will regard the home and her mother's belongings as being of no more use than to be put on display. In what to avoid the paragraph starts with a topic sentence, to which the sentences that follow adhere. Such writing is commendable elsewhere, but not in a précis. The other paragraph is better writing as a précis, for it presents a selection of details only as they appear in the story, without introductory sentences. In the story there are no such introductions. Sentences: Because a précis should be concise and factual, it is tempting to write sentences that are like short bursts of machine-gun fire. Sentences of this kind are often called "choppy," or "bumpy." Here is an example of choppy sentences: Dee comes in a car. She is dressed flamboyantly. She is with a strange man. He is short and bearded. She greets her mother and sister in foreign phrases. The man does, too. she immediately begins taking pictures. She snaps her mother with her sister in the background. she also takes pictures of wandering cows. She makes sure to get the house in all the shots. She kisses her mother the, on the forehead An entire essay consisting of sentences like these might make readers feel as though they have been machine-gunned. Although you should include details, you also need to shape and organize your sentences. Here is a more acceptable set of sentences revised to contain the same information: When Dee comes, she is flamboyantly dressed, and she gets out of the car with a strange, short, and bearded man. Both Dee and the man greet Mrs. Johnson and Maggie in foreign phrases. Before embracing her mother, Dee gets her Polaroid camera and takes pictures of her mother, her sister, and wandering cows, taking care to include the house in all her shots. Only then does she kiss her mother, and then only on the forehead. This revision blends the shorter sentences together while still attempting to cover the essential details from the story. Ours is a nation of new-rich people convinced that material goods will in themselves, make life worth the living. Any individual who makes a great deal of money rapidly supposes that wealth is evidence of worth. He imagines that with his means he can buy happiness. These mistakes seem folly to one born to property. He knows that because he or his friends have it, it is no sign that they are worth it. Happiness, which all men desire, cannot be purchased. We go in for the nonsense that a full fist indicates a fine spirit. [96 words] Phrases and sentences merely copied from original On the whole we are a nation of new-rich people who are well washed and well dressed, but we don't know what we're washed and dressed for. Our material goods are all standardized and expensively advertised. Advertisers appeal to our greed and vanity. We think these material goods are the means to wealth and happiness. The old rich know that their friends aren't worth the money they have, but the new-rich don't know this until they have been rich for a while. [81 words] Précis misses original points and stresses on unimportant points. First, the critical minority says that we are a nation of newrich people all dressed up with no place to go. We think the material gods advertised by appeals to our greed and vanity are what makes life worth living. Anyone who makes a lot of money thinks his money shows his worth and believes that it will make him happy. The old-rich, however, think that these ideas are foolish. Born into a rich family with property, these people know that money and property don't make them any better people. They know that the opposite its frequently true. They know that money in itself isn't worth much and that it won't buy happiness, which is the thing everyone wants. The new rich however, don't know these things until they have been rich long enough to find them out. Almost everyone, regardless of social class, believes that possessions make their owners better, and the more you have the more worthy you are. This is nonsense. 163 words] Précis is too long The critical minority says we are a nation of new-rich people who are victims of newspaper, magazine, and television advertising which, by appealing to our greed and vanity, tries to convince us that all we need for happiness is a lot of possessions. We don't need most of the advertised stuff like appliances, big cars, and fur coats, but the rest of the world judges our worth by what we have. In many other countries, people don't have the material goods we have. We can't all be as lucky as the old-rich, who don't have to worry about money because they already have it. [104 words] Writer of précis has injected his own ideas Critics of American culture see us as a new-rich people who, because we are new-rich, think that material goods make life worth living. We think that money is an indication of worth and that wealth brings happiness. The old-rich know better. Born to property, they do not believe that just because they have it, they are worth it. They know that happiness cannot be bought. The new-rich, however, make the mistake of believing possessions indicate the worth of their owner. [80 words] Idea stated in précis writer's words and is less than one third of length of original paragraph. To persuade is to convince someone that a particular opinion or point of view is the correct one. Any time you argue with a friend, you are each trying to persuade , to convince , the other that your opinion is the right one. Commercials on TV are another form of persuasion . You will often have to persuade in writing. Once you learn how to persuade logically and rationally, you will be less likely to accept the false , misleading and emotional arguments that you hear and read everyday. Facts: Facts are simply statements of what is. They should appeal to the readers mind not just to the emotions. The source of your facts should be clear to the reader. Avoid the vague “everyone knows that” or “it is common knowledge” or “they all say”. Such statements would make your reader suspect your facts. Referring to an authority: An authority is an expert , someone who can be relied on to give unbiased facts and information. If you wish to convince your audience that smoking is dangerous habit , you might use one of the surgeon general’s warning. Examples: An example should clearly relate to an argument. Avoid examples that are not suitable enough to support your general statement. That your friend was once bitten by a dog does not adequately prove that all dogs are dangerous pets. Predicting the consequences: This helps the reader to visualize what will occur if something does or does not happen. Avoid exaggerating the consequences. For instance, telling the reader “ if you don’t eat fresh fruit everyday , you will never be truly healthy”. Answering the opposition: Answering possible critics show that you are aware of the opposition’s argument and are able to respond to it. Avoid calling the opposition “fools” or “crooks”. Attack their ideas not them. Pay special attention to the audience as you write a persuasive paragraph. A persuasive paper should be directed towards a particular audience. It is helpful to consider just what kind of evidence this audience would respond to. When you take your audience into consideration , you will make your persuasive paragraph more convincing.