What is Executive Summary?
Often a long, detailed document is used in and for business. Executive summaries tidily sum up the information that can be found in the longer documents, proposals, or projects produced by businesses. Executive summaries are written in plain language for the decision makers that do not have the time to read the longer document, proposal, or project. Executive summaries can be used to summarize a proposal, quarterly financial reports, or even progress reports related to projects in progress. The main purpose of an executive summary is to make important facts or topics from the longer document quickly accessible without having to read an entire, very long, document with tons of information.
While an executive summary may be similar to an abstract or an outline, there are important differences that vary the function of each document. An outline is a skeleton of a much larger document ‘“ more of a guide to the larger proposal or informational document. An abstract is very similar to an executive summary in the fact that it is prepared after the document is completed, but is usually shorter than and not as detailed as the executive summary. In addition, an abstract contains the technical language of the larger document while the executive summary does not include the technical language.
A well-defined executive summary is usually between three and twelve pages or approximately one-tenth the length of the longer document, and includes a short introduction to the reason behind the larger document, proposal, or project. The executive summary provides essential background data about the document, and brief summaries of the analysis associated with the project. The main points, but not all the points, will be included in the executive summary, followed by a few clarifying sentences. Concluding the executive summary will be conclusions reached in the larger document and suggest various courses of action based on the conclusions. The make-up of the executive summary will usually consist of short.
A single executive summary may be used to summarize information from several documents pertaining to one particular project. This one executive summary will summarize points from all the documents associated with the larger document, proposal, or project. This is beneficial because a well-executed executive summary will incorporate enough information to allow the executives making decisions to establish the next steps necessary in executing the project.
Generally an executive summary is presented with supporting documents at hand, creating a portfolio that undertakes the project or document completely. If supporting documents are not immediately available, the executive summary will contain a list of supporting sources. This executive portfolio, containing the executive summary and supporting documents, allows executives to divulge upon a particular path or topic if necessary.
The executive summary, while considered a tool only for big businesses, can be utilized in any organization setting out on a project. Non-profit organizations might find that preparing an executive summary is a helpful tool when addressing governing boards and issues. Small businesses working on a marketing strategy can use executive summaries to consolidate information.