Re: Executive Summary - Help!

Subject: Re: Executive Summary - Help!
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 01 Oct 2004 10:44:54 -0400

Anachie Shakespear wrote:


I've been tasked with writing an Executive Summary, only I've never done this :>(
Does anyone out there have a standard template that I could utilize? Would really appreciate the help.



Don't panic. An executive summary is just a summary/précis/abstract of a document, written for people with busy schedules, limited attention spans, or poor reading skills (whichever of those corresponds with your understanding of who executives are).

You can't write an executive summary unless you have a reasonably complete draft document (or at least outline) that you are summarizing. Once you have that, though, writing the summary is straightforward and formulaic.

Suppose your document is divided into sections with a level one head at the beginning of each section. If the document is well written and well structured, there is presumably a paragraph under that level one head that states what the section is about or what it accomplishes or what benefit the reader will derive from it. At the end of the section there might also be a conclusion paragraph, depending on the nature of the document.

Okay, here's how you proceed.

1. Create a new level one heading at the beginning of the document, "Executive Summary." This may renumber the succeeding sections (if your headings are numbered in the first place) so that what was initially section 1 is now section 2, etc. If you make the heading you created an unnumbered heading, you can preserve the original numbering scheme for the main document. Which way you proceed depends on whether the ES is going to be a component of the document or a separate handout.

2. Create level two headings within the executive summary that correspond to all the number one headings (the sections, that is) of the document. Under each of these headings, copy at least the lead sentences and possibly the whole lead paragraphs from the corresponding sections. Apply your editorial judgment to shorten and tighten where you can, and ensure that you incorporate the main conclusions from each section. Generally you want to limit yourself to a single paragraph for each section, although for long documents this constraint is not necessary. If the intro and conclusion paragraphs within the sections are already well written and tightly edited, you can just copy them as is. Originality is not a requirement in an executive summary.

3. At the beginning of the executive summary, above the first level two heading, you may wish to write an overall summary of the summary--again, depending on the length of the document and its general nature.

That's pretty much it.



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Executive Summary - Help!: From: Anachie Shakespear

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