PRECISWRITINGCHAPTER IIntroduction1. The art of condensing passages to varying lengths isexceedingly useful and calls into play several faculties which require exercise if one wishes to become a capable citizen. Everyjournalist has to perform this task for the newspaper to whichhe belongs every storyteller has to do it when he reproducessome tale or tales every letterwriter does it in his summary ofthe weeks events when he writes home no typical public servant, in whatever public service he may be employed, canavoid it under any circumstances, when he has to present a seriesof letters or correspondence in a consecutive and readable statement expressed as briefly and distinctly as possible. There ispractically no profession, trade or calling from which the precismaking habit of mind can be excluded.2. The word precis, though frequently used in Englishis a French word meaning summary, abstract, condensed statement, epitome. It is pronounced pressee and is connected withthe English word precise. A precis is the gist or main themeof a passage, a letter or a series of letters, expressed in as fewwords as possible. It should be lucid, succinct and full in respectof all essential points, so that even a casual reader of it may beable to grasp the main points and general effect of the passage otfcorrespondence summarised.PRECISWRITINGPreciswriting does not mean paraphrasing. A paraphraseshould contain not only the gist of a passage, but also all itsdetails, collected and presented in a coherent form. It willbe at least as long as the original. But a precis must always bemuch shorter than the original, for it is intended to express onlythe main theme shorn of all unessential details, and that as terselyas possible. A precis in a Government office serves the mostuseful and effective purpose of placing before those who have todeal with the letter or correspondence of which it is a precis, thesalient points of the original so as to enable them to deal with thesubjectmatter of the letter or correspondence as completely andthoroughly as possible. The length of a precis would thereforedepend not on the number of letters and amount of matter acorrespondence contains, but on the number of points or separatefacts involved in it.That brevity is the soul of wit, everybody has to accept, but,,it does not imply that any important point or points or mattermay be left out. A precis besides being brief must be completeand quite satisfying. Again it must be noted that brevity doesnot mean a sacrifice of clearness or clarity of thought, vision, orperspective. If, for example, a letter or correspondence containsa series of events or arguments, the precis should state them all notonly concisely but also clearly: for a precis, far from clouding orconfusing the purport or meaning of its subject, must present itin a clear, easily intelligible and understandable manner. If thepreciswriter sees or thinks that he sees any flaw in the argument,,that is a matter which does not concern him.