Executive summary and conclusion

The executive summary and conclusion

An executive summary is typically the first section of a business plan, report or project, and summarises all of the content, highlighting the key points. You should check the guidance in your module handbook to see if this section is a part of your assignment. It is usually written for nontechnical people who don't have time to read the main report. Once you have determined what is the most essential information in your business plan or report, you must format that information in a clear, concise way. The end result should be an executive summary that serves as an introduction to your report, but that can also stand on its own as an overview.

  • Place the cover page, including the title of your report, the version and your name, before the summary.
  • Write the introduction, which should indicate what you are proposing or outlining in the summary.
  • 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.
  • Add supporting or explanatory sentences as needed, avoiding unnecessary technical material and jargon.
  • The sections should flow naturally from one to the next; for example, a restaurant business plan executive summary might begin with a description of the restaurant, followed by a description of the management, the estimated cost of start-up and projected earnings, and ending with a short conclusion.
  • 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.
  • 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 readers.
Top tips
  • 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 succinctly.
  • Follow the same flow of ideas in your executive summary that you used in your report or plan.
  • Try to keep paragraphs to no more than three sentences, as longer blocks of text are more difficult to read.
  • Use bullet point lists and bold print to call attention to key phrases and subheadings.

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SMILE by Imperial College, Loughborough University and the University of Worcester, modified by Marion Kelt Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.