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How To Write A High-Impact Executive Summary

By Derek Jansen | January 2018

exec summary is your first impression

In this post, I’ll deconstruct the often-misunderstood executive summary and show you how to develop a high-impact executive summary for your assignment, research report or even your dissertation or thesis.

So, what is an executive summary?

An executive summary (sometimes called an abstract ) is quite simply a summary of summaries. In other words, an executive summary provides a concise summary of each of your assignment or report chapters/sections . More specifically, it should communicate the key points/insights/findings/suggestions from the following chapters:

  • Introduction
  • Recommendations
  • Implementation (if applicable)
  • Reflection (if applicable)

I’ll discuss which key points from each section need to be addressed a bit later. On a separate note – if you’re writing an executive summary for a dissertation or thesis, all of the concepts described in this post will still apply to you, however, you’ll include an additional paragraph about your methodology, and you’ll likely spend more word count discussing your analysis findings.

The 4 Important Attributes Of An Exec Summary

Before I discuss what goes into the executive summary, let’s quickly look at 4 attributes that make for a strong executive summary:

#1 – It should be able to stand alone.

The executive summary should be able to stand independently as an informative document . In other words, the reader should be able to grasp your broad argument without having to read the full document. Further reading should be purely for attaining more detail. Simply put, the executive summary should be a “Mini-Me” of the assignment.

This independence means that anything you write in the executive summary will need to be re-stated in the body of your assignment. A common mistake that students make is to introduce key points in the executive summary and then not discuss them again in the document – accordingly, the marker must view the main document as missing these key points. Simply put – make sure you discuss key points in both the executive summary and the main body . It will feel repetitive at times – this is normal.

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#2 – It should be written for the intelligent layman.

When crafting your executive summary, its useful to keep the intelligent layman front of mind. What I mean by this is that you should write your summary assuming that your reader (i.e. the marker) will be intelligent but won’t be familiar with your topic and/or industry. This means that you should explain any technical concepts, avoid jargon and explain acronyms before using them.

#3 – It should be concise.

Typically, your executive summary should be a one-pager (one and a half pages at worst). To summarise a 3000 – 5000-word document into one page is no easy task, so you’ll need to:

  • Present only the most important information (key insights, recommendations, etc).
  • Write concisely – i.e. with brevity and completeness.

To the first point, I’ll explain what the “most important” information is for each chapter shortly. To the second point (writing concisely), there are various ways to do this, including:

  • Using simple, straightforward language.
  • Using the active voice.
  • Removing bloaty adverbs and adjectives.
  • Reducing prepositional phrases.
  • Avoiding noun strings.

Does this sound like gibberish to you? Don’t worry! The Writing Center at the University of Wisconson-Madison provides a practical guide to writing more concisely, which you can download here.

On a related note, you typically would not include headings, citations or bulleted/numbered lists in your executive summary. These visual components tend to use a lot of space, which comes at a premium, as you know.

#4 – It should be written last.

Given that your executive summary is a summary of summaries, it needs to be written last , only once you’ve identified all your key insights, recommendations and so on. This probably sounds obvious, but many students start writing the summary first (potentially because of its position in the document) and then end up re-writing it multiple times, or they don’t rewrite it and consequently end up with an executive summary which is misaligned with the main document.

Simply put, you should leave this section until everything else is completed. Once your core body content is completed, you should read through the entire document again and create a bullet-point list of all the key points . From this list, you should then craft your executive summary . The approach will also help you identify gaps, contradictions and misalignments in your main document.

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So, what goes into an executive summary?

Right, let’s get into the meat of it and consider what exactly should go into your executive summary. As I’ve mentioned, you need to present only the absolutely key point points from each of your chapters, but what does this mean exactly?

Each chapter will typically take the form of 1 paragraph (with no headings) in your executive summary. So, 5 chapters means 5 paragraphs. Naturally, some will be longer than others (let this be informed by the mark allocation), but assuming one page contains 500 words, you’re aiming for roughly 100 words per paragraph (assuming a 5-paragraph structure). See why conciseness is key!

Now, let’s look at what the key points are for each chapter in the case of a typical MBA assignment or report. In the case of a dissertation or thesis, the paragraph structure would still mimic the chapter structure – you’d just have more chapters, and therefore, more paragraphs.

Paragraph 1: Introduction

This paragraph should cover the following points:

  • A very brief explanation of the business (what does it do, for whom and where?).
  • Clear identification and explanation of the problem or opportunity that will be the focus of the assignment/report.
  • A clear statement of the purpose of the assignment (i.e. what research questions will you seek to answer?).
  • Brief mention of what data sources were utilised (i.e. secondary research) and any fieldwork undertaken (i.e. primary research ).

In other words, your first paragraph should introduce the business, the problem/opportunity to be addressed, why it’s important, and how you approached your analysis. This paragraph should make it clear to the reader what the assignment is all about at a broad level. Here’s a practical example:

This assignment focuses on ABC Ltd, a XXX business based in XXX, which provides XXX to XXX customers. To date, the firm has relied almost exclusively on XXX marketing channel. Consequently, ABC Ltd has little understanding of consumer segments, wants, and needs. This marketing channel is now under regulatory threat due to XXX.  The core challenge, therefore, is that whilst ABC Ltd seeks to grow its market share, it has little understanding of its market characteristics or competitive set, and its sole marketing channel under regulatory threat. Accordingly, the objective of this assignment is XXX. The assignment draws on survey, interview, and industry data.

Paragraph 2: Analysis and findings

In this paragraph, you should discuss the following:

  • What exactly did you analyse? For example, you might have analysed the macro context (i.e. PESTLE analysis), followed by the meso (i.e. competitor or industry analysis) and then the micro (i.e. internal organisational analysis).
  • What were your key findings in relation to the purpose of the assignment? For example, you may have identified 4 potential causes of a problem and would then state them.

In other words, your second paragraph should concisely explain what you analysed and what your main findings were . An example of this:

Segmentation analysis, consisting of macro, industry and firm-level analyses, revealed a strong segmentation variable in the form of XXX, with distinct needs in each segment. Macro analysis revealed XXX, while industry and firm-level analyses suggested XXX. Subsequently, three potential target segments were established, namely XXX, XXX and XXX.  These were then evaluated using the Directional Policy Matrix, and the results indicated XXX.

From a presentation perspective, you might structure this section as:

  • Analysis 1, findings from analysis 1.
  • Analysis 2, findings from analysis 2.
  • Analysis 3, findings from analysis 3.

Importantly, you should only discuss the findings that are directly linked to the research questions (i.e. the purpose of the assignment) – don’t digress into interesting but less relevant findings. Given that the analysis chapter typically counts for a large proportion of marks, you could viably write 2-3 paragraphs for this. Be guided by the mark allocation.

Lastly, you should ensure that the findings you present here align well with the recommendations you’ll make in the next paragraph. Think about what your recommendations are, and, if necessary, reverse engineer this paragraph to create a strong link and logical flow from analysis to recommendations.

exec summary components

Paragraph 3: Recommendations

With the key findings from your analysis presented in the preceding paragraph, you should now discuss the following:

  • What are your key recommendations?
  • How do these solve the problems you found in your analysis?
  • Were there any further conclusions?

Simply put, this paragraph (or two) should present the main recommendations and justify their use (i.e. explain how they resolve the key issue). As mentioned before, it’s critically important that your recommendations tightly align with (and resolve) the key issues that you identified in the analysis. An example:

Based on the Directional Policy Matrix analysis, it is recommended that the firm target XXX segment, because of XXX. On this basis, a positioning of XXX is proposed, as this aligns with the segment’s key needs. Furthermore, a provisional high-level marketing mix is proposed. The key aspects of the marketing mix include XXX, XXX and XXX, as these align with the firm’s positioning of XXX. By adopting these recommendations, the key issue of XXX will be resolved.

Also, note that (typically) the tone changes from past to present tense when you get to the recommendations section.

Paragraph 4: Implementation

If your assignment brief requires an implementation/project plan-type section, this paragraph will typically include the following points:

  • Time requirements (how long will it take?)
  • People requirements (what skills are needed and where do you find them?)
  • Money requirements (what budget is required?)
  • How will the project or change be managed? (i.e. project management plan)
  • What risks exist and how will these be managed?

Depending on what level of detail is required by your assignment brief, you may need to present more, less or other details in this section. As always, be guided by the assignment brief.

A practical example:

A high-level implementation plan is proposed, including a stakeholder analysis, project plan and business case. Resource requirements are presented, detailing XXX, XXX and XXX requirements. A risk analysis is presented, revealing key risks including XXX, XXX and XXX. Risk management solutions are proposed, including XXX and XXX.  

executive summary of research paper sample

Paragraph 5: Reflection

As with the implementation chapter, the need for a reflection chapter/section will vary between assignments and universities. If your assignment has this requirement, it’s typically good to cover the following points:

  • What were your key learnings? What were your ah-ha moments?
  • What has changed in the real world as a consequence of these learnings? I.e. how has your actual behaviour and approach to “X” changed, if any?
  • What are the benefits and/or disadvantages of this change, if any?

This section is very personal, and so each person’s reflections will be different. Don’t take the above points as gospel.

Time to test it out.

Once you’ve written up your executive summary and feel confident that it’s in good shape, it’s time to test it out on an unsuspecting intelligent layman. This is a critically important step, since you, as the writer, are simply too close to the work to judge whether it all makes sense to a first-time reader. In fact, you are the least suitable person on the planet!

So, find someone who is not familiar with your assignment topic (and ideally, not familiar with your industry), and ask them to have a read through your executive summary. Friends and family will usually tell you its great, regardless of the quality, so you need to test them on their understanding. Do this by asking them to give the details back to you in their own words. Poke and prod – can they tell you what the key issues and recommendations were (in their own words!). You’ll quickly spot the gaps this way, and be able to flesh out any weak areas.

  Wrapping up.

In this post, I’ve discussed how to write the all too often undercooked executive summary. I’ve discussed some important attributes of a strong executive summary, as well as the contents that typically go into it. To recap on the key points:

The key attributes of a high-impact executive summary:

  • It should be able to stand alone.
  • It should be written for the intelligent layman.
  • It should be concise.
  • It should be written last.

The key contents of a high-impact executive summary:

Each paragraph should cover a chapter from the document. For example, In the case of a typical assignment, it would be something like:

  • Summary of the introduction chapter.
  • Summary of the analysis chapter.
  • Summary of the recommendations and/or conclusions chapter.
  • Depending – summary of the implementation and reflection.

Lastly, don’t forget to test out your executive summary on an unsuspecting layman or two. This is probably the most important step of them all!

If you have any questions or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. Please get in touch here or leave a comment below.

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Thanks so much for your methodical process and explanation of Executive Summary. It is exactly what I was researching for.

Regards Saane

Derek Jansen

It’s a pleasure!

kemba franklyn

This was really helpful with how to structure my assignment.

Peter Neba

Thank you so much for the step by step process. It’s so helpful for beginners like me.

Anna H. Smith

Great! This post is very informative and gives clear guidance on to write an executive summary. Thanks very much for sharing this information, it’s very helpful.

Derek Jansen

Thanks for the feedback, Anna. Best of luck with your writing 🙂


Thank you for the great article, really helped explain what was needed.


Great insight and tips . Thanks


Thank you so much for sharing this. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Thank you for your help

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The Report Abstract and Executive Summary

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This resource is an updated version of Muriel Harris’s handbook Report Formats: a Self-instruction Module on Writing Skills for Engineers , written in 1981. The primary resources for the editing process were Paul Anderson’s Technical Communication: A Reader-Centered Approach (6th ed.) and the existing OWL PowerPoint presentation, HATS: A Design Procedure for Routine Business Documents.

The Abstract

The abstract is a crucial part of your report as it may be the only section read by people at the executive or managerial level who must make decisions based on what they read in your abstract. When you include specific content, it is important to remember these readers are looking for the information they need to make decisions.

The abstract is an overview that provides the reader with the main points and results, though it is not merely a listing of what the report contains. It is a summary of the essence of a report. For this reason, it should be crafted to present the most complete and compelling information possible. It is not a detective story building suspense as the reader hunts for clues, and should not be vague or obtuse in its content.

The abstract should include

  • Why the work was done (the basic problem), the specific purpose or objective, and the scope of the work if that is relevant. (College lab reports may not require this part of the abstract.)
  • How the work was done, the test methods or means of investigation
  • What was found—the results, conclusions, and recommendations

The abstract should

  • Not make references to material in the text
  • Not lose the message by burying the methods, results, conclusions, and recommendations in a sea of words
  • Not be written before the rest of the report

Therefore, a good abstract is

  • Self-sufficient

Evaluating abstracts

Because the abstract is of major importance in a report, a summary of effective qualities of abstracts is offered here.

A well-written abstract

  • Considers the readers it will encounter
  • States what was done and what results were found
  • Avoids vagueness by stating specific results
  • Uses past tense to report what was done
  • Is informative
  • Is self-sufficient and does not refer to the body of the report
  • Makes concrete, useful recommendations

Below are two abstracts. The first one, (A), was written by a student for a lab report, and the other one (B) was a revision written by someone with more experience in writing abstracts. Read both versions and try to figure out why the changes were made in B.

We studied the flow characteristics of meters, valves, and pipes that constitute a flow network. The meter coefficients for orifice and venture meters were determined. The orifice and venture coefficients were, on the average, 0.493 and 0.598, respectively. Fanning friction factors for pipes of different sizes and for gate and globe valves were also determined.

The accuracy with which the meter coefficients and friction factors were determined was affected by leaks in the piping network. In addition, air bubbles trapped in the pipes and manometers affected the accuracy with which pressure drops were measured. Hence, it is recommended that the piping system be checked to ensure the absence of any leaks. Furthermore, the fluid should be allowed to flow in the network for some time before taking any measurements, in order to get rid of the air trapped in the pipes and manometer.

In an orifice and a venturimeter in a flow network, we measured the meter coefficients to be 0.5 0.1 and 0.6 0.15. We measured the Fanning friction factors at steady state for several pipes and for gate and globe valves. The most important source of error was a leak in the piping network which has to be repaired in order to obtain more precise results.

The Executive Summary

The government and some companies have begun to request executive summaries at the beginning of a long report. An executive summary is a one-page statement of the problem, the purpose of the communication, and a summary of the results, conclusions, and recommendations. The same considerations of readers and situation should guide your executive summaries.

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Teaching students about brandon flowers, teaching students about blue agave, teaching students about driftwood, teaching students about fuschia, teaching students about pygmy goat, teaching students about celtic knots, teaching students about stringbean, teaching students about head gaskets, teaching students about orange color, how to write an executive summary for a research paper (with template).

executive summary of research paper sample

Writing an executive summary for a research paper can be a daunting task for many students. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to make the process easier. By following some simple tips and using a template, you can write an effective executive summary for your research paper.

First, it is important to understand what an executive summary is. An executive summary is a short overview of a research paper’s main points. It should provide readers with a brief description of the paper’s purpose, main findings, and conclusions. The executive summary should not include any new information or data; instead, it should serve as a summary of the paper’s key points.

When writing the executive summary, it is important to use the same language and tone that was used in the research paper. This will ensure that the executive summary is a cohesive and effective summary of the paper’s main points.

It is also important to keep the executive summary brief. You should strive to make the executive summary no longer than one page long. This will ensure that readers are able to quickly understand the main points of your paper without having to read through a long and complex document.

Before writing the executive summary, you should read through the entire research paper. This will ensure that you have a clear understanding of the paper’s main points and that you capture them effectively in the executive summary.

To help you write an effective executive summary, you might find it helpful to use a template. Below is an example of an executive summary template for a research paper:

[Paper Title]

This paper examines [brief description of paper’s main points]. The research found that [main finding]. It was concluded that [conclusion].

Based on these findings, it is recommended that [recommendation].

Overall, the research shows that [summary of main findings]. This paper provides valuable insight into [brief description of research’s purpose].

By following these guidelines and using a template, you can write an effective executive summary for your research paper. Writing an executive summary can be a daunting task, but with the right steps and guidance, it can be a simple and straightforward process.  

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How to write an executive summary, with examples

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The best way to do that is with an executive summary. If you’ve never written an executive summary, this article has all you need to know to plan, write, and share them with your team.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is an overview of a document. The length and scope of your executive summary will differ depending on the document it’s summarizing, but in general an executive summary can be anywhere from one to two pages long. In the document, you’ll want to share all of the information your readers and important stakeholders need to know.

Imagine it this way: if your high-level stakeholders were to only read your executive summary, would they have all of the information they need to succeed? If so, your summary has done its job.

You’ll often find executive summaries of:

Business cases

Project proposals

Research documents

Environmental studies

Market surveys

Project plans

In general, there are four parts to any executive summary:

Start with the problem or need the document is solving.

Outline the recommended solution.

Explain the solution’s value.

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.

What is an executive summary in project management?

In project management, an executive summary is a way to bring clarity to cross-functional collaborators, team leadership, and project stakeholders . Think of it like a project’s “ elevator pitch ” for team members who don’t have the time or the need to dive into all of the project’s details.

The main difference between an executive summary in project management and a more traditional executive summary in a business plan is that the former should be created at the beginning of your project—whereas the latter should be created after you’ve written your business plan. For example, to write an executive summary of an environmental study, you would compile a report on the results and findings once your study was over. But for an executive summary in project management, you want to cover what the project is aiming to achieve and why those goals matter.

The same four parts apply to an executive summary in project management:

Start with the problem or need the project is solving.  Why is this project happening? What insight, customer feedback, product plan, or other need caused it to come to life?

Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives.  How is the project going to solve the problem you established in the first part? What are the project goals and objectives?

Explain the solution’s value.  Once you’ve finished your project, what will happen? How will this improve and solve the problem you established in the first part?

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.  This is another opportunity to reiterate why the problem is important, and why the project matters. It can also be helpful to reference your audience and how your solution will solve their problem. Finally, include any relevant next steps.

If you’ve never written an executive summary before, you might be curious about where it fits into other project management elements. Here’s how executive summaries stack up:

Executive summary vs. project plan

A  project plan  is a blueprint of the key elements your project will accomplish in order to hit your project goals and objectives. Project plans will include your goals, success metrics, stakeholders and roles, budget, milestones and deliverables, timeline and schedule, and communication plan .

An executive summary is a summary of the most important information in your project plan. Think of the absolutely crucial things your management team needs to know when they land in your project, before they even have a chance to look at the project plan—that’s your executive summary.

Executive summary vs. project overview

Project overviews and executive summaries often have similar elements—they both contain a summary of important project information. However, your project overview should be directly attached to your project. There should be a direct line of sight between your project and your project overview.

While you can include your executive summary in your project depending on what type of  project management tool  you use, it may also be a stand-alone document.

Executive summary vs. project objectives

Your executive summary should contain and expand upon your  project objectives  in the second part ( Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives ). In addition to including your project objectives, your executive summary should also include why achieving your project objectives will add value, as well as provide details about how you’re going to get there.

The benefits of an executive summary

You may be asking: why should I write an executive summary for my project? Isn’t the project plan enough?

Well, like we mentioned earlier, not everyone has the time or need to dive into your project and see, from a glance, what the goals are and why they matter.  Work management tools  like Asana help you capture a lot of crucial information about a project, so you and your team have clarity on who’s doing what by when. Your executive summary is designed less for team members who are actively working on the project and more for stakeholders outside of the project who want quick insight and answers about why your project matters.

An effective executive summary gives stakeholders a big-picture view of the entire project and its important points—without requiring them to dive into all the details. Then, if they want more information, they can access the project plan or navigate through tasks in your work management tool.

How to write a great executive summary, with examples

Every executive summary has four parts. In order to write a great executive summary, follow this template. Then once you’ve written your executive summary, read it again to make sure it includes all of the key information your stakeholders need to know.

1. Start with the problem or need the project is solving

At the beginning of your executive summary, start by explaining why this document (and the project it represents) matter. Take some time to outline what the problem is, including any research or customer feedback you’ve gotten . Clarify how this problem is important and relevant to your customers, and why solving it matters.

For example, let’s imagine you work for a watch manufacturing company. Your project is to devise a simpler, cheaper watch that still appeals to luxury buyers while also targeting a new bracket of customers.

Example executive summary:

In recent customer feedback sessions, 52% of customers have expressed a need for a simpler and cheaper version of our product. In surveys of customers who have chosen competitor watches, price is mentioned 87% of the time. To best serve our existing customers, and to branch into new markets, we need to develop a series of watches that we can sell at an appropriate price point for this market.

2. Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives

Now that you’ve outlined the problem, explain what your solution is. Unlike an abstract or outline, you should be  prescriptive  in your solution—that is to say, you should work to convince your readers that your solution is the right one. This is less of a brainstorming section and more of a place to support your recommended solution.

Because you’re creating your executive summary at the beginning of your project, it’s ok if you don’t have all of your deliverables and milestones mapped out. But this is your chance to describe, in broad strokes, what will happen during the project. If you need help formulating a high-level overview of your project’s main deliverables and timeline, consider creating a  project roadmap  before diving into your executive summary.

Continuing our example executive summary:

Our new watch series will begin at 20% cheaper than our current cheapest option, with the potential for 40%+ cheaper options depending on material and movement. In order to offer these prices, we will do the following:

Offer watches in new materials, including potentially silicone or wood

Use high-quality quartz movement instead of in-house automatic movement

Introduce customizable band options, with a focus on choice and flexibility over traditional luxury

Note that every watch will still be rigorously quality controlled in order to maintain the same world-class speed and precision of our current offerings.

3. Explain the solution’s value

At this point, you begin to get into more details about how your solution will impact and improve upon the problem you outlined in the beginning. What, if any, results do you expect? This is the section to include any relevant financial information, project risks, or potential benefits. You should also relate this project back to your company goals or  OKRs . How does this work map to your company objectives?

With new offerings that are between 20% and 40% cheaper than our current cheapest option, we expect to be able to break into the casual watch market, while still supporting our luxury brand. That will help us hit FY22’s Objective 3: Expanding the brand. These new offerings have the potential to bring in upwards of three million dollars in profits annually, which will help us hit FY22’s Objective 1: 7 million dollars in annual profit.

Early customer feedback sessions indicate that cheaper options will not impact the value or prestige of the luxury brand, though this is a risk that should be factored in during design. In order to mitigate that risk, the product marketing team will begin working on their go-to-market strategy six months before the launch.

4. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work

Now that you’ve shared all of this important information with executive stakeholders, this final section is your chance to guide their understanding of the impact and importance of this work on the organization. What, if anything, should they take away from your executive summary?

To round out our example executive summary:

Cheaper and varied offerings not only allow us to break into a new market—it will also expand our brand in a positive way. With the attention from these new offerings, plus the anticipated demand for cheaper watches, we expect to increase market share by 2% annually. For more information, read our  go-to-market strategy  and  customer feedback documentation .

Example of an executive summary

When you put it all together, this is what your executive summary might look like:

[Product UI] Example executive summary in Asana (Project Overview)

Common mistakes people make when writing executive summaries

You’re not going to become an executive summary-writing pro overnight, and that’s ok. As you get started, use the four-part template provided in this article as a guide. Then, as you continue to hone your executive summary writing skills, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

Avoid using jargon

Your executive summary is a document that anyone, from project contributors to executive stakeholders, should be able to read and understand. Remember that you’re much closer to the daily work and individual tasks than your stakeholders will be, so read your executive summary once over to make sure there’s no unnecessary jargon. Where you can, explain the jargon, or skip it all together.

Remember: this isn’t a full report

Your executive summary is just that—a summary. If you find yourself getting into the details of specific tasks, due dates, and attachments, try taking a step back and asking yourself if that information really belongs in your executive summary. Some details are important—you want your summary to be actionable and engaging. But keep in mind that the wealth of information in your project will be captured in your  work management tool , not your executive summary.

Make sure the summary can stand alone

You know this project inside and out, but your stakeholders won’t. Once you’ve written your executive summary, take a second look to make sure the summary can stand on its own. Is there any context your stakeholders need in order to understand the summary? If so, weave it into your executive summary, or consider linking out to it as additional information.

Always proofread

Your executive summary is a living document, and if you miss a typo you can always go back in and fix it. But it never hurts to proofread or send to a colleague for a fresh set of eyes.

In summary: an executive summary is a must-have

Executive summaries are a great way to get everyone up to date and on the same page about your project. If you have a lot of project stakeholders who need quick insight into what the project is solving and why it matters, an executive summary is the perfect way to give them the information they need.

For more tips about how to connect high-level strategy and plans to daily execution, read our article about strategic planning .

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Executive Summaries

Executive Summaries are much like any other summary in that their main goal is to provide a condensed version of the content of a longer report.

The executive summary is usually no longer than 10% of the original document. It can be anywhere from 1-10 pages long, depending on the report's length. Executive summaries are written literally for an executive who most likely DOES NOT have the time to read the original.

  • Executive summaries make a recommendation
  • Accuracy is essential because decisions will be made based on your summary by people who have not read the original
  • Executive summaries frequently summarize more than one document

The Mountain Resort charges below average rental rates. ( concise statement of findings ) The attached report recommends a 20% increase in price for the following equipment: 1. downhill skis, 2. telemark skis, 3. boots/shoes for downhill, telemark, and cross-country skis.( specific recommendation for action )

Based on average rental business for 1992-1995, these increases would generate an annual rental profit for Mountainview of $750,000. This figure represents an overall gain of $150,000 over current rental profits. ( justification for proposed action )

Types of Summaries

Summaries written in order to recommend a specific course of action are executive summaries.

Summaries that highlight the major points of a long piece are called abstracts. The purpose of an abstract is to allow readers to decide whether or not they want to read the longer text.

Standard summary only refers to a summary of someone else's published work and is written for a variety of purposes.

Processes for Writing an Executive Summary

Executive summaries are typically written for longer reports. They should not be written until after your report is finished. Before writing your summary, try:

  • Summarizing the major sections of your report. You might even copy text from your report into the summary and then edit it down.
  • Talking aloud or even tape recording yourself summarizing sections of your report.

Questions to Ask Yourself as You Write

  • What is your report about?
  • Why is it important?
  • What is included in the report?
  • What is included in each section?

Concise Statement

As a cover sheet to your document, an executive summary need not go into ANY mention of how you conducted your analysis and/or what you're basing your conclusion on. Instead, begin with a concise statement of the conclusion you reached after conducting your analysis and/or research is the paper that will be attached. For example, after a comparison of what other schools like CSU do about personal calls for faculty, you conclude that the CSU is charging for calls most other institutions do not.

How you word the conclusion will differ depending on your audience and what they care most about. The following examples illustrate how the wording must change given an audience's needs.

Colorado State should discontinue the practice of charging faculty for personal calls.

This is a good example if the people you work for are only interested in this issue. It begins with a summary of conclusions regarding only the CSU population.

Because I have found that over 75% of comparable institutions do not charge for personal calls, I have concluded that our faculty is justified in objecting to this practice which should be seen as a "perk" for our faculty.

This sentence provides unnecessary information about other institutions and/or why the faculty think they deserve to have these calls paid for. Your readers can get that information from the report. Further, the use of "I" is unnecessary since your readers already know who wrote the report.

Writing Recommendations

After beginning with a summary statement of your findings, the executive summary should go on to provide a specific recommendation for action geared toward your audience. For example, the report on charging for personal calls was requested by the president's office, not the individual departments and colleges who actually determine policy. As a result, the recommendation for action is geared toward what the president's office should do, not the other departments involved. To learn more about writing recommendations:

After summarizing the entire article and/or research report(s), an executive summary ends with a one or two line recommendation for action.

Simple Formula

Executive summaries frequently make use of transitional phrases to encapsulate the preceding information in the same sentence as the recommendation. The format can almost be envisioned as a formula:

[transitional word] + [concise statement of information provided in summary], I recommend that [corporation, office, person in question] do [recommendations].

More Complex Recommendations

In other cases, the recommendation might be complicated enough to justify a summary of causes for the recommendation. In this case, the recommendation paragraph usually begins with a summary of how the writer reached the recommendation.

Susie's Cookies began as a small business in Cleveland, Ohio which has expanded to include 45 stores throughout the Midwest. Plans have already been instituted to expand sales nationwide, using the same "mall-concept" marketing strategy which has proven successful in the Midwest. Despite these plans, Susie's Cookies may be in danger of bankruptcy.

Susie's quadrupled its sales in the last two quarters, realizing a profit of $750,000 in the current year, an increase of $250,000 over the previous year, due to its increase in advertising. To realize equivalent sale figures nationwide, however, it is projected that advertising costs will increase by 200% for the first two years of the national expansions. Further, construction costs for the new stores are estimated to be 20 million dollars.

The result of increased advertising and construction costs will put a substantial debt burden on Susie's cookies, an estimated $750,00 to 1 million a year. Given that sales did not reach current levels in the Midwest until the 45 stores had been operating for five years, projected sales nationally will not cover expansion costs. As a result, Susie's Cookies is likely to show a loss of almost $2 million for at least the next five years.

Due to the high advertisement and development costs of national expansion. Susie's Cookies may not be able to continue doing business in the future. Therefore, I recommend that Mrs. Field's does not participate in the hostile takeover under consideration because the threat of competition will not be realized.


Finally, an executive summary provides an analysis and/or justification for the proposed action in terms the audience will consider important. In many cases, this might involve a monetary analysis as in the example to the right, but actions can be justified many ways, depending on the concerns of the audience and the topic of the report (e.g. for CSU these might include increase in student learning, better relationship with the community, etc.).

  • Example : Based on the current number and length of long-distance personal calls by faculty, such a proposal would cost the university $150,000 annually. In comparison to the overall budget, this is a small amount, but one which might "pay for itself" in terms of faculty satisfaction and possible recruitment benefits.

justification for the recommendation by referring to information summarized. A recommendations justification is usually based on a reference to material already provided in the summary.

In other cases, the justification for the recommendation might be complicated enough to justify a summary of causes for the justification. In this case, the recommendation paragraph usually begins with a summary of how the writer reached the conclusion that leads to the justification.

Citation Information

Donna LeCourt. (1994-2023). Executive Summaries. The WAC Clearinghouse. Colorado State University. Available at

Copyright Information

Copyright © 1994-2023 Colorado State University and/or this site's authors, developers, and contributors . Some material displayed on this site is used with permission.

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Executive summaries and abstracts - graduate writing center.

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Executive Summaries and Abstracts

  • Punctuation
  • Style: Clarity and Concision
  • Writing Process
  • Writing a Thesis
  • Quick Clips & Tips
  • Presentations and Graphics

Executive summaries and abstracts both capture the essence of a project in a shorter form, but with differing levels of detail: an abstract is a highly condensed overview of the document, while an executive summary is a standalone version of the thesis in miniature.

See our handout on " What Goes in a Thesis Abstract? An Executive Summary? " for an overview of standard content and length—then, for more information and examples, read on!

For a more detailed explanation of abstracts, check out our infographics, tailored to your discipline:

  • Defense management
  • Social sciences

An abstract is a brief encapsulation of a document. Abstracts are quite limited in length (often about 200 words) and thus must be very concise, clear statements that convey a few key ideas:

  • The topic and significance of the research
  • The research question driving the inquiry
  • The methods used to answer the question
  • The findings and implications of the research

Understanding how an abstract is structured can also help you as a researcher. When conducting research , get in the habit of reading abstracts carefully to determine which documents closely fit your research needs.

Not all documents require an abstract, and most of your class papers won't. However, all NPS theses must have an abstract, and abstracts are often required for conference papers and articles submitted for publication .

Executive Summaries

Executive summaries are longer than abstracts, often running 2–5 pages. They summarize a larger document's purpose, methods, results, conclusions, and recommendations such that someone who reads  only the summary can glean a solid understanding of the research as a whole. Unlike abstracts, executive summaries can include citations and references .

Not all theses require an executive summary, so check with your advisor or department for guidance. The links below contain further information on the differences between abstracts and executive summaries.

In order to make your research easier to find by other researchers, it is a good idea to think about what searchable keywords are associated with your project. Make sure to include them in your abstract and executive summary!

Executive Summaries and Abstracts Links

  • " What Goes in a Thesis Abstract? An Executive Summary? , " GWC and TPO
  • " Abstracts ," University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Writing Center
  • " How to Write an Abstract ," Phil Koopman, Carnegie Mellon University
  • " Executive Summaries ," Colorado State University
  • Layering Reports: The Executive Summary 1 " (6:35), Zachery Koppleman, Purdue OWL
  • Layering Reports: The Executive Summary A Closer Look Part 1 " (5:53), Zachery Koppleman, Purdue OWL
  • Chapter from a book: " Technical Reports, Executive Summaries, and Abstracts , " Robert Shenk, The Naval Institute Guide to Naval Writing

Writing Topics A–Z

This index makes findings topics easy and links to the most relevant page for each item. Please email us at [email protected] if we're missing something!

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How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)


Here’s the good news: an executive summary is short. It’s part of a larger document like a business plan, business case or project proposal and, as the name implies, summarizes the longer report.

Here’s the bad news: it’s a critical document that can be challenging to write because an executive summary serves several important purposes. On one hand, executive summaries are used to outline each section of your business plan, an investment proposal or project proposal. On the other hand, they’re used to introduce your business or project to investors and other stakeholders, so they must be persuasive to spark their interest.

Writing an Executive Summary

The pressure of writing an executive summary comes from the fact that everyone will pay attention to it, as it sits at the top of that heap of documents. It explains all that follows and can make or break your business plan or project plan . The executive summary must know the needs of the potential clients or investors and zero in on them like a laser. Fortunately, we’ll show you how to write and format your executive summary to do just that.

Getting everything organized for your executive summary can be challenging. ProjectManager can help you get your thoughts in order and collaborate with your team. Our powerful task management tools make it easy to get everything prioritized and done on time. Try it free today.

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What Is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a short section of a larger document like a business plan , investment proposal or project proposal. It’s mostly used to give investors and stakeholders a quick overview of important information about a business plan like the company description, market analysis and financial information.

It contains a short statement that addresses the problem or proposal detailed in the attached documents and features background information, a concise analysis and a conclusion. An executive summary is designed to help executives and investors decide whether to go forth with the proposal, making it critically important. Pitch decks are often used along with executive summaries to talk about the benefits and main selling points of a business plan or project.

Unlike an abstract, which is a short overview, an executive summary format is a condensed form of the documents contained in the proposal. Abstracts are more commonly used in academic and research-oriented writing and act as a teaser for the reader to see if they want to read on.

executive summary of research paper sample

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Executive Summary Template

Use this free Executive Summary Template for Word to manage your projects better.

How to Write an Executive Summary

Executive summaries vary depending on the document they’re attached to. You can write an executive summary for a business plan, project proposal, research document, or business case , among other documents and reports.

However, when writing an executive summary, there are guidelines to ensure you hit all the bases.

Executive Summary Length

According to the many books that have been written about executive summaries, as well as training courses, seminars and professional speakers, the agreed-upon length for an executive summary format should be about five to 10 percent of the length of the whole report.

Appropriate Language

The language used should be appropriate for the target audience. One of the most important things to know before you write professionally is to understand who you’re addressing. If you’re writing for a group of engineers, the language you’ll use will differ greatly from how you would write to a group of financiers.

That includes more than just the words, but the content and depth of explanation. Remember, it’s a summary, and people will be reading it to quickly and easily pull out the main points.

Pithy Introduction

You also want to capture a reader’s attention immediately in the opening paragraph. Just like a speech often opens with a joke to break the tension and put people at ease, a strong introductory paragraph can pull a reader in and make them want to read on. That doesn’t mean you start with a joke. Stick to your strengths, but remember, most readers only give you a few sentences to win them over before they move on.

Don’t forget to explain who you are as an organization and why you have the skills, personnel and experience to solve the problem raised in the proposal. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy biography, often just your name, address and contact information will do, though you’ll also want to highlight your strengths as they pertain to the business plan or project proposal .

Relevant Information

The executive summary shouldn’t stray from the material that follows it. It’s a summary, not a place to bring up new ideas. To do so would be confusing and would jeopardize your whole proposal.

Establish the need or the problem, and convince the target audience that it must be solved. Once that’s set up, it’s important to recommend the solution and show what the value is. Be clear and firm in your recommendation.

Justify your cause. Be sure to note the key reasons why your organization is the perfect fit for the solution you’re proposing. This is the point where you differentiate yourself from competitors, be that due to methodology, testimonials from satisfied clients or whatever else you offer that’s unique. But don’t make this too much about you. Be sure to keep the name of the potential client at the forefront.

Don’t neglect a strong conclusion, where you can wrap things up and once more highlight the main points.

Related: 10 Essential Excel Report Templates

What to Include in an Executive Summary

The content of your executive summary must reflect what’s in the larger document which it is part of. You’ll find many executive summary examples on the web, but to keep things simple, we’ll focus on business plans and project proposals.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

As we’ve learned above, your executive summary must extract the main points of all the sections of your business plan. A business plan is a document that describes all the aspects of a business, such as its business model, products or services, objectives and marketing plan, among other things. They’re commonly used by startups to pitch their ideas to investors.

Here are the most commonly used business plan sections:

  • Company description: Provide a brief background of your company, such as when it was established, its mission, vision and core values.
  • Products & services: Describe the products or services your company will provide to its customers.
  • Organization and management: Explain the legal structure of your business and the members of the top management team.
  • SWOT analysis: A SWOT analysis explains the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business. They describe the internal and external factors that impact your business competitiveness.
  • Industry & market analysis: This section should provide an overview of the industry and market in which your business will compete.
  • Operations: Explain the main aspects of your business operations and what sets it apart from competitors.
  • Marketing plan: Your marketing plan describes the various strategies that your business will use to reach its customers and sell products or services.
  • Financial planning: Here, you should provide an overview of the financial state of your business. Include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
  • Funding request: If you’re creating your business plan to request funding, make sure to explain what type of funding you need, the timeframe for your funding request and an explanation of how the funds will be used.

We’ve created an executive summary example to help you better understand how this document works when using it, to sum up a business plan.

Executive Summary Example

For this executive summary example, we’ll imagine a company named ABC Clothing, a small business that manufactures eco-friendly clothing products and it’s preparing a business plan to secure funding from new investors.

Company Description We are ABC Clothing, an environmentally-friendly manufacturer of apparel. We’ve developed a unique method of production and sourcing of materials that allows us to create eco-friendly products at a low cost. We have intellectual property for our production processes and materials, which gives us an advantage in the market.

  • Mission: Our mission is to use recycled materials and sustainable methods of production to create clothing products that are great for our customers and our planet.
  • Vision: Becoming a leader in the apparel industry while generating a positive impact on the environment.

Products & Services We offer high-quality clothing products for men, women and all genders. (Here you should include pictures of your product portfolio to spark the interest of your readers)

Industry & Market Analysis Even though the fashion industry’s year-over-year growth has been affected by pandemics in recent years, the global apparel market is expected to continue growing at a steady pace. In addition, the market share of sustainable apparel has grown year-over-year at a higher pace than the overall fashion industry.

Marketing Plan Our marketing plan relies on the use of digital marketing strategies and online sales, which gives us a competitive advantage over traditional retailers that focus their marketing efforts on brick-and-mortar stores.

Operations Our production plant is able to recycle different types of plastic and cotton waste to turn it into materials that we use to manufacture our products. We’ve partnered with a transportation company that sorts and distributes our products inside the United States efficiently and cost-effectively.

Financial Planning Our business is profitable, as documented in our balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. The company doesn’t have any significant debt that might compromise its continuity. These and other financial factors make it a healthy investment.

Funding Request We’re requesting funding for the expansion of our production capacity, which will allow us to increase our production output in order to meet our increasing customer demand, enter new markets, reduce our costs and improve our competitiveness.

If you’d like to see more executive summary examples for your business plan, you can visit the U.S. small business administration website. They have business plans with executive summary examples you can download and use.

Executive summaries are also a great way to outline the elements of a project plan for a project proposal. Let’s learn what those elements are.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Project Proposal

An executive summary for your project proposal will capture the most important information from your project management plan. Here’s the structure of our executive summary template:

  • Introduction: What’s the purpose of your project?
  • Company description: Show why you’re the right team to take on the project.
  • Need/problem: What is the problem that it’s solving?
  • Unique solution: What is your value proposition and what are the main selling points of your project?
  • Proof: Evidence, research and feasibility studies that support how your company can solve the issue.
  • Resources: Outline the resources needed for the project
  • Return on investment/funding request: Explain the profitability of your project and what’s in for the investors.
  • Competition/market analysis: What’s your target market ? Who are your competitors? How does your company differentiate from them?
  • Marketing plan: Create a marketing plan that describes your company’s marketing strategies, sales and partnership plans.
  • Budget/financial planning: What’s the budget baseline that you need for your project plan?
  • Timeline: What’s the estimated timeline to complete the project?
  • Team: Who are the project team members and why are they qualified?
  • Conclusions:  What are the project takeaways?

Now that we’ve learned that executive summaries can vary depending on the type of document you’re working on, you’re ready to use our executive summary template.

To put all of that information together, here’s the basic format of an executive summary. You can find this same information in our free executive summary template :

  • Introduction, be sure to know your audience
  • Table of contents in the form of a bulleted list
  • Explain the company’s role and identify strengths
  • Explain the need, or the problem, and its importance
  • Recommend a solution and explain its value
  • Justify said solution by explaining how it fits the organization
  • A strong conclusion that once more wraps up the importance of the project

You can use it as an executive summary example and add or remove some of its elements to adjust it to your needs. Our sample executive summary has the main elements that you’ll need project executive summary.

Executive summary template for Word

What to Do After Writing an Executive Summary

As with anything you write, you should always start with a draft. The first draft should hit all the marks addressed above but don’t bog yourself down in making the prose perfect. Think of the first draft as an exploratory mission. You’re gathering all the pertinent information.

Next, you want to thoroughly review the document to ensure that nothing important has been left out or missed. Make sure the focus is sharp and clear, and that it speaks directly to your potential client’s needs.

Proofread for Style & Grammar

But don’t neglect the writing. Be sure that you’re not repeating words, falling into cliché or other hallmarks of bad writing. You don’t want to bore the reader to the point that they miss the reason why you’re the organization that can help them succeed.

You’ve checked the content and the prose, but don’t forget the style. You want to write in a way that’s natural and not overly formal, but one that speaks in the manner of your target audience . If they’re a conservative firm, well then, maybe formality is called for. But more and more modern companies have a casual corporate culture, and formal writing could mistakenly cause them to think of you as old and outdated.

The last run should be proofing the copy. That means double-checking to ensure that spelling is correct, and there are no typos or grammatical mistakes. Whoever wrote the executive summary isn’t the best person to edit it, however. They can easily gloss over errors because of their familiarity with the work. Find someone who excels at copy-editing. If you deliver sloppy content, it shows a lack of professionalism that’ll surely color how a reader thinks of your company.

Criticism of Executive Summaries

While we’re advocating for the proper use of an executive summary, it’d be neglectful to avoid mentioning some critiques. The most common is that an executive summary by design is too simple to capture the complexity of a large and complicated project.

It’s true that many executives might only read the summary, and in so doing, miss the nuance of the proposal. That’s a risk. But if the executive summary follows the guidelines stated above, it should give a full picture of the proposal and create interest for the reader to delve deeper into the documents to get the details.

Remember, executive summaries can be written poorly or well. They can fail to focus on results or the solution to the proposal’s problem or do so in a vague, general way that has no impact on the reader. You can do a hundred things wrong, but if you follow the rules, then the onus falls on the reader.

ProjectManager Turns an Executive Summary Into a Project

Your executive summary got the project approved. Now the real work begins. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you organize tasks, projects and teams. We have everything you need to manage each phase of your project, so you can complete your work on time and under budget.

Work How You Want

Because project managers and teams work differently, our software is flexible. We have multiple project views, such as the kanban board, which visualizes workflow. Managers like the transparency it provides in the production cycle, while teams get to focus only on those tasks they have the capacity to complete. Are you more comfortable with tasks lists or Gantt charts? We have those, too.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Live Tracking for Better Management

To ensure your project meets time and cost expectations, we have features that monitor and track progress so you can control any deviations that might occur. Our software is cloud-based, so the data you see on our dashboard is always up to date, helping you make better decisions. Make that executive summary a reality with ProjectManager.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

You’ve now researched and written a persuasive executive summary to lead your proposal. You’ve put in the work and the potential client sees that and contracts you for the project. However, if you don’t have a reliable set of project management tools like Gantt charts , kanban boards and project calendars at hand to plan, monitor and report on the work, then all that preparation will be for nothing.

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How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper

26 August 2023

last updated

When people work on organizing their research papers, they need effective guidelines on how to write an executive summary. This article provides insights students should grasp to create high-standard texts, including defining what is an executive summary, its meaning, and its basic structure. About the structure, the guideline teaches students all the sections of an executive summary (introduction, purpose statement, methods, findings, recommendations, limitations, implementation, and conclusion), the contents of each part, and how to write each element. Other insights include 20 tips for producing a high-standard executive summary, including 10 dos and 10 don’ts. Lastly, the article gives a sample outline template for writing a good executive summary and a practical example of this section of a research paper.

How to Write an Outstanding Executive Summary for a Research Paper & Examples

A habit of reading different types of papers is helpful to students’ mental preparation for course assessments but, more importantly, to their intellectual development. Reading various types of essays , reports, and research papers also induces the mental faculties of intellect, reason, imagination, and intuition, which are essential for academic discourse. Indeed, one can tell a writer who reads habitually by how they construct and defend arguments and ideas in their works. Basically, this guideline for writing an effective executive summary includes essential insights into what students should and should not do when writing this type of academic document. The article also defines what is an executive summary and its meaning, outlines its distinctive features, shows how to write each part of this section of a research paper , explains concepts, and gives helpful tips for producing a high-standard document. In turn, this guideline gives a sample outline of a project paper and an example of an executive summary.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper & Examples

Definition of What Is an Executive Summary and Its Meaning

From a simple definition, an executive summary is a text that accounts for the main points of a longer text, mainly a market study report, project report, and business proposal. In this respect, it serves the same purpose as an abstract , the only difference being that it is not used in research papers. Ideally, an abstract is a short and descriptive section of the essential details of a research paper, such as background, methodology, results , and conclusion . In contrast, an executive summary means writing a comprehensive overview of a report, research proposal , or project that explains the main points, including recommendations. Practically, an abstract is between 0.5-1 page, while an executive summary is about 5-10% of the document’s total word count. Since the purpose of an executive summary is to summarize the entire research paper comprehensively, it precedes the introduction of a report, proposal, or business plan.

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Distinctive Features of an Executive Summary

An executive summary is identifiable by specific features that distinguish it from other texts, including essays and research papers. Essentially, all scholarly documents require the same level of mental preparation by writers to produce high-quality work. However, students must understand that some papers are demanding because of their contents, which underscore the basic essay outline . The main contents that earmark the distinctive features of an executive summary are an introduction, a purpose statement, methods, findings, recommendations, limitations, an implementation plan, and a conclusion.

1️⃣ Introduction

The introduction of an executive summary highlights the document’s topic, which emphasizes the type of paper it is, such as a business proposal, project report, or market research report. In this respect, it must be short and precise. Because the focus is the topic, one should use a bridge sentence or short paragraph for the introduction.

2️⃣ Purpose Statement

The purpose statement of an executive summary communicates the document’s primary objective. In this respect, it provides a brief background of the topic to enhance the reader’s understanding of the essence of the document. The language in this part reflects an expected end, while common terms include ‘aim,’ ‘goal,’ ‘purpose,’ or ‘objective.’

3️⃣ Methods

In an executive summary, methods outline the writer’s approach to achieving the primary objective, such as examining official data, conducting a field study, reviewing the literature, or interviewing stakeholders. Students need to understand that this component differs from the research methodology of research papers. In this respect, it does not detail the methods one has used to complete the work. In essence, it outlines the strategies that help writers to better understand critical issues, such as challenges to a sector, stakeholder sentiments, industry insights, or potential barriers.

4️⃣ Findings

Findings in an executive summary are the outcomes of the methods, meaning it is what the writer has discovered about an issue, such as an industry, stakeholders, or a project. This component is crucial to readers because it offers a sneak peek into the outcomes that underscore the primary purpose of the entire document: project report, market research report, or business proposal.

5️⃣ Recommendations

Recommendations in an executive summary underscore the writer’s perspective regarding the issues that a research paper addresses as a challenge or problem. For example, if the paper is a report about healthcare status, the challenges or problems it identifies may be nursing shortages or medical errors. The recommendations should highlight what stakeholders, like the government and health institutions, must do to overcome these challenges or problems. In other words, the recommendations address what must be done to rectify a situation or make it possible to achieve specific outcomes.

6️⃣ Limitations

Like a research paper, an executive summary must point out the limitations that the document’s author encountered in reporting about a project or business plan. For example, these limitations may include a lack of goodwill among stakeholders, sufficient time to investigate a matter, or resources to execute the task. This information is essential to the audience because it indicates the dynamics influencing the primary objective.

7️⃣ Implementation Plan

The implementation plan is the component in an executive summary that provides a framework for adopting and implementing the recommendations. Typically, this information includes claims and activities, people responsible, the timeframe, and budget allocation. Sometimes, an evaluation plan is also part of the implementation plan.

8️⃣ Conclusion

The conclusion part of an executive summary is a call to action about the project report, market research report, or business proposal. Unlike conclusion examples in other academic papers and essays that summarize the paper’s main points, the conclusion of an executive summary gives a direction about the document. Essentially, writers use this component to call to action the audience to adopt the recommendations or compel stakeholders to adopt a particular perspective. In turn, it persuades the audience to adopt a particular stance regarding the report or proposal.

The Length of an Executive Summary

Students should know the length of each of the above sections, except the introduction and conclusion parts, depending on the document’s total length, which determines the word count of an executive summary. For example, a long and robust project report or business proposal requires a long executive summary with an extended purpose statement, methods, findings, recommendations, limitations, and implementation, which means the length of 4-10 double spaced pages, or 2-5 single spaced pages, or 1000–2500 words, depending on the volume of the work. Typically, the introduction and conclusion sections take a statement or short paragraph of 0.5-1 double spaced page or 125-250 words, irrespective of a research paper or executive summary’s length. However, if a research paper is a long work of more than 10 double spaced pages, 5 single spaced page, or 2500 words, the introduction and conclusion parts should not exceed 5-10% of the whole word count. Besides, the body section of an executive summary must take 80-90% of the total word count of a research paper, not less. The word count of a title page, a table of contents , an abstract, a reference page, and appendix is not considered since these parts are technical and do not mean writing itself.

How to Write Each Section of an Executive Summary for a Research Paper

Writing an executive summary requires students to demonstrate an understanding of its purpose. This understanding means students should know when to write it, what to talk about, and how to write each of the sections above. Therefore, writing an executive summary is essential to approach carefully and with the utmost focus.

1️⃣ Writing an Executive Summary as a Last Action

Because an executive summary overviews the entire research paper, students should write this part after finishing their market research reports, project reports, or business proposals. However, one should read and reread the whole research paper to know the most significant points forming part of the summary. By writing an executive summary as a last item, one can have a mental picture of what to address to give the audience a comprehensive sneak peek into a research paper document.

2️⃣ Making Notes of Important Aspects

While reading and rereading a research paper, students should take notes of the most critical aspects of their work that must appear in an executive summary. These aspects must address each section above. Moreover, one should identify crucial information in an introduction, a purpose statement, methods, findings, recommendations, limitations, an implementation plan, and a conclusion.

A. Writing an Introduction Part of an Executive Summary

When writing a college essay introduction , students must refrain from going into details about the purpose of the text because they will have an opportunity to do so later. While one may mention the document’s background, one should make it concise to contextualize the topic. The most crucial detail is that the introduction part of an executive summary should be a sentence or brief paragraph.

B. Writing a Purpose Statement Part of an Executive Summary

When writing the research paper’s purpose, students should communicate the type of document, such as a business proposal, a market research report, or a project report. The next thing is to state the background; provide the reason for writing, like sourcing funds; recommend solutions; or report progress and challenges. However, one should avoid going into detail because they will do so later in an executive summary of a research paper.

C. Writing a Methods Part of an Executive Summary

When writing a methods section, one should focus on giving the audience a sense of the strategy that helps achieve the outcomes. However, writers should approach this part differently than the methodology section of a research paper. Instead, they should mention what they did to execute the work, such as interviewing stakeholders or analyzing official data. The best way to approach this section is to list everything one did to make a research paper.

D. Writing a Findings Part of an Executive Summary

Since the purpose of the findings section in a research paper is to narrate outcomes, students should write it in the past tense. Therefore, when writing this section of an executive summary, authors should see themselves as reporters educating the audience about what they have learned in executing the task. An essential detail students should note when writing the section is to refer to credible sources of information that lead to the findings. These reliable sources can be documents, organizations, individuals in leadership, or industry experts.

E. Writing a Recommendations Part of an Executive Summary

When writing a recommendations section in an executive summary for a research paper, students should focus on giving a clear summary of what should happen after the findings. Essentially, one should address the key decision-makers or stakeholders because they are responsible for creating change through policy. The best approach to writing recommendations is to interrogate each challenge or problem and related findings to understand what must happen to create positive outcomes.

F. Writing a Limitations Part of an Executive Summary

The best approach to writing a limitations section in an executive summary for a research paper is to interrogate the challenges one has faced in the project, such as a lack of goodwill among stakeholders or sufficient time, resources, or support. Ideally, writers aim to inform the audience of the factors that have complicated their work or may complicate the implementation of the recommendations.

G. Writing an Implementation Plan Part of an Executive Summary

When writing an implementation plan in an executive summary, students should focus on telling the audience the procedure for actualizing the recommendations. In this respect, the best approach to writing this section is to interrogate the recommendations to determine what must happen to actualize each. For example, some issues to consider may include people in charge of implementation, such as an organization’s human resource director, the time it would take to actualize (timeline), the budget, and how to measure success (evaluation).

H. Writing a Conclusion Part of an Executive Summary

When writing a conclusion part, students should aim to persuade the audience to adopt a particular stance regarding a research paper or proposal. Although one might reiterate the topic, it is not necessary to mention each of the preceding sections. Instead, writers should focus on sending a strong communication regarding it. The best approach to writing the conclusion section is to influence the audience’s perspective on the topic and the recommendations and implementation.

3️⃣ Explaining Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Key Terms

Since an executive summary is an overview of a market research paper, project report, or business plan, authors should write it clearly and precisely. The best approach is to use simple language and define all acronyms, abbreviations, and key terms. In turn, students should not assume that readers know what each acronym, abbreviation, and key term means when they read research papers.

4️⃣ Proofreading, Revising, and Editing an Executive Summary Section of a Research Paper

After completing writing a research paper, students should proofread it to identify grammatical and formatting mistakes and inconsistent arguments and ideas. For example, the best way to fix these mistakes and flaws is to revise the whole research paper by fixing mistakes, like missing punctuation and wrong citations, and editing it by adding or deleting words and sentences to create a logical order of thoughts and ideas. In turn, writers must be factual, not use word count fillers, and avoid unnecessary repetitions. Besides, students should know that the audience is not interested in stories but in factual communication that makes logical sense.

Sample Paper Template for Writing a Good Executive Summary

Like essays, executive summaries have a specific structure students should demonstrate in their writing. The sections above underscore this outline template, meaning students should know what each section of writing an executive summary for a research paper entails and how to write it. The best way to write a high-quality executive summary is to create a template and populate it with ideas for a project, a business plan, a proposal, or a report. This preparation helps writers to have a mental picture of the kind of document they want to have and the right attitude when writing.

I. Introduction: [Introduce the topic and state the kind of document, such as a market research paper, project report, or business plan].

II. Purpose Statement: [Explain the primary objective of a research paper, such as investigating a problem, souring some funds, or reporting its progress].

III. Methods: [Enumerate how the task is accomplished, such as examining official data, interviewing stakeholders, or reviewing the literature].

IV. Findings: [Provide the outcomes of the methods, such as what official data reveals, stakeholders’ sentiments, or what research says].

V. Recommendations: [State clearly what stakeholders or key decisions must do to address the challenges or problems that the findings reveal].

VI. Limitations: [Discuss the challenges or problems that were encountered in completing the task, such as poor time management, a lack of support, or absent goodwill by stakeholders].

VII. Implementation Plan: [Include what stakeholders or key decision-makers must do to actualize the recommendations, such as identifying a person responsible and establishing a budget and timeline].

VIII. Conclusion: [Persuade the audience to adopt the recommendations and work toward creating change by facilitating an implementation plan].

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Example of an Executive Summary for an 8000-Word Research Paper

Topic: A Need for Proactive Climate Change Initiatives

I. Example of an Introduction Section in an Executive Summary

Stakeholders in the climate change discourse must shift focus from discourse to practical, proactive measures to demonstrate seriousness in tackling the biggest threat of the millennium.

II. Example of a Purpose Statement Section in an Executive Summary

The purpose of writing this executive study is to examine the status of the climate change discourse, interrogate dynamics that make it unpromising as a practical solution to the crisis, and recommend what stakeholders must do to restore hope to millions globally who are afraid that climate change poses the biggest threat to the existence of current and future generations.

III. Example of a Methods Section in an Executive Summary

An executive report employs several data-gathering methods to achieve these objectives, including examining the climate change discourse over the decades to identify key themes: environmental policies, greenhouse gases, industrial pollution, natural disasters, weather forecasts, and others. Another method is interrogating research and official data on climate change by government agencies in the last three decades. The report also considers interviews with environmentalists, social justice advocates, government officials, and leaders of organizations that dedicate their mission to creating awareness about the need for environmental conservation and preservation.

IV. Example of a Findings Section in an Executive Summary

Overall, the methods above reveal worrying findings about the climate change discourse:

  • Human activities, including industries and deforestation, have increased global warming to 1.1 degrees C, triggering unprecedented changes to the Earth’s climate. The lack of consensus on reversing human-induced global warming among the most industrialized countries suggests that the trend will worsen in the coming decades.
  • The impacts of climate change are evident on people and ecosystems. Without urgent practical interventions, these impacts will become more widespread and severe with every additional degree of global warming.
  • Developing and implementing adaptation measures in communities can effectively build and foster the resilience of people and ecosystems. However, stakeholders must interrogate their climate change funding priorities for effective proactive interventions.
  • Communities will continue recording climate-induced losses and damages as long as communities cannot adapt to some impacts of this global problem. An example is 1.1 degrees C of global warming.
  • Projections indicate global greenhouse gas (GHC) emissions will peak at 1.5 degrees C before 2025 in selected at-risk pathways.
  • Burning fossil fuels remains the leading cause of the global climate crisis.
  • Carbon removal is the most effective and practical solution to limiting global warming from peaking at 1.5 degrees C.
  • There is a lack of commitment by key stakeholders to finance climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Climate change and the collective efforts to mitigate and adapt to its impacts will exacerbate global inequity if stakeholders do not prioritize just transition.

These findings of a research paper confirm that the climate change discourse is alive to the threat the global problem poses to people and ecosystems and the weaknesses in the current interventions.

V. Example of a Recommendations Section in an Executive Summary

This executive report recommends that key stakeholders, including governments, communities, policy experts, and financiers, must adopt to prioritize practical solutions to the global climate crisis.

  • Stakeholders must target a net-zero climate-resilient future through urgent, systemwide transformations.
  • Adopt policies that enhance access to fresh produce by establishing a relationship between farmers and consumers.
  • Improve awareness about the critical benefits of organic foods.
  • Consider policies that promote regenerative farm practices to eliminate toxins and revitalize soils.
  • Create infrastructures for transforming waste into compost manure for farm use.
  • Develop policies that encourage communities to embrace a green neighborhood.

VI. Example of a Limitations Section in an Executive Summary

This executive report recognizes several limitations that have made the fight against climate change unproductive and threaten current and future endeavors to arrest the crisis. For example, stakeholders need to note that these limitations may undermine the implementation of the recommendations in this report. One limitation is a lack of goodwill among key stakeholders. The four leading industrial powers, namely the United States, China, India, and Brazil, contribute to significant global atmospheric temperature increases. Traditionally, these countries have refused to agree on how to cut back on industries primarily because they are the main drivers of their economies. Another limitation is the mis-prioritization of financing, where much focus is on theoretical interventions, such as agreements and seminars, at the expense of practical solutions like building infrastructures for transforming waste into usable products. While stakeholders agree on the essence of the 3R (reuse, reduce, and recycle) framework, there is little practical implementation at the community level.

VII. Example of an Implementation Plan Section in an Executive Summary

The implementation plan for the recommendations above recognizes government agencies as the most suitable implementers because official bodies are the key stakeholders who finance climate change initiatives. The business plan considers that, to shift the climate change fight from mere discourse to practical evidence, stakeholders must prioritize the following:

  • A budget of at least $50 million annually at the country level;
  • A period of between 2-5 years; and
  • Periodic evaluation of progress through at least one annual seminar or conference.

VIII. Example of a Conclusion Section in an Executive Summary

This executive research paper calls on all stakeholders in the climate change discourse to reconsider the current focus by recognizing its failure to create meaningful change as evidence shows the crisis continues to worsen. Instead, they should focus on practical, proactive interventions focusing on communities because that is where much environmental damage happens. It is also where the adversities of the crisis manifest most powerfully.

4 Easy Steps for Writing an Executive Summary

Writing an executive summary is a technical undertaking requiring writers to consider each section’s basic structure and essential details. When writing a research paper, one must know when to write each section and what to say. In this respect, preparation, stage setup, writing a first draft of an executive section, and wrap-up are essential steps students should follow to produce a research paper document that meets quality standards.

Step 1: Preparation

As the first step in writing an executive summary, preparation helps writers to develop a proper mindset that involves knowing the basic structure and what to write in each section of a research paper. Therefore, the critical task for students in this stage is constructing the basic structure and stating what must happen in each section.

Step 2: Stage Setup

Setting up the stage is the second step in writing an executive summary. It involves reading and rereading the document to identify critical details to address in each section of the basic structure. The best approach to achieve this outcome is to make notes of the most vital data when reading a research paper.

Step 3: Writing a First Draft of an Executive Summary

The third step is to create a first draft of an executive summary by putting all the critical data into relevant sections. Ideally, people must start with a clear introduction where they point out the focal point of a research paper and then move to a study’s purpose statement, methods, findings, recommendations, limitations, implementation plan, and conclusion. Each research section must summarize and not explain the most critical data.

Step 4: Wrap-Up

Wrapping a first draft into a final version of a research paper is the last step in writing an executive summary. This stage involves proofreading, revising, and editing a first version of an executive summary to eliminate grammar mistakes and inconsistent statements. As a result, authors must perfect their executive summaries of research papers by fixing errors and flaws that affect the logical progression of ideas and thoughts and the overall quality of the text.

20 Tips for Writing an Effective Executive Summary

Writing an executive summary can be demanding, particularly for students who do not prepare well or do not know what is most important. The following tips can be helpful: begin an executive summary by explaining why the topic is important; state the purpose of a research paper by outlining the problem and why it is essential or relevant to the audience; explain the methods that help to execute the task; state the findings; enumerate the limitations by addressing dynamics that undermine the implementation of solutions; consider the recommendations and list them using numbers or bullet points; outline an implementation plan that identifies the person or entity that oversee the implementation, the budget allocation, and how to evaluate progress; and write a conclusion that persuades the audience to adopt a particular perspective about the topic. In turn, 10 dos and 10 don’ts that writers should consider when writing their executive summaries in their research papers are:

10 things to do when writing an executive summary include:

  • reading a research paper thoroughly to identify the primary objective, methods for collecting data, key findings, recommendations, significant limitations, and an implementation strategy;
  • considering the audience of an executive summary to determine whether to use simple or technical language;
  • writing formally and avoiding jargon;
  • outlining the structure that considers all the main sections (introduction, purpose statement, methods, key findings, recommendations, limitations, implementation, and conclusion);
  • organizing an executive summary in a summary format;
  • using a short, clear, precise, and captivating opening statement to hook readers;
  • including each section to state the most critical details;
  • focusing on summarizing a research paper rather than explaining its contents;
  • reviewing a research paper for incorrect information;
  • proofreading, revising, and editing an executive summary to eliminate all mistakes.

10 things not to do when writing an executive summary include:

  • using jargon to simplify complex terms and phrases;
  • explaining rather than summarizing a research paper;
  • creating too many grammar mistakes, such as missing punctuation and confusing words with a similar pronunciation;
  • ignoring the basic outline of an executive summary;
  • writing a lengthy introduction;
  • concentrating on some sections more than others;
  • explaining ideas or concepts not discussed in the main research paper;
  • providing a very short or long summary that does not align with the document’s total word count;
  • beginning an executive summary with anecdote or irrelevant information;
  • placing an executive summary at the end of a research paper.

Summing Up on How to Write a Perfect Executive Summary

  • Tell an interesting story. Writers should approach an executive summary as a platform for inducing the reader’s interest in reading a research paper. As such, one should use each section to tell what is most crucial to the audience.
  • Highlight critical data. Writers should focus on what is most critical in each section of an executive summary, emphasizing statistical data because it is visually captivating.
  • Maintain a formal tone from beginning to end. Writers should avoid using jargon to simplify complex concepts or terminologies.
  • Write an executive summary after completing an actual research paper. Writing an executive summary as the last element of a research paper helps one to approach this paper as a final summary of the main points. In turn, the mistake of starting an executive summary before writing an actual research paper is that authors can write about details they fail to address in the final version of a document.

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How to Write an Executive Summary in APA Style

An executive summary is a section appearing at the beginning of a long document. It offers the reader a concise, accurate, and conclusive summary of the document. The following information will help you create an executive summary that follows APA format.

  • Arrange the summary in the same order as the long document, with the same major headings. Include sub-headings if the information under the sub-heading will provide necessary summary information for the reader. Generally, you can summarize an entire section without including sub-headings.
  • Summarize each section with up to five sentences, including the same details and conclusions as in the report. Most executive summaries are no longer than one page.
  • Do not include technical language or jargon. The language in the summary should be generic enough for any reader, and at a level appropriate for ease of understanding without further research.
  • If the long document includes problems and consequences of those problems, include recommendations for resolution.
  • If recommendations for resolution are included, choose at least one and include reasons for choosing that resolution. If appropriate, mention one or two other resolutions and explain why they also would be good second choices.

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How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

Caroline Forsey

Published: August 31, 2023

Whether you're an entrepreneur looking for investors for your small business or the CEO of a large corporation, an executive summary can help you succeed and is a critical component for long-term growth.

Executive summary with examples

A short, attention-grabbing executive summary is an essential part of your business plan . Done correctly, it will ensure your company becomes or remains a key player in your industry. In this post, you’ll learn what an executive summary is and how to write one that engages investors, customers, and general audiences.

Executive Summary

An executive summary is a brief overview of a long document, such as a business plan, proposal, or report. It's a section that grabs readers’ attention and summarizes critical information from the document, such as the problem or opportunity being addressed, objectives, key findings, goals, and recommendations.

Some documents that may have an executive summary include:

  • Business plans
  • Research documents
  • Project proposals
  • Annual reports

Ultimately, the executive summary is meant to inform readers of the most important information in the document, so they don't have to read it all and can get caught up quickly.

Executive Summary vs. Business Plan

All business plans have an executive summary, but not all executive summaries belong to business plans.

A business plan includes a company overview, your company's short-term and long-term goals, information on your product or service, sales targets, expense budgets, your marketing plan, and a list including each member of your management team. In this case, the executive summary is the first section of the business plan that convinces readers that it’s worth their time to read the whole thing.

Business plans are very detailed and comprehensive, and can be as short as a dozen pages or as long as 100 pages. However, a CEO or investor might not have the interest or time to read your full business plan without first getting the general gist of your company or goals through an executive summary.

Executive Summary vs. Mission Statement

Mission statements and executive summaries are typically both found in business plans, but they serve different purposes.

A mission statement defines your organization’s purpose, values, and vision. It’s your company’s north star and communicates your core identity and reason for existence. On the other hand, an executive summary provides a high-level overview of the document.

Ultimately, your mission statement provides direction for developing your business plan, while your executive summary describes your business plan to executives and shareholders.

Executive Summary vs. Company Description

Like mission statements and executive summaries, company descriptions can also be found in business plans as well as the “About us” page of your website . It provides an overview of your business, including essential details like company history, what your company does, unique selling points, goals, management team, and overall value proposition.

Executive Summary vs. Objective

An objective is a specific goal or target that your company takes aims to achieve its overall goal. It is a concrete, measurable outcome that guides your business’s actions and decisions. Objectives are usually set at the strategic level and are typically aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and overall strategic plan.

Company objectives are often included in executive summaries, but are not the sole focus of them.

What is the purpose of an executive summary?

Writing an executive summary may not seem that necessary. After all, you can find the same information just by reading the rest of the document.

However, the executive summary serves many purposes for your document and those who read it. Here are some of the benefits of having one:

  • It saves your readers time. CEOs and investors often have limited time to review lengthy documents. An executive summary allows them to quickly grasp the main points, key findings, and recommendations without needing to read the entire document.
  • It provides clarity and conciseness. By providing a condensed overview, executive summaries help to distill complex information and present it in a manner that’s easy to understand.
  • It helps with document navigation. For longer documents or reports, an executive summary provides a roadmap for readers. It helps them navigate through the document by signaling the main sections or topics covered, improving overall document usability and accessibility.

To write an impressive executive summary that effectively embodies all the important elements of your business plan, we've cultivated a list of necessary components for an executive summary, as well as an example to get you started.

Follow Along With HubSpot's Executive Summary Template

Executive summary template from HubSpot

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How to write an executive summary.

A good executive summary tells your company’s story, contains in-depth research, conveys information with an appropriate tone, is void of clichés, and follows your business plan’s structure. These elements will ensure your executive summary is effective, informative, and impactful.

1. Tell your story.

When investors or CEO's read your executive summary, they should understand what your business is about. This is one of the first elements of your business plan, so it should set the tone.

In your executive summary, be sure to tell your story and include an overview about what your company does and why you do what you do. You can also briefly highlight important details about your company’s management.

For instance, you could talk about your founder or CEO’s qualifications and motivations. You can also provide a high-level summary of your company’s business operations and any management methods or best practices that you abide by.

You’ll also want to explain the problem or opportunity that is being addressed, and how it is valuable to investors and customers. Think of this like an elevator pitch . If someone stopped reading and you only had the executive summary to explain your company, what information would you include?

2. Highlight important data.

An executive summary, while short, should include plenty of research.

Highlight the most important findings and insights from the document, including any critical data or statistics discovered in your competitor analysis . While your business plan will flesh out the details, it's important to include your key findings in your executive summary.

You should also provide a basic rundown of your target market, how you plan on addressing their needs and pain points, and how you will reach them.

Additionally, you should include key financial information. The main points you should cover are the overall budget, the price per product/service, and your financial projections.

3. Pay attention to your tone.

Although the tone of your executive summary should be professional and concise, it should also be true to your company and target audience. Aim to convey a sense of authority and credibility while remaining accessible and engaging.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Focus on presenting information objectively with facts and evidence.
  • Don’t voice your personal opinions or use subjective statements.
  • Strive for clarity and simplicity in your language and ensure that your message is easily understood.
  • Avoid unnecessarily complexity or convolution.
  • Don’t use hyperbole or excessive claims.
  • Use strong verbs, active voice, and concise language to make your points effectively.
  • Aim to resonate with the reader’s interests and concerns.

By striking the right balance between professionalism, clarity, and engagement, you can effectively deliver your message and compel the reader to take action or make informed decisions based on the summary.

4. Avoid cliché language.

With any style of writing, it's best to avoid clichés. Clichés can convey the wrong message or be misunderstood, which is something you want to avoid when someone reads your executive summary.

Additionally, clichés tend to overpromise and under-deliver. For example, including something like “The Best Restaurant in Town” isn‘t true because you’re untested as a business. Your executive summary should reflect the truth and who you are as a company.

To avoid clichés while writing, it’s essential to be aware of their presence. Familiarize yourself with common clichés and be mindful of them as you write. Some examples include:

  • “Thinking outside the box”
  • “Innovative solutions”
  • “Cutting-edge technology”

Instead of relying on these overused phrases, be descriptive and embrace the uniqueness of your brand when writing your executive summary. For instance, there’s no need to vaguely refer to your product as a “game-changer,” when you could explain how it benefits your target audience instead. Show, don’t tell.

By staying true to your voice and delivering an honest message, you can keep your writing fresh and your audience engaged.

5. Write it after completing your business plan.

An executive summary is a summary of your business plan. However, it‘s hard to write a summary when you haven’t written your business plan yet. That's why your executive summary should be the final thing you write.

By saving this step for last, you’re able to gain a thorough understanding of the entire plan, including your business’s goals, strategies, market analysis, and financial projections. This enables you to accurately depict the most important aspects in your summary.

If you write you executive summary first, you’re more likely to miscommunicate the essence of your business plan to executives and shareholders. Sure, you may have an outline prepare, but not having all the information can lead to inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your summary. You also risk including irrelevant details or omitting important details that come up during the planning process.

Ultimately, writing your executive summary last ensures that precisely represents the content and findings your plan.

If you don’t have a business plan yet, don’t worry; we have a comprehensive business plan template to help you create one quickly and effectively.

Featured Resource: Business Plan Template

how to write executive summary: use business plan template from hubspot

Download Your Free Template Here

Now that you know how to write an executive summary, let's dive into the details of what to include.

What to Include in Your Executive Summary

Your business plan should convey your company‘s mission, your product, a plan for how you’ll stand out from competitors, your financial projections, your company's short and long-term goals, your buyer persona, and your market fit.

Ultimately, an executive summary should provide a preview for investors or CEO's, so they know what to expect from the rest of your report. Your executive summary should include:

  • The name, location, and mission of your company
  • A description of your company, including management, advisors, and brief history
  • Your product or service, where your product fits in the market, and how your product differs from competitors in the industry
  • Financial considerations, start-up funding requirements, or the purpose behind your business plan — mention what you hope the reader will help your company accomplish

How long should an executive summary be?

While there is no hard and fast rule for the exact length, executive summaries typically range from one to three pages. However, it's important to note that the length should be determined by the document it accompanies and the content itself rather than a predetermined page count.

At the end of the day, your executive summary should engage the reader and highlight the most important points of your document while avoiding unnecessary details.

Feeling at a loss? Download a free template below that will take you through the executive summary creation process.

Executive Summary Template

executive summary template from hubspot

Download Your Free Executive Summary Template Here

In this free executive summary template, you’ll be able to outline several pieces of information, including:

  • Introduction: Explain what your executive summary contains.
  • Company & Opportunity: Explain who you are and your biggest opportunities for growth.
  • Industry & Market Analysis: Explain the state of your industry and your target market.
  • Management & Operations: Explain who your key leaders are and their roles.
  • Implementation & Marketing: Explain how you plan to deploy your product to the marketplace.
  • Financial Plan: Explain your company’s finances. Change the verbiage depending on whether you’re writing to investors or a general audience.
  • Conclusion: Summarize what you’ve covered.

Ready? Download your free executive summary template .

To understand more tactically how an executive summary should look, let’s review a few examples.

Executive Summary Examples

1. connected.

executive summary example: connected

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Use this executive summary template to provide a summary of your report, business plan, or memo.

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How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper

Published 25 August 2021

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper

It is necessary to file an executive summary along with the documents for business purposes.  Students need to write an executive summary (sometimes known as a management summary) of their content to give a brief description to the readers about their work.

It must cover every significant point of your research but in short. So that the audience would get an accurate idea of your work and can decide whether they should read further your larger paperwork or not. Students must not skip any key idea and essential points while giving a precise summary of their work. The executive summary doesn’t contain an introduction, conclusion, or any new idea of your research paper.

It is challenging and complicates the task for the students to cover each argument, idea and the main point of their research work within the possible minimum number of words. However, you have to do it smartly to convince the readers of the purpose of the research.

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What is an executive summary.

An executive summary gives a concise view of a prodigious document. It is generally the first most or only thing which readers need to consider so it must be able to communicate every key point, Research findings , and Results of your research.

It is a brief synopsis of your research work. So to maintain its length, you can’t skip any vital point to describe in it as hardly any reader goes through the entire report. You must write a compelling executive summary to grab the attention of your readers and allure them to go into the depth of your paper.

Executive summaries Components

There are mainly four components of the executive summary, shown below:

  • Purpose: You must clearly define the very purpose you need to address and ways to analyze them.
  • Key points: Every vital aspect, along with the central idea of your research, you should describe in the exact order as the main paper.
  • Results: The outcomes yield from the research.
  • Recommendations: You should recommend your suggestions to improve the issues found while researching.

Though it is a very tough task to write a compelling executive summary, yet you can achieve your goal by giving due consideration to the above components.

Importance of executive summary

  • The executive summary is a condensed version of the main document, such as a business plan, that grabs the attention of your audience. It contains information on what needs to be done and how you will do it in order for success to come about.
  • Filing a useful executive summary with the main document is a way for the students to grab the attention of their professors and to attract them with the content so that they would agree to go through the entire research work.
  • If the college students are struggling with their low grades, then they can accelerate them by impressing their supervisors with their quality work. Students can confidently update their resume for the job with their research activity if they got kind remarks from the professors for their hard work.
  • Similarly, an excellent executive summary can entice the investors to read the entire business document and go into its dept. It helps them to make an accurate decision about whether they should invest in the proposed business plan or not.

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How to write a fantastic Executive summary?

There are essential suggestions that can help the students to write a useful executive summary.

1. Write it up to last

When it is about to inform innovative business decisions and strategies, then students need to do valuable research.

Once the students can do educational research, then they have to start working in terms of packaging findings that can easily communicate the need and value for an altered strategy to leadership. The most significant and effective way to do this is to create an appropriate business plan, including all of the findings, research, and suggestions. This type of creative business plan requires an executive summary.

It can be the best practice to craft the executive summary of an appropriate business plan after every other part of the report.  This gives the surety to the students that they can build out a review representing the final remnants of the plan as accurately as it is possible.

2. Try to capture the reader’s attention.

There is no doubt that a well-format executive summary must be informative in nature. However, it should also capture the attention of the audience. If the audience found the content interesting, then they can decide whether they want to read the remaining document or not.

The main objective of the presentation direction should be to inspire the audience with the research findings and the structurally proposed trends. Admittedly, at the end of the practical executive summary, readers might be eager to know whether they would be an advisor, banker, investor, or executive.

The right executive summary should be thorough, but the review should not reveal everything immediately. The audience would get encouraged to read out the complete story by reading the fantastic summary of a report.

3. Make sure an executive summary can stand extraordinarily

An executive summary with a clearly defined structure can become efficient. Without involving the practical review, any of the reports can appear dull and unclaimed. If the students are not able to make the executive summary that can stand on its own, then they have to revise it again and again until they get succeeded.

A useful and informative introduction paragraph, central body part, and conclusion should allow the audience who does not know the business to read the executive summary and understand the key findings from the student’s research, and the primary elements which you have mentioned in the business plan.

4. Think of an executive summary to make a condensed business plan

Students have to create a compelling executive summary to align it with more critical business strategies and plans. While writing about the executive summary, students have to read thoroughly business plan and can take the crucial information from each critical section. All the facts, evidence, numbers, and goals mentioned in the business plan must fit in the executive summary.

5. Make and include supporting research

Make the supportive claims to the executive summary for which the students have done high research and use it to create an appropriate business plan.

6. Boil it down as much as possible

Students have to use precise words and a succinct style to make a unique executive summary. By getting all the necessary information onto one page, students can condense the executive research effectively. The more succinct research students make, the more apparent their message received to the audience plus readers will get more confidence to understand the business strategies.

7. Start impressively with a BANG

If the students include a thought-provoking quote or an inspiring paragraph at the beginning of the executive summary, then it can attract the reader’s attention and can make the readers think like the students want to.

8. Keep things innovative and decisive

Try to focus the executive summary only on the positive elements of the business plan and the research done. Students have to leave all the negative discussions, obstacles, risks, and challenges for the body section of the business plan.

Necessary five-paragraph steps for making an executive summary

Students can break down a compelling executive summary into five paragraphs.

Paragraph 1: Provide a mandatory overview of a business plan

Students can capture the attention of readers by writing attractive statistics and quotes at the beginning of the summary. The first paragraph should include relevant information about business plans and insight information about the industry.

Paragraph 2: Discuss target competition, market, and business strategy

The second paragraph should include a concise and precise definition of the target market and the point of the business plan which the students want to solve. In the next step, outline the strategies with efficiency and the essential information that the specific business possesses.

The marketing strategy should focus on the three primary ways to achieve the plan of the target market. When the students focus on three forms of the market strategy, then they can maintain precision, and make the readers interested to read about their plan.

Paragraph 3: Provide an overview of highlights

The third paragraph of the executive summary should reflect operational highlights like where the office of the company is located and how long one can work there.

Paragraph 4: Make forecasting

Here students have to create sales forecasting projections after their business plan gets implemented. Students can calculate the breakeven point, and then inform the audience how they can turn a business plan into profit.

Paragraph 5: Detail the needs of investors

If any business requires finance, then one has to understand that it is time to invest in it. Students have to clear every information and point to make the current projections.

Appropriate length of an executive summary for a research paper?

There is no rule or secret of writing an executive summary of the research paper by using the words, but if the students understand the basic guidelines, they can make it useful. However, if the students are making it huge, then there is no need to write it. The real of the executive summary is to grab the attention of the reader as well as to reduce the time of the students.

For example, if the students have written ten pages of a research paper, then the executive summary will not be much larger than one page. The length of the executive summary should be as small as is possible by mentioning all the necessary points. When the students can put all the informative data in their review by making it shorter, then it means they had made an effective paper.

Instructions for writing an executive summary

We’ve compiled a list of executive summary tips to help you get started. These include general and more specific instructions for how best to approach your document so that readers can quickly understand its purpose, content, and value proposition

General instrustions

  • Students must understand that an executive summary of any business report or research paper is a short review of the document: Short and review are two keywords here. Students should not make a comprehensive executive summary in any way. The executive summary should not be a substitute for the paperwork. You should keep the executive summary less than 10% of the original document. Students can keep it between 5% and 10%, not more than this.
  • An executive summary of a business document has adhered to specific structural and stylistic guidelines: Students should apply specific structural and stylistic guidelines while writing an executive summary for the document like; Paragraph of the summary should be kept short The executive summary should make some sense even if you do not read the paper You should write an executive summary in a language that is appropriate for the readers.
  • Students must define the problem: A problem should be clearly defined in an executive summary. Students should make sure that they are describing the problem clearly in simple and understandable terms because the documents and original reports are written based on Requests for proposals.
  • Students must provide a solution while writing an executive summary: A solution must be written for the stated problem. Students need to write the solution to deliver a claim statement of purpose so that the solution can effectively tackle the problem. The solution will not make any sense if you have not clearly defined the problem.
  • Graduate students must use bullet points, graphics, and headings: It is not an easy and simple task to write an executive summary. It would help if you did not write long blocks of text in the executive summary. If students enhance understanding of the fact or writing more skimmable summary then it is good to use the following; Graphics: The use of graphics in the executive summary illustrates the precise nature of the problem of the client, which can drive the point of the summary. Stimulating the visual sense by using graphics is very useful as the logical sense. Bullets: students can break down the long list of information in the desirable bullets. Headings: students should organize the theme of the summary in headings if necessary. It will help to orient the reader as readers always drive into the summary.
  • College students must write fresh and Jargon free content in an executive summary: Jargon is trendy in the business world. Students should avoid the words like interface, core competency, leverage, and burning platform in the executive summary.

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Specific instructions

  • Start with an original document: students should be familiar with the original paper to include it down to the information version. Review your document correctly whether it is a business plan, report, or manual to include the main ideas of it in an executive summary.
  • Write a brief review: define the purpose and scope of the company which sponsors the document. It is the main section of the executive summary of the paper. You have to write about the specialty of your business in two or three lines. Mention why your business deserves the scrutiny of the people who are reading the summary.
  • Define the problem: discussion about the problem is the foremost step of writing an executive summary of the paper. So, students here need to explain the issue of the topic. The problem should be defined in a clear and precise manner. The ill-defined problem will not sound convincing to the readers and will not let you describe the solution of the problem.
  • Write a unique solution: Defining the problem is a secure part of the summary. Now, in this next step, you have to convince the readers for reading your paper by providing them with a unique solution to the defined problem. It will be a great idea for your summary if you clearly define the problem as well as a solution in it.
  • Talk about the market potential: According to this tip, you have to elaborate on the stated problem by providing the stats of your business. Do not give too much extra about your business than your company has.
  • Incorporate your USP: At this point, you can elaborate on the unique selling proposition of your business.
  • If necessary, talk about your business model: Describe the business modal clearly and easily if needed. Some executive summaries do not need to define a business modal. However, if your summary needs it, then explain it clearly.
  • If necessary, discuss your management team: If there is a need, then present your management team. It can be an essential part to be written in a summary depending upon the type of your industry.
  • Provide business financial projections to support informative claims: Based on the market skills, business strategy model, and historical performance, students have to develop a bottom-up executive economic forecast. The primary purpose of the projections is to demonstrate competence as well as the ability to build financial projections based on a set of predictions or assumptions.
  • Ease in to make a request: Now the time comes to request either a loan or an investment, which mainly depends on the purpose of the executive summary. Students should restate the term that why the business company requires a value. Remind the audience about the pain and business strategies that you are going through. Finally, recognize the team about doing the job excellently. One can ask for the major plans and amount that can help make a business successful. It is not worth disclosing any of the statements, yet instead, it can be effective through face-to-face negotiation.
  • Recheck the entire summary: When one had written all the essential terms then rereading it can be useful. Carefully proofread the review by considering the audience for the presentation of the documents. Make sure that the language is concise and clear to the audience who is new to the topic.

How is an executive summary of a research paper different from the abstract?

The process of writing an executive summary of your paper is entirely different from a research paper abstract . For writing an of your paper, you cannot follow the same format of writing an abstract. An abstract and an executive summary of the research paper serve different purposes.

An abstract is a glimpse of what the students are going to do in the research paper whereas for the summary; students need to discuss everything and every part of the research paper in brief without missing any fact and crucial point.

So while writing an executive of your research paper, you have o write everything from the aim of the paper to the solutions of the problem along with the references. On the other hand, while writing an abstract of the paper, there is no need to write all these.

Now, you should have the knowledge to draft a compelling summary for your document. From the above content, you would have learned everything about writing an executive summary.

If even you lack somewhere while writing a useful summary of your paper, the helpers of can assist in writing an executive summary of the paper.

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Tips How to Write an Executive Summary Properly

executive summary of research paper sample

  • Review the article by reading through it thoroughly and focus on understanding what the author is saying.
  • As you read, make sure you highlight the major points and ideas. for example, you can look up for the topic sentence, words that are repeated severally and even transition words.
  • Write the summary in your own words. As you write the summary start with the source of information i.e., start with the name of the book and that of the other by doing so someone else will be able to know you are writing about what somebody else had written. You should also use your memory to present the main ideas and also present it to the idea from the author’s point of view.
  • Remember to use a language that is appropriate to a summary. That is, you want whoever is reading to understand that it is someone else’s argument you writing about,so use phrases like “the author says”
  • Reread the what you’ve written from your memory against the notes you had made. If there is something important you had forgotten, you can addit. You also need to present the summary in the order of events rather than jumping from one point to another and eliminate any kind of repetition.
  • Check for any errors.


  • How to start the executive summary is very important. Executive summaries need to start by the specifics. Identify your company or business name, the contact information and the location.
  • You need to know that an executive summary is a short and brief review of the whole business document. The words “brief” and “review” are the main words here. The executive summary should not in any way be detailed nor should it be a substitute for the original document. Here an abstract gives the reader an overview; the latter gives the reader more of a summary. Keep in mind that each executive summary should be unique in its own way.
  • The paragraphs should be kept short, simple and precise without leaving out any essential and important information.
  • It should make sense even without reading the original report itself. It should start with what you need to capture the reader’s attention and should be followed by factors in chronological order.
  • When writing an executive summary use the language that is best appropriate for the target audience. It should always be kept professional and free from grammatical and spelling errors.
  • State the big problem. An executive summary needs a clearly stated problem. Ensure that a clear definition of the problem has been stated and it should be in understandable terms. If the problem you defined is not so convincing, you will not be able to provide a solution that has an impact.
  • Provide the solution. Any problem needs a solution this applies on writing an executive summary. After you have stated your problem provide a solution. Otherwise, the problem you had first created will not make any sense. You need to provide a solution that solves or tackles the problem.
  • Talk about the target market.  In some cases, the product you are providing definesthe market. If not, you can give a short description of the target market. You should provide a realistic market potential.
  • If the information you are presenting is long, you can break it down into short, understandable bullets.
  • When writing an executive summary, you can organize the main idea inform of a heading. This will help the reader familiarize with summary as they get to read it.
  • A well-presented graphic can illustrate the precise nature of the main problem and could help bring out the whole point of the summary.
  • Avoid using any claims or clichés that cannot be supported. Avoid using word s such as “groundbreaking,” “core competency”. This is because they hinder the real meaning and they eventually tend to lose meaning and makes the summary appear vague.

What is an executive summary?

Proper use of executive summary format.

  • It should have a captivating introduction. The first paragraph should capture the reader’s attention. This is where you explain about the company, so it needs to be strong.
  • Identify the problem. Any business founded is aimed at solving certain problems. Point out the and explain the issue you intend to solve.
  • Provide a unique solution. Propose solutions to question like, how does your company solve the problem? How is your company different from any other company providing the same services? Explain why your idea is better and how it can solve a problem by making things easier.
  • Prove your claim with evidence. Provide support to how your business will solve the problem.
  • Ask for what you need. Give detailed logistics, for example, how much will itcost? Here you can include the amount you need plus the benefits and returns on investment and over what period.
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Some executive summary examples

  • It will improve your workflow- the flow of points in your summary is key, and once you get exposed to different samples you will be able to understand how to encrypt your summary to meet the needs of your readers.
  • It improves your grammar command- once you get to read the work of other authors you will be able to know all the grammar rules, and you will be able to avoid the common grammar errors when it comes to your summary.
  • Improvement of vocabulary- different business plans require different terms in the expression of its points, once you get exposed to different examples you will be able to know the right terms to apply in summary given.
  • The examples also help you to come up with the right format for your work. Executive summary samples help you to know the right formats to be used for different situations as the format is what makes your work impressive.
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100+ Executive Summary Examples | MS Word, Google Docs, Pages, PDF

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  1. Example Of An Executive Summary

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  2. Summary

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  3. 016 Research Paper Executive Summary Example Best Marketing Plan

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  4. 🐈 How to write executive summary for research paper. The Best Way to

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  1. Breakdown of a Research Paper

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  6. Conclusion


  1. How To Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper (With Template

    Updated July 23, 2023 Executive summaries play significant roles in reporting the contents of a research study to a target audience. The executive summary presents a compilation of the research paper and accompanying reports to summarize its key points, findings and recommended actions.

  2. Executive Summary

    Bailey, Edward, P. The Plain English Approach to Business Writing. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), p. 73-80. Importance of a Good Executive Summary Although an executive summary is similar to an abstract in that they both summarize the contents of a research study, there are several key differences.

  3. How To Write A High-Impact Executive Summary

    #1 - It should be able to stand alone. The executive summary should be able to stand independently as an informative document. In other words, the reader should be able to grasp your broad argument without having to read the full document. Further reading should be purely for attaining more detail.

  4. PDF How to Write an Executive Summary

    Who else should be involved? Basically, the conclusion is an opportunity to create a call to action, and connect with the goals of your reader. After you've written your draft executive summary, you can revise to ensure that the writing is concise and clear. Some basic revision tips to consider are:


    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY EXAMPLES The Executive Summary (1-2 pages) will eventually be given to judges at the Semi- Finals and Final Round of the competition. Your document should quickly summarize: the problem, your idea, and the benefits of your solution. The format can be a bullet- point list or it can contain more graphics.

  6. The Report Abstract and Executive Summary

    The Report Abstract and Executive Summary The Abstract The abstract is a crucial part of your report as it may be the only section read by people at the executive or managerial level who must make decisions based on what they read in your abstract.

  7. How To Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper (With Template

    Below is an example of an executive summary template for a research paper: [Paper Title] [Date] This paper examines [brief description of paper's main points]. The research found that [main finding]. It was concluded that [conclusion]. Based on these findings, it is recommended that [recommendation].

  8. How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper

    Introduction. This is where you must introduce your subject and talk about the importance of a chosen topic. Your first paragraph must provide sufficient and clear information about the discipline and the range of your research by either including the target audience or explaining why the issue matters. It should be about three to five sentences.

  9. Writing Executive Summaries

    Executive Summaries. " T he executive summary is usually no longer than 10% of the original document. It can be anywhere from 1-10 pages long, depending on the report's length. Executive summaries are written literally for an executive who most likely DOES NOT have the time to read the original. Executive summaries make a recommendation.

  10. Writing an Executive Summary

    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 ...

  11. How to write an executive summary, with examples

    You'll often find executive summaries of: Business cases Project proposals Research documents Environmental studies Market surveys Project plans In general, there are four parts to any executive summary: Start with the problem or need the document is solving. Outline the recommended solution. Explain the solution's value.

  12. PDF How to Write Executive Summaries

    If it is a short executive summary for an internal docu-ment, you can use "we." Length As with other aspects of executive summaries, guidelines on length vary. Your executive summary should be at most 10 percent of the final document. Therefore, a 10-page white paper would have a 1-page executive summary; a 100-page report should have a 10-page

  13. Executive Summaries

    The executive summary is usually no longer than 10% of the original document. It can be anywhere from 1-10 pages long, depending on the report's length. ... begin with a concise statement of the conclusion you reached after conducting your analysis and/or research is the paper that will be attached. For example, after a comparison of what other ...

  14. Executive Summaries and Abstracts

    Executive summaries are longer than abstracts, often running 2-5 pages. They summarize a larger document's purpose, methods, results, conclusions, and recommendations such that someone who reads only the summary can glean a solid understanding of the research as a whole. Unlike abstracts, executive summaries can include citations and references.

  15. How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)

    You can find this same information in our free executive summary template: Introduction, be sure to know your audience. Table of contents in the form of a bulleted list. Explain the company's role and identify strengths. Explain the need, or the problem, and its importance. Recommend a solution and explain its value.

  16. How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper

    How to Write an Outstanding Executive Summary for a Research Paper & Examples. A habit of reading different types of papers is helpful to students' mental preparation for course assessments but, more importantly, to their intellectual development. Reading various types of essays, reports, and research papers also induces the mental faculties of intellect, reason, imagination, and intuition ...

  17. How to Write an Executive Summary in APA Style

    The following information will help you create an executive summary that follows APA format. Arrange the summary in the same order as the long document, with the same major headings. Include sub-headings if the information under the sub-heading will provide necessary summary information for the reader. Generally, you can summarize an entire ...

  18. How to Write a Powerful Executive Summary [+4 Top Examples]

    Published: August 14, 2023 Whether you're an entrepreneur looking for investors for your small business or the CEO of a large corporation, an executive summary can help you succeed and is a critical component for long-term growth. Download Now: Free Executive Summary Template

  19. How To Write an Executive Summary (With Example)

    Here are several general steps to consider when writing an executive summary: 1. Research effective executive summaries. Before you write your own executive summary, it may be helpful to review summaries written by others. This is especially true for those writing an executive summary for the first time.

  20. How to Write an Executive Summary for a Research Paper

    Published 25 August 2021 It is necessary to file an executive summary along with the documents for business purposes. Students need to write an executive summary (sometimes known as a management summary) of their content to give a brief description to the readers about their work. It must cover every significant point of your research but in short.

  21. How to Write a Great Executive Summary

    What is an executive summary? An executive summary is the abridged form of a business document. Although it can be tempting to compare an executive summary to an abstract for an academic report or paper, there is a key difference between these two types of document: An abstract is a synopsis of a report or paper that sums up the document, while an executive summary is a shortened version that ...

  22. Tips How To Write a Good Executive Summary

    How to start the executive summary is very important. Executive summaries need to start by the specifics. Identify your company or business name, the contact information and the location. You need to know that an executive summary is a short and brief review of the whole business document. The words "brief" and "review" are the main ...

  23. Executive Summary

    An executive summary is a concise report that summarizes the status, facts, and conclusion of a current or completed project. When the project team writes a well-written executive summary, they may convey all of the key information to the business or organization's decision-makers without having to read the entire report.