Basic Requirements for the Précis
▪ 1000 words; Times New Roman; 12pt; double-spaced.
▪ A précis is not a book report, plot summary, or blow-by-blow summary. It is an attempt
to capture the essence of an argument concisely, insightfully, and impartially.
▪ A précis is also not a critique, but it lays the groundwork for meaningful criticism, since
how could we possibly assess how successful a project is before fully digesting in a sympathetic way what that project was really about?!
Outline of the Précis
• Introduction (100 words)
1. What is the author’s central question or main worry? What question or
problem is the book trying to answer or solve?
2. Why, according to the author, is this question/concern interesting/important?
[1 short, key passage]
3. What is the book’s thesis, or proposed answer to the question or solution to
the problem? What viewpoint or proposal are they arguing for? What are they
trying to persuade the reader of? [1 short, key passage]
• Reconstruction of the argument (900 words)
What are the major steps in the argument leading to that conclusion? [1 short, key passage for each claim/step]
o Be sure to capture the logic of how these key claims fit together and build toward the book’s conclusion
o And discuss what types of evidence are offered in support of each claim.