Topic: Bind Us Apart by Nicholas Guyatt
How Do I Write a Précis?
Writing a précis requires you to actively analyze the target text, and a good précis will
reflect this involvement by focusing effectively on what’s really important in the argument.
Your précis should make the following clear:
the nature of the evidence or reasoning that the author invokes
the key steps in that reasoning
how those steps move the author toward his or her conclusion
A précis should be brief. In fact, one of the challenges of writing a précis is finding ways to
write as concisely as possible without oversimplifying the argument you are summarizing.
The purpose of the précis itself is to develop a critical summary and not a critical review. In
other words, you’re not giving your opinion of the argument. Sometimes, though, a précis
will lead into some sort of further comment on the value and persuasiveness of the author’s
argument. Depending on the specific assignment you are asked to fulfill, a précis can
become the starting point for an evaluation of the original argument or even a counterargument
in response to it.