What Is An Executive Summary

What is an executive summary? If you're going to spend your career in business, knowing about an executive summary will help you understand and interpret all kinds of business documents. An executive summary can be anywhere from one to a dozen pages, and it always provides a synopsis of the document it is supporting.

What Is An Executive Summary?
Executive summaries are most often found at the beginning of a business document, such as a proposal, a large report or even an annual financial report. It is a presentation of the most important points contained in the document that follows, allowing the reader to grasp the facts right away without having to review the large amount of supporting data. An example of this might be an executive summary about an annual financial report. The summary would contain the interpretation of the data gathering and statistics and translate what each one means for the company. The report itself might be dense with the calculations, facts and figures of the financial report and will likely be too dense for anyone to read and make conclusions about quickly.

Format Of An Executive Summary
While an executive summary can be modified to fit many different instances, there are some shared features that every executive summary includes. The executive summary may provide a short introduction, followed by two or three paragraphs of the most important data and conclusions from the larger report. In theory, someone could read the first page of an executive summary and have a basic understanding of the purpose of the whole document. The executive summary should present the potential impact of the information rather than spend time explaining all the details that led to the conclusion.

What To Avoid In An Executive Summary
Many people confuse an executive summary with a standard summary or abstract, but there are a few differences. An abstract will condense information in a larger report, but it is simply a representation of data. It is an overview of the contents and remains neutral in scope. An executive summary should present an opinion or recommendation and is a decision-making tool for business executives. It should be presented with background information, along with the analysis of data, and then it should finish with a recommendation and conclusion to a position.

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