Writing an essay or even a book can happen when you have the subject knowledge. But, to write a rhetorical précis you also need to understand the structure. It isn’t confusing as you think. The purpose of this blog is to provide you with a detailed insight of rhetorical précis writing with examples. Finally, we have also enclosed many templates for your perusal

We have a lot of details to be shared with you and hence without wasting a single minute, let’s quickly get into our business.

Different Types of Rhetorical Precis Templates and Examples

Four sentence Rhetorical Précis Format / Template

A four-sentence rhetorical précis records the required components of an oral or written discourse in extremely structured sections. There will also be a brief quotation that conveys the author’s tone, style, and voice. Quotation normally does not contain more words.

Sentence 1 Sentence 2 Sentence 3 Sentence 4
·         Author Name

·         Genre and title

·         Date

·         Rhetorically correct verb – Present tense

·         THAT Clause

·         Explanation of how the author defends the thesis.

·         Present tense verb


·         ASOP – Author’s statement of purpose

·         IN ORDER TO clause

·         Present tense verb

·         Audience description and relation with the author


  • In Genre, you can mention whether it is an essay, research paper, lecture etc.
  • Rhetorically correct verb – what the author is intending to do (imply, claim, argue etc)
  • Author defending the thesis – Narrating, defining, or illustrating.
  • Explanation to be provided on the same sequence as explained by the author
  • IN order to clause will let know the audience about the author’s expectation from the audience.

Sample Rhetorical Précis

Source – uen.org

How do you write a philosophy précis?

Philosophy précis must contain the following details

(i) Article thesis

(ii) Principles or theory related to the thesis

(iii) Argument supporting the thesis

Style of philosophy précis

  1. Title – Précis of [Name of the Author] “[Article Title]
  2. Double space each sentence and use 12 point font and allow one-inch margin on four sides.
  3. Précis writer name and path must be written as the last section of the précis.
  4. Mention direct quotation within quotes with page reference in square bracket following the quotation. No other citation is required as it is a rewriting work of the original article. Minimize quotation as it is hard to pull off with quotations.
  5. It is understood that précis writing is reflecting the author’s Therefore, there is no need to mention the author said etc anywhere in the précis.
  6. Retain the sequence of the article as written by the author. Restructure only if the flow and meaning of the content do not get lost.

How do you write a rhetorical essay       

Begin with the introduction stating whether it is an essay or an article. However, thereafter you can mention the word text. Then inform the audience about the situation using short and concise sentences. Also, mention if the author was successful in achieving the goal.

Now the thesis It is present as the last few sentences of the intro para which tells the purpose of the paper.

The body of the précis should contain the points that support the author’s intention in making this essay. Then mention the tone in which the author indicates the text, his/her emotions, and the ideas used to arrive at the conclusion.

Conclusion Address, the overall argument and give an overview of the text strength and weakness. Finally, emphasize why the text is effective or not according to the author’s point of view.

The above details were written as a précis for the detailed guidelines given in Rhetorical essay format. Yes, there is no author name etc just the content précis.

Rhetorical précis template with a word bank

Source – alvordschools.org

The image given above is the typical template of a rhetorical précis. You can see all the four sentences one below the other. The template is self-explanatory and you need to plug in the details to complete the précis writing exercise. But, I can understand your anxiety about Bank A, B, C, D and E. There is also something mentioned as noun and verb. What are you expected to do? Simple, refer to the below table and use the word banks based on your précis.

Let me do the first sentence for you Milan Yadav in the Research Report, Effects of Epilepsy, Discusses that genetics plays a predominant role in causing epilepsy to an individual.

The underlined words are extracted from the report and bank A and bank B words are pulled from the table. Trust I made my point clear. Likewise, try to complete all four sentences with this table.


A (Genre) B C D E
first-hand report, personal essay, biographical essay, research report, biography (Verb      /    Noun)

Discusses / Discussion

Focuses   /  Focus


retelling, listing, showing, relating, noting, highlighting the fact, justifying, pointing out, Argue


Call attention to




(register or language)

impersonal, casual


friendly, emotional, logical, reasoned, exaggerated.

This table is just a sample and get the exhaustive list of words from this bank.

Rhetorical Précis Worksheet

Its time to practice and you need a worksheet to do the same. Chegg study has helped us with worksheets. Please use them and improve your rhetorical précis writing skill.

Rhetorical Précis Writing Examples

Again there is a list of examples provided in this link and we would request you to go through them and master the art of rhetorical précis writing.

Also, a suggestion for you. If you can read the samples, then you will know that most of them given are small contents. Which indicates, that you must know how to write a concise précis by summarizing the entire report, essay, etc.

Will share some tricks on how to quickly write précis

  • Read the entire content before you write the précis. But, make sure to read and reread the abstract to get better clarity.
  • You can use complex words, but make sure the structure is simple. Substitute with one word for long sentences.
  • Refer the bank and list down words matching your content.
  • Use only clear statements and active verbs

Rhetorical Précis Verbs

It is important for the writers to know the different types of rhetorical verbs and choose the best one. So this video will provide you with the right way to categorize the verbs. Once you learn to categorize and practice, then you will know how to choose and use them. There are three types of rhetorical verbs namely high frequency, low frequency, and tone descriptors. Access this verb bank and start rocking.

Précis Example For High School

Students find it difficult in their high school to write précis because they now understand English grammar better than before. So what’s the problem? They are struggling to work on literature and nonfiction articles. Therefore, a lot of examples will help them to understand. You can find seven examples in the PDF. Yes, these are the précis done for you. I want you to do small work. Just copy paste the title and author name in the search engine to find the original article. Ask students to read them and make a précis. Then, sit together to discuss with the key that is available in the PDF. You can help them do the best précis for their life.

I have done one link for you. From the PDF the précis for 4th article link is given. I searched “Nathan Resnick Five Key Characteristics Every Entrepreneur Should Have” without quotes and got the original article. Click here you will get the original article. Write the précis and check with the PDF.

Rhetorical Précis Flashcards

What Are They – Flashcards are cards that will continue the word in the front side and its details in the backside. These cards will allow you to test your click by a look at the words before flipping them.

How To Use Them – Access Quizlet.com for reading about the basic instructions of the four-sentence rhetorical précis template. You can see the Sentence 1, 2, 3, 4 on the top of the card. Click on the card to flip and read the details from behind.

What is a rhetorical précis

Most of us have heard the term précis. It is the overview of any text including speech, research report, book, presentation etc. In simple words, the summary of any writing explaining the content is called a précis.

Now let me introduce the term rhetorical précis which is nothing but a structured way of writing précis. There are a set of guidelines to be followed while writing the rhetorical précis. This writeup is written for your own project or you want to summarize somebody’s content then you need to understand the format.

Rhetorical précis is written in four sentences. Yes, only four-sentence paragraph to write. Feeling a bit relaxed now? It is easy and let us explain to you the steps in detail.

Each sentence must be written following a set of instruction and the writer must give quotation and include bibliography reference.

How to write a rhetorical précis template – step by step guideline

Open a word document to get going with a new page. Save the page and then start giving the details one by one.

  1. Sentence 1 – Author’s name, the title of the work and genre (including the publication date and other details in bracket). Details of verbs that are rhetorically accurate, the clause to explain the main statement. Additionally, a brief intro about the author can be added. However, it is optional.
  2. Sentence 2 – Give a detailed explanation about the way in the writer exposes the content and also the way in which he/she defends the content.
  3. Sentence 3 – The reason behind this writeup. Author’s purpose is explained here and then the in order to follow this which will talk about why the author took this thesis etc.
  4. Sentence 4 – Mention the audience for whom the content is written, describe the audience and their relationship with the author.

Save your document and it is ready to go as email or you can print the document. For your benefit, we have given you ready-made templates which you can download and edit the details to save time.

Also, find this video which will explain the entire process in 2.09 minutes and now you will become a pro in making the right format for writing a rhetorical précis template.

4 line Recap of how to write rhetorical précis template

1.      Author Name, Title, Genre, Rhetorically accurate verb (imply, suggest), THAT clause

2.      Explanation – How the author defends the thesis

3.      Author purpose and In order to phrase

4.      Audience description and relationship with the author

Sample template Done for you

How do you write a précis outline

Remember that you are expected to write the outline of a book, research, or any content but not do any critical analysis. Which means to explain the text argument, structure and support. To write the outline might seem daunting at the beginning as the text will be lengthy sometimes and difficult to understand sometime. The simple trick to write the outline of any text is to read and understand the text. Read, and reread before you sit in front of the PC to write the outline.

So, now let me list down all the tricks to crack an essay to write the précis for it.

  • Reading the text – Reading means not just glancing but proper reading for at least 2 times.
  • Annotating the text – Yes, reading is a time-consuming task, hence you need to divide the text into sections. This will mentally prepare you to read the entire text without losing interest. Use highlighters and mark important words to catch your attention.
  • Restating the text thesis making own sentences – When your reading you must restate sentences in your own words for better understanding.
  • Summarizing each section of the thesis in maximum 2 sentences – Instead of summarizing at the end make it a habit to summarize at the end of each section. This will give you a gist of the text. Later you can summarize from this gist into a précis.
  • Identifying the purpose of the text been written by the author – By this time, you will be able to make out the intention of the author. Note the reason which you think is closer to the purpose of the text written by the author.
  • Creating an outline – Sit down and create the outline. This is for your reference and this draft can be further fine-tuned to make the perfect précis. So this précis outline will give you a feeling that you have almost crossed the sea.

 How do you start a précis

Before you deep dive, understand the basics to start a précis. You must know the size of your précis. This is the beginning even before you read the text. Yes, ¼ of the original content is the size of the précis. Remember to be clear, précise, and use simple language.

Make sure you are thorough with the spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Précis is the face of the author’s text and make sure you impress the reader with your précis. Never use any opinions of yours but provide credible evidence. Also, the sentences should have continuity and hence provide a coherent précis. Avoid beating around the bush and start with the actual details. Get inspired by Edubirdie’s detailed guideline and start your précis today.

 How do you write précise writing

Well, you started writing a précis and understood the right method. But, you are confused to continue further and that is the reason I have addressed all your doubts in this section. I mentioned how to start writing the size, grammar, spelling etc. Here in detail will let you know how to continue further and how many sections does your précise writing should have?

Divide the précis

Soon after you glance the essay divide them into sections. Yes, even précis can be divided into paragraphs. Authors might have addressed several things and hence you divide them into paragraphs.

Make notes

Always make notes when you read irrespective of the number of times you read. Every time you may get a new perception and hence make notes to compare and finally summarize the essay.

Begin with the idea in each section

In each new section make sure to start with the idea the author has proposed. This will let readers understand easily than mentioning the idea at the end.

Get ready with the thesis statement

Now, prepare a statement of the text. Ensure the author’s tone is maintained.

Opinions strictly No

Never give your opinion. The purpose of writing the précis is to give a summary of the entire text in the simple language. Do not include your thoughts and let it reflect only the author thought as it is in the text.

 How long is a précis supposed to be

This question does not have a specific answer. The length of the précis depends on the author’s want. If it is going to be published, then the publishing company will have a specification. For college essays, there will be a separate expectation. As a thumb rule, the précis length should not be more than 1/3 length of the actual essay.

However, check with the concerned person before starting your work.

Rules of writing a good précis?

Top 9 rules to write the best précis to make the essay 9x more visible

Rule#1 – Theme

Understand the theme of the passage and reproduce the same in the précis. Retain the same tone and style that the author used in the content. Do not assume anything and read carefully to align your thoughts with the author. If possible, have a word with the creator of the content to confirm on the purpose.

Rule#2 – Not reproduction but production

It is not about removing a few lines to cut short the content to 1/3 and submit as précis. Précis is indeed a miniature of the original content. It is small in length, but it has to be written small and not deleting lines from the original content. Read and write the summary.

Rule#3 – Mind the length but don’t lose clarity 

Keep an eye on the content length. The purpose of writing a précis is to give the detail of the essay to the audience without taking much time. But that does not mean the clarity of the content to be lost. It must give a clear picture of the text.

Read these two précis and accept that size and clarity must be on the same page

Rule#4 – Detailed passage with fewer words

Again all the details must be mentioned but use only limited words. This means you must know the right words to replace for sentences. So your précis size will be small but the passage meaning will not change.

Eg: He was taken by somebody by force and prisoned in demand for something –  He was kidnapped.

Yes,  I have reduced a 13-word sentence into just 3 words, but the meaning remains the same. This is what exactly is expected when you write précis. However, do not do this for each sentence but read the entire text and make it short

The good news is, use this one-word substitution for the sentences in the thesis and provide a brief précis.

Rule#5 – Simple language

Remember that even a lay person must understand the précis. Always keep that in mind to draft a précis. Even though the target audience is known, it is a good practice to present the précis in a simple language.

Rule#6 – Third Person

You cannot speak a 1st person or a second person tone. Only third person speech is allowed while writing a précis.

Rule#7 – What to do with figures and data

It is good to leave the statistical part of the essay in the précis. In case, if something is important, then highlight the essence of it.

Rule#8 – Refrain from commenting

You are not required to poll your opinion. That’s not your job and strictly stay away from commenting.

Rule#9 – Mind the word count

The word count should be 1/3 of the original text. Make sure you always keep that mind.

Find more rules with the example in this link

 What is a literary précis?

Précis is a French word which means cut short. Literary précis is the summary of a fiction or a story. A literary précis will explain the objective, offer logical support, and format the original fiction in a reduced form.

A sample literary précis for your perusal

Final Suggestions

The rhetorical précis is analytical thinking and neither creative nor critical writing assignment. You need to ensure that this piece captures the crux of the article. The readers must understand the content just by reading the précis. The role of a précis is large and hence pay attention to write them properly. It might be small, but you need a lot of practice to write them following the rules without changing the structure.

Feel free to download any template and keep practising until you become perfect.

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