Executive Summary

An executive summary, as described by the Writing Center at UMGC, "summarizes or reviews the main points of a longer document or report for a reader that does not have time to read the entire report. An effective executive summary analyzes and summarizes the most important points in the paper or report, and will often make a recommendation based on the analysis. Executive summaries are 'stand-alone' documents that are almost always read independently of the reports they summarize" (UMGC, n.d.).

In a workplace setting, an executive summary is the mechanism by which you will attract an executive's attention and should concisely summarize the materials that you are presenting.

While there isn't a single acceptable format for an executive summary, an executive summary typically very briefly (one to two pages) includes the following:

  • a first paragraph that attracts attention and gets the executive to read the rest of your summary
  • bullet points and concise language to articulate ideas
  • establishment of what is unique about your summary that makes it compelling for an executive to review
  • a recommended basic structure:
    • introduction (grabs the executive's attention)
    • statement of the problem
    • recommended solution
    • explanation of why this is important to do now (conveys a sense of urgency)

Use appropriate language for executives; avoid technical jargon unless you define it in your summary and avoid using personal pronouns such as we, our, my, and us. Instead, use a more general "the company." Also be careful not to make claims that you can't back up (e.g., "cutting-edge," "world-class," "innovative").


UMGC Writing Center. (n.d.). Writing executive summaries. Retrieved from http://www.umgc.edu/writingcenter/writingresources/exec_summaries.cfm