How to Write an Executive Summary

CoB Center for Professional Communication
What Is an Executive Summary?
An executive summary previews the main points of
an in-depth report
It is written for nontechnical people who don't have
time to read the main report
It contains enough information for a reader to get
familiarized with what is discussed in the full report
without having to read it
What an Executive Summary Should Do
Provide an overview of another document or
presentation with a clear enough understanding that
the reader may make a decision based only on the
Executive Summary.
It can stand alone, if necessary, in conveying key
points and conclusions.
How would I go about writing an
Executive Summary?
Be familiar with the entire original document.
Capture the purpose and the main recommendation(s)
in one or two sentences.
Provide key evidence (usually a short paragraph for
each major point) as quickly and directly as possible.
Follow the order of the original.
Close with a brief summary and reiteration of the
main idea.
The Seven Step Creation Process
Plan to create a summary each time you write a
business report exceeding four pages. Write the
summary after you write the main report, and
make sure it is no more than 1/10 the length of
the main report.
List the main points the summary will cover in the
same order they appear in the main report.
Write a simple declarative sentence for each of
the main points.
The Seven Step Creation Process
Add supporting or explanatory sentences as
needed, avoiding unnecessary technical material
and jargon.
Read the summary slowly and critically, making
sure it conveys your purpose, message and key
recommendations. You want readers to be able to
skim the summary without missing the point of the
main report.
The Seven Step Creation Process
Check for errors of style, spelling, grammar and
punctuation. Ask a fellow writer to proofread and
edit the document.
Ask a nontechnical person to read the document. If
it confuses or bores them, the summary probably
will have the same effect on other nontechnical
Executive Summary Structure
Executive Summary
The environment in which the automobile industry operates is continuously evolving. Perhaps no one
knows this better than Ford Motor Company. Until recently, Ford was able to operate with a
fundamentally flawed business structure; however, its failure to reconcile weaknesses was highlighted
because of increased competition and gas prices. Going forward, Ford needs to focus on strengthening
its fundamentals and streamlining its business processes, as well as developing technology to better
serve the growing demand for greater fuel economy.
Intro Paragraph
Problems Facing Ford
The fundamentals that Ford failed to execute include managing costs, maintaining good supplier
relations, utilizing internal resources, and planning for the future.
In 2006, Ford spent $3.5 billion on insurance benefits for 570,000 current and past employees,
adding $1200 to the ticket price of each car.
Rather than striving for a mutually beneficial relationship with its suppliers, Ford takes the
“crush their bones” approach, forcing unrealistic price reductions that squeeze the suppliers,
often driving them into bankruptcy. This approach is detrimental because Ford’s high
expectations can lead to lower quality goods as suppliers try to meet Ford’s requirements.
Until 2006, Ford was structured so that each regional unit operated autonomously. This
breakdown of communication made business inefficient.
The unprecedented growth in models vying for customers in the U.S. has ended the Big Three as
we know it. In 2002, there were 215 models and a 50 percent increase is expected by the
decade’s end.
Statement of main topic
and explanation
Recommendations for Ford
It is necessary to develop a set of best practices and capitalize on opportunities for future growth by
doing the following:
Adopt an open book management approach when negotiating with unions and employees to
reduce its employee health care and pension costs.
Benchmark Toyota’s supplier relations and production line efficiency.
Capitalize on its reputation as America’s number one selling truck for the past 31 years, by
incorporating hybrid technology into its light truck segment.
Statement of main topic
and explanation
Ford’s fundamental weaknesses include cost management, supplier relations, utilization of internal
resources, and planning for the future. To address these problems, Ford needs to adopt an open book
management approach, develop a set of best practices that parallels the business processes of efficient
industry players, and become the number one producer of hybrids in the light truck segment.
A few tips-
The Executive Summary is all about getting critical
information into a boss’s hands so s/he can make a
decision. Keep it short and as complete as possible.
Keep your main points in mind as you write the
summary. You do not need to include every point in the
summary, but ensure that the major ideas are covered
No need to cite references, but if you are summarizing
another work, introduce the document in the opening
paragraph. Provide enough reference information for
your reader to easily find the original document.
The most important outcome of an Executive
Summary is that the reader would be able to make
a decision based exclusively on the information
presented in the Executive Summary.

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