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Rhetorical Précis Template-Worksheet

Page history last edited by Ms. Reed 12 years, 7 months ago

Rhetorical Précis-Quick Reference Guide


A précis helps to ensure that you will be engaged with the texts and can intelligently and meaningfully respond to them.


Q:What is a Rhetorical Précis?

A:A précis is a four sentence paragraph that records the essential elements of an essay. Each of the four sentences requires specific information.

Q: How do I write a Rhetorical Précis?

A:Each sentence of the paragraph should contain the following information:

First sentence: Name of author [optional: a phrase describing author], genre and title of work date in parentheses; a rhetorically accurate verb (such as "assert," "argue," suggest," "imply," "claim," etc.); and a THAT clause containing the major assertion (thesis statement) of the work.


Think of it this way:

WHO are you talking about?

WHAT is their background?

WHAT did they write?

WHAT year was it written?

WHAT is their point?

Second sentence:An explanation of the evidence and development the author uses to develop and/or support the thesis, usually in chronological order.


Think of it this way:

HOW do they prove their thesis?

Do they offer interviews?

Official data?

Other outside sources? Anecdotes/Stories?

Careful description/observation?

Third sentence:A statement of the author's purpose followed by an "in order" phrase.


Think of it this way:

WHAT are they trying to do?

Are they trying to entertain you?

Persuade you to feel a certain way or change your mind about an issue?

Are they trying to inform you – sharing information that teaches?

WHY is that their purpose? In order to accomplish what?

Fourth sentence:A description of the intended audience and/or the relationship the author establishes with the audience.


Think of it this way:

WHO is the author trying to address?

For example, are they talking to teachers? parents? senior citizens? Latinos? Muslims? registered voters? It can be anyone. You need to determine if they are addressed formally (use of academic language, proper English) or informally (more conversational tone, use of slang, etc…).



Rhetorical Précis Worksheet


A rhetorical précis differs from a summary in that it is a less neutral, more analytical condensation of both the content and method of the original text. If you think of a summary as primarily a brief representation of what a text says, then you might think of the rhetorical précis as a brief representation of what a text both says and does. Although less common than a summary, a rhetorical précis is a particularly useful way to sum up your understanding of how a text works rhetorically (Reading Rhetorically, 62)


The Structure of a Rhetorical Précis

  • Sentence One: Name of the author, genre, and title of work, date in parentheses; a rhetorically active verb; and a THAT clause containing the major assertion or thesis in the text.


  • Sentence Two: An explanation of how the author develops and supports the thesis.


  • Sentence Three: A statement of the author’s apparent purpose, followed by an “in order to” phrase.


  • Sentence Four: A description of the intended audience and/or the relationship the author establishes with the audience.



Rhetorical Précis Sentence Starters


Sentence One (What?)

________________________________ in the ___________________________, _________________________,

(Author) (A) (Title)

______________________________________ that ________________________________________________




Sentence Two (How?)

______________________________ supports his/her ___________________ by ________________________

(Author’s Last Name) (B) (C)




Sentence Three (Why?)


The author’s purpose is to



________________________________ in order to / so that ________________________________________


Sentence Four (To Whom?)


The author writes in a __________________________tone for ________________________________________

(E) (audience)









book review,







argues, argument,

asserts, assertion,

suggests, suggestion,

claims, questions,

explains, explanation


comparing, contrasting

telling, explaining,

illustrating, demonstrating,

defining, describing,




point out














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