An executive summary provides an overview of the main points of a larger report. It is often written to share with individuals who may not have time to review the entire report. The reader should be able to make a decision based only on reading the executive summary.

Why write one?

An executive summary is often written for leaders in a business or organization, such as CEOs, department heads, or supervisors, so they can get critical information quickly to decide a course of action.

What is included?

An executive summary should summarize the key points of the report. It should restate the purpose of the report, highlight the major points of the report, and describe any results, conclusions, or recommendations from the report. It should include enough information so the reader can understand what is discussed in the full report, without having to read it.

What format should be followed?

There are no set guidelines regarding the format of an executive summary. Companies, organizations, and instructors may have specific guidelines to follow. Carefully review any specific requirements outlined in instructions or requests regarding overall format, length requirements, or word limits. However, all executive summaries should be clear and concise, using a professional voice.

How do I write one?

  • Prepare: Review the full report and identify the purpose, the major points, and the key recommendations.
  • Introduce: Begin with a brief introduction that states the purpose and major points of the report.
  • Discuss the Main Points: Include a level heading for each main point you will cover; these headings should appear in the same order as they do in the full report.
    • Write a brief paragraph for each main point.
    • When sharing recommendations, discuss the benefits of the recommended course of action.
  • Proofread: As with any type of writing, be sure to carefully proofread the entire document.

View a Sample

Click to view an annotated executive summary.

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