Executive summaries

Learn how to write clear, concise and effective executive summaries.

What is an executive summary?

In a professional context people are often busy and don’t have time to read a full report. They read the executive summary to get a quick overview; to evaluate the quality of the report; or even to make a decision.

It needs to make sense to someone who hasn’t read the report (and may not ever read it). This means that it must reflect the structure of the report and provide a summary of all sections.

It is a standalone section that goes before the main content of the report - it is not part of the body and it does not replace the introduction.

How do I write one?

This video looks at the aim, audience and structure of executive summaries and provides an example for you to analyse.

Final tip

Write your executive summary last, so you know what you’ve covered in the report. Then, edit and check the structure by using a different colour highlighter to show which sentences relate to each section (e.g. aim in blue, findings in green). This will help you to see if you’ve missed anything.

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