Good and poor examples of executive summaries
This is a GOOD example from an Accounting & Finance assignment.
This report provides an analysis and evaluation of the current and prospective profitability, liquidity and financial stability of Outdoor Equipment Ltd. Methods of analysis include trend, horizontal and vertical analyses as well as ratios such as Debt, Current and Quick ratios. Other calculations include rates of return on Shareholders Equity and Total Assets and earnings per share to name a few. All calculations can be found in the appendices. Results of data analysed show that all ratios are below industry averages. In particular, comparative performance is poor in the areas of profit margins, liquidity, credit control, and inventory management.
The report finds the prospects of the company in its current position are not positive. The major areas of weakness require further investigation and remedial action by management.Recommendations discussed include:
improving the average collection period for accounts receivable·
improving/increasing inventory turnover·
reducing prepayments and perhaps increasing inventory levels
The report also investigates the fact that the analysis conducted has limitations. Some of the limitations include:
forecasting figures are not provided nature and type of company is not known nor the current economic conditions data limitations as not enough information is provided or enough detail i.e. monthly details not known results are based on past performances not present
methods of analysis
Recommendations (note that conclusions and recommendations can be bulleted)
Limitations of the report.
Excerpt from Woodward-Kron, R. (1997) Writing in Commerce: a guide to assist Commerce students with assignment writing, (Revised edition), Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, The University of Newcastle.
This is a GOOD example of an executive summary from a marketing report.
This is a POOR example of an executive summary from a marketing assignment
Every time a business or consumer purchases products or services they display forms of buyer behaviour that are influenced by many factors. The following report looks at the fast food industry and will analyse four McDonalds’ key products and services.It highlights what type of consumer buying or business buying behaviours are displayed in the purchase of a product or service and explains why each behaviour may occur. This enables a conclusion to be drawn from applying theory to reality. Although a full comprehension of buying behaviour is impossible, since everyone is an individual, it is useful to reflect on common behaviours and attempt to divide behaviours in types and stages. Even McDonalds, a leader in marketing cannot always predict consumer behaviour.
Background to problem
Outlines what information the report deals with but FAILS to provide a summary of the results gained, conclusions drawn and recommendations made. These are the functions of an executive summary and are absent in this example.
The information in this executive summary is vague rather than summarising what the report found.
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Guidelines for Writing an Executive Summary
An executive summary is a concise summary of a business report. It restates the purpose of the report, it highlights the major points of the report, and it describes any results, conclusions, or recommendations from the report.
Moreover, an executive summary should be aimed at a particular audience, one that is interested in and wants to learn more about the purpose—or message—of the main report.
Also, the audience should be able to acquire the information it needs without having to read the whole report.
An Executive Summary Should…
- Be presented as a document that can stand on its own;
- Be one to three pages, depending on the length of the report;
- Be written in a formal tone, avoiding the use of first person pronouns (I, we, our, etc.)
When Writing an Executive Summary, Refer to These Guidelines:
- Clearly state the purpose of the report. Remember that your audience may not have much time, so they should know this information immediately.
- Present the major points in the same order they are written in the report. Organization is key for communicating your message. Also, avoid introducing information that is not addressed in the report;
- Summarize the results, conclusions, or recommendations made in the report. Inform your audience quickly and thoroughly instead of having them guess;
- Use headings as needed, but phrase them differently from those in the report. This will keep your summary organized while avoiding redundant language;
- Format the summary in the same way as the report;
- Reread the summary carefully and ask yourself, "Is my message clear? Did I include key recommendations? Could my audience peruse this without missing the main point? Would I be interested in the full report based on this summary?"
- Proofread and edit;
- Have a non–business person read the summary—a friend, relative, spouse. How did she/he react? What parts were confusing or unclear? Her/his reaction might be similar to that of a business person. Revise as necessary.