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May 29, 2013


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If you are lucky enough to be writing mainly for one executive, know your executive and what they want to see.

Have someone who cares a lot less than you write the summary - one thing I see hurting summaries is having people (including me!) with a lot invested in the writing being unable to let even one little beloved detail go. A little distance can give a lot of perspective.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Jennifer, great suggestion. Thanks!


Jeannette Paladino

The executive summary is not the table of contents but you still might put the page number next to each of your main points. A CEO might want to go directly to the recommendations, for example.

James Venis

Oh, I like Ms. Paladino's idea!

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Jeannette. I agree with James. That's an excellent idea!


Mafuzur Rahman

Can you help me any suggest?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, Mafuzur. I may be able to help you with suggestions. Do you have a specific question?



I advise people to put what matters most into their executive summaries. Writers should highlight only the most interesting, startling, unique or important points in the paper. For example, if a report has 10 findings, don't pop them all into the executive summary in a bland list. Identify the top three findings and hit them hard in the executive summary. This way, the writer most likely will compel the reader to read on. If a reader doesn't read the whole report, he or she at least gets the major points.

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hi, Diane. Thanks for your excellent suggestion.

I agree that important points belong in the executive summary. I can think of situations, though, where interesting, startling, or unique points might pull the summary in an unusual direction.

I like your closing sentence. We definitely want the reader to get the major points from our executive summary.

Thanks for sharing.


S Sunil Kumar

Hi Lynn, thanks for the article. it is of great help. if i have to evaluate an executive summaries or commentaries, what could be the major parameters which can be used for evaluation?

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Hello, S Sunil Kumar. Your question sounds like one a professor would ask.

I would evaluate an executive summary the same way I would evaluate any type of business writing. For example, I would ask:

It is clear? It is concise? Does it meet the readers' needs?


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