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What is a biographical precis?
A detailed definition and explanation to get you started in using this versatile writing format.

How will my biographical precis be evaluated?
Here are some guidelines to the grading of your effort.

How do I write a biographical precis?
Text instructions
How do I write a biographical precis?
Interactive tutorial  (requires Flash plugin)
Can I see an example of a biographical precis?
Of course. Three are available:
- Douglass
- Lao Tzu
- Annotated Example
What is the assignment?
How do I submit my assignments?
How do I read for this format?
a printable reading guide to help you read and write for the biographical precis format.

How do I write well-formed citations and references?
A brief guide to citation form with examples and a link to the Citation Machine.

  References and Citations

Below are examples of citations in APA style for different kinds of sources. You may find it useful to use The Citation machine to produce your citations.

Single author book
Basic Form
Author. (Date). Title. City of Publication: Publisher.

Arnheim, R. (1971). Art and visual perception. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Publishing information - Spell out the publishing names of associations and university presses, but omit superfluous terms such as "Publishers," "Co.," or "Inc." If two or more locations are given, give the location listed first or the publisher's home office. When the pubisher is a university and the name of the state (or province) is included in the university name, do not repeat the name of the state/province in the publisher location. When the author and publisher are identical, use the word "Author" as the name of the publisher.

Multiple author book
Basic Form
Authors. (Date). Title. City of Publication: Publisher.

Festinger, L., Riecken, H., & Schachter, S. (1956). When prophecy fails. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

When a work has up to (and including) six authors, cite all authors. When a work has more than six authors cite the first six followed by "et al."

Journal or Magazine Article
Basic Form
Author. (Date). Title. Publication Title, Volume, (Issue Number), pages.

Sawyer, J. (1966). Measurement and prediction, clinical and statistical. Psychological
Bulletin, 66 (3), 178-200.

Newspaper Article
Basic Form
Author. (Full date). Title. Publication Title, pages.

Monson, M. (1993, September 16). Urbana firm obstacle to office project.
The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, pp. A1,A8.

Unpublished Interview
Basic Form
Interviewer. (Date). [Interview with Interviewee]. Location.

Archer, N. (1993). [Interview with Helen Burns, author of Sense and Perception].

In this example, the interview lacks a title, so a description of the interview is given in brackets. If the interview has a title, include the title (without quotation marks) after the year, and then give a further description in brackets if necessary.

Personal conversation
Basic form
Reporting conversant. (Date). [personal communication with second conversant]. Event. Location.

Wiler, Cloe. (2004, Septermber 4). [Personal conversation with Jack Wiler]. Diner at home. Rockwell, NV.

Personal experience/testimony
Basic Form
Author. (Date). [personal testimony]. Event. Location.

Smith, Tom. (2004). [Witnessed by Tom Smith at a family picnic]. Smith family picnic. Springfield, OR.

Article in an Internet-only journal or magazine
Basic Form
Author(s). (Date). Title. Magazine or Journal Title, volume (issue), paging (if given). Retrieved [access
date] from [URL]

Kawasaki, J. L., & Raven, M.R. (1995). Computer-administered surveys in extension.
Journal of Extension, 33, 252-255. Retrieved June 2, 1999, from

Dictionary entry
Basic Form
Editor (Ed.) (Date). Title (edition). City of publication: publisher.

Anderson, K. N. (Ed.) (1994). Mosby's medical, nursing, and allied health dictionary (4th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Mosby.

Article in an edited book
Basic Form
Author(s). (Date). Article title. Editor(s) (Ed.), Book title (edition, page numbers). City of publication: publisher.

Locke, S., & Kraus, L. (1982). Modulation of natural killer cell activity by life stress and coping ability. In S.Levy (Ed.), Biological Mediators of Behavior and Disease (3rd Ed., pp. 3-28). New York: Elsevier.

A portion of a complex website with known authors and dates
Basic Form
Author(s). (Date). Title. Retrieved [date] from [Host business, agency or program]: [URL]

Kimmerling, Garth. (2002). Simone de Beauvoir. Retrieved
July 24, 2003, Philosophy Pages:

Stand-alone internet document with no specified author or date
Note: be cautious when using these ambiguous sites. If they don't stake their own name to the quality of the information, then you should not stake yours. Please don't use the many "quote" collections to glean quotes from philosophers. Tey do not provide any context, translation information, or even check for accuracy.

Basic Form
Document title or name of Web page. (n.d. = no date) Retrieved [date] from [URL]

GVU's 8th WWW user survey. (n.d.). Retrieved August 8, 2000, from



  2003 © Jon Dorbolo