How to Write an Executive Summary
An executive summary, as the name implies, is a brief summary of a lengthy report intended for busy executives who are interested in bottom-line of deliverables. An executive summary briefly and logically summarizes the principal points of a detailed report. It is aimed at the audience who do not have time for the full report and who do not have technical knowledge in the area. It is the most important document as many people may not read further.
The main intention of the executive summary is to quickly review the most important facts or points related to the larger document. At the same time it should not miss any major point. So, it should stand alone and include the background, purpose, scope, conclusion, and recommendations. There are different kinds of executive summaries, which can be written for various purposes; it can be part of a business plan or investment proposal to elucidate the clearest selling points and cash flow projections, or it can be a brief summary of Engineering or Scientific report to give an overview of an experiment.
How to Write an Executive Summary
Regardless of which type of an Executive Summary is being developed, the following points should be considered:
- Information on the background and purpose of the report is always necessary.
- Some executive summaries are client specific; in such cases it is necessary to understand the client’s requirements and develop the report accordingly.
- Generally, executive summary reports should have concise, complete, specific and self-sufficient information that can be understood in isolation.
- Relevant findings and information from every section of the report should be covered, at least one sentence should be provided for each main section.
- Major findings can be highlighted with formatting or graphics.
- Provide the main results in tabular or graphical format that can be easily understood by the reader.
- Background and other supporting information can be included to make the topic easily comprehensible.
- To make the summary concise remove unnecessary words and sentences.
- An outline of recommendations or commentary can be included at the end of the executive summary.
- If a summary report is written after developing the detailed report, it accurately reflects the content of the report.
- Ensure that the summary should not recapitulate the background or repeat the recommendations.
- Plain and formal language should be used (avoid technical jargon and uncommon phrases).
- As an executive summary is intended for busy people, therefore sentences should be short and to the point.
- Appropriate tone is necessary.
- An executive summary is normally two to ten pages in length.
- It is generally provided at the beginning of the report
- Consistent format should be used throughout the report
- Its size should be 10% of the detailed report.
- Paragraphs should be short; multiple ideas can be summarized within a paragraph as bullet points.
- Font size should be at least 12 pts. with double-spaced paragraphs.
- Before finalizing the report, check for accuracy of grammar and spelling.
- It is better to ask a person who is unfamiliar with the subject to check the report and who does not have technical background to see if it makes sense.
Finally, a well written executive summary should cover all the essential information in an appropriate style and in a suitable format. It should be flawless and can be used as a reference to the detailed report.
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