How to Write an Executive Summary for a Report: Step By Step Guide with Examples

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Table of contents

So you have finally written a great comprehensive business report that took you weeks to create. You have included all the data from the different departments, compared it, done the analysis, made forecasts, and provided solutions to specific problems.

There is just one problem – the key stakeholders in the company don’t have enough time to go through the whole report.

Since the data and the KPIs that you included in the report are necessary for quality decision-making, you can see why this can become a huge issue.

Luckily, there is a way to present all of your key findings and not take too much of their time. This is done through executive summaries.

An executive summary is exactly what the name suggests – a summary. It is essentially a quick overview of all the most important metrics in the report. The purpose of this summary is to bring the attention of the highest-ranking members in the company to the most important KPIs that they will consider when making decisions.

While an executive summary is a rather short section, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to write. You will have to pay extra attention to every single sentence in order to avoid unnecessary information.

Do you want to learn how to create an informative executive summary? This guide will show you all you need to know.

What Is an Executive Report?

What is an executive summary in a report, how long should an executive summary be, who is the audience of an executive summary, what should be included in an executive summary report, how to write an executive summary report, common mistakes to avoid when writing executive summaries, executive report examples, executive summary templates, create executive reports in databox.


Executive reports are used for keeping senior managers updated on the latest and most significant activities in the company. These reports have to be concise and accurate since they will have a huge impact on the most important business-related decisions.

Working for any sort of company requires writing different types of reports such as financial reports , marketing reports , sales reports , internal reports, and more.

What all of these reports have in common is that they are very comprehensive and typically require a lot of time to go through them –way too much time, if you ask busy managers.

They include a wealthy amount of data and a bunch of different metrics which are more useful for a particular team in the company. However, the highest-ranking members tend to be more focused on only the most essential KPIs that they need for making future decisions and strategies.

This is why executive reports come in handy. They are usually only a few pages long and they include only the most relevant details and data that incurred in a specific period.

An executive summary is the brief overview section included in a long report or document. This part of the report primarily focuses on the key topics and most important data within it. It can include an overall business goal of the company or short-term strategic objectives.

This summary is primarily useful for C-level managers who don’t have time to read the whole report but want to have an insight into the main KPIs and latest business performances.

Bank officials also may use executive summaries since it’s the quickest way for them to estimate whether your company represents a good investment opportunity.

Depending on your company’s practice, executive summaries can either be placed at the beginning of the report or as a formal section in the table of contents. 

The length of the summary depends on the type of report, but it is typically one or two pages long.

To know whether you have written a good executive summary, you can ask yourself, “Are the stakeholders going to have all the information they need to make decisions?”

If the answer is yes, you have done a good job.

There is no strict rule about how long executive summaries should be. Each company is unique which means the length will always vary. In most cases, it will depend on the size of the report/business plan.

However, a universal consensus is that it should be anywhere from one to four pages long or five to ten percent of the length of the report.

This is typically more than enough space to summarize the story behind the data and provide your stakeholders with the most important KPIs for future decision-making.

The people most interested in reading the executive summary are typically the ones who don’t have time to read the whole report and want a quick overview of the most important data and information.

These include:

  • Project stakeholders – The individuals or organizations that are actively involved in a project with your company.
  • Management personnel (decision-makers) – The highest-ranking employees in your company (manager, partner, general partner, etc.)
  • Investors – As we said, this could be bank officials who want a quick recap of your company’s performance so they can make an easier investment decision.
  • Venture capitalists – Investors who provide capital in exchange for equity stakes.
  • C-level executives – The chief executives in your business.

Related : Reporting Strategy for Multiple Audiences: 6 Tips for Getting Started

The components of your executive summary depend on what is included in the overall larger document. Executive summary elements may also vary depending on the type of document (business plan, project, report, etc.), but there are several components that are considered universal.

These are the main elements you should include:

Methods of analyzing the problem

Solutions to the problem, the ‘why now’ segment, well-defined conclusion.

The purpose of the summary should typically be included in the introduction as an opening statement. Explain what you aim to achieve with the document and communicate the value of your desired objective.

This part is supposed to grab your reader’s attention, so make sure they pay extra attention when writing it.

Problems are an unavoidable element in modern-day businesses, even in the most successful companies.

The second thing your executive summary needs to outline is what specific problem you are dealing with. It could be anything from product plans and customer feedback to sales revenue and marketing strategies.

Define the problems clearly so all the members know which areas need fixing.

Problem analysis methods are key for identifying the causes of the issue.

While figuring out the problems and the methods to solve them is immensely important, you shouldn’t overlook the things that caused them. This will help you from avoiding similar issues in the future.

Now that you’ve introduced the stakeholders to the problems, it’s time to move on to your solutions. Think of a few different ways that could solve the issue and include as many details as you can.

This is one of the most important parts of your executive summary.

The ‘Why Now’ segment showcases why the problem needs to be solved in a timely manner. You don’t want the readers to get the impression that there is plenty of time to fix the issue.

By displaying urgency in your summary, your report will have a much bigger impact.

One of the ways to display urgency visually is by adding performance benchmarks to your report. In case your business is not performing well as other companies within your industry, only one image showcasing which metrics are below the median could make a compelling case for the reader.

High churn example

For example, if you have discovered that your churn rate is much higher than for an average SaaS company, this may be a good indication that you have issues with poor customer service, poor marketing, pricing issues, potentially outdated product features, etc.

Benchmark Your Performance Against Hundreds of Companies Just Like Yours

Viewing benchmark data can be enlightening, but seeing where your company’s efforts rank against those benchmarks can be game-changing. 

Browse Databox’s open Benchmark Groups and join ones relevant to your business to get free and instant performance benchmarks. 

Lastly, you should end your executive summary with a well-defined conclusion.

Make sure to include a recap of the problems, solutions, and the overall most important KPIs from the document.

Okay, so you understand the basics of executive summaries and why they are so important. However, you still aren’t sure how to write one.

Don’t worry.

Here are some of the best practices you can use to create amazing executive summaries that will impress your key stakeholders and high-ranking members.

Write it Last

Grab their attention, use appropriate language, talk strategy, include forecasts, highlight funding needs, make it short.

The most natural way to write your executive summary is by writing it at the end of your report/business plan.

This is because you will already have gone through all the most important information and data that should later be included.

A good suggestion is to take notes of all the significant KPIs that you think should be incorporated in the summary, it will make it easier for you to later categorize the data and you will have a clearer overview of the key parts of the report.

You may think that you already know which data you are going to include, but once you wrap up your report, you will probably run into certain things that you forgot to implement. It’s much easier to create an executive summary with all the data segmented in one place, than to rewrite it later.

While your primary goal when creating the executive summary is to make it informative, you also have to grab the attention of your readers so that you can motivate them to read the rest of the document.

Once they finish reading the last few sentences of the summary, the audience should be looking forward to checking out the remanding parts to get the full story.

If you are having trouble with finding ways to capture the reader’s attention, you can ask some of your colleagues from the sales department to lend a hand. After all, that’s their specialty.

One more important element is the type of language you use in the summary. Keep in mind who will be reading the summary, your language should be adjusted to a group of executives.

Make the summary understandable and avoid using complicated terms that may cause confusion, your goal is to feed the stakeholders with important information that will affect their decision-making.

This doesn’t only refer to the words that you use, the way in which you provide explanation should also be taken into consideration. People reading the report should be able to easily and quickly understand the main pain points that you highlighted.

You should have a specific part in your executive summary where you will focus on future strategies. This part should include information regarding your project, target market, program, and the problems that you think should be solved as soon as possible.

Also, you should provide some useful insights into the overall industry or field that your business operates in. Showcase some of the competitive advantages of your company and specific marketing insights that you think the readers would find interesting.

Related : What Is Strategic Reporting? 4 Report Examples to Get Inspiration From

Make one of the sections revolve around financial and sales forecasts for the next 1-3 years. Provide details of your breakeven points, such as where the expenses/revenues are equal and when you expect certain profits from your strategies.

This practice is mainly useful for business plans, but the same principle can be applied to reports. You can include predictions on how your overall objectives and goals will bring profit to the company.

Related : How Lone Fir Creative Uses Databox to Forecast, Set, & Achieve Agency & Client Goals

Don’t forget to talk about the funding needs for your projects since there is a high chance that investors will find their way to the executive summary as well.

You can even use a quotation from an influential figure that supports your upcoming projects. Include the costs that will incur but also provide profitability predictions that will persuade the investors to fund your projects.

While your report should include all of the most important metrics and data, aim for maximum conciseness.

Don’t include any information that may be abundant and try to keep the executive summary as short as possible. Creating a summary that takes up dozens of pages will lose its original purpose.

With a concise summary and clear communication of your messages, your readers will have an easy time understanding your thoughts and then take them into consideration.

Also, one last tip is to use a positive tone throughout the summary. You want your report to exude confidence and reassure the readers.

PRO TIP: How Well Are Your Marketing KPIs Performing?

Like most marketers and marketing managers, you want to know how well your efforts are translating into results each month. How much traffic and new contact conversions do you get? How many new contacts do you get from organic sessions? How are your email campaigns performing? How well are your landing pages converting? You might have to scramble to put all of this together in a single report, but now you can have it all at your fingertips in a single Databox dashboard.

Our Marketing Overview Dashboard includes data from Google Analytics 4 and HubSpot Marketing with key performance metrics like:

  • Sessions . The number of sessions can tell you how many times people are returning to your website. Obviously, the higher the better.
  • New Contacts from Sessions . How well is your campaign driving new contacts and customers?
  • Marketing Performance KPIs . Tracking the number of MQLs, SQLs, New Contacts and similar will help you identify how your marketing efforts contribute to sales.
  • Email Performance . Measure the success of your email campaigns from HubSpot. Keep an eye on your most important email marketing metrics such as number of sent emails, number of opened emails, open rate, email click-through rate, and more.
  • Blog Posts and Landing Pages . How many people have viewed your blog recently? How well are your landing pages performing?

Now you can benefit from the experience of our Google Analytics and HubSpot Marketing experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template that contains all the essential metrics for monitoring your leads. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in marketing reports, and best of all, it’s free!


You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.

To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:

Step 1: Get the template 

Step 2: Connect your HubSpot and Google Analytics 4 accounts with Databox. 

Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.

No one expects you to become an expert executive summary writer overnight. Learning how to create great and meaningful summaries will inevitably take some time.

With the above-mentioned best practices in mind, you should also pay attention to avoiding certain mistakes that could reduce the value of your summaries.

Here are some examples.

Don’t use jargon

Avoid going into details, the summary should be able to stand alone, don’t forget to proofread.

From project stakeholders to C-level executives, everyone should be able to easily understand and read the information you gather in your summary.

Keep in mind, you are probably much more familiar with some of the technical terms that your departments use since you are closer to the daily work and individual tasks than your stakeholders.

Read your summary once again after you finish it to make sure there are no jargons you forgot to elaborate on.

Remember, your summary should be as short as possible, but still include all the key metrics and KPIs. There is no reason to go into details of specific projects, due dates, department performances, etc.

When creating the summary, ask yourself twice whether the information you included truly needs to be there.

Of course, there are certain details that bring value to the summary, but learn how to categorize the useful ones from the unnecessary ones.

While you will know your way around the project, that doesn’t apply to the readers.

After wrapping up the summary, go over it once again to see whether it can stand on its own. This means checking out if there is any sort of context that the readers will need in order to understand the summary.

If the answer is yes, you will have to redo the parts that can’t be understood by first-time readers.

Your executive summary is prone to changes, so making a typo isn’t the end of the world, you can always go back and fix it.

However, it’s not a bad idea to ask one of your colleagues to proofread it as well, just so you have an additional set of eyes.

Using reporting tools such as dashboards for executive reports can provide you with a birds-eye view of your company’s most important KPIs and data.

These dashboards work as visualization tools that will make all the important metrics much more understandable to your internal stakeholders.

Since executive reports on their own don’t include any visual elements such as graphs or charts, these dashboards basically grant them superpowers.

Executive reporting dashboards also make the decision-making process easier since there won’t be any misunderstandings regarding the meaning of the data.

Not only will you be able to gather the data in real-time, but you can also connect different sources onto the dashboard can use the visuals for performance comparisons.

Interested in giving executive report dashboards a try? Let’s check out some of the best examples.

Marketing Performance Dashboard

Customer support performance dashboard, financial overview dashboard, saas management dashboard, sales kpi dashboard.

To stay on top of your key user acquisition metrics, such as visit to leads conversion rates, email traffic, blog traffic, and more, you can use this Marketing Performance Dashboard .

You can pull in data from advanced tools such as HubSpot Marketing and Google Analytics to get a full overview of how your website generates leads.

Some of the things you will learn through this dashboard are:

  • Which traffic sources are generating the most amount of leads
  • How to track which number of users are new to your website
  • How to compare the traffic you are getting from your email with blog traffic
  • How to stay on top of lead generation goals each month
  • How to be sure that your marketing activities are paying off

The key metrics included are bounce rate, new users, page/session, pageview, and average session duration.

Marketing Performance Dashboard

You can use the Customer Support Performance Dashboard to track the overall performance of your customer service and check out how efficient individual agents are.

This simple and customizable dashboard will help you stay in touch with new conversation numbers, open/closed conversations by teammates, number of leads, and much more.

Also, you will get the answers to questions such as:

  • How many new conversations did my customer support agents deal with yesterday/last week/last month?
  • How many conversations are currently in progress?
  • In which way are customer conversations tagged on Intercom?
  • How to track the number of leads that the support team is generating?
  • What is the best way to measure the performance of my customer support team?

Some of the key metrics are leads, open conversations, new conversations, tags by tag name, closed conversations, and more.

Customer Support Performance Dashboard

Want to know how much income your business generated last month? How to measure the financial health of your business? How about figuring out the best way to track credit card purchases?

You can track all of these things and more by using the Financial Overview Dashboard .

This free customizable dashboard will help you gain an insight into all of your business’s financial operations, cash flow, bank accounts, sales, expenses, and plenty more.

Understanding your company from a financial standpoint is one of the most important ingredients of good decision-making.

With key metrics such as gross profit, net income, open invoices, total expenses, and dozens more – all gathered in one financial reporting software , you will have no problems staying on top of your financial activities.

Financial Overview Dashboard

Use this SaaS Management Dashboard to have a clear overview of your business’s KPIs in real-time. This customizable dashboard will help you stay competitive in the SaaS industry by providing you with comprehensive data that can you can visualize, making it more understandable.

You will be able to:

  • See how your company is growing on an annual basis
  • Have a detailed outline of your weakest and strongest months
  • Determine which strategies are most efficient in driving revenue

The key metrics included in this dashboard are recurring revenue, churn by type, MRR changes, and customer changes.

SaaS Management Dashboard

Do you want to monitor your sales team’s output and outcomes? Interested in tracking average deal sizes, number of won deals, new deals created, and more?

This Sales KPI Dashboard can help you do just that.

It serves as a perfect tool for sales managers that are looking for the best way to create detailed overviews of their performances. It also helps achieve sales manager goals for the pre-set time periods.

By connecting your HubSpot account to this customizable dashboard, you can learn:

  • What’s the average deal size
  • The number of open, closed, and lost deals each month
  • How much revenue you can expect from the new deals
  • How your business is progressing towards the overall sales goals

Sales KPI Dashboard

Although you probably understand what your executive summary should include by now, you may still need a bit of help with creating a clear outline to follow.

We thought about that too. Here are some template examples that will help you create executive summaries for different kinds of business needs.

Here is an executive summary template for a business plan:

  • [Company profile (with relevant history)]
  • [Company contact details]
  • [Description of products and/or services]
  • [Unique proposition]
  • [Competitive advantage]
  • [Intellectual property]
  • [Development status]
  • [Market opportunity]
  • [Target market]
  • [Competitors]
  • [Funding needs]
  • [Potential price of goods]
  • [Projected profit margins for year one and two]
  • [Summarize main points]

Executive summary template for marketing plan:

  • [Product description]
  • [Unique customer characteristics]
  • [Customer spending habits]
  • [Relationship to product]
  • [Access channels]
  • [Value and credibility of product]
  • [Product competitive advantage]
  • [Creative outlook]
  • [Goal statement]
  • [Forecasted cost]
  • [Next week]
  • [Next month]

Executive summary template for a research report

  • [Project topic]
  • [Name | Date]
  • [Report introduction]
  • [Background]
  • [Research methods]
  • [Conclusions]
  • [Recommendations]

Executive summary template for project executive

  • [Project name]
  • [Program name]
  • [Project lead]
  • [Prepared by]
  • [Project milestones]
  • [Status overviews]
  • [New requests]
  • [Issues summary]
  • [Project notes]

For the longest time, writing executive reports has been seen as a grueling and time-consuming process that will require many sleepless nights to get the job done right.

While there is plenty of truth to this, modern automated reporting software has revolutionized these writing nightmares.

Databox is one of those tools.

With Databox, you will be able to connect data from multiple sources into one comprehensive dashboard. Also, you are going to gain access to different types of charts and graphs that you can use for data visualization and make the report much more understandable to the readers.

Using a modernized tool like Databox will provide you with a faster, more accurate, and more efficient reporting process.

This advanced software allows you easily create your own customizable reports that can be adjusted in real-time as soon as new data emerges.

Who says executive reporting has to be a tedious process? Sign up for our free trial and see how easy creating executive reports can be. 

Share on Twitter

Get practical strategies that drive consistent growth

How to Do an SEO Competitive Analysis: A Step-by-Step Guide

' src=

8 Key Reports Every Sales Manager Should Know About

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Quarterly Business Report: How to Write One and How to Present It Successfully

Latest from our blog

  • 23 YouTube Statistics Marketers Need to Know In 2024 November 16, 2023
  • 35 High-Converting Landing Page Examples + Lessons You Can Learn from Each November 15, 2023

Popular Blog Posts

  • What is a KPI?
  • SMART Goal Tracker
  • Marketing Report Templates
  • Google Analytics Dashboards
  • Google Search Console SEO
  • Website Performance Metrics
  • SaaS Metrics
  • Google Analytics KPIs
  • Business Dashboards
  • Dashboard Integrations
  • Dashboard Examples
  • Calculate Metrics
  • Build Dashboards
  • Dashboard Reporting
  • Metric Tracking
  • Goal Tracking
  • KPI Scorecards
  • Desktop, Mobile & TV

More Features

  • TV Dashboards
  • Mobile Dashboards
  • Dashboard Snapshots in Slack
  • White Label Dashboards
  • Client Reporting


  • Marketing Dashboards
  • Sales Dashboards
  • Customer Support Dashboards
  • Ecommerce Dashboards
  • Project Management Dashboards
  • Financial Dashboards
  • SaaS Dashboards
  • Software Development Dashboards
  • Databox vs. Tableau
  • Databox vs. Google Looker Studio
  • Databox vs. Klipfolio Klips
  • Databox vs. Power BI
  • Databox vs. Whatagraph
  • Databox vs. AgencyAnalytics
  • Culture & Careers
  • Product & Engineering teams
  • Junior Playmaker Internship
  • Talent Resource Center
  • We're Hiring!
  • Affiliate Program
  • System status
  • Case studies
  • Help Center
  • API Documentation
  • Start a Chat

Pledge 1%

  • Project planning |
  • How to write an executive summary, with ...

How to write an executive summary, with examples

Julia Martins contributor headshot

The best way to do that is with an executive summary. If you’ve never written an executive summary, this article has all you need to know to plan, write, and share them with your team.

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is an overview of a document. The length and scope of your executive summary will differ depending on the document it’s summarizing, but in general an executive summary can be anywhere from one to two pages long. In the document, you’ll want to share all of the information your readers and important stakeholders need to know.

Imagine it this way: if your high-level stakeholders were to only read your executive summary, would they have all of the information they need to succeed? If so, your summary has done its job.

You’ll often find executive summaries of:

Business cases

Project proposals

Research documents

Environmental studies

Market surveys

Project plans

In general, there are four parts to any executive summary:

Start with the problem or need the document is solving.

Outline the recommended solution.

Explain the solution’s value.

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.

What is an executive summary in project management?

In project management, an executive summary is a way to bring clarity to cross-functional collaborators, team leadership, and project stakeholders . Think of it like a project’s “ elevator pitch ” for team members who don’t have the time or the need to dive into all of the project’s details.

The main difference between an executive summary in project management and a more traditional executive summary in a business plan is that the former should be created at the beginning of your project—whereas the latter should be created after you’ve written your business plan. For example, to write an executive summary of an environmental study, you would compile a report on the results and findings once your study was over. But for an executive summary in project management, you want to cover what the project is aiming to achieve and why those goals matter.

The same four parts apply to an executive summary in project management:

Start with the problem or need the project is solving.  Why is this project happening? What insight, customer feedback, product plan, or other need caused it to come to life?

Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives.  How is the project going to solve the problem you established in the first part? What are the project goals and objectives?

Explain the solution’s value.  Once you’ve finished your project, what will happen? How will this improve and solve the problem you established in the first part?

Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work.  This is another opportunity to reiterate why the problem is important, and why the project matters. It can also be helpful to reference your audience and how your solution will solve their problem. Finally, include any relevant next steps.

If you’ve never written an executive summary before, you might be curious about where it fits into other project management elements. Here’s how executive summaries stack up:

Executive summary vs. project plan

A  project plan  is a blueprint of the key elements your project will accomplish in order to hit your project goals and objectives. Project plans will include your goals, success metrics, stakeholders and roles, budget, milestones and deliverables, timeline and schedule, and communication plan .

An executive summary is a summary of the most important information in your project plan. Think of the absolutely crucial things your management team needs to know when they land in your project, before they even have a chance to look at the project plan—that’s your executive summary.

Executive summary vs. project overview

Project overviews and executive summaries often have similar elements—they both contain a summary of important project information. However, your project overview should be directly attached to your project. There should be a direct line of sight between your project and your project overview.

While you can include your executive summary in your project depending on what type of  project management tool  you use, it may also be a stand-alone document.

Executive summary vs. project objectives

Your executive summary should contain and expand upon your  project objectives  in the second part ( Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives ). In addition to including your project objectives, your executive summary should also include why achieving your project objectives will add value, as well as provide details about how you’re going to get there.

The benefits of an executive summary

You may be asking: why should I write an executive summary for my project? Isn’t the project plan enough?

Well, like we mentioned earlier, not everyone has the time or need to dive into your project and see, from a glance, what the goals are and why they matter.  Work management tools  like Asana help you capture a lot of crucial information about a project, so you and your team have clarity on who’s doing what by when. Your executive summary is designed less for team members who are actively working on the project and more for stakeholders outside of the project who want quick insight and answers about why your project matters.

An effective executive summary gives stakeholders a big-picture view of the entire project and its important points—without requiring them to dive into all the details. Then, if they want more information, they can access the project plan or navigate through tasks in your work management tool.

How to write a great executive summary, with examples

Every executive summary has four parts. In order to write a great executive summary, follow this template. Then once you’ve written your executive summary, read it again to make sure it includes all of the key information your stakeholders need to know.

1. Start with the problem or need the project is solving

At the beginning of your executive summary, start by explaining why this document (and the project it represents) matter. Take some time to outline what the problem is, including any research or customer feedback you’ve gotten . Clarify how this problem is important and relevant to your customers, and why solving it matters.

For example, let’s imagine you work for a watch manufacturing company. Your project is to devise a simpler, cheaper watch that still appeals to luxury buyers while also targeting a new bracket of customers.

Example executive summary:

In recent customer feedback sessions, 52% of customers have expressed a need for a simpler and cheaper version of our product. In surveys of customers who have chosen competitor watches, price is mentioned 87% of the time. To best serve our existing customers, and to branch into new markets, we need to develop a series of watches that we can sell at an appropriate price point for this market.

2. Outline the recommended solution, or the project’s objectives

Now that you’ve outlined the problem, explain what your solution is. Unlike an abstract or outline, you should be  prescriptive  in your solution—that is to say, you should work to convince your readers that your solution is the right one. This is less of a brainstorming section and more of a place to support your recommended solution.

Because you’re creating your executive summary at the beginning of your project, it’s ok if you don’t have all of your deliverables and milestones mapped out. But this is your chance to describe, in broad strokes, what will happen during the project. If you need help formulating a high-level overview of your project’s main deliverables and timeline, consider creating a  project roadmap  before diving into your executive summary.

Continuing our example executive summary:

Our new watch series will begin at 20% cheaper than our current cheapest option, with the potential for 40%+ cheaper options depending on material and movement. In order to offer these prices, we will do the following:

Offer watches in new materials, including potentially silicone or wood

Use high-quality quartz movement instead of in-house automatic movement

Introduce customizable band options, with a focus on choice and flexibility over traditional luxury

Note that every watch will still be rigorously quality controlled in order to maintain the same world-class speed and precision of our current offerings.

3. Explain the solution’s value

At this point, you begin to get into more details about how your solution will impact and improve upon the problem you outlined in the beginning. What, if any, results do you expect? This is the section to include any relevant financial information, project risks, or potential benefits. You should also relate this project back to your company goals or  OKRs . How does this work map to your company objectives?

With new offerings that are between 20% and 40% cheaper than our current cheapest option, we expect to be able to break into the casual watch market, while still supporting our luxury brand. That will help us hit FY22’s Objective 3: Expanding the brand. These new offerings have the potential to bring in upwards of three million dollars in profits annually, which will help us hit FY22’s Objective 1: 7 million dollars in annual profit.

Early customer feedback sessions indicate that cheaper options will not impact the value or prestige of the luxury brand, though this is a risk that should be factored in during design. In order to mitigate that risk, the product marketing team will begin working on their go-to-market strategy six months before the launch.

4. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work

Now that you’ve shared all of this important information with executive stakeholders, this final section is your chance to guide their understanding of the impact and importance of this work on the organization. What, if anything, should they take away from your executive summary?

To round out our example executive summary:

Cheaper and varied offerings not only allow us to break into a new market—it will also expand our brand in a positive way. With the attention from these new offerings, plus the anticipated demand for cheaper watches, we expect to increase market share by 2% annually. For more information, read our  go-to-market strategy  and  customer feedback documentation .

Example of an executive summary

When you put it all together, this is what your executive summary might look like:

[Product UI] Example executive summary in Asana (Project Overview)

Common mistakes people make when writing executive summaries

You’re not going to become an executive summary-writing pro overnight, and that’s ok. As you get started, use the four-part template provided in this article as a guide. Then, as you continue to hone your executive summary writing skills, here are a few common pitfalls to avoid:

Avoid using jargon

Your executive summary is a document that anyone, from project contributors to executive stakeholders, should be able to read and understand. Remember that you’re much closer to the daily work and individual tasks than your stakeholders will be, so read your executive summary once over to make sure there’s no unnecessary jargon. Where you can, explain the jargon, or skip it all together.

Remember: this isn’t a full report

Your executive summary is just that—a summary. If you find yourself getting into the details of specific tasks, due dates, and attachments, try taking a step back and asking yourself if that information really belongs in your executive summary. Some details are important—you want your summary to be actionable and engaging. But keep in mind that the wealth of information in your project will be captured in your  work management tool , not your executive summary.

Make sure the summary can stand alone

You know this project inside and out, but your stakeholders won’t. Once you’ve written your executive summary, take a second look to make sure the summary can stand on its own. Is there any context your stakeholders need in order to understand the summary? If so, weave it into your executive summary, or consider linking out to it as additional information.

Always proofread

Your executive summary is a living document, and if you miss a typo you can always go back in and fix it. But it never hurts to proofread or send to a colleague for a fresh set of eyes.

In summary: an executive summary is a must-have

Executive summaries are a great way to get everyone up to date and on the same page about your project. If you have a lot of project stakeholders who need quick insight into what the project is solving and why it matters, an executive summary is the perfect way to give them the information they need.

For more tips about how to connect high-level strategy and plans to daily execution, read our article about strategic planning .

Related resources

how to write an executive summary for a law report

How to create a winning marketing plan (with examples)

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Project management software and tools: Your best picks for 2023

how to write an executive summary for a law report

SWOT analysis: What it is and how to use it (with examples)

how to write an executive summary for a law report

SMART Goals: How To Write Them and Why They Matter

The escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel is leaving people in Gaza in urgent need of humanitarian support. Please donate now .

Search across

Writing an executive summary.

3 documents

3 pages long

Languages: English

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on email

how to write an executive summary for a law report

  • Development methods
  • Development research
  • Executive summary
  • Research methods
  • Tools for writing

Available documents

  • Spanish guideline (213 KB)
  • French guideline (189 KB)

An executive summary is one of the most crucial parts of a report. It represents a chance for the author to grab the reader’s attention and draw them into the main document.

When readers are pressed for time, it may be the only part of the report they read, so a well-written summary is vital. Unfortunately, summaries are often an afterthought for authors and are frequently written in haste.

Part of Oxfam’s Research Guidelines series, this guideline gives a short overview of how to write an engaging executive summary that conveys the most important information from the main report in a clear, concise way.

It provides tools for thinking about how to get the most out of your summary, as well as examples from academia and business, plus tips on things to avoid. This guide was originally written in 2015 and was updated in 2019.

Additional details

  • Green, Duncan


  • Walsh, Martin

How to cite this resource

Citation styles vary so we recommend you check what is appropriate for your context.  You may choose to cite Oxfam resources as follows:

Author(s)/Editor(s). (Year of publication). Title and sub-title . Place of publication: name of publisher. DOI (where available). URL

Our FAQs page has some examples of this approach.

Related resources

Here are similar items you might be interested in.

Terms of Reference for Research Template

7 pages long

Languages: English, French, Spanish

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Research Ethics: A practical guide

8 documents

16 pages long

Languages: Arabic, English, French, Spanish

how to write an executive summary for a law report

  • Fragile contexts

How to Analyse Change Processes

1 documents

10 pages long

how to write an executive summary for a law report

  • Power analysis
  • Social justice

How To Write an Effective Executive Summary to Yield Results

By Kate Eby | April 3, 2018

Link copied

In this article, you'll learn how to craft an organized, well written executive summary the next time you have to gain the attention of a time-strapped audience.

Included on this page, you’ll find information on how to write an executive summary that wins the proposal, how to format your executive summary , an executive summary checklist , and more. 

What Is the Purpose of the Executive Summary?

An executive summary should be clear and concise (typically one to two pages long) and present the main points in a formal tone. The purpose of an executive summary is to pique the reader’s curiosity by presenting facts from the larger piece of content it is summarizing.

The executive summary can be either a portion of a business document (a business plan, project proposal, or report) or long articles and documents common in research-driven communities and academia. When crafted correctly, the executive summary provides an overview of the information and objectives in the larger document. The executive summary stands alone from the content it summarizes, and should include the essential information, the recommendations, the findings, and the conclusion of the more extensive document.

The Benefits of a Well Written Executive Summary

A well planned, well written executive summary is a valuable tool because it prioritizes the reader’s time and reduces the effort required to learn the critical aspects of the content. The summary can convey the purpose of your business plan, project proposal, product launch presentation, or sales pitch to keep the reader engaged and reading further, or empowered to take action. Even if it is the only thing your audience reads, a strong executive summary creates value for the reader as a first impression. Use the executive summary to make a business case, support a position, or tell a story. The reader should know how the subject of your content impacts them, benefits their work, their company, or their projects after reading the executive summary.  

Various industries use executive summaries as a communication tool, including healthcare, education, government, technology, real estate, finance, law, the nonprofit sector, and more. One of the benefits of using an executive summary is that it is not exclusive to one type of communication. Executive summaries show up in a variety of use cases, including the following:

Business plans

Legal briefs

Product launch plans

College campus surveys

Market research reports

Environmental studies

Project proposals

Hospital planning and evaluation

How to Write an Executive Summary

Crafting a useful executive summary requires more than simply cutting and pasting vital information from the body of your report or proposal. The executive summary may be the only part of the report your target audience reads, so you should spend the time to make it valuable.

It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process, but before you begin writing, you should ask the following critical questions:

Who depends on the information? When you write the executive summary, decide who you are targeting and the critical information that audience needs. What do they need to know to make a decision? What would they already know? Do you have a specific customer you want to reach with your message or story? Writing the executive summary with that audience in mind will make it useful because the story you’re telling about your business, project, or proposal will resonate.

What is the objective? While it’s true that an executive summary recaps essential information from the body of the content it summarizes, that is its function, not its purpose. Write the summary to your intended audience and include the crucial information that supports your objective for creating the document. What do you need the reader to understand? Is the aim to recommend change based on the results of your research? What needs to happen for the project plan to succeed based on your proposal? Let your objectives determine the content and context of your summary.  

What are you recommending? Use the executive summary to draw conclusions and make recommendations to the reader. If your report presents the need for change, recommend the actions that the body of your document supports in the summary. State the benefits of your product or service, or the solutions you provide more detail on in the proposal. Ultimately, don’t make the reader work to find out what action they need to take: Make your recommendations clear in the executive summary.

How will you make an impression? The “executive” summary earned its name from the need to get the upper management’s attention. Executives did not have the time to read every word of every document. The summary had to make an impression because it might be the only part of the material that would be read. Regardless of its origins, the principle of using the summary to make an impression on the reader is sound, as that impression might encourage the reader to keep reading or take action. Consider how you shape the message, organize the sections of your summary, or present research to stand out in a brief space.

Executive Summary Checklist

After you answer these questions and begin writing your document, refer to the following checklist as you develop the executive summary.

Executive Summary Checklist

Download Executive Summary Checklist

What Is the Format of an Executive Summary?

Every executive summary intends to distill information to the reader upfront, so it is typically placed first in the document. (Sometimes it is a separate section of a formal business document listed in the table of contents.)

When used in a less formal manner, the executive summary is an opening paragraph, a separate one-page summary memo, or the first page of a report. For example, if your goal is to raise capital, use the executive summary like an investor profile that provides the reader the information necessary to land the meeting or get the funding, without further reading.

The format and length vary based on the purpose of the content that you are summarizing; there is no set structure to follow. Here are some formatting tips that you can use for any executive summary, regardless of the style:

Order of Appearance : Beyond the introduction, decide what sections of the summary are most important to the purpose of the document. Organize your subheadings or sections in that order. Use bullet points and plenty of spacing between the different parts of the summary to make the content more accessible to scanning eyes. By doing so, you naturally discard information better left to the body of the document, and you honor the reader’s time by prioritizing the message, recommendations, conclusions, or solutions in the longer document.  

How Much Is Too Much : Executive summaries vary in length based on the type of content they summarize or their purpose. Some recommend keeping the summary to a specific percentage of the overall document, while others advocate a set number of pages. Focus on keeping the summary brief but comprehensive, with the most important information available to the reader.

Audience Aim : The tone and language of the executive summary should match that of the target audience. Avoid using technical jargon that requires definitions, and present the information in an accessible manner based on the knowledge and expertise of your intended audience. Do not include acronyms or highlight data that need an extensive background for context, and avoid using casual, informal tones. That said, an executive summary used in internal communications will have a different tone and style than one used in external communication tools.

One-page Executive Summary Template

One Page Executive Summary Template

This template is designed to fit your executive summary on one page. Take advantage of the short sections and bullet points to keep the document concise and hook the reader with the information that will keep them reading. Organize the key points by customizing the subheadings to emphasize their importance based on your purpose for the document.

Download One-page Executive Summary Template

Excel  |  Word  |  PDF

What Are the Common Pitfalls of Executive Summaries?

When formatting and organizing the executive summary, beware of the following pitfalls that plague poorly written and poorly planned summaries:

Fact or Persuasion : Support your motives and the objective of the executive summary with the facts. If the summary is for a sales proposal or pitch deck, persuade your reader up front with data and information, not buzzwords and cliches. If the executive summary includes generalizations or opinions that you don't support within your material with market research, project examples, independent data, testimonials, etc., you risk misleading the reader. Avoid writing a summary that leads clients, policy makers, or management to an unsupported recommendation or conclusion for the sake of persuasion — instead, focus on the facts.  

Relevance Over Repetition : By nature, the executive summary is a repetitive summary of content. Therefore, only include the most relevant details — those that summarize the true purpose of the overall content. Use the rest of your business plan, research report, or client proposal to cover topics relevant background information at length. If you try to cut and paste too much information and context from your longer business or research document into the summary, the details might overshadow the impression you want to make on the reader. The background becomes the introduction, and you risk losing a reader’s attention (especially an online audience).

Consistency Is Key : The executive summary highlights the substance of the larger piece of content. Don’t feature information here that is not covered in the body of the proposal. Avoid using different subheadings to organize copy in the body of the report. For example, if you highlight “Project Milestones” in the executive summary, do not list them in a new section for “Project Goals” in the business proposal. Use the tone and language you establish in the summary throughout the material. If you target an audience without expertise in the subject matter, don’t switch to highly technical analysis in the body copy. Finally, if you cover something in the executive summary, cover it again in the report. Don’t make the reader work to learn more about something you highlighted in the summary.

Draw a Clear Conclusion : Write an executive summary that comes to a conclusion and supports your purpose for creating the document. Keep the reader’s interest in mind when you summarize a lengthy project proposal or report. Does the reader have a clear understanding of the solutions you propose? Can they identify the problems you solve? If the executive summary is the only thing they read, can they take action on your recommendations or anticipate a desired outcome based on the information you included?

Executive Summary Outline Template - PowerPoint

Executive Summary Outline Presentation Template

Use this free template to outline your next big presentation, or keep it updated as a live meeting record to keep up with your evolving internal business plans or funding needs. The slides are formatted to outline the important elements of a formal business plan summary. You can customize the slides to fit the order of importance for your content’s purpose or extend each. Use the slides as an outline to keep track of the content you want to summarize after every update or draft of the report.

‌ Download Executive Summary Outline Template - PowerPoint

What to Include in an Executive Summary

You will determine the components of each executive summary you write based on the reason for writing it and your target audience.

For example, a business plan for an external audience includes financial information and details on the size and scale of a company; startups seeking funding and investors will highlight specific financial requirements and how they impact the business strategy. Executive summaries vary in the content they cover, but here is a common framework:

Introduction : This opening statement, paragraph, or section should clearly state the document’s purpose and the content to follow. How you will use this section depends on the desired outcome for the reader or audience, who should immediately find value in the information you present. Therefore, the details included in the introduction should grab and hold the reader’s attention.  

Company Information : When writing an executive summary for an external audience, include your company name, a description of your mission or purpose, contact information, location, and the size and scale of your operations. In some cases, the summary introduces the founders, investors, and corporate leadership. It might include background information of each that outlines previous industry or startup experience, or historical context on the current state of the company. When used in a presentation or research report, introduce the team presenting or responsible for the report’s findings.

Products and Services : The executive summary is the place to highlight the problem you solve or the need you fulfill. For a report, this is where you might highlight what you researched and what the reader should know about your findings. For a project proposal, include what you’re planning to accomplish and what you need to make it successful. For marketing plans or product launch presentations, tell the reader why your service or product is relevant at this particular moment in time.

Market Analysis : The executive summary of a business plan might profile the target customer and explain the market opportunity for a product or service. Consider answering questions like: Is there a five year plan for this market? How do you anticipate growing the customer base and improving market share? What stands out from your research about your customers that the reader should know?

Competition Analysis : This section should include answers to the following questions:

What is the competitive advantage of your proposed solution or product and who or what do you compete with in this market?

What are the opportunities now and in the future?

What are the risks in your market and your product or service?

Do you have relevant experience with major competitors?

What are the future plans for growth and what obstacles do you anticipate addressing?

Financials : The executive summary might summarize key financial data that is relevant to the reader or data that supports your research. If the purpose is to secure funding, include the specific amount you are requesting. Be sure to provide context for the financial data or any number you highlight in the executive summary. This section is a great way to highlight growth, or to use metrics to provide perspective on the company.

Conclusions : Recap your findings, the problem and solution discussed, or the project and work proposed. If there is a decision the reader needs to make, be direct about it. Make the outcomes obvious, but leave enough intrigue for the rest of the content to follow.

How Do You End An Executive Summary?

Although the executive summary begins a document, it concludes so that it can stand alone from the rest of the content and still be of value. Use the conclusion to recap your findings, make recommendations, and propose solutions to the problem.

If there is a decision you want the reader to make, ask make a call to action in this section. If you are summarizing a research report, summarize the findings and the research methods used to conclude the work. Make the outcomes or recommendations visible, but leave enough out to incentivize the audience to continue reading. Close the executive summary with a strong statement or transition that sets up the theme or central message to the story you tell in the report or proposal.

What Should Be in the Executive Summary of a Business Plan?

Traditional business plans differ in context and content based on if the audience is internal or external. Both audiences benefit from some of the previously discussed elements of the executive summary (like a substantial introduction).

However, the summary of an internal business plan does not require a section that introduces management or key personnel. An external business plan targets an audience that expects to find crucial financial information in the summary. When you develop the executive summary of the business plan, determine the information to include based on the audience and purpose of the document.

Business Plan Executive Summary Template

Business Plan Executive Summary Template

This executive summary template is designed to get your business plan noticed and reviewed. In this scenario, you’re presenting to an external audience and therefore should include more attention to detail with a standard business plan document. Use bullet points and clear, formal language to guide the reader to the most important information about your company.

Download Business Plan Executive Summary Template

Excel  |  Word  |  PDF  | Smartsheet

You can find a variety of templates for various industries and needs by reading “Free Executive Summary Templates.”

What Should Be in an Executive Summary of a Report?

Josh Bernoff spent 20 years writing and editing reports for Forrester Research. He is an advocate of creating actionable reports that tell a story. He believes that the executive summary is crucial.

“If the report is a story, the right executive summary is the same story, written briefly,” writes Bernoff . He recommends imagining that your readers ask you questions like, “What’s the coolest stuff in this report?” and “What did you find out?” while writing the report.

“Your answer, written directly to the reader, is the executive summary,” Bernoff explains in his book.

The executive summary of a report requires vivid details that grab online readers’ attention in a hurry. According to Bernoff, the summary recaps the story you want to tell behind all the words in the report. Using this advice as a guidepost, consider including the following answers to these questions to create your report’s summary:

What is the central plot of your report?

Why is this story important?

What are the most memorable scenes (examples, data, case study results, etc.) from the different sections of the report?

How does your research address the story’s central conflict (the problem solved)?

How does your research support the story’s conclusion?

What actions does the story recommend the reader be aware of?

The executive summary of lengthy research reports — especially those used in academic articles, scientific journals, government studies, or healthcare initiatives — require additional formatting considerations and elements not found in business plans or proposals. Consider the following guidelines when developing the executive summary of a research report:

Present the sections of the executive summary in the same order as in the main report.

Do not include information or research that is not supported and presented in the body of the report.

Draw a conclusion with the executive summary that justifies the research and provides recommendations.

Use a tone and language to describe technical information that readers without advanced knowledge or expertise of the subject matter can understand.

Remember that an executive summary of a report is distinct from an abstract. Abstracts are shorter overviews of a report and are common in academia. They familiarize the reader with a synopsis of the research that is much shorter than an executive summary. You can also think of an abstract as a standalone statement that helps the reader determine if they will read on. The executive summary, by contrast, summarizes the research in a structure that includes the summary, methods, results, conclusions, and recommendations for the reader without necessarily having to read further.

Research Report Executive Summary Template

Research Report Executive Summary Template

Use this template to create a synopsis of research results for reports — these will typically be longer than an executive summary for a business plan and proposal. The template is formatted to accommodate in-depth reports that need space for charts and tables to illustrate research data. It is designed to summarize technical information in a concise manner, with clear subheadings that communicate key findings to readers with various expertise and interest.

Download Research Report Executive Summary Template

Word  |  PDF

Get Funding with Your Executive Summary

Startups seeking capital investment from venture capital funds and angel investors can repurpose the executive summary from a business plan as a more concise, less formal investor profile.

This type of summary memo is stripped down and focused on the specific financial requirements and how the funding makes an impact on the business strategy. It is the perfect template to create a profile on investor platform websites like AngelList and Gust . Use the following tips to transform traditional business plan summaries into the pitch that lands you a meeting or funding:

Include the specific dollar amount you’re requesting, the purpose for the funds raised, and any relevant data such as repayment terms, collateral, equity share information, etc.

Keep the financial data simple and round to the nearest whole dollar amount.

List founders, partners, and key management personnel and highlight specific domain expertise or previous startup experience.

Describe your company’s growth plan and the proposed exit strategy.

Remove any industry buzzwords, meaningless phrases, and cliches (for example “the Uber of…,” “game-changing,” “disruptive,” “next Facebook,” “world-class,” etc.).

Mention noteworthy achievements, intellectual property, important business partnerships, or information on product development stages in test markets.

Describe work in progress and highlight relevant information about customer growth, market demand, and product development.

Startup Executive Summary Template

Startup Executive Summary Template

Transform your executive summary into an investor document with this template. It acts as a one-page pitch that serves as your company profile on investor platforms. You can repurpose this template and save it as a PDF summary memo to land future meetings with investors. For more information on business plans for startups, including free budget templates, read “ Free Startup Plan, Budget & Cost Templates .”

Download Startup Executive Summary Template

Seamlessly Track the Progress of Your Executive Summary with Real-Time Work Management in Smartsheet

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

Take your work to the next level. See how Smartsheet can help.

  • Contact sales

Start free trial

How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)


Here’s the good news: an executive summary is short. It’s part of a larger document like a business plan, business case or project proposal and, as the name implies, summarizes the longer report.

Here’s the bad news: it’s a critical document that can be challenging to write because an executive summary serves several important purposes. On one hand, executive summaries are used to outline each section of your business plan, an investment proposal or project proposal. On the other hand, they’re used to introduce your business or project to investors and other stakeholders, so they must be persuasive to spark their interest.

Writing an Executive Summary

The pressure of writing an executive summary comes from the fact that everyone will pay attention to it, as it sits at the top of that heap of documents. It explains all that follows and can make or break your business plan or project plan . The executive summary must know the needs of the potential clients or investors and zero in on them like a laser. Fortunately, we’ll show you how to write and format your executive summary to do just that.

Getting everything organized for your executive summary can be challenging. ProjectManager can help you get your thoughts in order and collaborate with your team. Our powerful task management tools make it easy to get everything prioritized and done on time. Try it free today.

List view in ProjectManager

What Is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a short section of a larger document like a business plan , investment proposal or project proposal. It’s mostly used to give investors and stakeholders a quick overview of important information about a business plan like the company description, market analysis and financial information.

It contains a short statement that addresses the problem or proposal detailed in the attached documents and features background information, a concise analysis and a conclusion. An executive summary is designed to help executives and investors decide whether to go forth with the proposal, making it critically important. Pitch decks are often used along with executive summaries to talk about the benefits and main selling points of a business plan or project.

Unlike an abstract, which is a short overview, an executive summary format is a condensed form of the documents contained in the proposal. Abstracts are more commonly used in academic and research-oriented writing and act as a teaser for the reader to see if they want to read on.

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Get your free

Executive Summary Template

Use this free Executive Summary Template for Word to manage your projects better.

How to Write an Executive Summary

Executive summaries vary depending on the document they’re attached to. You can write an executive summary for a business plan, project proposal, research document, or business case, among other documents and reports.

However, when writing an executive summary, there are guidelines to ensure you hit all the bases.

Executive Summary Length

According to the many books that have been written about executive summaries, as well as training courses, seminars and professional speakers, the agreed-upon length for an executive summary format should be about five to 10 percent of the length of the whole report.

Appropriate Language

The language used should be appropriate for the target audience. One of the most important things to know before you write professionally is to understand who you’re addressing. If you’re writing for a group of engineers, the language you’ll use will differ greatly from how you would write to a group of financiers.

That includes more than just the words, but the content and depth of explanation. Remember, it’s a summary, and people will be reading it to quickly and easily pull out the main points.

Pithy Introduction

You also want to capture a reader’s attention immediately in the opening paragraph. Just like a speech often opens with a joke to break the tension and put people at ease, a strong introductory paragraph can pull a reader in and make them want to read on. That doesn’t mean you start with a joke. Stick to your strengths, but remember, most readers only give you a few sentences to win them over before they move on.

Don’t forget to explain who you are as an organization and why you have the skills, personnel and experience to solve the problem raised in the proposal. This doesn’t have to be a lengthy biography, often just your name, address and contact information will do, though you’ll also want to highlight your strengths as they pertain to the business plan or project proposal .

Relevant Information

The executive summary shouldn’t stray from the material that follows it. It’s a summary, not a place to bring up new ideas. To do so would be confusing and would jeopardize your whole proposal.

Establish the need or the problem, and convince the target audience that it must be solved. Once that’s set up, it’s important to recommend the solution and show what the value is. Be clear and firm in your recommendation.

Justify your cause. Be sure to note the key reasons why your organization is the perfect fit for the solution you’re proposing. This is the point where you differentiate yourself from competitors, be that due to methodology, testimonials from satisfied clients or whatever else you offer that’s unique. But don’t make this too much about you. Be sure to keep the name of the potential client at the forefront.

Don’t neglect a strong conclusion, where you can wrap things up and once more highlight the main points.

Related: 10 Essential Excel Report Templates

What to Include in an Executive Summary

The content of your executive summary must reflect what’s in the larger document which it is part of. You’ll find many executive summary examples on the web, but to keep things simple, we’ll focus on business plans and project proposals.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

As we’ve learned above, your executive summary must extract the main points of all the sections of your business plan. A business plan is a document that describes all the aspects of a business, such as its business model, products or services, objectives and marketing plan , among other things. They’re commonly used by startups to pitch their ideas to investors.

Here are the most commonly used business plan sections:

  • Company description: Provide a brief background of your company, such as when it was established, its mission, vision and core values.
  • Products & services: Describe the products or services your company will provide to its customers.
  • Organization and management: Explain the legal structure of your business and the members of the top management team.
  • SWOT analysis: A SWOT analysis explains the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business. They describe the internal and external factors that impact your business competitiveness.
  • Industry & market analysis: This section should provide an overview of the industry and market in which your business will compete.
  • Operations: Explain the main aspects of your business operations and what sets it apart from competitors.
  • Marketing plan: Your marketing plan describes the various strategies that your business will use to reach its customers and sell products or services.
  • Financial planning: Here, you should provide an overview of the financial state of your business. Include income statements, balance sheets and cash flow statements.
  • Funding request: If you’re creating your business plan to request funding, make sure to explain what type of funding you need, the timeframe for your funding request and an explanation of how the funds will be used.

We’ve created an executive summary example to help you better understand how this document works when using it, to sum up a business plan.

To put all of that information together, here’s the basic format of an executive summary. You can find this same information in our free executive summary template :

  • Introduction, be sure to know your audience
  • Table of contents in the form of a bulleted list
  • Explain the company’s role and identify strengths
  • Explain the need, or the problem, and its importance
  • Recommend a solution and explain its value
  • Justify said solution by explaining how it fits the organization
  • A strong conclusion that once more wraps up the importance of the project

You can use it as an executive summary example and add or remove some of its elements to adjust it to your needs. Our sample executive summary has the main elements that you’ll need project executive summary.

Executive summary template for Word

Executive Summary Example

For this executive summary example, we’ll imagine a company named ABC Clothing, a small business that manufactures eco-friendly clothing products and it’s preparing a business plan to secure funding from new investors.

Company Description We are ABC Clothing, an environmentally-friendly manufacturer of apparel. We’ve developed a unique method of production and sourcing of materials that allows us to create eco-friendly products at a low cost . We have intellectual property for our production processes and materials, which gives us an advantage in the market.

  • Mission: Our mission is to use recycled materials and sustainable methods of production to create clothing products that are great for our customers and our planet.
  • Vision: Becoming a leader in the apparel industry while generating a positive impact on the environment.

Products & Services We offer high-quality clothing products for men, women and all genders. (Here you should include pictures of your product portfolio to spark the interest of your readers)

Industry & Market Analysis Even though the fashion industry’s year-over-year growth has been affected by pandemics in recent years, the global apparel market is expected to continue growing at a steady pace. In addition, the market share of sustainable apparel has grown year-over-year at a higher pace than the overall fashion industry.

Marketing Plan Our marketing plan relies on the use of digital marketing strategies and online sales, which gives us a competitive advantage over traditional retailers that focus their marketing efforts on brick-and-mortar stores.

Operations Our production plant is able to recycle different types of plastic and cotton waste to turn it into materials that we use to manufacture our products . We’ve partnered with a transportation company that sorts and distributes our products inside the United States efficiently and cost-effectively.

Financial Planning Our business is profitable, as documented in our balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement. The company doesn’t have any significant debt that might compromise its continuity. These and other financial factors make it a healthy investment.

Funding Request We’re requesting funding for the expansion of our production capacity, which will allow us to increase our production output in order to meet our increasing customer demand, enter new markets, reduce our costs and improve our competitiveness.

If you’d like to see more executive summary examples for your business plan, you can visit the U.S. small business administration website. They have business plans with executive summary examples you can download and use.

Executive summaries are also a great way to outline the elements of a project plan for a project proposal. Let’s learn what those elements are.

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Project Proposal

An executive summary for your project proposal will capture the most important information from your project management plan. Here’s the structure of our executive summary template:

  • Introduction: What’s the purpose of your project?
  • Company description: Show why you’re the right team to take on the project.
  • Need/problem: What is the problem that it’s solving?
  • Unique solution: What is your value proposition and what are the main selling points of your project?
  • Proof: Evidence, research and feasibility studies that support how your company can solve the issue.
  • Resources: Outline the resources needed for the project
  • Return on investment/funding request: Explain the profitability of your project and what’s in for the investors.
  • Competition/market analysis: What’s your target market? Who are your competitors? How does your company differentiate from them?
  • Marketing plan: Create a marketing plan that describes your company’s marketing strategies, sales and partnership plans.
  • Budget/financial planning: What’s the budget that you need for your project plan?
  • Timeline: What’s the estimated timeline to complete the project?
  • Team: Who are the project team members and why are they qualified?
  • Conclusions:  What are the project takeaways?

Now that we’ve learned that executive summaries can vary depending on the type of document you’re working on, you’re ready for the next step.

What to Do After Writing an Executive Summary

As with anything you write, you should always start with a draft. The first draft should hit all the marks addressed above but don’t bog yourself down in making the prose perfect. Think of the first draft as an exploratory mission. You’re gathering all the pertinent information.

Next, you want to thoroughly review the document to ensure that nothing important has been left out or missed. Make sure the focus is sharp and clear, and that it speaks directly to your potential client’s needs.

Proofread for Style & Grammar

But don’t neglect the writing. Be sure that you’re not repeating words, falling into cliché or other hallmarks of bad writing. You don’t want to bore the reader to the point that they miss the reason why you’re the organization that can help them succeed.

You’ve checked the content and the prose, but don’t forget the style. You want to write in a way that’s natural and not overly formal, but one that speaks in the manner of your target audience . If they’re a conservative firm, well then, maybe formality is called for. But more and more modern companies have a casual corporate culture, and formal writing could mistakenly cause them to think of you as old and outdated.

The last run should be proofing the copy. That means double-checking to ensure that spelling is correct, and there are no typos or grammatical mistakes. Whoever wrote the executive summary isn’t the best person to edit it, however. They can easily gloss over errors because of their familiarity with the work. Find someone who excels at copy-editing. If you deliver sloppy content, it shows a lack of professionalism that’ll surely color how a reader thinks of your company.

Criticism of Executive Summaries

While we’re advocating for the proper use of an executive summary, it’d be neglectful to avoid mentioning some critiques. The most common is that an executive summary by design is too simple to capture the complexity of a large and complicated project.

It’s true that many executives might only read the summary, and in so doing, miss the nuance of the proposal. That’s a risk. But if the executive summary follows the guidelines stated above, it should give a full picture of the proposal and create interest for the reader to delve deeper into the documents to get the details.

Remember, executive summaries can be written poorly or well. They can fail to focus on results or the solution to the proposal’s problem or do so in a vague, general way that has no impact on the reader. You can do a hundred things wrong, but if you follow the rules, then the onus falls on the reader.

ProjectManager Turns an Executive Summary Into a Project

Your executive summary got the project approved. Now the real work begins. ProjectManager is award-winning project management software that helps you organize tasks, projects and teams. We have everything you need to manage each phase of your project, so you can complete your work on time and under budget.

Work How You Want

Because project managers and teams work differently, our software is flexible. We have multiple project views, such as the kanban board, which visualizes workflow. Managers like the transparency it provides in the production cycle, while teams get to focus only on those tasks they have the capacity to complete. Are you more comfortable with tasks lists or Gantt charts? We have those, too.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Live Tracking for Better Management

To ensure your project meets time and cost expectations, we have features that monitor and track progress so you can control any deviations that might occur. Our software is cloud-based, so the data you see on our dashboard is always up to date, helping you make better decisions. Make that executive summary a reality with ProjectManager.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

You’ve now researched and written a persuasive executive summary to lead your proposal. You’ve put in the work and the potential client sees that and contracts you for the project. However, if you don’t have a reliable set of project management tools like Gantt charts , kanban boards and project calendars at hand to plan, monitor and report on the work, then all that preparation will be for nothing.

ProjectManager is online project management software that gives you real-time data and a collaborative platform to work efficiently and productively. But don’t take our word for it, take a free 30-day trial.

Click here to browse ProjectManager's free templates

Deliver your projects on time and under budget

Start planning your projects.


  • Business Writing

How to Write an Executive Summary

Search SkillsYouNeed:

Writing Skills:

  • A - Z List of Writing Skills

The Essentials of Writing

  • Common Mistakes in Writing
  • Improving Your Grammar
  • Active and Passive Voice
  • Using Plain English
  • Writing in UK and US English
  • Clarity in Writing
  • Writing Concisely
  • Coherence in Writing
  • The Importance of Structure
  • Know Your Audience
  • Know Your Medium
  • Business Writing Tips
  • How to Write a Report
  • How to Write a To-Do List
  • How to Write a Business Case
  • How to Write a Press Release
  • Writing a Marketing Strategy
  • Writing Marketing Copy
  • Copywriting
  • Taking Minutes and the Role of the Secretary
  • How to Write a Letter
  • Writing Effective Emails
  • Good Email Etiquette
  • Write Emails that Convince, Influence and Persuade
  • Storytelling in Business
  • Using LinkedIn Effectively

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter and start improving your life in just 5 minutes a day.

You'll get our 5 free 'One Minute Life Skills' and our weekly newsletter.

We'll never share your email address and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Being asked to write an executive summary, whether for a policy paper, pamphlet, briefing paper or report, may be a daunting prospect if you’ve never done it before.

However, ask a few questions, and keep a few simple rules in your mind and it becomes much more straightforward. This page sets out the questions to ask, whether of yourself or someone else, and a few warnings and conventions to bear in mind.

Executive Summary Content

Two key questions you need to ask before you start

  • Who is the intended audience of my executive summary?
  • Which of the contents of the paper that I am summarising do they really need to know?

These questions are important because they tell you what you need to include in the executive summary, so let’s unpack them a little:

The Intended Audience

As with all writing projects it is important to know your audience . The intended audience for an executive summary may be quite different from the intended audience for the longer document, whether it’s a policy paper, report, or something else.

The executive summary serves several possible purposes.

People may read the executive summary to find out if they need to read the full report. This group may include people within the organisation and outside, but the report is likely to touch on what they do every day. They will often be subject experts; they just need to know if there is anything new that they should read. This group will be looking for a broad summary of the contents of the wider paper.

People may want to find out if they’d find the full report interesting and relevant , even if not strictly essential. Again, this group is likely to be subject experts, but may also include analysts searching for a particular ‘angle’ on the subject. This group will also welcome a straightforward summary of the contents.

They may read the executive summary instead of the full report . It’s this group that you really need to worry about, because they’re likely to include the Board or executive team of your organisation, as well as journalists. What goes into the executive summary, therefore, is the message that they’re going to take away, that may well be spread more widely. For these people, the executive summary is their window onto the subject and it needs to be transparent, not opaque, if they are to understand it.

Think about your intended audience: who do you want to read your executive summary and why?

Don’t worry about other people who might read it; this is your intended audience , the people to whom you or your immediate line manager are going to send the summary. If the summary is for publication, which groups do you most want to read it?

What Does Your Intended Audience Need to Know?

Once you have identified your intended audience, you can then think about what they need to know or do as a result of reading your paper. This can be split into two parts:

First categorise the document by whether it needs action or is for information only. This will determine the language that you use.

Next, you need to identify what, when they have finished reading, are the key messages that you want your audience to have in their heads. Information and concepts that they did not have before.

Top Tip A good way to think about the key content is to imagine meeting your boss or CEO in the car park or at the coffee machine. What three key points about your document would you want to tell them?

Work on reducing your key messages down to three, or at the most, five bullet points of one or two sentences. Working on them before you start writing will mean that they are absolutely clear in your head as you write.

Writing your Executive Summary

Some organisations have very clear structures that are used for documents like executive summaries and others are more open.

Before you start, check whether you need to work within a specific structure or not. For example, if you are writing a summary of an academic report for submission, you may have a word count restriction, or need to remain within one side of paper.

When you are writing your executive summary, you should keep your intended audience in mind at all times and write it for them.

If your audience includes your boss or Chief Executive think: how much do they already know, and how much do you need to explain?

If your audience includes journalists, you probably need to explain everything. If it’s simply as a summary of a paper because you have to publish one, then you simply need to summarise the paper.

If you find yourself getting bogged down in the detail at this stage, it’s a good idea to talk to someone else about what to include.

The language you use needs to be fairly formal, whether or not the summary is intended for publication. If in doubt, check out our page: Formal and Informal Writing .

Broadly, an executive summary, as you might expect, summarises the main points of the underlying paper, and draws out the key points. It usually has three sections: introduction, main body and conclusion.

The introduction sets the scene, and explains what the paper is about, including what action needs to be taken as a result. It doesn’t need to be more than one or two sentences. For an internal paper, you might write:

This paper explains the findings of the research about [subject] and its relevance to the organisation. It notes five key findings, and makes three recommendations for action within the organisation. You are asked to take note of these, and decide whether the recommendations should be implemented.

For an executive summary of a published paper, it is not unusual for the first paragraph to be more attention-grabbing.

For example, from a recently-published report about green energy and the internet:

For the estimated 2.5 billion people around the world who are connected to the internet, it is impossible to imagine life without it. The internet has rewoven the fabric of our daily lives – how we communicate with each other, work and entertain ourselves – and become a foundation of the global economy.

[Source: Greenpeace, Clicking Clean ].

This example still sets the scene: the importance of the internet, but the idea here is to keep people reading, not just provide information. Again, it’s all about your audience and what they need or want.

The main body of the text outlines the key findings and/or recommendations from the report or paper to which this is the summary. The main section needs to focus on the interesting and most relevant bits of the report.

Most importantly, the main section of the executive summary needs to stand alone without the reader having to refer to the main body of the report or policy paper. This is worth checking by getting someone who doesn’t know much about the subject to read it over for you.

Finally, you need a conclusion , which outlines the take-home messages or action needed from the person reading the report. Bullet points are a useful form to highlight the key points, and this is where your three to five messages come in.

Once you’ve finished, check it against our checklist to make sure that you’ve covered everything.

Checklist for writing an executive summary

  • Have you kept in mind the audience at all times?
  • Have you addressed it to them?
  • Have you met any word count or structural requirements?
  • Have you clearly outlined the key messages and any action needed as a result?
  • Does the executive summary make sense by itself, without the report attached?

Final Words of Warning

An executive summary cannot be all things to all people. You only have a few hundred words. You need to focus firmly on your intended audience and their needs. Other people may find it useful; your intended audience relies on it.

Continue to: How to Write a Report How to Write a Business Case

See also: Commercial Awareness Employability Skills Note-Taking


U.S. Government Accountability Office

Guide for Writing Executive Summaries

GAO published a guide for writing executive summaries to assist in training new supervisors, report reviewers, writers, and editors, and as a reference for more experienced staff. The guide includes several samples of executive summaries from previous reports.

Full Report

Office of public affairs.

Chuck Young Managing Director [email protected] (202) 512-4800

Executive Summary

Jump to section, need help with an executive summary.

Post Your Project (It's Free)

Get Bids to Compare

 Hire Your Lawyer

Executive summaries highlight the best parts of your company. However, a poorly written document can cause potential investors to pause and go with another team. Fortunately, you can write an executive summary with a bit of insight and practice.

In this post, we outlined everything entrepreneurs would want to know about executive summaries.

What is an Executive Summary?

Executive summaries are overviews of a business plan or investment proposal, and they describe essential market information, such as business purpose , target market , and financial projections . You should put the most important details of the document or business proposal in your executive summary.

Here is a web page that also defines executive summaries.

What’s Included in an Executive Summary?

The executive summary’s purpose is to essentially serve as a written manifestation of your best elevator pitch and make a favorable first impression. Consider it a sales effort rather than an attempt to fully describe your start-up and address key highlights rather than get bogged down in the details.

Below, we’ve outlined the seven components generally included in an executive summary:

Component 1. Business Purpose

The purpose of your executive summary is that of how you will solve the prospect’s problem. Address your ideas in the first sentence, and indicate your unique value proposition (UVP) along with what market your company most benefits. Avoid slang, company history, and technical terms that underpin your solution.

Component 2. Market Overview

Investors seek a sizable and growing market. Spend a few sentences outlining the segmentation, size, growth, and market dynamics. You will want to highlight the strength’s in this section and leave the opportunities for further scrutiny during meetings or presentations.

Component 3. Competitive Advantage

Competitive advantage is the efficiency and efficacy that sets your business apart from competitors. Your competitive advantage comes from how you optimally serve customers, collaborators, and the company in a symbiotic way. Lean on this strength and work with a strategic marketing consultant to help you craft the most compelling offer.

Component 4. Business Model

Develop a plan for your sales and marketing efforts. You should also determine other critical elements, such as your customers, licenses, units, and profit margin. This component should give a high-level but logical overview of how you operate.

Component 5. Key Team Members

Investors are more interested in people than the ideas. Explain each team member’s purpose, background, and contributions by mentioning their titles and obligations during past roles. Consider including external advisors who possess the experience to sweeten the prospect of selecting your company for the next level.

Component 6. Financial Projections

You must present your three-to-five-year summary revenue and expense projections. Investors need to know how much funding they are seeking now and how much they will receive. The request is generally the minimum amount of cash required to complete significant milestones throughout the project.

Component 7. Document Highlights

You can also offer a short bulleted list that references specific pages or sections in the executive summary. As such, the investor will have an opportunity to recall some of the areas that you think are most important to address, such as pro forma templates , terms sheets , and proposed investment contracts .

You can write your executive summary how you see fit, and many writers prefer writing their introduction last to approach it from a more comprehensive viewpoint. The most vital thing to remember is to put your best face forward and develop a communications plan that will resonate with targeted prospects and investors.

how to write an executive summary for a law report

How to Write an Executive Summary

You should write your executive summaries so that they are unique to your company and complement the main document. However, there are some insightful steps that start-up may want to follow when writing their very first executive summary.

Below, we’ve explained a five-step process when writing an executive summary:

Step 1. Write a Business Plan

Your executive summary covers essential topics in your business plan. Therefore, it is advised that you write the entire business plan first. Your executive summary will be far more impressive when it makes an impact versus reading like a generic form letter.

Visit this this website for more information about business plans.

Step 2. Create an Introduction

Compelling introductions vary to the members of your target audience. Perhaps your introduction includes a surprising industry fact or brief story, and you should make it relevant to your business and engage your audience while clearly defining your business plan’s purpose and what the reader can anticipate.

Step 3. Write the Executive Summary Components

Read through the proposal or business plan and highlight key points for inclusion in your executive summary. Cover each critical point in a concise yet comprehensive manner that eliminates the reader’s need to read the remainder of the business plan. Ideally, the summary will entice them to continue reading, but they should also have a firm grasp of the rest of the document.

Step 4. Edit Your Executive Summary

Arrange your executive summary to work naturally with your document’s contents, starting with essential components. A bulleted list is beneficial for highlighting your primary points. Verify the document’s accuracy and clarity twice.

It is also worthwhile to eliminate buzzwords, obvious information, jargon, and false claims. Give your executive summary a second read to determine if it can function as a stand-alone document if necessary.

Step 5. Get Legal Help When Necessary

Not every entrepreneur possesses strong writing skills, which means that it may be advantageous to have a professional marketer or licensed attorney review your executive summary to ensure it reads smoothly and address the points you wish to communicate. Also, avoid comparing yourself to other businesses entirely and focus specifically on how you will soothe their problems.

ContractsCounsel Executive Summary Image

Image via Pexels by Pavel

Examples of When to Use Executive Summaries

Executive summaries are easy to understand when applied to common situations. However, knowing what to emphasize and highlight is a challenge. The most vital element to remember is that your prospect is your target audience, which means your executive summary should resonate with their people.

Here are some start-up examples of when to use executive summaries and how they can elevate your business:

Example 1. Raising Seed Capital with SAFE Note

Martin Inc. needs to raise seed money for its start-up quickly. Instead of going through a convertible note , Martin’s team approaches investors with a win-win solution in their business plan. The executive summary highlights how the SAFE note could benefit both parties based on convincing future projections and offers thorough documentation to back up all claims.

Example 2. Business Plan Executive Summary

Let’s say that Initrode wants start-up capital to sell its software online at scale. They approach investors with a business plan. However, this document is complex and lengthy. Initrode decides to write a highly compelling, high-converting executive summary that outlines the problems their service will solve and how they plan to return the investment so that investors don’t have to sift through the document to find important information.

Business Lawyers Write Executive Summaries

You should speak with business lawyers if you need help writing an executive summary or business plan. When facilitating your next deal, they can point out legal issues in your documents and draft the supporting agreements. Get in contact with a legal professional from your state today.

Meet some of our Executive Summary Lawyers

Casey B. on ContractsCounsel

I have a Juris Doctorate degree from Mercer Law School, and I am an active member of the Georgia State Bar Association. I have spent the last eight years reviewing, drafting, editing, and negotiating hundreds of contracts on a monthly basis, working in-house for a Fortune 500 company. I am a results-driven, self-motivated, experienced contracts attorney with exceptional drafting, research and communication abilities.

James D. F. on ContractsCounsel

James D. F.

Unique Hybrid Background ➲ Deep Legal, Tech & Commercial Experience More by pure chance than design, I arrived late in life to pursue a career in law. My background spans more than 3 decades across Information Technology, entrepreneurship & the legal profession supporting my claim to being a 'Deep Generalist'. What is a 'Deep Generalist'? 'The professionals who develop into really great client advisors are deep generalists.' Quote from Warren Bennis. From 2013 I worked for established boutique property, finance & commercial law firms + an award-winning #newlaw firm of senior lawyers (formerly Nexus Law Group, now merged with before founding my digital law firm Blue Ocean Law Group in 2017. I also worked part-time for 2 years as a freelance online expert across all aspects of Australian Law with JustAnswer (H.Q. in San Francisco) and volunteered at the Caxton Legal Centre to give back to the community. Now I offer pro bono (free) legal assistance at my discretion. My achievements in the law are best reflected in the high number of settlements where civil litigation has been avoided, court judgements (incl. successful appeals) in my clients' favour & [90+] testimonials which can be seen on the [700+] page website which offers tons [585+] of both free & paid innovative legal products & resources. My personal experience as a client on the other side of legal matters affords me a unique perspective and goes some way to explaining my passion for the reinvention of the delivery of legal services. I am an early adopter of technology + gadgets, an avid reader and an animal lover. In January 2023, I joined the IAPP – International Association of Privacy Professionals and became a Certified Information Privacy Professional – United States by gaining the highly valued gold-standard ANSI-Accredited CIPP/US credential. I followed this up in August 2023, by obtaining the Certified in CyberSecurity qualification form ISC(2). Pre-Law Background From 1992 to 2002, I worked for Accenture as an IT Project Manager across APAC (including long-term project assignments in New Zealand & Singapore). I started a small business side hustle in 1997 and in 2003 I left Accenture to become a full-time entrepreneur in the transport industry. I later expanded into the mezzanine property development finance market as well as venturing into small-scale property development.Unique Hybrid Background

Kchris G. on ContractsCounsel

My name is Kchris Griffin. I am an licensed attorney practicing Family and Civil Law in Oklahoma. My goal is to help those in need with receiving efficient and effective legal services.

Drew M. on ContractsCounsel

Drew Melville is a Florida and Massachusetts-licensed attorney with fourteen years' experience in real estate transactions, title insurance and land use. His practice includes all aspects of commercial real estate acquisitions, dispositions, financing, joint venture formation, leasing and land use approvals. Mr. Melville is a title agent for Old Republic National Title Insurance Company, First American Title Insurance Company, and Stewart Title Guaranty Company. Mr. Melville's practice is national in scope, and he brings a creative and solution-oriented approach to his clients' diverse array of real estate investment and development activities in all real estate asset classes. These often include urban infill, adaptive reuse, affordable and workforce housing, historic preservation, sustainable building, brownfield or gray-field redevelopment and opportunity zones. Prior to starting his own firm, he was an in house counsel for the real estate development subsidiary of a large, diversified land and agribusiness company. To date, Mr. Melville has closed over $1.2 billion in commercial real estate transactions.

Hao L. on ContractsCounsel

Florida Licensed Attorney & CFA® Charterholder Specializing in Immigration, Taxation, Aviation, Bankruptcy, Estate & Succession, and Business & Civil Litigation

Corey H. on ContractsCounsel

Veritas Global Law, PLLC ("Veritas") is a law firm specializing in Life Sciences, Private Equity, M&A, technology transactions and general corporate law. Veritas frequently represents clients seeking cost a cost efficient, on-demand, general counsel in a variety of general corporate law matters, and a range of contracts including NDAs, MSAs, Software as a Service (Saas) agreements. Veritas also represents U.S. and non-U.S. private investment fund GPs and LPs across a broad range of activities with a particular emphasis on private equity, venture capital, secondary funds, distressed funds and funds of funds. Mr. Harris received his LL.M. from the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law and served as an articles editor of the Berkeley Business Law Journal and was an active member of the Berkeley Center for Law Business and the Economy. Additionally, Mr. Harris also holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School, a M.B.A. from the Boston College Carroll School of Management, a B.A. from Hampton University in Political Science with a minor in Economics and Spanish and a certificate in financial valuation from the University of Oxford, Saïd Business School.

Paul M. on ContractsCounsel

Transactional attorney and corporate in house counsel for 15 years. Draft all types of contracts and employment agreements.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Financial lawyers by top cities.

  • Austin Financial Lawyers
  • Boston Financial Lawyers
  • Chicago Financial Lawyers
  • Dallas Financial Lawyers
  • Denver Financial Lawyers
  • Houston Financial Lawyers
  • Los Angeles Financial Lawyers
  • New York Financial Lawyers
  • Phoenix Financial Lawyers
  • San Diego Financial Lawyers
  • Tampa Financial Lawyers

Executive Summary lawyers by city

  • Austin Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Boston Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Chicago Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Dallas Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Denver Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Houston Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Los Angeles Executive Summary Lawyers
  • New York Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Phoenix Executive Summary Lawyers
  • San Diego Executive Summary Lawyers
  • Tampa Executive Summary Lawyers

related contracts

  • Convertible Note
  • Fundraising Contract
  • Pro Forma Cap Table
  • Promissory Note
  • Simple Agreement For Future Tokens
  • Subscription Agreement
  • Terms Sheet

other helpful articles

  • How much does it cost to draft a contract?
  • Do Contract Lawyers Use Templates?
  • How do Contract Lawyers charge?
  • Business Contract Lawyers: How Can They Help?
  • What to look for when hiring a lawyer

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Quick, user friendly and one of the better ways I've come across to get ahold of lawyers willing to take new clients.

Contracts Counsel was incredibly helpful and easy to use. I submitted a project for a lawyer's help within a day I had received over 6 proposals from qualified lawyers. I submitted a bid that works best for my business and we went forward with the project.

I never knew how difficult it was to obtain representation or a lawyer, and ContractsCounsel was EXACTLY the type of service I was hoping for when I was in a pinch. Working with their service was efficient, effective and made me feel in control. Thank you so much and should I ever need attorney services down the road, I'll certainly be a repeat customer.

I got 5 bids within 24h of posting my project. I choose the person who provided the most detailed and relevant intro letter, highlighting their experience relevant to my project. I am very satisfied with the outcome and quality of the two agreements that were produced, they actually far exceed my expectations.

How It Works

Post Your Project

Get Free Bids to Compare

Hire Your Lawyer

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Find lawyers and attorneys by city

  • Business Communication

How to Write an Executive Summary

Avatar photo

Table of Contents

Whether you work in banking, real estate, insurance, manufacturing, law, education, or another profession, you’ve likely had or will have to write an executive summary as part of a written report. In this article, we’ll explore a few questions and answers to help you write relevant and useful executive summaries.

Let’s dive in!

What is an Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a concise summary of a longer document or proposal, intended to give readers an understanding of the main points without having to read the entire document. It’s an important tool in business and academic settings, used in reports, business plans, research papers, marketing proposals, and more.

Executive summaries are not background and not an introduction. People who read only the executive summary should get the essence of the document without fine details.  

A graphic of a business woman sitting at the desk writing with the text explaining the definition of the an executive summary: "An executive summary is a brief section at the beginning of a long report, article, recommendation, or proposal that summarizes the document."

What Should be Included in an Executive Summary?

An executive summary should be tailored based on the document’s content and intended audience. Components of an executive summary may include:

Introduction : Begin with an introduction that provides context about the document or project. This could be a brief description of the company, project, or proposal the summary is derived from.

Example: “XYZ Corporation, established in 2010, is a leading provider of sustainable energy solutions targeting mid-sized industries.”

Project or Business Summary : Clearly state the objective or mission of the business or project. This should succinctly convey the main goal or purpose.

Example: “Our new project, ‘Green Future’, aims to revolutionize the energy sector by providing affordable, efficient, and eco-friendly energy solutions to 50 industries within the next three years.”

Problems and Solutions : Highlight the primary challenges or problems addressed in the document and outline the proposed solutions or strategies to overcome them.

Example: “The industrial sector contributes to 40% of global carbon emissions. ‘Green Future’ proposes to reduce these emissions by 20% by integrating solar and wind energy sources.”

Background Information : Offer relevant background details that can help the reader understand the context, such as the history of the project or the motivation behind a business idea.

Example: “Over the past five years, XYZ Corporation has collaborated with top energy researchers to devise a hybrid energy model that is both sustainable and efficient.”

Market Research and Competitive Advantage : Summarize market research findings, emphasizing what sets your product, service, or project apart from competitors.

Example: “Our market analysis indicates a 25% increase in demand for sustainable energy in the next decade. Unlike our competitors, our patented energy conversion technique ensures a 95% efficiency rate.”

Business Model : Briefly explain the business model or strategy that will be used to achieve the objectives stated earlier.

Example: “We operate on a subscription-based model, allowing industries to receive continuous energy updates and maintenance services for a fixed monthly fee.”

Key Findings or Results : If applicable, present any significant findings or results derived from the main document, especially if they validate the approach or solution proposed.

Example: “Pilot testing in five industries resulted in a 15% reduction in energy costs and a 10% decrease in carbon footprints within a year.”

Conclusions or Recommendations : Depending on the nature of the main document, wrap up the summary with conclusions drawn from the data or any recommendations for future actions.

Example: “To achieve a greener industrial future and meet global carbon reduction targets, adopting the ‘Green Future’ model is not only beneficial but essential.”

As for length, while there’s no strict word count, the summary should be concise enough to be skimmed in a few minutes but detailed enough to deliver the main points. Typically, it should be about 5-10% of the length of the original document, ensuring it doesn’t overwhelm the reader with too many details.

Tone and Language in an Executive Summary

Tone and language can have a meaningful impact on how your summary, or any written communication, is received. Some things to keep in mind:

  • True to Your Company and Audience : Tailor the tone of your executive summary to reflect your company’s culture and the intended audience. For instance, if you are a startup addressing young entrepreneurs, a slightly informal and energetic tone might be appropriate. Conversely, a report for corporate stakeholders should be more traditional and formal.
  • Balanced : While it’s essential to be optimistic and highlight the positive aspects, avoid overselling or making unsupported claims. Strive for a balanced perspective that gives an honest and realistic view of the situation or proposal.
  • Clear and Understandable : Not all readers might be experts in the field. Avoid technical terms or industry jargon unless necessary and, if used, provide brief explanations. The language should be simple, straightforward, and free from ambiguity.
  • Engaging : While brevity and clarity are essential, it’s also important to engage the reader. Start with a strong opening statement that captures attention, and use persuasive language to emphasize the importance and relevance of the content.

Tips for Writing an Executive Summary

  • Identify the Problem or Need : Before diving into the solution, clearly articulate the problem or need your project or proposal addresses. This sets the context and justifies why your solution is necessary.
  • Keep it Concise : While it’s essential to provide comprehensive information, it’s equally crucial to be as concise as possible. An executive summary should capture attention and get to the point without unnecessary jargon or details.
  • Prioritize Key Points : Focus on the most vital aspects of your report or business plan. It’s about selecting the most impactful information that will drive your primary message home.
  • Use a Logical Structure : Organize your summary in a manner that flows logically. Begin with the problem, followed by the solution and benefits, and end with expected results or a call to action.
  • Engage Your Reader : Use persuasive and clear language. Your goal is to convince stakeholders, so your tone should be confident and authoritative.

Mistakes to Avoid in an Executive Summary

  • Being Too Long or Too Short : An executive summary should neither be a novel nor a mere couple of sentences. It should encapsulate the essence of the document, providing enough information to entice the reader to dive deeper.
  • Repeating or Copying the Document : The executive summary should be a standalone piece that summarizes the primary points in an original way. Avoid directly copying content from the body of the document into the executive summary.
  • Lacking Structure or Logic : Just like the main document, your executive summary should have a clear structure. It shouldn’t jump from one idea to another without a clear connection or flow.
  • Overusing Jargon : While some technical terms might be necessary, overloading your summary with jargon can alienate readers who might not be familiar with specific industry terms.
  • Too Much Background : Background belongs in a background section or an introduction, not in the summary. The executive summary should provide brief context about the document or project but should not repeat the background or introduction sections.
  • Mismatch in Content: Whatever the executive summary highlights must be included in the report. Likewise, the report should not contain major points that did not appear in the summary.
  • Neglecting the Call to Action : Don’t forget to include a compelling call to action if you’re presenting a proposal or solution. This is where you encourage the reader to take the next steps, be it funding your project or approving your proposal.

Fictional Example 1: Here is a fictional summary of a proposal on sustainable housing design.

Executive Summary

Purpose of Report

GreenTech Innovations, a pioneer in sustainable technology, is excited to present a proposal for its latest project, “Eco-Safe Homes”. This proposal aims to revolutionize the housing sector by integrating eco-friendly technology into the architectural designs of residential homes.

The current housing market often overlooks sustainability in favor of short-term profits. This leads to wasted energy, higher bills for homeowners, and increased carbon footprints. Our mission is to create residential spaces that not only serve as comfortable homes but also contribute positively to the environment. 

Greentech Innovations’ architectural designs use solar energy, rainwater harvesting, and other sustainable technologies to combat these challenges. We plan to collaborate with real estate developers and offer them our sustainable designs. 

Findings and Conclusions

Our research indicates a growing demand among consumers for sustainable housing options. Unlike our competitors, who often integrate just one or two green features, our designs encompass a holistic approach, making them both eco-friendly and cost-efficient in the long run.

Pilot projects have shown a 60% reduction in energy bills for homeowners and a 40% decrease in carbon emissions compared to traditional homes. Furthermore, 85% of our surveyed customers expressed higher satisfaction living in an “Eco-Safe Home”.


We recommend real estate stakeholders to adopt and invest in our sustainable designs. By doing so, not only will they cater to a growing market demand but also play a pivotal role in driving the change towards a sustainable future.

Fictional Example 2 : Here is a fictional, one-page summary of a report on the participation in the newly-implemented recycling program by the city of Bloomington, IN.

An example of an executive summary of a report on participation in the newly-implemented recycling program by the city of Bloomington, IN

Helpful Resources

Other helpful resources on writing executive summaries:

  • How to Write an Executive Summary in 10 Steps
  • How to Write an Executive Summary (with examples)
  • How to Write an Executive Summary: 8 Executive Summary Tips

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.

Jennifer, great suggestion. Thanks!

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.

Oh, I like Ms. Paladino’s idea!

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

Can you help me any suggest?

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.

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.

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?

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?

if i may ask what executive summary report should not contain?

The one topic that I have read consistently on various websites, is that the Executive Summary should never contain numbers or figures for the desired budget. What I read is that the CEO or potential investor sees that number and it sticks in their minds throughout the presentation; sometimes a decision has already been formed before the presentation has been completed, based on the dollar figure, and not on the positive qualities and potentials of what is being proposed. Hope this helps.

The key to what doesn’t belong is this: The executive summary is a SUMMARY. Don’t include anything that doesn’t help to summarize the document.

Please review the common mistakes in my article above. They include a couple of examples of things that do not belong in executive summaries.

Thank you for responding to Jan.

You are correct that in a persuasive document, you may decide not to include a dollar amount in the executive summary. The reasoning, as you suggest, is that the reader needs to appreciate what the dollars will create or buy before knowing the exact dollar amount.

Yet it depends on the reader and the purpose of the document. Some readers want to know at the beginning whether the request is for $20,000 or $200,000. And in some documents, the purpose is not to persuade but to inform. For example, the purpose might be to explain to the reader how the $200,000–which has already been approved–will be spent.

Because of the many documents that may include an executive summary, I would not suggest that the summary should NEVER contain numbers for the desired budget. It depends.

Thanks again for commenting. Lynn

Thanks for this post.

I frequently see the first mistake: people repeating from the executive summary verbatim.

I’m an editor who searched the topic for some back-up and found your helpful post.

Thanks! Lauren Ruiz

Suppose you are a manager at a Construction Company and you have completed a project regarding the construction of a bridge. Write one page report to the CEO of your company regarding the success of the project.

i need complete format for this report with thanx

Moon, a well-written report should answer the reader’s questions, such as:

–What’s this about? –Is the project complete? –Was it on time? –Was it on budget? –Does it meet all the requirements of the contract? –Has it passed all inspections? –Is there follow-up to be done? –What else do I need to know about the project?

You would probably use headings, paragraphs, and bullet points to convey the information.

I thought this information was very valuable, I am writing a research paper for Cal Poly Pomona and this is something that most people are not taught until grad school or running a business. However it is proving to be an essential part of a professional and educational career.

Natalie, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Good luck with your paper.

Superb .Thanks for sharing sucH A Good points on Executive summary ..

You are welcome!

Please send some useful hints how best to review report .Equally best possible way to write official letters

The best way to review a report is to assess whether it achieves its goal. If it’s a site report on a manufacturer, does it report on the essential aspects of the site’s efficiency and productivity? If it’s a business trip report, does it share only the relevant information about the trip? Does the report supply the information a reader would want–without providing unnecessary details?

The best way to write official letters is to write them so people can understand them and accept their conclusions. If I had to write official letters on the job, I would ask for examples.

Thanks all of you.This I am come cross of paramount importance because I am doing my internship and an executive summary is one of the gap that i have to fill so as to provide a full report.I am from BURUNDI-BUJUMBURA

I am looking for a formal executive template to use for my user acceptance testing/sign off with the business

I don’t have such a template. If you can’t find one that is already developed, think about the questions your executive summary needs to answer. You can find two bulleted examples in the article above.

Short, sharp and informative. I also found contributions in the comments section useful. I think we need to pay a little more attention to articulating our ‘elevator speech’. Many times we are caught up in the projects that we only provide executive summaries as after-thoughts whereas they are probably the only aspects that senior leadership will ever read fully.

AR, I agree about senior leadership. Thanks for making that important point.

Hi Lynn, I enjoyed reading your article.. wondered if you have a a view on the inclusion of highlevel figures in a Sales proposal i.e. Request For Proposal. Like a similar example above, I believe it depends if a beneficial example can be offered. This might suggest the investment of “X” will increase revenue by “Y” and improve customer satisfaction by “Z”. Some of my colleagues suggest you should never include such an investment summary as it might draw detrimental conclusions too early, such as being too costly. I’d welcome your view.

Here’s what I said on the subject in a comment above:

“You are correct that in a persuasive document, you may decide not to include a dollar amount in the executive summary. The reasoning, as you suggest, is that the reader needs to appreciate what the dollars will create or buy before knowing the exact dollar amount.”

I agree with you that it depends whether an example would be beneficial.

Another solution might be–if truthful–to say that the proposal offers three solutions at price points ranging from X to Y. How does that sound?

The format you choose for the executive summary depends on the content of the report. So the report has to be done before you can summarize it.

If the report contains six recommendations for the fictitious family, your summary might introduce and list those recommendations, and then the report would flesh them out.

Regarding Point 7, the final summary would, of course, not list the recommendations again. It would probably summarize the need for them.

Hey Lynn, I’m in a group project for a second year business course and i’m doing the executive summary on a report. We’re supposed to make recommendations for a fictitious Family business who wants to make wine and I don’t know what format to use and please can you elaborate on your 7th common mistake please?

In an executive summary, is it ever appropriate to cite the page number (or location) of a particular point, term, etc. from the source document? And if so, what is a good way to do that?

The purpose being that if the reader of the exec summary wanted more information about a point, they would know where to go in the source document to find it.

Fish, it would be fine to include (page 6) just a few page numbers in the way I just showed. If you felt you needed many such citations, a table of contents would make more sense.

I apologize for the delay in responding. I am traveling in Central America and staying away from the Internet.

Thanks Lynn, this is one of the better articles I’ve come across in my research about writing an Executive Summary.Good suggestions in the comments also.One “trick” I sometimes use with our staff is “How would you explain this to your grandma. She loves you, but not enough to endure five or ten minutes of confusing and boring jargon.”

Thank you for the compliment. I like the grandma suggestion. I would not take it too far though because the audience for the executive summary may be experts. Rather than simplicity, the key may be a focus on the essential point or points.

Thanks for the information about How to write and prepare an executive summary and it was very relevant to what I was looking for. at first i did know i thought that an executive summary is like a paragraph or some many sentences one should write thank you so much.

Hi Mackford,

I tried to click your link to learn about you, but the link doesn’t work. Post again with a new link if you want me to find you. I can delete the earlier post.

mam!!! its great . to have this information . but what should we do in a executive summary for a business report where we already received a template for the whole document … it would be grateful if u reply me

Silpa, I’m not sure I understand your question yet. If the template includes a place for an executive summary, include it. If it doesn’t, I’m not sure how you might handle it. Perhaps another term is used to describe the section, maybe just “summary”?

All this talk telling people who to write something, and yet you don’t even provide one example document? That’s not very good teaching practice.

E Miller, I am sorry you missed the example. Please read the post again.

If I am required to write an executive summary in a paper, do I also have to include an introduction?

Hello Suzan,

Yes, typically a major report has both an executive summary and an introduction. They serve two different functions.

AR, I agree about senior leadership. Thanks for making that important point. JUANKY

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Diversifying Sentence Structures in Business Writing

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Writing Your Year-End Performance Review

Money bag being handed over with the title "How to Write a Pitch for a Business Loan

How to Write a Pitch for a Business Loan

A graphic of a hand holding a back of money with the text: "how to ask for a raise via email"

How to Ask for a Raise Via Email

A graphic of a woman behind the des with the title text: "How to reply to an interview email"

How to Reply to an Interview Email

how to write an executive summary for a law report

How to Counter a Salary Offer (With Examples)

Oxford Brookes University

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. 

Scroll down for our recommended strategies and resources. 

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:

What is an executive summary? (RMIT University)

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

Examples of executive summaries (The University of Newcastle, Australia)

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:

Abstracts resources (Centre for Academic Development)

Back to top

Cookie statement

Crafting a Powerful Executive Summary

by John Clayton

Responding to a request for proposals (RFP) is pretty straightforward. You describe your company's history, your product or service, its implementation schedule, and the support you'll provide. The one stumbling block is the one section that everyone will read: the executive summary.

What is its purpose? If you answered, to summarize the proposal , think again.

Thus the executive summary demands a whole different approach to writing than the rest of the proposal, one that balances efficient delivery of key information with a persuasive, well-substantiated pitch. Above all, the executive summary must demonstrate a clear understanding of the potential client's needs. A good way to do this is to include in it the ROI your services will deliver. "You need to describe outcomes," Sant says. "Describe the impact on performance—ideally a measurable impact."

Write with an eye to the audience A strong executive summary is crafted with the audience firmly in mind: busy executives interested in bottom-line deliverables, not details. "An executive reads for certain keywords, and for the price," says Stacia Kelly, president of Catklaw, a Woodbridge, Va.-based writing boutique. "If he likes it, he'll hand it to an assistant and ask them to read the whole thing."

For that reason, advises Bud Porter-Roth, author of Proposal Development: How to Respond and Win the Bid (PSI Research/Oasis, 1998), put the most critical information in the first couple of paragraphs. "The executive may not read any more," he says. But, he cautions, "the RFP writers will read the whole thing." Thus the executive summary has an additional, secondary audience: the middle managers who will make presentations about you and your proposal to senior management. So make sure the executive summary gives them the tools to act on your behalf, Porter-Roth says. To reach both of these audiences, an executive summary should do three things:

1. Establish the need or problem. This might be more challenging than first appears. Often, says Porter-Roth, "RFPs are poorly written. You may have to define the business issues, because the RFP was written by technical people who saw only technical issues."

"You need to convince them that this is a problem worth doing something about," Sant says. "Your biggest competitor may be that they do nothing, that they spend this money on something else."

2. Recommend the solution and explain its value. "Be sure to make a firm, clear recommendation," advises Sant. For example, say something along the lines of "We recommend that integrated content management software be implemented across the company." Then you need to explain the value of your solution. Here you're not focusing on what it is, but on what its return or benefits will be.

"Rather than technical details, you need to say things like 'This solution will reduce your work staff by five people' or 'This CRM will allow you to answer questions while online, rather than in a call back,'" says Porter-Roth.

3. Provide substantiation. Give the key reasons why your company is the right company to deliver the solution. Here's where you can differentiate yourself—highlight a unique methodology, for instance, or provide a quick case study of your past work. Another idea: Include testimonials from satisfied clients. Just don't get carried away and turn the focus away from the potential client and onto your company. "It's not about the vendor—it's about the customer," says Sant. His rule of thumb: Make sure the executive summary mentions the customer's name three times as often as your company's name.

Making it pitch-perfect Experts offer these other tips for putting together an executive summary that gets attention and gets business:

Use formatting and graphics to highlight your message. Bullets and headings will make the executive summary easier to skim, and a well-chosen graphic can drive a key point home. If you can find the information in the public record, use a graphic illustrating the client's dilemma.

"This can really rivet their understanding of how bad a situation is," says Sant.

Keep it clear, clean, and to the point. Strike out jargon, advises Catklaw's Kelly. Her pet peeves include world-class, turnkey, value-added , and leverage (as a verb). And proofread carefully, says Porter-Roth. "Always have a fresh pair of eyes review the executive summary for grammar, selling themes, and especially overall consistency. Too often the executive summary is a cut-and-paste job and it shows."

While you're in editing mode, make sure your executive summary stays true to its name. "Keep your executive summary short—one to two pages for the first twenty-five pages of proposal text and an additional page for each fifty pages thereafter," Sant says.

Reprinted with permission from "Writing an Executive Summary That Means Business," Harvard Management Communication Letter , August 2003.

See the latest issue of Harvard Management Communication Letter

John Clayton is an independent business writer based in Montana. He can be reached at [email protected] .

  • PRO Courses Guides New Tech Help Pro Expert Videos About wikiHow Pro Upgrade Sign In
  • EDIT Edit this Article
  • EXPLORE Tech Help Pro About Us Random Article Quizzes Request a New Article Community Dashboard This Or That Game Popular Categories Arts and Entertainment Artwork Books Movies Computers and Electronics Computers Phone Skills Technology Hacks Health Men's Health Mental Health Women's Health Relationships Dating Love Relationship Issues Hobbies and Crafts Crafts Drawing Games Education & Communication Communication Skills Personal Development Studying Personal Care and Style Fashion Hair Care Personal Hygiene Youth Personal Care School Stuff Dating All Categories Arts and Entertainment Finance and Business Home and Garden Relationship Quizzes Cars & Other Vehicles Food and Entertaining Personal Care and Style Sports and Fitness Computers and Electronics Health Pets and Animals Travel Education & Communication Hobbies and Crafts Philosophy and Religion Work World Family Life Holidays and Traditions Relationships Youth
  • Browse Articles
  • Learn Something New
  • Quizzes Hot
  • This Or That Game New
  • Train Your Brain
  • Explore More
  • Support wikiHow
  • About wikiHow
  • Log in / Sign up
  • Finance and Business
  • Business Skills
  • Business Writing

How to Write an Executive Summary

Last Updated: December 6, 2022 Fact Checked

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 41 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 2,029,721 times. Learn more...

The executive summary is the most important part of a business document. It is the first (and sometimes the only) thing others will read and the last thing you should write. It is simply a brief review of the document, given so the busy people who will read your document know at a glance how much to read and what actions will probably be needed.

Summary Help and Sample Summary

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Tip: An executive summary is different from an abstract. An abstract gives the reader overview and orientation, while an executive summary gives the reader more of a summary. Abstracts are more commonly written in academia, while executive summaries are used more for business purposes.

Step 2 Make sure it adheres to certain stylistic and structural guidelines.

  • Paragraphs should be short and concise.
  • Executive summaries should make sense even if you haven't read the original report.
  • Executive summaries should be written in language that is appropriate for the target audience.

Step 3 Define the problem.

  • Graphics. A well-placed graphic illustrating the precise nature of the client's problem could drive home the point of the summary. Stimulating the visual sense is often just as effective as their analytical sense.
  • Bullets. Long lists of information can be broken down into more digestible bullets.
  • Headings. Organize the themes of the summary, if necessary, by heading. This will help orient the reader as they dive into the summary. [6] X Research source

Step 6 Keep the writing fresh and jargon-free.

The Specifics

Step 1 Start with the original document.

  • Example: "Women World Wide is a not for profit organization that seeks to connect women all around the world with effective solutions to domestic violence, as well as offering a network of support for those suffering from domestic violence. While operating from its headquarters in Alberta, Canada, it has received referrals from women in 170 countries across the globe."

Step 3 Make the

  • Maybe you have Michael Jordan as a customer and he has endorsed your product on Twitter for free. Maybe you just signed a partnership agreement with Google. Maybe you were just awarded a patent, or maybe you just made your first big sale.

Tip: Sometimes just a simple quote or testimonial is enough. The key is to grab the attention of your audience, make the business appear as reputable as possible, and draw the reader in to the rest of the document.

Step 4 Define the big problem.

  • Example: "Los Angeles is crippled with traffic. Apart from the Metro DC area, Los Angeles has the worst traffic in the nation. It's not just annoying. The smog and pollution caused from gridlock is reducing worker productivity, increasing rates of asthma, and slowly creating a serious health problem. There are more cars in L.A. than there are people old enough to drive them."

Step 5 Deliver your unique solution.

  • Example: " Innotech has created a groundbreaking traffic control system that shaves minutes off of commute time by installing patented "smart grids" into stoplight lanes that read the amount of cars in any given lane and direct traffic accordingly. No longer will drivers of America have to stand at a red stoplight for minutes while the green light blinks for no cars in the other direction."

Step 6 Talk about market potential.

  • Example: "Intellilight has the added benefit of being able to detect when no one is home. When a light is left on in an empty room, it automatically shuts off and turns back on again when it detects motion in the room. This saves the customer money on their electrical bill and wastes less energy."

Step 8 Talk about your business model, if necessary.

  • If your plan is for a group of investors, don't spend too much time on this section because they know that you have no idea how much money you might make. Investors typically won't make a go/no-go decision based on your financial projections. They will essentially make their own financial projections.

Step 11 Ease in to your request.

  • Clarity. Are the words clear, the ideas clearer, and the summary devoid of jargon?
  • Errors. Grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors may abound. Having someone fact-check the figures and statistics might be a good ideal as well.
  • Forcefulness. Do the ideas translate into a stirring pitch? Where does the pitch fall flat, if at all?
  • Coherence. What parts don't fit together? What parts do?

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Executive summaries may vary with the length of the document, but they should always be relatively brief. Your aim is to pack as much information into a minimum to moderate amount of reading. If you do include details in your summary, place the most important points, such as your conclusions and recommendations, first. [14] X Research source Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • The busier the executive, the less he or she will probably read. Write accordingly. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Try the document templates available with most word processing software that can help you get started. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

how to write an executive summary for a law report

You Might Also Like

Write an Industry Analysis Report

  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑
  • ↑

About This Article

To write an executive summary, start by reading through the original document thoroughly. An executive summary is a discussion of a problem, so define the problem presented in the original document as simply and clearly as possible. The summary should then detail a solution that effectively tackles the problem. Use graphics, bullet points, and headings to break up the text so the summary is easier to skim through, and finish with a solid argument for why your company needs an investment or a loan to solve the central problem. To learn more about how to include business propositions and your market potential, continue reading the article! Did this summary help you? Yes No

  • Send fan mail to authors

Did this article help you?

Am I a Narcissist or an Empath Quiz

Featured Articles

How to Play Risk: Board Setup, Rules, Strategy, & More

Trending Articles

Make Yourself More Attractive

Watch Articles

Carve Turkey Breast

  • Terms of Use
  • Privacy Policy
  • Do Not Sell or Share My Info
  • Not Selling Info

Get all the best how-tos!

Sign up for wikiHow's weekly email newsletter

Learn more

How it works

Transform your enterprise with the scalable mindsets, skills, & behavior change that drive performance.

Explore how BetterUp connects to your core business systems.

Build leaders that accelerate team performance and engagement.

Unlock performance potential at scale with AI-powered curated growth journeys.

Build resilience, well-being and agility to drive performance across your entire enterprise.

Transform your business, starting with your sales leaders.

Unlock business impact from the top with executive coaching.

Foster a culture of inclusion and belonging.

Accelerate the performance and potential of your agencies and employees.

See how innovative organizations use BetterUp to build a thriving workforce.

Discover how BetterUp measurably impacts key business outcomes for organizations like yours.

A demo is the first step to transforming your business. Meet with us to develop a plan for attaining your goals.

Request a demo

  • For Individuals

Best practices, research, and tools to fuel individual and business growth.

View on-demand BetterUp events and learn about upcoming live discussions.

The latest insights and ideas for building a high-performing workplace.

  • BetterUp Briefing

The online magazine that helps you understand tomorrow's workforce trends, today.

Innovative research featured in peer-reviewed journals, press, and more.

Founded in 2022 to deepen the understanding of the intersection of well-being, purpose, and performance

We're on a mission to help everyone live with clarity, purpose, and passion.

Join us and create impactful change.

Read the buzz about BetterUp.

Meet the leadership that's passionate about empowering your workforce.

For Business

How to write an executive summary in 10 steps


Understand Yourself Better:

Big 5 Personality Test

Find my Coach

Whether presenting a business plan, sharing project updates with stakeholders, or submitting a project proposal, an executive summary helps you grab attention and convey key insights.

Think of it as a condensed version of a document, report, or proposal that highlights the most important information clearly and concisely. It's like a "cheat sheet" that gives you a snapshot of the main points without reading the entire thing.

Throughout the article, we'll explore some examples of executive summaries to give you a better understanding of how they can be applied. Plus, we'll provide you with ready-to-use templates and best practices for writing compelling executive summaries.

See how BetterUp Works - Watch Demo

What is an executive summary?

An executive summary is a concise overview of a longer document or report. It is typically written for busy executives or decision-makers who may not have the time to read the entire document but still need to grasp its key points and recommendations. 

An effective executive summary should capture the essence of the document, highlighting the most important information in a brief and easily understandable way. It should provide a snapshot of the document's purpose, methodology, major findings, and key recommendations. The summary should be written in a way that allows the reader to quickly grasp the main ideas and make informed decisions based on the information presented.

Why do you need to write one?

For a business owner , an executive summary is one of the most important documents you will have. Like a business plan , they help you lay out the potential value of your business and your potential for success. 

Unlike a business proposal, however, an executive summary is designed to be read in a brief amount of time. That makes them ideal for a variety of uses, like project proposals and research summaries. Sending your strategic plan to a prospective investor or stakeholder likely won’t get you far. But a brief report that clearly states your key findings and what’s in it for them might help you — and your proposal — stand out. It isn't all the details. It's what gets you the meeting to share more.

An executive summary is also a business document that can travel without you. It may be presented to other leaders and potential investors. If it’s written well, it will take on a life of its own. You may find that you get support and resources from places you never imagined.

What should be included in an executive summary?

Your executive summary should include brief descriptions of who your product, service, or proposal is for and your competitive advantage. Be sure to introduce your report concisely yet clearly . Note the most important points and its overall purpose––what do you hope to achieve with this report? 

Also, include any necessary background information and statistics about the industry, high-level information about your business model, necessary financial information, or other insights you discuss in the report. Depending on your proposal, you may want to consider summarizing a market analysis of your target market.

Typically, an executive summary follows a structured format, including sections such as:

  • Introduction: Provides a brief background and context for the document.
  • Objective or purpose: Clearly states the goal of the document and what it aims to achieve.
  • Methodology: Briefly describes the approach, data sources, and methods used to conduct the research or analysis.
  • Findings: Summarizes the main findings, conclusions, or results derived from the document.
  • Recommendations: Outlines the key recommendations or proposed actions based on the findings.
  • Conclusion: Provides a concise wrap-up of the main points and emphasizes the significance of the document.


How do you write an executive summary?

When tackling an executive summary, it's all about following a structured approach to ensure you effectively communicate those crucial points, findings, and recommendations. Let’s walk through some steps and best practices to make it a breeze:

Step 1: Get to know the document

Take the time to dive into the full document or report that your executive summary will be based on. Read it thoroughly and identify the main objectives, key findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

Step 2: Know your audience

Think about who you're writing the executive summary for. Consider their knowledge level, interests, and priorities. This helps you tailor the summary to their needs and make it relevant and impactful.

Step 3: Outline the structure

Create an outline for your executive summary with sections like introduction, objective, methodology, findings, recommendations, and conclusion. This way, you'll have a logical flow that's easy to follow.

Step 4: Start strong

Kick off your executive summary with a captivating opening statement. Make it concise, engaging, and impactful to hook the reader and make them want to keep reading.

Step 5: Summarize objectives and methodology

Give a brief overview of the document's objectives and the methodology used to achieve them. This sets the context and helps the reader understand the approach taken.

Step 6: Highlight key findings

Summarize the main findings, conclusions, or results. Focus on the juiciest and most relevant points that support the document's purpose. Keep it clear and concise to get the message across effectively.

Step 7: Present key recommendations

Outline the important recommendations or proposed actions based on the findings. Clearly state what needs to be done, why it matters, and how it aligns with the document's objectives. Make those recommendations actionable and realistic.

Step 8: Keep it snappy

Remember, an executive summary should be short and sweet. Skip unnecessary details, jargon, or technical language . Use straightforward language that hits the mark.

Step 9: Review and polish

Once you've written the executive summary, give it a careful review for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Make sure it captures the essence of the full document and represents its content faithfully. Take the extra step to edit out any fluff or repetition.

Step 10: Dress to impress

Consider formatting and presentation. Use headings, bullet points, and formatting styles to make it visually appealing and easy to skim. If it makes sense, include some graphs, charts, or visuals to highlight key points.

Tips for writing an effective executive summary

  • Adapt your language and tone to suit your audience.
  • Keep things concise and crystal clear—say no to jargon.
  • Focus on the most important info that packs a punch.
  • Give enough context without overwhelming your reader.
  • Use strong and persuasive language to make your recommendations shine.
  • Make sure your executive summary makes sense even if the full document isn't read.
  • Proofread like a pro to catch any pesky grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors.

Executive summary template for business plans

Here's a general template for creating an executive summary specifically for business plans:

[Your Company Name]

[Business Plan Title]

Business overview

Provide a brief introduction to your company, including its name, location, industry, and mission statement . Describe your unique value proposition and what sets your business apart from competitors.

Market analysis

Summarize the key findings of your market research. Provide an overview of the target market, its size, growth potential, and relevant trends. Highlight your understanding of customer needs, preferences, and behaviors.

Product or service offering

Outline your core products or services, including their key features and benefits. Emphasize how your offerings address customer pain points and provide value. Highlight any unique selling points or competitive advantages.

Business model

Explain your business model and revenue generation strategy. Describe how you will generate revenue, the pricing structure, and any distribution channels or partnerships that contribute to your business's success.

Marketing and sales strategy

Summarize your marketing and sales approach. Highlight the key tactics and channels you will use to reach and attract customers. Discuss your promotional strategies, pricing strategies, and customer acquisition plans.

Management team

Introduce the key members of your management team and their relevant experience. Highlight their expertise and how it positions the team to execute the business plan successfully. Include any notable advisors or board members.

Financial projections

Summarize your financial projections, including revenue forecasts, expected expenses, and projected profitability. Highlight any key financial metrics or milestones. Briefly mention your funding needs, if applicable.

Funding requirements

If seeking funding, outline your funding requirements, including the amount needed, its purpose, and the potential sources of funding you are considering. Summarize the expected return on investment for potential investors.

Reiterate the vision and potential of your business. Summarize the key points of your business plan, emphasizing its viability, market potential, and the expertise of your team. Convey confidence in the success of your venture.

Note: Keep the executive summary concise and focused, typically within one to two pages. Use clear and compelling language, emphasizing the unique aspects of your business. Tailor the template to suit your specific business plan, adjusting sections and details accordingly.

Remember, the executive summary serves as an introduction to your business plan and should pique the reader's interest, conveying the value and potential of your business in a concise and persuasive manner.

Executive summary examples

Every executive summary will be unique to the organization's goals, vision, and brand identity. We put together two general examples of executive summaries to spark your creativity and offer some inspiration. 

These are not intended to be used as-is but more to offer ideas for how you may want to put your own executive summary together. Be sure to personalize your own summary with specific statistics and relevant data points to make the most impact.

Example 1: executive summary for a communications business plan


We're thrilled to present our innovative [insert product] that aims to revolutionize the way people connect and engage. Our vision is to empower individuals and businesses with seamless communication solutions that break barriers and foster meaningful connections.

Market opportunity:

The communications industry is evolving rapidly, and we've identified a significant opportunity in the market. With the proliferation of remote work, the need for reliable and efficient communication tools has skyrocketed. Our extensive market research indicates a demand for solutions that prioritize user experience, security, and flexibility.

Product offering:

At [Company Name], we've developed a suite of cutting-edge communication tools designed to meet the diverse needs of our customers. Our flagship product is a unified communication platform that integrates voice, video, messaging, and collaboration features into a seamless user experience. We also offer customizable solutions for businesses of all sizes, catering to their unique communication requirements.

Unique value proposition:

What sets us apart from the competition? Our user-centric approach and commitment to innovation. We prioritize user experience by creating intuitive interfaces and seamless interactions. Our solutions are scalable, adaptable, and designed to keep up with evolving technological trends. By combining ease of use with advanced features, we deliver unparalleled value to our customers.

Target market:

Our primary focus is on small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that require efficient and cost-effective communication tools. We also cater to individuals, remote teams, and larger enterprises seeking reliable and secure communication solutions. Our target market encompasses industries such as technology, finance, healthcare, and professional services.

Business model:

To generate revenue, we employ a subscription-based business model. Customers can choose from different plans tailored to their specific needs, paying a monthly or annual fee. We also offer additional services such as customization, integration, and customer support, creating additional revenue streams and fostering long-term customer relationships.

Marketing and sales strategy:

Our marketing strategy centers around building brand awareness through targeted digital campaigns, content marketing, and strategic partnerships. We'll leverage social media, industry influencers, and online communities to reach our target audience. Additionally, our sales team will engage in proactive outreach, nurturing leads and providing personalized consultations to convert prospects into loyal customers.

Team and expertise:

Our team is composed of experienced professionals with a deep understanding of the communications industry. Led by our visionary founder and supported by a skilled and diverse team, we have the expertise to drive innovation, develop robust products, and deliver exceptional customer service. We're passionate about our mission and dedicated to making a lasting impact in the market.

Financial projections:

Based on extensive market research and financial analysis, we anticipate strong growth and profitability. Our financial projections indicate steady revenue streams, with increasing customer adoption and market share. We're committed to managing costs effectively, optimizing our resources, and continuously reinvesting in research and development.

Funding requirements:

To fuel our ambitious growth plans and accelerate product development, we're seeking [funding amount] in funding. These funds will be allocated towards expanding our team, scaling our infrastructure, marketing efforts, and ongoing product innovation. We believe this investment will position us for success and solidify our market presence.


In summary, [Company Name] is poised to disrupt the communications industry with our innovative solutions and customer-centric approach. We're ready to make a positive impact by empowering individuals and businesses to communicate effectively and effortlessly. Join us on this exciting journey as we redefine the future of communication. Together, we'll shape a connected world like never before.

Example 2: executive summary for a project proposal

[Project Name]

[Project Proposal Date]

Hello! We're thrilled to present our project proposal for [Project Name]. This executive summary will provide you with a high-level overview of the project, its objectives, and the value it brings.

Project overview:

Our project aims to [describe the project's purpose and scope]. It's a response to [identify the problem or opportunity] and has the potential to bring significant benefits to [stakeholders or target audience]. Through meticulous planning and execution, we're confident in our ability to achieve the desired outcomes.


The primary goal of our project is to [state the overarching objective]. In addition, we have specific objectives such as [list specific objectives]. By accomplishing these goals, we'll create a positive impact and drive meaningful change.

Our proposed approach for this project is based on a thorough analysis of the situation and best practices. We'll adopt a structured methodology that includes [describe the key project phases or activities]. This approach ensures efficient utilization of resources and maximizes project outcomes.

The benefits of this project are truly exciting. Through its implementation, we anticipate [describe the anticipated benefits or outcomes]. These benefits include [list specific benefits], which will have a lasting and positive effect on [stakeholders or target audience].

Implementation timeline:

We've devised a comprehensive timeline to guide the project from initiation to completion. The project is divided into distinct phases, with well-defined milestones and deliverables. Our timeline ensures that tasks are executed in a timely manner, allowing us to stay on track and deliver results.

Resource requirements:

To successfully execute this project, we've identified the key resources needed. This includes [list the resources required, such as human resources, technology, equipment, and funding]. We're confident in our ability to secure the necessary resources and allocate them effectively to ensure project success.

A project of this nature requires a well-planned budget. Based on our analysis, we've estimated the required funding to be [state the budget amount]. This budget encompasses all project-related costs and aligns with the anticipated benefits and outcomes.

Our project proposal is an exciting opportunity to address [the problem or opportunity] and create tangible value for [stakeholders or target audience]. With a clear vision, defined objectives, and a robust implementation plan, we're ready to embark on this journey. Join us as we bring this project to life and make a lasting impact. 


Is an executive summary the same as a project plan?

While both are important components of project management and documentation , they serve different purposes and contain distinct information.

An executive summary, as discussed earlier, is a concise overview of a longer document or report. It provides a snapshot of the key points, findings, and recommendations. It focuses on high-level information and aims to provide an overview of the document's purpose, methodology, findings, and recommendations.

On the other hand, a project plan is a detailed document that outlines the specific activities, tasks, timelines, resources, and milestones associated with a project. It serves as a roadmap for project execution, providing a comprehensive understanding of how the project will be carried out.

A project plan typically includes objectives, scope, deliverables, schedule, budget, resource allocation, risk management, and communication strategies. It is intended for project team members, stakeholders, and those directly involved in the execution.

In summary, an executive summary offers a condensed overview of a document's key points, while a project plan provides a comprehensive and detailed roadmap for executing a project.

Executive summaries vs. abstracts

An executive summary is not the same as an abstract. Executive summaries focus on the main points of a proposal. They highlight when and why a reader should invest in the company or project.

An abstract, on the other hand, concentrates on what the business does and its marketing plan. It typically doesn’t include detailed information about finances.

While it is usually compelling, it’s less of an elevator pitch and more of a summary. The goal of an abstract is to inform, not to persuade. On the other hand, the goal of an executive summary is to give readers who are pressed for time just enough information that they’ll want to look further into your proposition.

When do you use an executive summary?

An executive summary is used in various situations where there is a need to present a condensed overview of a longer document or report. Here are some common instances when an executive summary is used:

  • Business proposals: When submitting a business proposal to potential investors, partners, or stakeholders, an executive summary is often included. It provides a concise overview of the proposal, highlighting the key aspects such as the business idea, market analysis, competitive advantage, financial projections, and recommended actions.
  • Reports and research studies: Lengthy reports or research studies often include an executive summary at the beginning. This allows decision-makers, executives, or other stakeholders to quickly understand the purpose, methodology, findings, and recommendations of the report without going through the entire document.
  • Project updates: During the course of a project, project managers may prepare executive summaries to provide updates to stakeholders or higher-level management. These summaries give a brief overview of the project's progress, achievements, challenges, and upcoming milestones.
  • Strategic plans: When developing strategic plans for an organization, an executive summary is often included to provide an overview of the plan's goals, objectives, strategies, and key initiatives. It allows executives and stakeholders to grasp the essence of the strategic plan and its implications without reading the entire document.
  • Funding requests: When seeking funding for a project or venture, an executive summary is commonly used as part of the funding proposal. It provides a succinct summary of the project, highlighting its significance, potential impact, financial requirements, and expected outcomes.

In general, an executive summary is used whenever there is a need to communicate the main points, findings, and recommendations of a document concisely and efficiently to individuals who may not have the time or inclination to read the entire content. It serves as a valuable tool for understanding and facilitates quick decision-making.

5 ways project managers can use executive summaries

Project managers can use executive summaries in various ways to effectively communicate project updates, status reports, or proposals to stakeholders and higher-level management. Here are some ways project managers can use executive summaries:

  • Project status updates: Project managers can provide regular executive summaries to stakeholders and management to communicate the current status of the project. The summary should include key achievements, milestones reached, challenges encountered, and any adjustments to the project plan. It allows stakeholders to quickly grasp the project's progress and make informed decisions or provide guidance as needed.
  • Project proposals: When pitching a project idea or seeking approval for a new project, project managers can prepare an executive summary to present the essential aspects of the project. The summary should outline the project's objectives, scope, anticipated benefits, resource requirements, estimated timeline, and potential risks. It helps decision-makers understand the project's value and make an informed choice about its initiation.
  • Project closure reports: At the end of a project, project managers can prepare an executive summary as part of the project closure report. The summary should highlight the project's overall success, key deliverables achieved, lessons learned, and recommendations for future projects. It provides a concise overview of the project's outcomes and acts as a valuable reference for future initiatives.
  • Steering committee meetings: When project managers present updates or seek guidance from a steering committee or governance board, an executive summary can be an effective tool. The summary should cover the important aspects of the project, such as progress, issues, risks, and upcoming milestones. It ensures that decision-makers are well-informed about the project's status and can provide relevant guidance or support.
  • Change requests: When submitting a change request for a project, project managers can include an executive summary to summarize the proposed change, its impact on the project, potential risks, and benefits. It helps stakeholders and decision-makers quickly assess the change request and make informed decisions about its implementation.

Using executive summaries, project managers can efficiently communicate project-related information to stakeholders, executives, and decision-makers. The summaries provide a concise overview of the project's status, proposals, or closure reports, allowing stakeholders to quickly understand the key points and take appropriate action.

When should you not use an executive summary?

While executive summaries are widely used in many situations, there are some cases where they may not be necessary or suitable. Here are a few scenarios where an executive summary may not be appropriate, along with alternative approaches:

  • Highly technical documents: If the document contains highly technical or specialized information that requires a detailed understanding, an executive summary alone may not be sufficient. In such cases, it is better to provide the complete document and supplement it with explanatory materials, presentations , or meetings where experts can explain and discuss the technical details.
  • Personal or creative writing: Executive summaries are typically used for informational or analytical documents. If the content is more personal in nature, such as a memoir, novel, or creative piece, an executive summary may not be relevant. Instead, focus on providing an engaging introduction or book blurb that entices readers and conveys the essence of the work.
  • Short documents: If the document itself is already concise and can be easily read in its entirety, an executive summary may be redundant. In these cases, it is more effective to present the complete document without an additional summary.
  • Interactive presentations: In situations where you can present information interactively, such as in meetings, workshops, or conferences, it may be more effective to engage the audience directly rather than relying solely on an executive summary. Use visual aids, demonstrations, discussions, and Q&A sessions to convey the necessary information and capture the audience's attention.

Final thoughts on writing a compelling executive summary

An executive summary isn’t the kitchen sink — it’s the bells and whistles. Geared toward busy decision-makers, these one-pagers communicate your case for action and proposed solutions. When it’s written well, your audience will walk away with an understanding of what needs to be done, why it needs to happen, and why they should help it move forward. 

But writing it well doesn’t just mean spell-checking. It means tailoring your communication to an influential, yet busy and distracted audience. To be effective, you’ll need to write your proposal with empathy and an understanding of what matters to them .

See how BetterUp works - Watch Demo

Allaya Cooks-Campbell

BetterUp Associate Learning Experience Designer

How to write a LinkedIn summary that impresses recruiters

Executive development is personalized to leaders everywhere, 12 resume objective examples and tips for writing one, how stanford executive education embraces vulnerability as a form of resilience, executive presence: what is it, why you need it and how to get it, bold conversations to drive bold actions: laura fuentes, evp and chro at hilton, 5 reasons hr leaders benefit from the betterup + workday partnership, unlock your potential and level up your career with executive coaching, how to write a letter of recommendation (with examples), similar articles, what is the open-door policy workplace and does it still work, continuous improvement process: a 6 steps guide to implementing pdca, what’s a project scope, and how do you write one, how the minto pyramid principle can enhance your communication skills, cv versus resume demystify the differences once and for all, writing an elevator pitch about yourself: a how-to plus tips, 10 organizational skills that will put you a step ahead, how to write a memo: 8 steps with examples, stay connected with betterup, get our newsletter, event invites, plus product insights and research..

3100 E 5th Street, Suite 350 Austin, TX 78702

  • Platform Overview
  • Integrations
  • BetterUp Lead
  • BetterUp Manage™
  • BetterUp Care™
  • Sales Performance
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Case Studies
  • Why BetterUp?
  • News and Press
  • Leadership Team
  • Become a BetterUp Coach
  • BetterUp Labs
  • Center for Purpose & Performance
  • Leadership Training
  • Business Coaching
  • Contact Support
  • Contact Sales
  • Privacy Policy
  • Acceptable Use Policy
  • Trust & Security
  • Cookie Preferences
  • Link to facebook
  • Link to linkedin
  • Link to twitter
  • Link to youtube
  • Writing Tips

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

3-minute read

  • 19th November 2023

An executive summary is the part of a business plan that gives an outline of the main plan. So to write an executive summary, we first need to read the business plan carefully and understand its key points. These key points are what we will condense to form the executive summary. It’s important to ensure that the executive summary can stand alone because plenty of users will read only that and not the main business plan. We could say that the business plan is the original TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)!

But first, let’s take a quick look at what goes into a business plan so we can focus on the sections we need for our executive summary.

What Is a Business Plan?

A business plan is a document that sets out a business’s strategy and the means of achieving it. The business plan usually contains the following sections:

How to Write an Executive Summary

The executive summary covers the same headings as the main business plan but not in so much detail. This is where our editing skills come to the fore!

The following six steps explain how to approach writing the executive summary.

Consider the Audience

Who will be using the summary? The business plan might be issued only to a very specific group of people, in which case, their needs are paramount and specialized. If the business plan is going out on wider release, we need to think about what a general reader will want to know.

Check That It Makes Sense on Its Own

Make sure the summary can be read as a stand-alone document for users who won’t read the whole plan.

Use Formatting Effectively

Make good use of formatting, headings, numbering, and bullets to increase clarity and readability.

Keep It Brief

One page (or around ten percent of the total word count for a large document) is great.

Avoid Jargon

Try to avoid jargon and use straightforward language. Readers of the executive summary might not have business backgrounds (for instance, if they are friend and family investors in a small start-up business).

Find this useful?

Subscribe to our newsletter and get writing tips from our editors straight to your inbox.

Proofread the Executive Summary

The executive summary will very likely be the first – and perhaps the only – part of the business plan some people will read, and it must be error-free to make a professional impression.

●  Consider the audience .

●  Ensure that the executive summary can stand alone.

●  Use formatting tools to good advantage.

●  Keep it brief.

●  Keep it simple.

●  Proofread it.

If you’d like an expert to proofread your business plan – or any of your writing – get in touch!

Share this article:

Post A New Comment

Get help from a language expert. Try our proofreading services for free.

How to start a business plan.

The trick to starting any piece of writing is to just jump in and starting...

Scientific Notation: Definition and Examples

In the world of science, numbers reign supreme. Metrics, data, and statistics are used to...

What Is a Monograph?

A monograph is a comprehensive piece of writing that provides an intensive in-depth analysis of...

Book Proofreading Services: How to Ensure Your Self-Published Book Is Error-Free

Self-publishing is becoming increasingly popular with authors, but that also means that there’s increasing competition....

An Introduction to Interrogative Pronouns – With Examples

Pronouns are versatile words that help simplify language. To avoid repetition, we use them instead...

Why Every Blogger Should Use Proofreading Services

If you write and publish your own blog, then you know that accuracy and presentation...

Logo Harvard University

Make sure your writing is the best it can be with our expert English proofreading and editing.

  • Select location
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

2024 Energy Transition Outlook Survey Report


Jeffrey Whittle Profile Image

Jeffrey S. Whittle

Richard Cockburn

Richard Cockburn

Vicki Redman

Vicki Redman

Lisa Rushton

Lisa Rushton

Towner Chris-Web.jpg

Chris Towner

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Belton T. Zeigler

Scot Anderson Headshot

Scot Anderson

Simon Hughes

Simon Hughes

Briggs Sebastian-2-Web.jpg

Sebastian Briggs

Click here to view this report as a PDF.

Click here to view the press release . 

Table of Contents

Executive summary, key takeaways.

  • Cost and Economic Impact are Key Obstacles on the Road to Energy Transition
  • Infrastructure and Grid Modernization Pose Significant Challenges
  • Energy Transition Outcomes Hinge on Government Support
  • Most Attractive Growth and Investment Opportunities: Biofuels and biomass (waste-to-energy), efficiency, carbon capture, energy storage and EVs
  • Politics: The Key Obstacle to Net Zero Goals

Looking Forward

Methodology, energy and natural resources sector, energy sector leadership.

Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD)’s 2024 Energy Transition Outlook Survey Report points to a new phase in the multi-generational journey to Net Zero. While 56% of our respondents are deepening their focus on their transition strategy, the energy sector executives, investors, and legal counsel we surveyed also demonstrate an increasing awareness of cost and economic impact. The results suggest a growing understanding of the scale of existing grid modernization, as well as the new infrastructure required to support renewable resource generation. Meanwhile, the critical role of government support has risen to new prominence. 

In recent years, energy majors have outlined strategic plans to diversify their businesses to include decarbonization technologies and renewable resources. Now we are seeing some of these companies moderate their previous net zero commitments. This is not true for all; in March, TotalEnergies reaffirmed a commitment to its transformation strategy. But a month earlier, BP walked back its previous commitment to a 35% to 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 to a 20% to 30% cut. Shell announced job cuts in its Low Carbon Solutions business to “strengthen its delivery on our core low-carbon business areas such as transport and industry,” and CEO Wael Sawan recently stated that the company is “trying to provide energy security [which is] critical today and continues to be very much foundational on oil and gas production.” ExxonMobil said in May that Net Zero by 2050 is highly unlikely. More recently, Saudi Aramco’s CEO suggested that more investment in oil and gas is required just to meet the demand scenario outlined in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Net Zero by 2050 roadmap .  

After a period of high commodity prices, oil and gas companies have considerable balance sheets, and are now choosing to reinvest in their core assets. On October 23, Chevron announced its intention to purchase Hess, a large upstream company with oil and gas assets in Guyana, the U.S. and in Asia Pacific. Earlier that month, ExxonMobil agreed to acquire Pioneer Natural Resources on the heels of its July deal to buy Denbury. More deals are expected. 

“This consolidation may, in part, be an indication that we are moving into a phase of the transition in which energy security is more of a priority. There seems to be a growing sentiment that fossil fuels will be a part of our energy mix for some time,” says Jeff Whittle , Head of WBD’s Global Energy and Natural Resources practice.

“This consolidation may, in part, be an indication that we are moving into a phase of the transition in which energy security is more of a priority."

Still, the need to tackle global emissions in line with the Paris Agreement targets remains. The participation of oil majors in the upcoming United Nations COP28 climate summit—though criticized by many—brings pragmatism to the global energy transformation. The fossil fuel industry can still be part of the solution.

Companies operating in the renewable energy space remain committed to Net Zero. Setbacks and challenges are expected, given the volatility of the industry and the complexity and enormity of the energy transition. But it is concerning that major renewable technologies are failing to clear cost hurdles in both the U.S. and Europe—due in part to escalating capital costs and inflation at levels not seen in decades.   Wind and solar energy deployment risks reaching a bottleneck due to grid interconnectivity issues . Permitting is a challenge across the board. Multiyear delays are hampering the delivery of key grid equipment such as transformers. Meanwhile, in the face of insufficient supply and public opposition to mining practices, there is a rush to meet future demand for metals such as copper, nickel, and lithium, as well as for the rare earths required for electric vehicles (EVs) and offshore wind turbines. 

Our research shows that industry leaders are maintaining or increasing their commitment to energy transition strategies. But this commitment is accompanied by a sobering understanding of economic realities and growing concerns about global conflict. Recent events in Israel and Gaza, and the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia further emphasize geopolitical instability. The need to ensure energy security is real, and global consumption is increasing. Based on a range of estimates of population growth and living standards, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts an increase in primary energy demand of between 16% to 57% by 2050. 

Our third annual survey results indicate that despite economic, political, and regulatory challenges, energy industry executives and investors continue to pursue more sustainable power sources while facing persistent hurdles tied to cost, grid and infrastructure issues. This report summarizes the key themes and challenges that were top of mind for our respondents. The scope of our questions extends beyond the topics covered herein. It should be emphasized that respondents showed significant optimism regarding the potential for low or no carbon resources and enabling technologies including hydrogen, carbon capture, biofuels, utility-scale storage, and EVs; we will be publishing additional content related to these technologies. Considerable innovation and investment will continue, and over time disruptive solutions will come to the fore. While the pathway to achieving net zero ambitions is currently challenged, commitment to a lower emissions future remains. 

"The imperative of energy security and the striking growth in energy consumption highlight the pressing need to accelerate renewable energy developments,” says Richard Cockburn , Head of WBD's U.K. Energy and Natural Resources Group. “This will require streamlining approvals processes, addressing infrastructure bottlenecks and ensuring clear and stable regulatory regimes. Given the increased concern across all energy segments about the rising costs to reach Net Zero, every effort much be made to help industry control these costs.”

"The imperative of energy security and the striking growth in energy consumption highlight the pressing need to accelerate renewable energy developments.”

About the Survey

WBD’s 2024 Energy Transition Outlook Survey Report expands the scope of our previous research to encompass perspectives from key regions around the world. Respondents included companies and investors with interests in renewable energy (76%), oil and gas (64%), utilities (39%), mining (33%), EVs (30%) and nuclear (18%). Participants were located in North America (23%), the U.K. and Europe (37%), Asia Pacific (11%), the Middle East (6%), and Latin America (22%). The survey incorporates 456 responses from CEOs, chief financial officers, chief operating officers, legal counsel, and business, operations, and project managers. More than a quarter (27%) of our responses came from investors. Data was analyzed in the aggregate on a regional basis. This survey was conducted between August 22 and September 28, 2023.

“It is interesting to note that the companies spending less time focusing on energy transition strategies are coal, natural gas, and oil,” says Scot Anderson , Co-Head of WBD’s Metals & Mining Practice. “As noted above, some of those companies are reevaluating their net zero commitments. But even coal companies, which show the greatest percentage of respondents with less focus on energy transition, still show over half the respondents with the same or greater focus on the transition.” 

“It is interesting to note that the companies spending less time focusing on energy transition strategies are coal, natural gas, and oil. But even coal companies, which show the greatest percentage of respondents with less focus on energy transition, still show over half the respondents with the same or greater focus on the transition.”

  • Cost and economic impact are key obstacles on the road to energy transition  
  • Infrastructure and grid modernization pose significant challenges  
  • Forward movement requires favorable regulatory and legislative policy and ongoing government support   
  • Biofuels and biomass (waste-to-energy), efficiency improvements, carbon capture, energy storage, and EVs are among the most appealing growth and investment opportunities overall  
  • Politics is viewed as the key obstacle to net zero goals the world over

1. Cost and Economic Impact are Key Obstacles on the Road to Energy Transition

Even as government subsidies stoke interest in clean energy and advances in technology expand resource options, the path away from fossil-fuel dependence faces challenges. Economic conditions are increasing the cost of clean energy investments as equipment prices rise, and evolving technologies place new demands on existing infrastructure. 

Fifty-six percent of respondents said cost and economic impact was a leading challenge impacting energy transition, with 47% expressing concern about inadequate tax and incentive support. Cost concerns were slightly more pronounced in the developing economies of Latin America, selected by 60% of respondents, compared to 57% in North America who cited those challenges. Given the need to provide basic services in a cost-effective manner, it can be more difficult for developing economies to replace existing infrastructure with new systems that require substantial investment.

Money is no longer cheap, and that was clearly a top concern for our survey respondents. Central banks have raised rates significantly over the last two years and may well have to keep rates higher for longer . Policymakers have increased rates by 4% on average in developed countries since 2021 and 6.5% on average in developing economies, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Return on investment is now more difficult to achieve than at any time over the last 10 years.

High costs also could slow digitalization, hailed as a key approach to improving grid reliability and driving efficiencies while lowering emissions. Forty-three percent of respondents cited capital and operating expense as a hurdle to digital transformation, with the same percentage of utilities operators saying capital investment is the greatest challenge to meeting demand. More than half (53%) of those involved in offshore wind see capital and operating expense as the greatest challenge facing commercialization of wind resources.

We are seeing evidence of this in real time. In September, Mads Nipper, CEO of the world’s leading offshore wind developer Ørsted, said that interest rates increasing from 0% to 4% was having a “very dramatic impact on renewables because the fuel of the renewable industry is capital.” We see the same sentiment among respondents involved in or considering hydrogen, who flagged low-cost renewable energy (56%) and low-cost financing (42%) as the top obstacles to deploying utility-scale green hydrogen projects. 

“Higher interest rates make it more costly to borrow money and in turn can significantly increase project costs, raising the associated levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)—or the average of what it will cost to produce electricity in today’s terms incorporating everything from construction to fuel to financing fees,” says Lisa Rushton , Co-Head of WBD-US Energy and Natural Resources practice. “A 5% rise in interest rates would increase the LCOE from a natural gas plant only marginally, while it could increase the cost of electricity from wind and solar by a third, according to a 2020 IEA analysis . For capital-intensive renewable projects, rising interest rates are hugely expensive and may stymie development.”

"Higher interest rates make it more costly to borrow money and in turn can significantly increase project costs, raising the associated levelized cost of electricity (LCOE)—or the average of what it will cost to produce electricity in today’s terms incorporating everything from construction to fuel to financing fees."

While overall global inflation is expected to decline this year , it is a lagging economic indicator and 40% of respondents expect that inflation and economic shocks will have a “high impact” on the adoption of green technologies. Materials costs and supply-demand imbalances are top of mind. Forty-two percent cited the rising cost of raw materials as a “high impact” factor in the adoption of green technologies. Such materials, including critical minerals, are essential to produce numerous renewable or renewable-enabling technologies, but supply falls short of anticipated demand, according to a recent IEA report. While cited by a lower number of respondents, concerns about workforce skill and availability (30%), and trade restrictions on green technology components (28%) speak to similar supply-demand imbalances.

Cost is also a barrier for those who have not yet transitioned to renewables. Among that small group (just 7% of our total respondent group, or 30 respondents in total), one-third said the capital expense of doing so was prohibitive, a condition that is unlikely to improve in the near term, the IMF forecasts of declining inflation and growth next year notwithstanding.

EVs have captured the public’s imagination—and a significant share of its income—as symbols of the energy transition. While we did not include consumer data in this survey, industry executives and investors perceive the high initial cost of EVs as the greatest challenge to widespread adoption. This is true in every region. However, initial vehicle investment is certainly not the sole cost-related hurdle to wider EV adoption. Material public and private investment is required to establish adequate infrastructure and grid stability. 

2. Infrastructure and Grid Modernization Pose Significant Challenges

In October, the IEA issued a report that said the world needs to add or replace 49.7 million miles of transmission lines by 2040 to meet climate goals and achieve energy security. According to the report, electricity will need to grow “20% faster in the next decade than it did in the previous one” to achieve national climate goals. Multiple factors will drive growth in the coming years, including a rising need for cooling energy , widespread deployment of heat pumps, and electrification of transportation and vehicles. 

Infrastructure needs and grid flexibility requirements rank among the top challenges impacting energy transition, according to 54% and 52% of respondents, respectively. More than half (51%) cited the need for utility-scale storage required to leverage intermittent resources—suggesting that storage is a limiting factor—while 41% selected transmission/distribution system upgrades. 

“The realization is spreading across the industry that creating a clean energy system requires more than deploying solar, wind and storage assets at scale,” says Belton Zeigler , Co-Head of WBD’s Regulated Utilities team. “Creating a clean energy system requires modernizing and expanding the transmission grid so that it can serve customers efficiently and reliably as electrification proceeds and increasing levels of renewable resources are added to the system.”

“The realization is spreading across the industry that creating a clean energy system requires more than deploying solar, wind and storage assets at scale. Creating a clean energy system requires modernizing and expanding the transmission grid so that it can serve customers efficiently and reliably as electrification proceeds and increasing levels of renewable resources are added to the system.”

Amplifying the points mentioned above, respondents said key concerns in grid modernization include interconnection challenges; mitigation of grid instability resulting from renewable energy integration; and aging infrastructure, among other factors. The improvements could remedy a host of energy transition obstacles identified by respondents. Grid issues are also a top concern cited by executives who are not yet participating in energy transition.

Examined regionally, the results are more revealing. More than half of respondents in North America (53%) and Europe (51%) cited weather resilience as a key requirement for aging electric grids, reflecting the extreme weather conditions both geographies have experienced in the past few years. The top concern in North America and in Asia Pacific was the need to accurately monitor and protect grid conditions. In 2021 a winter storm stressed the Texas power grid, causing massive power outages. This incident—coupled with recent wildfires that some attribute to grid failures in California and Hawaii—likely underpins that sentiment. A recent report by Zero Carbon Analytics  suggests that wind and solar generated power will double in Latin America by 2027. In light of this, it makes sense that in that region, grid modernization was seen as most important for imbalances and power flow issues associated with the use of renewables.

“Whilst technologies such as onshore wind and ground mounted solar remain an attractive proposition, limited near term grid connection capacity is becoming an acute issue for new projects,” says Simon Hughes , a U.K. partner whose practice is focused on infrastructure development work. “That constraint is pushing some developers to consider reconfiguring or co-locating different technologies such as solar and battery energy storage.”

“Whilst technologies such as onshore wind and ground mounted solar remain an attractive proposition, limited near term grid connection capacity is becoming an acute issue for new projects.”

3. Energy Transition Outcomes Hinge on Government Support

Successful infrastructure projects depend on government support. The Panama Canal; the U.S. interstate highway system; China’s Three Gorges Dam; and the Channel Tunnel between the U.K. and France all benefited from considerable public sector funding and legislative initiatives. However, the multi-generational challenge of the energy transition dwarfs all of these when it comes to scale, impact and need. We have seen considerable public sector support in the U.S., but much more is required—both there and globally—in terms of capital mobilization, legislation, and regulation.

We asked respondents to select all areas in which legislation, regulation or incentives could be most effective in accelerating the energy transition. Forty percent of respondents chose funding of grid upgrades and efficiency improvements, 33% chose policies to incentivize energy storage, and 32% said such government support would be most effective in energy efficiency measures.

From a regulatory perspective, respondents suggested that the government should be proactive in the establishment of national (37%) and global (35%) carbon credit market schemes. (Note that national data requires further inquiry as our data was analyzed on a regional and not a national basis.) National carbon markets were of particular interest in Asia Pacific (60%) and the Middle East (57%). Beyond that, there was little regional consensus. European/U.K. respondents ranked funding of grid upgrades and efficiency improvements (53%) as the top area in which policy might be most effective, as did those in North America (41%). Latin America participants chose wind and solar construction (51%). 

When it comes to achieving future net zero goals, more than one-third of respondents said insufficient government support (e.g., tax credits and grants) was one of their top three challenges. Regionally, this sentiment appears more acute in Latin America, where 46% chose the same response.

“The main threat to net zero goals highlighted here is insufficient government support. In the U.K., we have supported multiple projects requiring innovative funding solutions including a successful planning application for the tallest wind turbine in the U.K.,” said Vicki Redman , a U.K. partner and member of the firm’s Global Board whose practice focuses on infrastructure planning. “The company did not have access to central government funding for locally owned wind power generation but was able to meet its funding requirements. This was an impressive example of navigating the multiple barriers to government support that exist in the U.K.”

“The main threat to net zero goals highlighted here is insufficient government support."

Respondents viewed regulation and policy support as critical across a range of clean energy technologies, from utility-scale energy storage to nuclear and solar power generation, as follows:

  • Fifty-five percent say a supportive regulatory and policy environment is key to deployment of utility scale energy storage. 
  • “Streamlined regulatory processes “outranks capital as an issue for the advancement of nuclear power. Of those who see it as an overall area of opportunity, 71% say a less complex regulatory climate would make nuclear energy more appealing to their organization.
  • A favorable regulatory climate was the top condition (41%) respondents cited when we asked what was most important to optimize the grid’s role in maintaining or accelerating the energy transition.
  • In the solar sector, 57% listed a favorable regulatory and policy environment as a principal factor in the development of next-gen solar technology. 
  • While capital and operating expense is of paramount importance to wind energy, a favorable regulatory and policy environment ranked as the second most crucial factor in future development, selected by 55% of those active in offshore wind and 55% of those in onshore wind.

4. Most Attractive Growth and Investment Opportunities: Biofuels and biomass (waste-to-energy), efficiency, carbon capture, energy storage and EVs

As noted earlier, the overall investment picture is strong for clean energy heading into 2024. More than half (56%) of respondents increased their investment or operational focus on energy transition strategies over the past year.

We asked energy industry executives  and investors to rank, beyond their own businesses, what they believe to be the most relevant energy transition investment areas today. Key areas of opportunity, according to our respondents, include decarbonization-focused solutions such as biofuels and biomass (more broadly characterized as energy from waste); energy efficiency improvements; carbon capture technologies; utility-scale energy storage; and EVs.

After biofuels and biomass (energy from waste), both constituencies clearly view energy efficiency—which has been described as the low-hanging fruit of the energy transition—as a priority. It tied with carbon capture as the second-ranked opportunity, selected by one-third (33%) of all respondents. Energy storage ranked fourth among all respondents (27%) and was fourth among executives (29%) and fifth for investors (24%), tied with green hydrogen.

Executives are more generally more bullish on biofuels and biomass (energy from waste). It is worth noting here that 64% of our respondents participate in some way in the oil and gas subsector, which could be a driver of that result. Executives and investors both show interest in carbon capture infrastructure and technology. Nearly 70% of executives and investors expect commercial-scale carbon capture, transport and sequestration will be a reality by 2040.

“Despite the challenges outlined in this report, it’s no surprise that our research finds investments in renewable energy infrastructure are becoming more of a focus. That’s very much what we are seeing in our practice, particularly from our developer clients,” said U.K. partner Sebastian Briggs , who focuses on energy and natural resources.

"Despite the challenges outlined in this report, it’s no surprise that our research finds investments in renewable energy infrastructure are becoming more of a focus. That’s very much what we are seeing in our practice, particularly from our developer clients."

Regional findings reflect similar priorities when it comes to investment and growth opportunities. These same technologies—biofuels/biomass (energy from waste), energy efficiency, carbon capture, energy storage and EVs—ranked in the top five across all geographies—except Latin America, where green hydrogen placed fifth (23%), with energy storage ranked sixth.

5. Politics: The Key Obstacle to Net Zero Goals

The multi-generational nature and global scale of the energy transition require significant support from individual governments, as well as international cooperation among developed and developing countries—whose priorities can differ widely. More than 190 countries are signatories to the Paris Agreement, the stated commitment to limit global temperature increases to well below 2 degrees Celsius, with a stretch goal of a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit. Over 90 countries have set net zero emissions targets, including the U.S., China, India, and most of Europe. 

When we asked our respondents to identify the threats to net zero goals, the top three choices are rooted in politics. These include insufficient government support (34%); fragmentation, plurality, inconsistency of legislation (28%); and general political risk that governments may not live up to net zero commitments (26%). 

Those factors also ranked among the top five concerns across all regions surveyed. Latin America, as arguably the least developed economic region in our survey, showed the greatest concern regarding insufficient government support, with 46% of respondents citing it as a challenge. 

Sustained societal and economic commitment to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction cannot be taken for granted, either on a domestic or on a considerably more complex global basis. In the U.S., the 2024 election could usher in a new administration that may be less inclined to support future energy transition initiatives. While an outright repeal of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act is unlikely, certainly the executive branch could take actions to limit its effectiveness. However, any decision to do so would have a negative effect on the jobs and tax benefits the bill has created.

From a global perspective, there has been some positive movement on coordinated action across geographies. Group of 20 (G20) countries account for nearly 80% of the world’s GHG emissions. Since 2009, the group has adopted a range of coordinated climate-related initiatives, including voluntary peer reviews, fossil fuel subsidy programs, and the formation of multiple sub-groups to enhance green financing. 

At the 2021 G20 summit in Rome, the intergovernmental Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development provided specific recommendations on how a more “resource-efficient and circular economy” might be fostered. The theme of India’s 2023 G20 Summit meeting was “ One Earth One Family One Future ,” reflecting a focus on helping vulnerable countries “set the right policies and create an environment conducive to climate-friendly investments.” And more recently, at the inaugural Africa Climate Summit, delegates focused on financial support for climate adaptation and clean energy investment.

The COP28 presents an opportunity to evaluate global advances and setbacks. Set to take place in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, the meeting will include the first assessment of progress—called the Global Stocktake (GST)—since the Paris Agreement of 2015. According to July’s letter from COP28 President Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, “the global community already knows the GST will show we are off track.” The planned strategy to “course-correct” includes “an immediate response of real-world, inclusive policy, finance, and technology solutions that pushes new resources, partners and champions to coalitions in each sector...” The results of the GST may well bring new, and hopefully durable, resolve to world leaders and to the global community. 

Today, it is clear that the will to tackle climate change remains, while the need must continue to be reinforced in the minds and hearts of the public. However, the global rise in populism and isolationist politics—which run counter to the concept of global coordination—poses a considerable challenge to coordinated action on climate goals. Geopolitical strife and the resulting impacts on energy markets and energy security present additional complications, as immediate crises distract from the long-term, and urgent, need for a transition to cleaner energy. 

The concerns of our survey respondents are certainly valid. Sustained, focused and global commitment will be required to show meaningful progress toward 2050 net zero goals.

Overall, it appears that business leaders continue to increase their commitment to the energy transition. However, with that intention to move forward also comes a clear-eyed perspective that the global energy transition is fraught with risks and will require a greater-than-anticipated level of capital investment. Moving the energy industry forward will require sustained will, ingenuity and multifaceted solutions to seemingly infinite complex challenges.

Womble Bond Dickinson will continue to closely monitor the social, political, and economic forces shaping the energy and natural resources sector. As noted above, the scope of our 2024 Energy Transition Outlook Survey Report findings extends beyond the key takeaways summarized here. In addition to timely thought leadership and client alerts, we will be providing ongoing insights into the specific technologies and related topics in which our clients expressed interest, including hydrogen, EVs, carbon capture and wind, as well as digital transformation and ESG. 

In addition to the survey demographics referenced in our Executive Summary , we note:

  • Exactly half of the companies surveyed employed more than 5,000 people. Respondents reported their organization’s estimated 2022 revenue with 7% of the sample reporting less than $10 million; 26% of the sample reporting between $10 million and $500 million; 27% reporting between $501 million and $5 billion; 34% reporting more than $5 billion; and 6% electing not to disclose.  
  • Participation was anonymous. Due to rounding, as well as to questions where participants were asked to select all that apply, total percentages may exceed 100%.

Womble Bond Dickinson’s Global Energy and Natural Resources Sector has been immersed in the sector for decades. With a multi-disciplinary group of more than 100 attorneys, we serve clients globally helping them successfully navigate the opportunities and challenges associated with the energy transition.

Our work covers the broad spectrum of energy and natural resources subsectors including oil and gas, renewables, all types of electricity generation and transmission infrastructure. We address the full range of client’s project development, transactional and advisory needs.

Womble Bond Dickinson’s diverse client base includes integrated energy entities and established industry players, as well as those entrepreneurs and early-stage companies who are at the forefront of change as they innovate, monetize, and commercialize the technologies of our green(er) energy future.

  • Clean Energy and Renewables
  • Commodities and Trading
  • Metals and Mining
  • Mobility & Transportation Technology
  • Oil and Gas
  • Regulated Utilities and Markets
  • Water and Water Infrastructure
  • Jeffrey Whittle , Head of Global Energy and Natural Resources Practice
  • Richard Cockburn , Head of U.K. Energy and Natural Resources Practice
  • Victoria Redman , Head of U.K. Real Estate
  • Lisa Rushton , Co-Head, U.S. Energy and Natural Resources Practice
  • Chris Towner , Partner, U.K. Energy and Natural Resources Practice
  • Belton Zeigler , Co-Head, U.S. Regulated Utilities Team
  • Christé Spiers , Global Energy and Natural Resources Sector Strategist

Womble Bond Dickinson Newsletter

Sign up to receive fresh content delivered to your inbox weekly!


Joe whitley pens op-ed for, unlocking the potential of crowdsourced data: policy guidance for the information revolution, data bridge over the atlantic, wilka toppins discusses eb5 immigration opportunities for business leaders in mexico, escalation of u.s. crackdown on chinese technology and telecoms: emerging issues, supply chain disruption in europe, uk and us: how businesses can mitigate risk, 2023 global data privacy law survey report, expanding international cooperation on export controls and enforcement, avoiding supply chain disruption in international trade commission section 337 investigations, unpredictability in the art: amgen v. sanofi in view of “simultaneous conception and reduction to practice”, the ftc’s continued attack on noncompete agreements (industry today).

You are switching to the United States

This selection will switch the website from presenting information primarily about the United Kingdom to information about the United States . If you would like to switch back, you may use location selection options at the top of the page.

Although we would like to hear from you, we cannot represent you until we know that doing so will not create a conflict of interest. Also, we cannot treat unsolicited information as confidential. Accordingly, please do not send us any information about any legal matter until we authorize you to do so. To initiate a possible representation, please call one of our lawyers or staff members.

By clicking the “ACCEPT” button, you agree that we may review any information you transmit to us. You recognize that, even if you submit information that you consider confidential in an effort to retain us, our review of that information will not create an obligation on us to keep it confidential and will not preclude us from representing another client directly adverse to you, even in a matter where that information could and will be used against you.

Please click the “ACCEPT” button if you understand and accept the foregoing statement and wish to proceed.

COP28: Why it matters and 5 key areas for action

'Cop28 UAE' logo is displayed on the screen during the opening ceremony of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) under the theme of 'United on Climate Action Toward COP28', in Abu Dhabi, UAE, January 16, 2023. REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

Accelerating the energy transition inclusively and sustainably remains high on the agenda at COP28. Image:  REUTERS/Rula Rouhana

.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo{-webkit-transition:all 0.15s ease-out;transition:all 0.15s ease-out;cursor:pointer;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;outline:none;color:inherit;}.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo:hover,.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo[data-hover]{-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;}.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo:focus,.chakra .wef-1c7l3mo[data-focus]{box-shadow:0 0 0 3px rgba(168,203,251,0.5);} Pedro Gomez

how to write an executive summary for a law report

.chakra .wef-9dduvl{margin-top:16px;margin-bottom:16px;line-height:1.388;font-size:1.25rem;}@media screen and (min-width:56.5rem){.chakra .wef-9dduvl{font-size:1.125rem;}} Explore and monitor how .chakra .wef-15eoq1r{margin-top:16px;margin-bottom:16px;line-height:1.388;font-size:1.25rem;color:#F7DB5E;}@media screen and (min-width:56.5rem){.chakra .wef-15eoq1r{font-size:1.125rem;}} Climate Change is affecting economies, industries and global issues

A hand holding a looking glass by a lake

.chakra .wef-1nk5u5d{margin-top:16px;margin-bottom:16px;line-height:1.388;color:#2846F8;font-size:1.25rem;}@media screen and (min-width:56.5rem){.chakra .wef-1nk5u5d{font-size:1.125rem;}} Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale

Stay up to date:.

Figure illustrating september's global temperatures compared to average, 1850-2023.

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Have you read?

The 1.5°c global warming limit is still within grasp – here's how we can reach it, explainer: who will pay for climate 'loss and damage', finance pivots from risks to the opportunities of energy transition and decarbonization at cop27, don't miss any update on this topic.

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:

The agenda .chakra .wef-n7bacu{margin-top:16px;margin-bottom:16px;line-height:1.388;font-weight:400;} weekly.

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

.chakra .wef-1dtnjt5{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;-webkit-flex-wrap:wrap;-ms-flex-wrap:wrap;flex-wrap:wrap;} More on COP28 .chakra .wef-17xejub{-webkit-flex:1;-ms-flex:1;flex:1;justify-self:stretch;-webkit-align-self:stretch;-ms-flex-item-align:stretch;align-self:stretch;} .chakra .wef-nr1rr4{display:-webkit-inline-box;display:-webkit-inline-flex;display:-ms-inline-flexbox;display:inline-flex;white-space:normal;vertical-align:middle;text-transform:uppercase;font-size:0.75rem;border-radius:0.25rem;font-weight:700;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;line-height:1.2;-webkit-letter-spacing:1.25px;-moz-letter-spacing:1.25px;-ms-letter-spacing:1.25px;letter-spacing:1.25px;background:none;padding:0px;color:#B3B3B3;-webkit-box-decoration-break:clone;box-decoration-break:clone;-webkit-box-decoration-break:clone;}@media screen and (min-width:37.5rem){.chakra .wef-nr1rr4{font-size:0.875rem;}}@media screen and (min-width:56.5rem){.chakra .wef-nr1rr4{font-size:1rem;}} See all

how to write an executive summary for a law report

How we can create a global energy transition inclusive of the Global South

Tatsuya Terazawa, Lamé Verre and Andrew Herscowitz

November 15, 2023

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Antarctica is melting faster than ever. Here’s what we can do about it

Helen Millman and Nigel Topping

how to write an executive summary for a law report

India hosts the world’s first-ever air pollution market. Here are the lessons learned so far

Tanya Mittal and Surabhi Parida

November 13, 2023

how to write an executive summary for a law report

4 ways AI can super-charge sustainable development

Claudia Ukonu

how to write an executive summary for a law report

4 promising approaches to eliminating plastic pollution in Africa

Bontu Yousuf

how to write an executive summary for a law report

Be inspired by these climate finance community success stories

Metolo Foyet

  • Share full article


Supported by

How Millions of Borrowers Got $127 Billion in Student Loans Canceled

The Biden administration may have been blocked from canceling debt for tens of millions of borrowers by the Supreme Court, but it has still managed to eliminate billions in education debt.

Students walking around a college campus surrounded by trees.

By Stacy Cowley

When the Supreme Court struck down President Biden’s $400 billion plan to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for 43 million borrowers, the prospect of substantive debt relief appeared to vanish.

But then millions of borrowers received surprise notices that their federal student loans were being eliminated through other government relief programs. The Biden administration has wiped out loans totaling $127 billion for 3.6 million borrowers — the biggest wave of student debt cancellation since the government began backing educational loans more than 60 years ago.

The cost of that relief is ultimately borne by taxpayers. The Education Department is the largest lender for Americans who borrow for higher education, and 43 million borrowers currently owe the government $1.6 trillion. The government profits from the interest that borrowers pay, but loan defaults and canceled debts offset that. The system is projected to run at a loss in most years.

Many of the programs that the Biden administration is using have existed for years, sometimes decades, but were notoriously troubled, forcing borrowers to navigate complicated bureaucratic hurdles. By adjusting rules and temporarily waiving some requirements, Education Department officials have accelerated long-delayed relief. Here are the four largest programs being used to eliminate loan debts — and how five borrowers benefited from them.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Debts canceled: $51 billion for 715,000 borrowers

In 2007, Congress passed a law intended to entice more college graduates into public service careers: Those who worked for government agencies or nonprofit organizations would, after 10 years of monthly loan payments, have their remaining federal student loan balance eliminated.

But the program’s complex rules turned it into a quagmire that rejected 99 percent of applicants — and an effort in 2018 to apply patchwork fixes became another debacle . In 2021, the Biden administration tried again to cancel student loan debt by temporarily bulldozing the program’s rules and crediting hundreds of thousands of borrowers for previously ineligible payments.

That finally worked. More than 230,000 people had their loans eliminated through a waiver system that ended last year, and many more gained credits that sped up their forgiveness date.

Derik Screen, 41, works as a business intelligence analyst at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. To pay for the M.B.A. degree he earned in 2008 from the University of Phoenix, he took out loans totaling $39,000.

Mr. Screen signed up for an income-driven payment plan and began chipping away at the balance, but interest costs kept his balance ballooning. Last year, he learned about the Biden administration’s temporary waiver and realized that many of his past payments could qualify. He also discovered that he could get credit for the years he had spent working in the admissions office at his undergraduate alma mater, the Virginia Military Institute.

Consolidating his loans, assembling the paperwork and obtaining the needed certifications from both his current employer and his past one took dozens of hours. “It was very cumbersome — it really was,” Mr. Screen said. But in September, his persistence paid off: He received a letter notifying him that his $86,000 loan balance had been eliminated.

“That relief, it’s amazing, after so many years,” he said. “And the idea that after 10 years, your debt can triple — I know for a lot of people, it’s just a number they’ll never be able to pay.”

Income-Driven Repayment Adjustment Debts canceled: $42 billion for 855,000 borrowers

The Education Department hires loan servicers to collect borrowers’ monthly payments and help them navigate their repayment options. Watchdogs and auditors, including the department’s own inspector general , have repeatedly raised alarms about the servicers’ shoddy work and lax oversight.

One frequent complaint was that servicers would improperly place borrowers’ loans into forbearance, sometimes for years — during which interest kept accruing — and failed to guide borrowers toward income-driven options that could have sharply reduced their total payments.

Last year, the government announced a plan to address those problems by essentially wielding a giant eraser.

Income-driven payment plans are designed to eliminate any remaining balance after a set period of repayment, typically 20 years. Even for borrowers who never enrolled in those plans, the Education Department decided to count virtually any payment, for any amount, as a qualifying one — and it added to its tally many months in which borrowers made no payments at all because they had a long-term deferment or forbearance. The department chose to apply those adjustments automatically for all borrowers, no application needed.

The result was that hundreds of thousands of borrowers abruptly discovered that their loans had reached the 20-year mark and been eliminated. The first notification letters were sent on July 14.

That day, when Chris White, 40, got an email from the Education Department with the subject line “You’re eligible to have your student loan(s) forgiven!,” he didn’t believe it. Mr. White figured that this, like Mr. Biden’s quashed mass-cancellation plan, would be revoked, too.

“I remember thinking, specifically, it’s great to see that they’re still trying and they’re working at this, and that means a lot — but I, in no way, expected it to actually happen,” he recalled. “And then one day, I logged on to my loan servicer’s website, and it just said that my balance was zero.”

The maneuver freed Mr. White from $22,000 in debt he had for the bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering that he received from the University of Maine in 2007. He had spent several years working in the field but decided it was a poor fit and quit to pursue other trades. He is now a freight warehouse manager in Pembina, N.D.

Mr. White was especially surprised to have his loan forgiven because he had made payments on it intermittently — before the pandemic, his loan was in default — and some of the debt was less than 20 years old. But soon after he graduated, Mr. White had consolidated his loans. In calculating the adjustment, the Education Department counts any payment (or qualifying forbearance) on any debt in a consolidated loan toward the 20-year clock — and Mr. White had some loans dating back to 2001.

Chuck Ertel-Hoy, 72, retired in 2019 after 25 years of teaching communications at public universities — but he still owed $42,500 for a Ph.D. he earned in 1997 from the University of Tennessee.

Mr. Ertel-Hoy, who lives in Indianapolis, had tried for years to have his loans discharged through the public service loan forgiveness program, but he kept running into paperwork problems. He had just sent off yet more paperwork when the email arrived in July saying his loans would be forgiven through the income-driven repayment adjustment.

“It relieves a lot of pressure,” he said. Mr. Ertel-Hoy had been dreading the prospect of trying to squeeze $300 a month out of retirement savings to resume payment on his loans when the pandemic pause ended. “I’d thought, am I still going to have to pay on these student loans for the rest of my life?” he said.

Borrower Defense to Repayment and Closed-School Discharge Debts canceled: $22.5 billion for 1.3 million borrowers

In 2014, Corinthian Colleges — once one of the country’s largest for-profit college chains — collapsed . It was quickly followed by ITT Technical Institutes , another industry giant. Tens of thousands of mid-degree students were left stranded, and hundreds of thousands more were paying off loans for an often substandard education that failed to deliver on the career growth and earning potential the schools had advertised.

The debacle catalyzed a wave of grass-roots activism: Former students teamed with crusading lawyers to request relief through an obscure federal student loan provision , known as “borrower defense to repayment.” Students whose schools defrauded them, typically by breaking consumer protection laws, could seek to have their loans forgiven.

The Obama administration began to build a system for handling those requests, but it ground to a halt during the Trump administration. When Mr. Biden assumed office, tens of thousands of claims — some that had been languishing for as long as six years — were pending, and over 130,000 others had been summarily rejected.

In 2022, the Biden administration agreed to settle a class-action claim that covered 200,000 borrowers who had attended more than 150 schools. One of them is Sally Olsen, 64, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business management at American InterContinental University, a for-profit school whose owner paid $30 million to settle fraud charges brought by the Federal Trade Commission.

Ms. Olsen enrolled in 2004, but she was underwhelmed by her educational experiences there and overwhelmed by the debt it left her with: Nearly $110,000 in federal loans and tens of thousands more in private loans.

Ms. Olsen, an administrative assistant at an insurance agency in Bloomington, Ill., eventually paid off the private loans through a settlement, but the federal loans haunted her. Seeking help, Ms. Olsen — a former Marine — contacted Veterans Education Success, an advocacy group. Their representatives helped her file a borrower defense claim in 2021.

Legal challenges delayed the class-action settlement, but in May, Ms. Olsen finally got the news she had dreamed of: Her $70,127 federal loan balance had been eliminated.

“I think God finally heard my prayers, after all these years,” she said.

Total and Permanent Disability Debts canceled: $11.7 billion for 513,000 borrowers

Borrowers who are permanently disabled are eligible to have their federal student loans eliminated . The process had long been a bureaucratic obstacle course, requiring doctors’ notes — which were often rejected, with little or no explanation, because of documentation errors — and years of income-monitoring and other compliance requirements. Many who would have qualified for relief never bothered to apply.

But two government agencies already had data on people who were fully disabled: the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. By creating automatic data-matching programs with both agencies and eliminating some income documentation requirements, the Education Department significantly expanded the number of borrowers who gained relief.

Khen Reyes, 48, was medically discharged from the Navy last year after a military career that spanned four decades. It left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression. The Department of Veterans Affairs determines the severity of service-related disabilities through a ratings scale; Mr. Reyes maxed out, at 100 percent.

In 1997, Mr. Reyes enrolled in an aircraft mechanics certification program at the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics. More than two decades later, he still owed just over $25,000 — a defaulted debt that had prevented his wife and him from obtaining a V.A. home loan. Armed with his military discharge papers and his disability documentation, he sought to have his loan eliminated.

Late last year, Mr. Reyes, who lives in Foster City, Calif., checked his loan servicer’s website and saw a $0 balance.

“Other service members are in a similar boat as me,” he said. “I want service members to know, this is about accepting something that you worked hard for. I don’t have any shame that I used this resource. If there’s a program that helps us, oh my God, by any means — use it.”

Stacy Cowley is a business reporter who writes about a broad array of topics related to consumer finance, including student debt, the banking industry and small business. More about Stacy Cowley

Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second term

Advisers have also discussed deploying the military to quell potential unrest on inauguration day. critics have called the ideas under consideration dangerous and unconstitutional..

Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute and his associates drafting plans to potentially invoke the Insurrection Act on his first day in office to allow him to deploy the military against civil demonstrations.

In private, Trump has told advisers and friends in recent months that he wants the Justice Department to investigate onetime officials and allies who have become critical of his time in office, including his former chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and former attorney general William P. Barr, as well as his ex-attorney Ty Cobb and former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, according to people who have talked to him, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. Trump has also talked of prosecuting officials at the FBI and Justice Department, a person familiar with the matter said.

In public, Trump has vowed to appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” President Biden and his family. The former president has frequently made corruption accusations against them that are not supported by available evidence .

To facilitate Trump’s ability to direct Justice Department actions, his associates have been drafting plans to dispense with 50 years of policy and practice intended to shield criminal prosecutions from political considerations. Critics have called such ideas dangerous and unconstitutional.

“It would resemble a banana republic if people came into office and started going after their opponents willy-nilly,” said Saikrishna Prakash, a constitutional law professor at the University of Virginia who studies executive power. “It’s hardly something we should aspire to.”

Trump testifies in New York civil fraud trial: Live updates

Much of the planning for a second term has been unofficially outsourced to a partnership of right-wing think tanks in Washington. Dubbed “Project 2025,” the group is developing a plan, to include draft executive orders, that would deploy the military domestically under the Insurrection Act, according to a person involved in those conversations and internal communications reviewed by The Washington Post. The law, last updated in 1871, authorizes the president to deploy the military for domestic law enforcement.

The proposal was identified in internal discussions as an immediate priority, the communications showed. In the final year of his presidency, some of Trump’s supporters urged him to invoke the Insurrection Act to put down unrest after the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020, but he never did it. Trump has publicly expressed regret about not deploying more federal force and said he would not hesitate to do so in the future.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung did not answer questions about specific actions under discussion. “President Trump is focused on crushing his opponents in the primary election and then going on to beat Crooked Joe Biden,” Cheung said. “President Trump has always stood for law and order, and protecting the Constitution.”

The discussions underway reflect Trump’s determination to harness the power of the presidency to exact revenge on those who have challenged or criticized him if he returns to the White House. The former president has frequently threatened to take punitive steps against his perceived enemies, arguing that doing so would be justified by the current prosecutions against him. Trump has claimed without evidence that the criminal charges he is facing — a total of 91 across four state and federal indictments — were made up to damage him politically.

“This is third-world-country stuff, ‘arrest your opponent,’” Trump said at a campaign stop in New Hampshire in October. “And that means I can do that, too.”

Sign up for The Trump Trials, a weekly newsletter tracking the former president's criminal cases

Special counsel Jack Smith, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Biden have all said that Smith’s prosecution decisions were made independently of the White House, in accordance with department rules on special counsels.

Trump, the clear polling leader in the GOP race, has made “retribution” a central theme of his campaign, seeking to intertwine his own legal defense with a call for payback against perceived slights and offenses to right-wing Americans. He repeatedly tells his supporters that he is being persecuted on their behalf and holds out a 2024 victory as a shared redemption at their enemies’ expense.

‘He is going to go after people that have turned on him’

It is unclear what alleged crimes or evidence Trump would claim to justify investigating his named targets.

Kelly said he would expect Trump to investigate him because since his term as chief of staff ended, he has publicly criticized Trump, including by alleging that he called dead service members “suckers.” Kelly added, “There is no question in my mind he is going to go after people that have turned on him.”

Barr, another Trump appointee turned critic, has contradicted the former president’s false claims about the 2020 election and called him “a very petty individual who will always put his interests ahead of the country’s.” Asked about Trump’s interest in prosecuting him, Barr deadpanned, “I’m quivering in my boots.”

“Trump himself is more likely to rot in jail than anyone on his alleged list,” said Cobb, who accused Trump of “stifling truth, making threats and bullying weaklings into doing his bidding.”

Milley did not comment.

Other modern presidents since the Watergate scandal — when Richard M. Nixon tried to suppress the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s spying and sabotage against Democrats — have sought to separate politics from law enforcement. Presidents of both parties have imposed a White House policy restricting communications with prosecutors. An effort under the George W. Bush administration to remove U.S. attorneys for political reasons led to high-level resignations and a criminal investigation.

Rod J. Rosenstein, the Trump-appointed deputy attorney general who oversaw the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian interference in the 2016 election, said a politically ordered prosecution would violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under law and could cause judges to dismiss the charges. That constitutional defense has rarely been raised in U.S. history, Rosenstein said.

“Making prosecutorial decisions in a nonpartisan manner is essential to democracy,” Rosenstein said. “The White House should not be meddling in individual cases for political reasons.”

But Trump allies such as Russ Vought, his former budget director who now leads the Center for Renewing America, are actively repudiating the modern tradition of a measure of independence for the Department of Justice, arguing that such independence is not based in law or the Constitution. Vought is in regular contact with Trump and would be expected to hold a major position in a second term.

“You don’t need a statutory change at all, you need a mind-set change,” Vought said in an interview. “You need an attorney general and a White House Counsel’s Office that don’t view themselves as trying to protect the department from the president.”

A fixation on prosecuting enemies

As president, Kelly said, Trump would often suggest prosecuting his political enemies, or at least having the FBI investigate them. Kelly said he would not pass along the requests to the Justice Department but would alert the White House Counsel’s Office. Usually, they would ignore the orders, he said, and wait for Trump to move on. In a second term, Trump’s aides could respond to such requests differently, he said.

“The lesson the former president learned from his first term is don’t put guys like me … in those jobs,” Kelly said. “The lesson he learned was to find sycophants.”

Although aides have worked on plans for some other agencies, Trump has taken a particular interest in the Justice Department. In conversations about a potential second term, Trump has made picking an attorney general his number one priority, according a Trump adviser.

“Given his recent trials and tribulations, one would think he’s going to pick up the plan for the Department of Justice before doing some light reading of a 500-page white paper on reforming the EPA,” said Matt Mowers, a former Trump White House adviser.

Jeffrey Clark, a fellow at Vought’s think tank, is leading the work on the Insurrection Act under Project 2025. The Post has reported that Clark is one of six unnamed co-conspirators whose actions are described in Trump’s indictment in the federal election interference case.

Clark was also charged in Fulton County, Georgia, with violating the state anti-racketeering law and attempting to create a false statement, as part of the district attorney’s case accusing Trump and co-conspirators of interfering in the 2020 election. Clark has pleaded not guilty. As a Justice Department official after the 2020 election, Clark pressured superiors to investigate nonexistent election crimes and to encourage state officials to submit phony certificates to the electoral college, according to the indictment.

In one conversation described in the federal indictment, a deputy White House counsel warned Clark that Trump’s refusing to leave office would lead to “riots in every major city.” Clark responded, according to the indictment , “That’s why there’s an Insurrection Act.”

Clark had dinner with Trump during a visit to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club this summer. He also went to Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday for a screening of a new Dinesh D’Souza movie that uses falsehoods, misleading interviews and dramatizations to allege federal persecution of Jan. 6 rioters and Christians. Also attending were fringe allies such as Stephen K. Bannon, Roger Stone, Laura Loomer and Michael Flynn.

“I think that the supposedly independent DOJ is an illusion,” Clark said in an interview. Through a spokeswoman he did not respond to follow-up questions about his work on the Insurrection Act.

Clark’s involvement with Project 2025 has alarmed some other conservative lawyers who view him as an unqualified choice to take a senior leadership role at the department, according to a conservative lawyer who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private talks. Project 2025 comprises 75 groups in a collaboration organized by the Heritage Foundation.

Project 2025 director Paul Dans stood by Clark in a statement. “We are grateful for Jeff Clark’s willingness to share his insights from having worked at high levels in government during trying times,” he said.

After online publication of this story, Rob Bluey, a Heritage spokesman, said: “There are no plans within Project 2025 related to the Insurrection Act or targeting political enemies.”

How a second Trump term would differ from the first

There is a heated debate in conservative legal circles about how to interact with Trump as the likely nominee. Many in Trump’s circle have disparaged what they view as institutionalist Republican lawyers, particularly those associated with the Federalist Society. Some Trump advisers consider these individuals too soft and accommodating to make the kind of changes within agencies that they want to see happen in a second Trump administration.

Trump has told advisers that he is looking for lawyers who are loyal to him to serve in a second term — complaining about his White House Counsel’s Office unwillingness to go along with some of his ideas in his first term or help him in his bid to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

In repeated comments to advisers and lawyers around him, Trump has said his biggest regrets were naming Jeff Sessions and Barr as his attorneys general and listening to others — he often cites the “Federalist Society” — who wanted him to name lawyers with impressive pedigrees and Ivy League credentials to senior Justice Department positions. He has mentioned to several lawyers who have defended him on TV or attacked Biden that they would be a good candidate for attorney general, according to people familiar with his comments.

The overall vision that Trump, his campaign and outside allies are now discussing for a second term would differ from his first in terms of how quickly and forcefully officials would move to execute his orders. Alumni involved in the current planning generally fault a slow start, bureaucratic resistance and litigation for hindering the president’s agenda in his first term, and they are determined to avoid those hurdles, if given a second chance, by concentrating more power in the West Wing and selecting appointees who will carry out Trump’s demands.

Those groups are in discussions with Trump’s campaign advisers and occasionally the candidate himself, sometimes circulating policy papers or draft executive orders, according to people familiar with the situation.

“No one is opposed to them putting together ideas, but it’s not us,” a campaign adviser said. “These groups say they’ll have the whole transition planned. Some of those people I’m sure are good and Trump will appoint, but it’s not what is on his mind right now. I’m sure he’d be fine with some of their orders.”

Trump’s core group of West Wing advisers for a second term is widely expected to include Stephen Miller, the architect of Trump’s hard-line immigration policies including family separation, who has gone on to challenge Biden administration policies in court through a conservative organization called America First Legal. Miller did not respond to requests for comment.

Alumni have also saved lists of previous appointees who would not be welcome in a second Trump administration, as well as career officers they viewed as uncooperative and would seek to fire based on an executive order to weaken civil service protections.

For other appointments, Trump would be able to draw on lineups of personnel prepared by Project 2025. Dans, a former Office of Personnel Management chief of staff, likened the database to a “conservative LinkedIn,” allowing applicants to present their resumes on public profiles, while also providing a shared workspace for Heritage and partner organizations to vet the candidates and make recommendations.

“We don’t want careerists, we don’t want people here who are opportunists,” he said. “We want conservative warriors.”

Marianne LeVine and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.

2024 presidential candidates

Catch up on the winners and losers and takeaways from the third Republican primary debate . Compare where the 2024 presidential candidates stand on key issues like abortion, climate and the economy.

Republicans: Top contenders for the GOP 2024 nomination include former president Donald Trump , Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Trump U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley . Here is The Post’s ranking of the top 10 Republican presidential candidates for 2024 .

Democrats: President Biden is running for reelection in 2024 . Here is The Post’s ranking of the top 10 Democratic presidential candidates for 2024 .

  • Comparing where 2024 presidential candidates stand on key issues November 8, 2023 Comparing where 2024 presidential candidates stand on key issues November 8, 2023
  • The winners and losers of the third Republican debate November 9, 2023 The winners and losers of the third Republican debate November 9, 2023
  • Nikki Haley has momentum, but can she pass DeSantis to take on Trump? November 11, 2023 Nikki Haley has momentum, but can she pass DeSantis to take on Trump? November 11, 2023


  1. PDF How to Write an Executive Summary

    You can use bold or bullets to ensure that the main components of your executive summary - the policy problem, findings and recommendations - are clearly visible to your reader. Taking these steps will help the busy reader understand the scope of your report and the action steps you recommend. Lauren N. Brodsky HKS Lecturer in Public Policy

  2. How to Write an Executive Summary for a Report: Step By Step ...

    Create Executive Reports in Databox What Is an Executive Report? Executive reports are used for keeping senior managers updated on the latest and most significant activities in the company. These reports have to be concise and accurate since they will have a huge impact on the most important business-related decisions.

  3. How to write an executive summary, with examples

    In general, there are four parts to any executive summary: Start with the problem or need the document is solving. Outline the recommended solution. Explain the solution's value. Wrap up with a conclusion about the importance of the work. Free cross-functional project template What is an executive summary in project management?

  4. Structure Of Law Essays and Reports

    Summary/Synopsis/Executive Summary: (approx 10% of word count) - this will identify: The purpose of the report, The scope of the report - issues covered/not covered, The important results and findings, The conclusions and recommendations, Acknowledgement of any assistance in researching and compiling the report'

  5. Guide for Writing Executive Summaries

    contains instructions for writing executive summaries and includes examples of executive summaries from issued reports, an executive summary checklist, and a "Background" worksheet, as further help in drafting executive summaries. It should be useful in training new supervisors and report reviewers and writer-editors, and as a ...

  6. Writing an Executive Summary

    An executive summary should summarize the key points of the report. It should restate the purpose of the report, highlight the major points of the report, and describe any results, conclusions, or recommendations from the report.

  7. How To Write an Executive Summary (With Example)

    An executive summary may include a brief review of the document's main topics. This portion of the document is a summary, so this summary can be brief and focus on the key details. The general rule is to keep your summary around two pages or less. Key elements include:

  8. Writing an Executive Summary

    Writing an Executive Summary 15/03/2019 3 pages long Languages: English Share Available documents Download file Overview An executive summary is one of the most crucial parts of a report. It represents a chance for the author to grab the reader's attention and draw them into the main document.

  9. How to Write an Executive Summary

    The executive summary can be either a portion of a business document (a business plan, project proposal, or report) or long articles and documents common in research-driven communities and academia. When crafted correctly, the executive summary provides an overview of the information and objectives in the larger document.

  10. How to Write a Great Executive Summary

    Generally, an executive summary for a business plan includes the following sections: Table of contents The table of contents lists the sections included in the main document. This gives an even more concise overview of the document and the executive summary itself. Company background/About

  11. How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included)

    Project Documents, Project Management How to Write an Executive Summary (Example & Template Included) by William Malsam | Jul 21, 2023 Here's the good news: an executive summary is short. It's part of a larger document like a business plan, business case or project proposal and, as the name implies, summarizes the longer report.

  12. How to Write a Good Executive Summary

    Keep Your Executive Summary Brief Finally, while obvious make sure your executive summaries are brief. No one wants to read a summary that goes on for pages and pages. While the exact length will be up to your judgment, relevant factors to think about include your audience, the length of the report and the nature of your recommendations.

  13. How to Write An Executive Summary

    Top Tip A good way to think about the key content is to imagine meeting your boss or CEO in the car park or at the coffee machine. What three key points about your document would you want to tell them?

  14. How to write an executive summary

    Here's how to write an executive summary for a report. Write an opening statement: rovide a brief background on the scope of the report. ... PandDoc is not a law firm, or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. This page is not intended to and does not provide legal advice. Should you have legal questions on the validity of e-signatures or ...

  15. Guide for Writing Executive Summaries

    Chuck Young. Managing Director. [email protected]. (202) 512-4800. GAO published a guide for writing executive summaries to assist in training new supervisors, report reviewers, writers, and editors, and as a...

  16. Executive Summary: Step-by-Step on How To Write

    Component 1. Business Purpose The purpose of your executive summary is that of how you will solve the prospect's problem. Address your ideas in the first sentence, and indicate your unique value proposition (UVP) along with what market your company most benefits. Avoid slang, company history, and technical terms that underpin your solution.

  17. How to Write an Executive Summary

    Table of Contents What is an Executive Summary? What Should be Included in an Executive Summary? Tone and Language in an Executive Summary Tips for Writing an Executive Summary Mistakes to Avoid in an Executive Summary Examples Helpful Resources

  18. 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. Scroll down for our ...

  19. Crafting a Powerful Executive Summary

    Write with an eye to the audience. A strong executive summary is crafted with the audience firmly in mind: busy executives interested in bottom-line deliverables, not details. "An executive reads for certain keywords, and for the price," says Stacia Kelly, president of Catklaw, a Woodbridge, Va.-based writing boutique.

  20. 3 Ways to Write an Executive Summary

    Method 1 The Basics Download Article 1 Understand that an executive summary is a short review of a business document. "Short" and "review" are key words here. The executive summary is not going to be comprehensive in any way, nor will it be a substitute for the original document.

  21. How To Write an Executive Summary (Templates Plus Example)

    Here are five steps you can take to write an effective executive summary: 1. Provide an overview of your project. The first section of an effective executive summary is an introduction that provides readers with an overview of your proposed project. Here, you should include details of your organization, including the name, address, type of ...

  22. How to write an executive summary in 10 steps

    Take the time to dive into the full document or report that your executive summary will be based on. Read it thoroughly and identify the main objectives, key findings, conclusions, and recommendations. Step 2: Know your audience. Think about who you're writing the executive summary for. Consider their knowledge level, interests, and priorities.

  23. 30+ Perfect Executive Summary Examples & Templates

    Tip # 1: Your Pitch Matters Most. Before you begin writing the executive summary, you need to be clear about the idea in the first place. When you are clear about the idea and how you are going to convince your investors, you will eventually be able to come up with something astounding in your mind.

  24. How to Write an Executive Summary for a Business Plan

    Summary. Consider the audience. Ensure that the executive summary can stand alone. Use formatting tools to good advantage. Keep it brief. Keep it simple. Proofread it. If you'd like an expert to proofread your business plan - or any of your writing - get in touch!

  25. 2024 Energy Transition Outlook Survey Report

    Executive Summary. Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD)'s 2024 Energy Transition Outlook Survey Report points to a new phase in the multi-generational journey to Net Zero. While 56% of our respondents are deepening their focus on their transition strategy, the energy sector executives, investors, and legal counsel we surveyed also demonstrate an ...

  26. COP28: Why it matters and 5 key areas for action

    COP28 is the next meeting of the group of 198 countries that have signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, taking place in the United Arab Emirates from 30 November-12 December 2023. It has been organized around four cross-cutting themes aimed at tackling the causes of climate change and managing the impacts of a warming planet.

  27. PDF U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission

    Section 1: Rule by Law: China's Increasingly Global Legal Reach Section 2: Battling for Overseas Hearts and Minds: China's United Front and Propaganda Work ... clusion of the Executive Summary. We offer this Report to Congress in the hope that it will be useful for assessing progress and challenges in U.S.-China relations. Thank you for the ...

  28. How Millions of Borrowers Got $127 Billion in Student Loan Debt

    By Stacy Cowley. Nov. 11, 2023. When the Supreme Court struck down President Biden's $400 billion plan to forgive up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt for 43 million borrowers, the ...

  29. Trump and allies plot revenge, Justice Department control in a second

    13 min. Donald Trump and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for using the federal government to punish critics and opponents should he win a second term, with the former president ...

  30. Sean 'Diddy' Combs accused of rape and abuse in lawsuit filed ...

    Producer and musician Sean Combs was sued in federal court on Thursday by his former girlfriend, R&B singer Cassie, whose real name is Casandra Ventura, who alleges she was raped and subjected to ...