Abstracts and Executive Summaries

What is an abstract?

Abstracts, sometimes called executive summaries, are used to convey the overall contents of a report.   Abstracts have a formal tone and are used in summarizing technical reports, case studies, and experiments.  Typically, a ten to twenty page report can be summarized into an abstract that is no longer than one page.  Summaries of shorter reports can be formatted into a single paragraph.

Why are abstracts used?

Abstracts are used to condense entire reports into a brief format that can be read quickly to convey the overall meaning of the document.  Abstracts and executive summaries are used by those who do not have the time to read an entire document, but need an overall summary of the report.

What makes an effective abstract?

Effective abstracts convey the essence of a report.  The summary outlines major findings, key points, and recommendations established in the report or document. 

Sample abstract: Searles, George J. Workplace Communications: The Basics United States of America: Pearson Education, 2003

Last Update: October 2007