Executive summary

Business reports usually have an ‘executive summary’ instead of an abstract. They are similar, as they both give an overview of the main purpose, methods, findings, and conclusions of the investigation. However, an executive summary usually includes specific recommendations for the business based on the findings. 

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Executive summaries are normally read by busy managers who may not have time to read the whole report; they want the essential overview of all the key areas. This short guide outlines the parts of an executive summary and gives a colour coded example:


Have a look at these examples of good and bad executive summaries. Usually poor executive summaries lack specific detail about the findings and recommendations:


Abstracts often do a similar job to an executive summary but are more common in science and social science research. If you are unsure which you need, do ask your lecturer, and see our guide for more on abstracts: