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Professional Writing Guide

Resources for professional writing

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a brief overview of a report designed to give readers a preview and understanding of its contents. An executive summary should explain why you wrote your report, emphasize your recommendations, and include only the essential information to support any conclusions.

Executive Summary Best Practices

An executive summary previews the full report in a nontechnical manner. It is written to give the reader enough background to be familiarized with the full report without having to have read it.

Planning -

  • Plan to create an execustive summary when you write a business report over four pages.
  • Execustive Summaries should be about one tenth the length of the original report.
  • List the main points of the report to include in your summary.

Writing -

  • To begin writing your executive summary, start by writing a simple declarative sentence for each main point in your list.
  • Add supporting sentences to each point, avoiding the use of technical jargon.

Review -

  • Re-read the summary making sure it conveys our points and recommendations. You want readers to understand the full report from the summary.
  • Check for errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. 
  • Ask a nontechnical person (or someone not in your field) to read the summary and note any moments of confusion.

Books on Writing an Executive Summary