How to Format an Executive Summary

by Kara Page; Updated September 26, 2017

An executive summary is typically the first section of a business plan, report or project, and serves to summarize all of the content in the project, highlighting the key points. Once you have determined what is the most essential information in your business plan or report, you must format that information in a clear, concise way. The end result should be an executive summary that serves as an introduction to your report, but that can also stand on its own as an overview.

Step 1

Place the cover page, including the title of your report, the version and your name, before the summary.

Step 2

Write the introduction, which should indicate what you are proposing or outlining in the summary.

Step 3

Organize each of your main ideas as a separate paragraph, which will depend on the exact content of your business plan or report. The sections should flow naturally from one to the next; for example, a restaurant business plan executive summary might begin with a description of the restaurant, followed by a description of the management, the estimated cost of startup and projected earnings, and ending with a short conclusion.


  • Follow the same flow of ideas in your executive summary that you used in your report or plan. Try to keep paragraphs to no more than three sentences, as longer blocks of text are more difficult to read. Use bullet point lists, bold, italics and underlining to call attention to key phrases and subheadings. Add graphics and charts to your summary to emphasize certain key points or statistics.

About the Author

Kara Page has been a freelance writer and editor since 2007. She maintains several blogs on travel, music, food and more. She is also a contributing writer for Suite101 and has articles published on eHow and Answerbag. Page holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from the University of North Texas.

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