Executive Summary

This resource was prepared by the Business Communications Lab at the Sam M. Walton College of Business
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Executive summaries provide a brief summary of a larger document and are meant to persuade decision makers to read the larger work. The executive summary is typically the first document of the body of a report or proposal, and it should function independently of the larger document.

How do I write a compelling executive summary?

A successful executive summary must be (1) audience-driven, (2) front-loaded, and (3) concise, clear, and comprehensive. See General Rules of Business Communication for details.

An executive summary presents information in two sections:

  • Background. This sections identifies and explains the issue or opportunity.
  • Findings and implications. This section includes a brief description of the methods and offers information for the conclusions and recommendations.

The executive summary summarizes larger reports and briefly explains the findings relevant to the reader/organization. The length of an executive summary will vary depending on the size of the report it is summarizing.

What does an executive summary look like?

Format may vary from company to company, but most student assignments will be in APA format. See this model for details:

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