How to write an executive summary


Thinking how to write an executive summary? If yes, then you have clicked on the right article. Keep reading and you will get to know everything about an ideal executive summary. The key contents of this article are:

  • What is an executive summary?
  • How to write an executive summary?
  • Mistakes you should avoid while making executive summaries

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary offers an overview of a research paper or any other document. It is usually the first thing in a paper that a reader sees. Most often, this is the only place where decision-makers go, to demonstrate if action is warranted on a specific idea or action. They analyze conclusions or problem. Afterwards, they recommend actions in a brief manner as well. While writing an executive summary you should remember that readers generally do not have too much time to invest. This is why they pay more attention to summary to get an insight into the whole text. So, an executive summary must be able to invite readers and entice them to go through the document as well.

How to write an executive summary?


Be clear on what is an executive summary

Before you actually start writing a summary understand that it is a short review of a document. Always focus on the words “short” and “review”. They will remind you that you should not make it comprehensive in any way. The reason why it should not be comprehensive is that you are not creating as a substitute for the main text. Keep it longer than 5-10% part of your main essay, report or any paper. 

Secondly, don’t confuse it with abstract. An abstract has a completely different purpose. Where executive summary provides an overall summary, abstract offers an orientation to readers. In case you need help to clear confusions on this aspect, you can connect to assignment experts and get valuable suggestions.

Abide by structural guidelines

Most of the authoritative sources who create ideal executive summaries suggest that there should be a specific structural guideline. Also, some stylistic guidelines should apply. In case you don’t have a clue about this, have a look at some common yet vital stylistic and structural guidelines:

  • Executive summaries have to be written in a language which is appropriate and suitable for the target audience.
  • The paragraphs of executive summaries should be short and concise. Long sentences will make the section unnecessarily lengthy.
  • Executive summaries must make a point or sense. This is why you should know the context of the main document before writing a summary.

State the problem clearly

As mentioned above, an executive summary states a problem. Thus, don’t skip on this point. You must define the problem in your summary. Moreover, a vague idea won’t do any good for you. You should define the problem clearly. Executive summaries need clear definitions of the problems of their main document. Also, use some understandable terms instead of going for heavy vocabulary.

Offer a solution

Once you are done with briefing the problem in your summary, move to offer a solution as well. Every problem awaits a solution and here, you have to provide the same. When it comes to present a claim, statement of purpose, present something which can tackle the issue effectively. However, no matter how perfectly you portray a solution, it will not make any difference if your problem is not written clearly. This is why you should focus on presenting your problem clearly.

Use points, headings and graphics

In order to make your executive summary readable, present facts in points. If it is going to be lengthy, you can include headings and subheadings as well. One of the main purpose of a writer while making an executive summary should be connecting the readers. An average reader will only connect if the content will be easy to skim. This is why you will have to break your content into points and headings. It is important. 

Next to this, you can use graphics to make it interactive and attractive. This section is not an essay. You should not include large blocks of texts. A nicely-placed graphic which can illustrate the precise nature of the main problem can enhance the value of your summary. Graphics stimulates the visual sense of readers and it is often as effective as analytical sense.

Try to write fresh and jargon-free content 

Summaries should never include jargons. You can consider jargon as the enemy of an ideal executive summary. Keep your focus on making the writing fresh and jargon-free. For example, if you are writing for the business world, you should stay away from using words like “leverage”, “interface”, “core competency”. In the context of the business world, these words obscure the real meaning. They can appear to be deceptive to the readers. Other than this, they tend to make the executive summary vague and devoid of specifics.

Begin with the original document

When you are just about to start writing, stop for a while and think what are you going to start with. If you are already having a clear idea or opinion of an ideal beginning, go ahead. In case you are unsure, follow this advice. Go through the original document. You can skim through it. Try to jot down the important points which are highly required to be in the summary. Be it any document a business proposal, plan, manual, report or anything. Read, review and look for the main ideas. Try and get familiar with the main document first because if you really want to condense it down to a good summary, you should know it in the first place. This is something very basic but unskippable.

Mistakes you should avoid while making executive summaries


Now that you know how to write an executive summary, let’s have a look at how not to write an executive summary. Our experts advice to avoid making some common mistakes while writing an executive summary. Have a look at them:

1. Explaining the background

If you are habitual of writing too much information of background in the summary, change the way you work. The main information about the background has to be mentioned in the “background section” or in the “introduction”. You are not supposed to provide extensive data in the summary itself. 

2. Explaining the details

Just like the issue of describing the background, in summary, some people explain too many details. Now, if you are one of them you need to work on this aspect. You should understand that writing a summary is all about providing information in short. You have the whole main body of the document to explain things to your readers. Spare the summary.

3. Repeating the content

No, we are not addressing the repetition in the main document. Here, we are very specific to the content of the executive summary. Most often, students and other writers repeat the content of summary at the beginning of the main paper or essay. This is something you should not do because this repetition will disconnect your readers.

4. Using varied terms than the main document

Always make sure that your summary goes in sync with the main text. If you will use varied terms in the summary from those in your main essay, report or any other text, then you are doing it all wrong. For example, an executive summary of research papers should consist of research findings and not observations. 

5. Having mismatch in content

While writing the executive summary if you forget to mention the important point of the main paper, then it can go wrong. Avoid having a mismatch in your content. The highlights of your executive summary should be involved in the main document as well. The report, essay or any other paper must also not have any important points that are not there in the summary.

6. Repeating summary in conclusion

If your main paper, be it an essay or research paper contains a conclusion, it must be a wrap-up only. There are many people who repeat the executive summary almost verbatim in the last section of the text. Don’t mix-up things. 

7. Too short or too long summary

It has been observed that some people either include too much or too little in their summaries. Make sure that you can create a balance. An ideal executive summary can run from one single paragraph to a whole page. The main focus should be on covering the vital results, findings or recommendations only.

Q & A 

How to write an executive summary for a report?

While writing an executive summary for a report you should begin with a summary. It is also required to involve written material which is already involved in the main report. Make sure that the summary for report consists of concise and short paragraphs. It must be written in the same order your report is. Lastly, the length of the summary should be 5-10% of the main report.

How to write an executive summary for a project of essay to make it compelling?

In order to write a compelling summary for a project, you should be ready to explain a need, problem or goal briefly. You can go through some sample executive summaries to get a clear picture of what you are aiming at. Try to describe the expected outcomes clearly. Also, explain your proposed solution/solutions. Tell how are your planning to overcome the risks. By the end, you can ask for the decision. You can consider taking the best essay writing help for quick assistance.

How to write an executive summary for a business plan in the right way?

The executive summary is written for a business plan with an objective of briefing the key points of the documents. The main purpose of this section is to lessen the reading time of readers and preparing them for the specifications of the business plan. While writing it, make sure that you are writing an overview. 

State, what how will your business will help the readers, clients, or markets. Explain your services or products and what will make them compelling to the target market. Implementation of the business plan should be in the summary as well. You can outline the schedule for taking the business from the planning stage.

How to write an executive summary for a research paper?

A research paper is generally a lengthy task which contains extensive information. If you are thinking about how to write an executive summary for a research paper, you should try to keep it simple and short. To make your work easier, read the abstract carefully. They are short paragraphs written by the writer to offer a summary of research articles. Identify the main position or argument of the article. Scan the main argument as well and most importantly understand the context of the research paper first and then start writing its summary.