When should an executive summary be included? When the document is 30 pages long or less, you should include an executive summary. This summary should be no more than 20 pages. It should catch the key points of the document and provide a brief overview.
How do you write an effective executive summary? An executive summary is like a mini-report within the main document; therefore, it should contain a clear statement of purpose and be written to attract attention. To achieve this, use a simple language that all readers will understand, and avoid technical jargon. A good executive summary should be no longer than 150 words.
What should an executive summary include? The following are some examples of information that should be included in an executive summary:
A brief description of the problem or issue that the report will solve.
An explanation of why the report is necessary.
A forecast of how much revenue the company expects to generate with its new product/service.
An outline of the different parts of the report (for example, background information, methodology, conclusion).
A call to action.
What should the length of an executive summary be? A solid executive summary should be between 5–10% of the length of the entire report (for a report that is 20 pages or less, aim for a one-page executive summary). For longer reports, consider reducing the size of your executive summary to avoid overstating your case.
There is no set number of words for an executive summary. However, too few words can make it difficult for readers to understand the main points of the document, while too many words may cause them to become bored or lose interest in the report. We recommend using a word count of around 250–500 words for most reports. You should also refer to the length of other sections of the report when writing about its overall length.
The best way to determine how long your executive summary should be is by thinking through what will keep your audience interested and by keeping this in mind when writing. If you find yourself getting lost in details at any point during the summary, it might be time to summarize another part of the report instead.
In addition to being clear and concise, an effective executive summary should also give readers the main points of the document in a single glance. This means that it should include both a table of contents and a brief overview section.
The executive summary is often ordered in accordance with the order of the chapters or parts of the report that it summarizes. The executive summary should be prepared in such a way that it can be read independently of the rest of the report. It must not make numerical references to figures, tables, or references found elsewhere in the report. Instead, it should state generally what those other materials show and how they relate to the main ideas of the executive summary.
A reference to a document or body of information appearing in parentheses (or citations) within the text of the report means that the reader is referred to find out more about this material. References should be consistent with any style guidelines or other requirements used by your institution to refer to documents in academic work.
In addition to including these references, the executive summary may discuss topics related to the report's content in order to provide additional information for readers who may want to learn more about them. These extensions to the executive summary should also include appropriate references.
References cited in the executive summary that are not included in the body of the report should not take up space that could be used to explain the material in more detail or illustrate certain points. Including only those references that are necessary to explain the main ideas in the summary would help keep the report concise while still providing sufficient information for others who may want to know more about these topics.