The main goal of an executive summary is to provide a condensed version of a larger body of research. And executive summary is similar to an abstract, except that along with the condensed version of the original, it also aims to makes sure readers understand the real significance of the research, the point to which they should respond.
An executive summary should stand on it’s own and make sense even if if readers have not seen you speak and have not seen any other material. Thus, it must be accurate and logical. It serves the following purposes:
- Gives readers the essential contents
- Previews the main points of your work enabling readers to build a mental framework for organizing and understanding the more detailed information.
- Helps readers determine the key results and recommendations that you report.
Elements of an Executive Summary
Following is a list of elements that may be included in an Executive Summary. The elements that you include in your Executive Summary and the amount of space that you give to each element will depend on the purpose and nature of your document. Therefore, you should choose the elements that make sense for your document and omit the ones that don’t.
- Purpose and scope of project– 2-3 sentences.
- Methods– this might mean your method of research and your method of communication with your audience. But, only spend a1-2 sentences on this.
- Results/Conclusion– What did you find out? What is the real significance or most important point/s. This section should receive the most space.
- Other supportive information
Here is a link to advice about summarizing in general. The pages are written as if you are summarizing someone else’s work, but are true when summarizing your own work as well.
Some materials adapted from Janice Houston at the University of Utah.